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Akril

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  1. Like
    Akril got a reaction from WilcoWeb in The Time Machination   
    Just a brief announcement to say that I finally got around to uploading a plain HTML verison of this story.
  2. Like
    Akril got a reaction from pcj in The Time Machination   
    Just a brief announcement to say that I finally got around to uploading a plain HTML verison of this story.
  3. Like
    Akril got a reaction from WilcoWeb in Space Quest Historian Season 3   
    I would suggest a discussion of Space Quest knockoffs (like Altered Destiny, Rex Nebular and Ivan Lozhkin: Price of Freedom), but I suspect that that ground has been covered already.
     
    I'd also toss out the idea of a discussion of humorous sci-fi in general, but that might be too broad a topic, even if it were pared down to older and/or lesser known material.
  4. Like
    Akril got a reaction from Chrono in The Time Machination   
    (Thank you very much, JDHJANUS!)
     
     
     
    Pre-Prelude
     
    The planet Gritt had to be one of the most boring planets in its part of the galaxy. There were some mountains; a lot of sand; plenty of rocks, boulders and pebbles and not too much else. It wasn't barren enough to be an infinite desert that a man could lose his mind in, it wasn't picturesque enough to inspire a poet or an artist, there were no dangerous beasts living there to attract the attention of a brave and/or suicidal adventurer, and it wasn't fun enough to warrant even a brief stop during a family vacation. It really couldn't be described as anything more than boring.
     
    Despite its boringness, however, the populations of two neighboring planets -- Stam and Davka -- had been squabbling over Gritt for centuries. The inhabitants of Stam would claim that Gritt rightfully belonged to them, and not the Davkans. Inevitably, the natives of Davka would respond by claiming that the Stamians were filthy liars, and that the people of Davka were the ones that Gritt belonged to.
     
    The two civilizations fought constantly, either on Stam, Davka, Gritt itself or in the space between the three planets. Even when both sides had become too technologically crippled to launch any more destruction at each other, they would still wage war over their communications networks. Attacks of this sort usually consisted of a Stamian sending a Davkan a voicemail with an unflattering comment about that Davkan's parental unit or a Davkan leaving several hundred inflammatory comments on a video titled, "Why Stamians are the TRUE inheritors of Gritt!"
     
    The violence between the two planets tended to wax and wane in a predictable cycle, but the weaponry on both sides was becoming more and more formidable at an alarming rate, and many of the people living on the other planets in that solar system (some of them expatriates from Stam or Davka) were growing very worried.
     
    Officials from the StarCon Federation and various other smaller interstellar governments had frequently conferred with representatives from the two worlds, but it seemed as if no amount of reasoning, rationalizing or pleading could ever dissuade the Stamians and the Davkans from quarrelling over "their" planet. Sharing the planet was out of the question, and despite the vast number of planets in the galaxy similar to Gritt (only not quite as boring), the two races refused all of them. They wanted Gritt, and no substitution would do.
     
    News of the two planets spread rapidly, and it wasn't long before Beatrice Wankmeister heard about this dispute. Since her current position in the Xenon Central Government qualified her to act as a diplomat not only to the other inhabitants of the Earnon System, but those of various other systems as well, she was determined to speak with the people of Stam and Davka herself. She also decided to take her husband along, thinking that it would be a good PR move. Roger Wilco's fame might have dwindled considerably in recent years, but the fact that he had been very famous at one point was indisputable, and a small number of people still remembered him as a former space hero -- and what better way to draw attention to something as uninteresting as a peace conference than having a former celebrity attend it, she reasoned?
     
    Beatrice also secretly savored the idea of not only succeeding where the StarCon Federation had failed, but also getting back at them a little. The people from the upper echelons of StarCon didn't like Roger Wilco, and Roger Wilco didn't like StarCon. The brief time he had spent as a member of the Federation had had its good times, but those were vastly undershadowed by the far more numerous not-so-good times. Though his heroism in destroying the Sarien menace was initially applauded by the Federation, when Roger and discovered that Captain Raems T. Quirk, one of StarCon's most celebrated members, was involved in an insidious criminal organization that was dumping a toxic mutagen throughout the G6 Quadrant, StarCon's attitude toward Roger changed considerably.
     
    When Roger rescued the entire crew of Quirk's ship (save for Quirk himself, who merged with the mutagen and became a giant sentient blob that Roger was forced to kill in self-defense), instead of being praised for his actions, he was put on trial and accused of a number of trumped-up charges which resulted in him being losing his Captain's position and being reassigned to the rank of Janitor Second Class. Beatrice had had her suspicions about StarCon being corrupt before, but this was the first real confirmation of those suspicions. StarCon was much more interested in keeping its reputation clean rather than letting justice prevail. They had not only stripped Roger of his rank, but also his credibility -- no one would take the words of a mere janitor accused of so many crimes seriously.
     
    It wasn't until Roger learned that another high-ranking StarCon official -- Admiral Toolman, the very man who was the judge at his trial -- was in league with Sharpei, an elderly woman funding a secret project which involved transplanting the minds of older people into younger bodies, that he finally decided to put his foot down. He had had enough of StarCon, and wanted the truth about them to be heard. Beatrice agreed to help him, and so did Stellar Santiago, a close friend of Roger's who had nearly had her mind replaced by Sharpei's.
     
    With the help of a small band of renegade techies, the trio set to work digging up as much dirt on StarCon as they could find -- it was a task that required a very large shovel (metaphorically speaking). After a sizeable amount of damning evidence had been uncovered, the techies anonymously disseminated this information throughout the quadrant via its various communication networks. The reaction from the populous came quickly, and the word continued to spread faster than StarCon could scramble to dismiss the various accusations against it. To make matters worse for the Federation, the information the techies had discovered turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg, as more and more unpleasant truths about StarCon continued to be dug up by intrepid researchers. There were many questions as to who was responsible to the original leak, but fortunately, Roger, Beatrice and Stellar remained unquestioned during the whole affair (they had made sure to leave the incidents with Captain Quirk and Sharpei out of their pile of evidence). After determining that they had done all the damage that could be done, the trio cut all ties with StarCon. It was a difficult decision, but it was one which all three of them could look back on with pride.
     
    Though the initial attack on StarCon wasn't nearly enough to destroy it, it was nonetheless a serious blow to its reputation -- one which it never quite recovered from. As the years progressed, fewer and fewer people enrolled in StarCon Academy, and many young officers started resigning from the Federation, unwilling to associate themselves with its name any longer. Now, nearly twenty years later, StarCon was little more than a small, seriously underfunded organization which had been largely displaced by organizations run by the local governments of various systems and planets. Even though Roger couldn't take full credit for what happened of StarCon, he still considered its downfall to be a victory for him (even if he and Beatrice still harbored some grudges against it).
     
     
    Once Roger and Beatrice's ship arrived at the Ka'Blui System (where Stam and Davka were located), Beatrice spoke with representatives from each of the planets via the ship's telescreen. Though Roger was sitting in the adjoining cabin at the time and was unable to make out anything being said, he could occasionally hear an outraged tirade from the other side of the conversation. Eventually, Beatrice trudged into Roger's cabin with a haggard look on her face and collapsed into the chair next to the one he was sitting in. After a few minutes, she told Roger what she had told the two representatives.
     
    "You're holding the meeting on Gritt? " he exclaimed in complete shock.
     
    "Yes," Beatrice said. "Nobody else has tried to do that yet -- every conference they've held has been either on Stam, Davka, an adjacent ship or one of the neighboring planets. It's ironic, really -- even though this fighting is all over one dull little planet, nobody has never tried speaking with those two species on Gritt itself."
     
    "What if someone did try that before and got himself killed? " Roger suggested.
     
    "I searched through the records on the Ka'Blui system several times," Beatrice said firmly. "There's no report of anything like that ever happening here."
     
    "What if it did and the report was never made?" Roger persisted.
     
    Beatrice gazed sternly at Roger. A few tense seconds ticked by before she spoke again.
     
    "You're not trying to get out of attending this conference with me, are you?" she asked.
     
    "Get out of attending the conference? Me? No -- no way," Roger faltered. "I'm...I'm just worried about you."
     
    Roger's last few words were just as serious as Beatrice's expression. He genuinely was worried about Beatrice, and had worried about her for many years. His concern for her persisted after they made the decision to settle down on Xenon as well as after their son was born, but in the years that followed, try as he might, Roger was unable to figure out exactly why.
     
    "You shouldn't worry," Beatrice said, her words jolting Roger back into the present. "After everything I've managed to survive, I'm sure I'll be able to handle a fight breaking out at a peace conference without any problem."
     
    Her look softened slightly, and the icy blue of her eyes seemed to melt somewhat.
     
    "Besides," she said softly, "I'm sure you'd figure out a way to rescue us both if I did run into something I couldn't handle."
     
    Roger felt disoriented for a moment. He rarely experienced someone expressing such confidence in him, and the sincere, affectionate way that statement had been expressed resulted in a mixture of positive emotions somewhat alien to him.
     
    It took several more minutes of attempting to talk Beatrice into reconsidering her plans that he realized that arguing with her wasn't going to get him anywhere. He had learned from experience that it was a battle that he was sure to lose 99% of the time, and this argument was hardly an exception.
     
    All he could do was hope that he would figure out a way to rescue them if something did go wrong...
     
     
    The first meeting on Gritt was thankfully completely devoid of anything even remotely disastrous. There were a few heated disputes between the sides, but Beatrice was able to stop them from escalating into anything more destructive than fierce insults.
     
    Since neither the Stamians or the Davkans had heard of Roger Wilco, Beatrice explained to them in great detail how her husband had saved his home world and the entire galaxy several times. She postulated that in an ideal situation, the number of lives he had saved would be enough to earn him not merely a planet of his own, but an entire solar system . However, he wouldn‘t have received ownership of that solar system just because he came from a particularly privileged species or because he himself was destined to inherit it: his own actions would be what made him worthy of such a thing. Roger's ability to endure such perilous predicaments for the greater good while accepting something as fleeting as fame as a reward was something that should be admired...and yes, perhaps even emulated.
     
    In many cases, Beatrice continued, a job well done truly is its own reward, and though saving the galaxy like Roger might not be possible for everyone, working at making one's world a better place to live has the potential to bring greater happiness and satisfaction than the ownership of a small, barren planet ever could.
     
    Though it was a very solid speech (and Roger was enjoying one of the best ego-strokings he had had in his life), it failed to convince any member of either species present to even consider changing their mind. Though this was hardly unexpected, it was still a source of great disappointment for Beatrice.
     
    "I just don't understand it," she muttered several hours after the conference, pacing the floor of the ship's main cabin.
     
    "Me neither," Roger said as he watched her from a nearby chair. "The way you were talking about me, I was sure they'd at least think about not fighting over that dust ball of a planet anymore..."
     
    Beatrice stopped pacing and looked at him.
     
    "You haven't been listening to me, have you?" she asked.
     
    "Yes, I -- Well, that is, I was -- Um...no."
     
    "I was talking about these weapons the Stamians and the Davkans have," Beatrice said. "These two planets are hardly the most technologically advanced world in this system -- in fact, I'd say the only planet less advanced then theirs is Gritt. Up until a few years ago, their level of technology been developing very, very slowly...then all of a sudden, it has skyrocketed . Stam and Davka are now in possession of machines that I've never even heard of before -- even the ship's computer doesn't have any entries on them!"
     
    She pulled a hologram viewer out of her pocket and switched it on, revealing a hologram of a machine that looked like a squat drill supported by several struts. Several Stamians stood by it, the tallest one barely a fifth of the machine's height.
     
    "They told me that this thing converts a planet's crust into a molten liquid," Beatrice explained, "Effectively cooking every living thing on the surface."
     
    She pulled up another hologram, this one a huge sphere floating above a massive metal base with sides festooned with lights, buttons and switches.
     
    "And this one somehow increases a planet's gravity until the inhabitants' own weight crushes them."
     
    "Yikes," Roger muttered as Beatrice put the viewer away. "How are they making this kind of stuff?"
     
    "I don't think they are ," said Beatrice. "I think they're getting it from somewhere else."
     
    "Did you try asking them about the weapons?"
     
    "Of course I did -- And they all insisted that they were ‘gifts from the stars'. I couldn't get anything less vague than that out of them, no matter how hard I tried."
     
    She sighed heavily and stared out one of the ship's windows.
     
    "And to make matters worse, these machines have no identifying marks of any kind," she continued. "No serial numbers, no brand names, no logos -- nothing . There's no way we can track down where those things came from."
     
    Roger couldn't think of anything to say in response to this. Beatrice sighed, turned away from the window, and sat down in a nearby chair.
     
    "I guess I'll just have to keep talking with them," she said.
     
    "Do you want me to come with you again?" Roger asked.
     
    "Is Gritt the most boring planet in this system?" Beatrice replied with a wry smile.
     
     
    The next meeting on Gritt took place in the same large plastic tent that had been set up on Gritt's rocky surface the previous day. The inside was spacious enough to accommodate a dais, a podium, and several dozen chairs. Though the tent did an excellent job at shielding those inside it from the sharp, stinging winds of Gritt, the considerably hotter day made the tent a considerably uncomfortable place to have a peace conference. Many of the Stamians and Davkans present at the meeting seemed slightly more agitated and fidgety than they had been before, and Beatrice or Roger weren't exactly in the best of moods either.
     
    This time, Beatrice tried to appeal to the two species' rational sides, asking them what either side could gain by attaining Gritt, and how both sides' attempts to claim Gritt for themselves always led to more death and suffering for both Stam and Davka. And if one side managed to not only obtain Gritt but completely wipe out everyone on the opposing side, she postulated, would their desire for this world truly be satiated? Members of intelligent species seldom remain satisfied with their lot in life, and constantly strive for greater things. Consequently, Beatrice explained it was highly likely that the satisfaction of conquering Gritt wouldn't last for very long. And what would the victors do then? Leave Gritt and return to their home world, so that all those on the opposing side died for nothing? Set their sites on another planet in the Ka'Blui system?
     
    The muggy interior of the tent as well as Beatrice's speech made Roger grow increasingly tired. He was just starting to nod off when a sudden rumbling jolted him awake. The entire tent as well as the ground beneath it was shaking violently. The Stamians and the Davkans were out of their seats, glancing from side to side in sheer terror, a look shared by Beatrice as well.
     
    Suddenly one of the Stamians (a short, large-headed alien with bluish-green skin) leapt up onto the dais. He drew a strange, box-shaped machine out of the robe-like garment he was wearing and held it in the air, a finger poised over one of its many buttons.
     
    "This is a sign!" he bellowed. "A sign that neither you tall ones nor those filthy Davkans are welcome on this world -- this world that is destined to be ours!"
     
    "Lies!" came another voice from the other side of the tent. "Lies, all of it!"
     
    It was a Davkan saying these words. The short, large-headed alien with greenish-blue skin leapt onto the side of the dais opposite the Stamian and withdrew a device identical to the Stamian's from the folds of his clothing. The Stamian's large eyebrows bristled in anger.
     
    "How dare you plunder the stars' gifts to Stam!" he growled. "You shall be the first to die, Davkan scum!"
     
    "Again, you lie!" the Davkan said. "The stars left this device on Davka! It is ours -- just as Gritt will be once we have rid this world of you!"
     
    "What's going on?" Roger yelled. The Stamian turned and glared at him spitefully.
     
    "When I activate this machine," he growled, "Every living thing within 500 klurrs save for the people of Stam will be annihilated."
     
    "You'll never have the chance to do it," the Davkan broke in, "For my machine will wipe out everyone but my people!"
     
    The rumbling was growing much more violent now. Beatrice fell from her place at the podium, landing on the floor of the dais. Roger crawled over to her on his hands and knees. Beatrice's face was blank with shock. She was so terrified that she couldn't even scream. Roger tried desperately to come up with an idea that would get him and Beatrice out of this horrible situation, but no ideas came. The Stamian stared coldly down at the two humans.
     
    "Gritt has voiced its disapproval at your attempts to take it from us," the Stamian snarled. "Unless you and all the wretched Davkans here leave this planet -- "
     
    "No!" the Davkan barked. "You Stamians are the ones who must leave!"
     
    The Stamian waved the device in his hand in his rival's direction.
     
    "Either you get off our planet or I press the button," he growled.
     
    "Well," the Davkan said, raising his own device, "It seems that you leave me no choice, Stamian."
     
    As badly as the room was shaking, Roger could just make out the greenish-blue finger press the largest button on the small machine. There was a howl of fury from the Stamian, and Roger spun his head around just in time to see the bluish-green alien press the same button on his machine.
     
    What happened next took only a few nanoseconds to occur, though for Roger it seemed like hours. From each machine came a translucent sphere of blinding blue light crisscrossed by bolts of electricity. The spheres expanded rapidly, engulfing not only the two aliens holding the machines, but everyone else in the small tent. The lights then vanished as suddenly as they had appeared, and the machines that had created them dropped to the floor -- for the two aliens that had been holding them were both gone...and so was everyone else that had been inside the tent: the Stamians, the Davkans, Roger and Beatrice.
     
    The tremors continued to intensify until the entire planet had become a turbulent, shuddering conglomeration of rock and magma. Then, barely five minutes after the peace conference's attendants had vanished, the planet Gritt exploded. Some of the inhabitants of Stam and Davka looked back on this event as a horrifying sight, while others found it to be a tragic, yet strangely dazzling experience. However, most individuals on the two planets were considerably angry, since the explosion had caused some serious blackouts in their communication network, and many of them had had to go several days without any amusing videos to entertain themselves with.
     
     
    "So you really are dead," RJ said in a trembling voice. "We all thought you were killed in that explosion...but it was really those crazies who vaporized you..."
     
    "For the last time, RJ, we're not dead ," Beatrice told her son. "Your father and I may have had some close brushes with death over the past few years, but we've never actually gotten ‘acquainted' with it."
     
    RJ stared in mute disbelief at his mother. He was sitting in one of the purple ship's passenger seats while Beatrice herself was sitting on the floor of the ship, her legs hanging out the still-open hatchway. Roger stood nearby, trying to determine when would be safe for him to reenter the conversation.
     
    "But if you didn't die when those electric things hit you...what happened? " RJ asked. "Where were you these last few years?"
     
    Beatrice's face became pensive. She looked over her shoulder at Roger, who examined what looked like an impractically large watch strapped to his wrist, then looked back at Beatrice and nodded.
     
    "Might as well tell him everything," he shrugged, walking toward the ship and leaning against the gleaming purple exterior. "It's not like we don't have the time."
  5. Like
    Akril got a reaction from Atomic_Matter in Gary Owens is dead   
    I don't know what I can say that hasn't already been said, but I figure I might as well say my piece as well:
     
    Even though I was never that familiar with the majority of Gary Owens' work, what little I have learned about him over the years really made me feel even more amazed by him. His presence in SQ series transformed great writing into spectacular dialog, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who saw him as one of *the* defining traits of the series, despite only being in 1/3 of the games.
     
    I'll always consider myself lucky to have seen him and several other notable actors in a show called the Retro Radio Revue in 2004, wherein he was the narrator for several old time radio plays. At one point during the performance of an episode of The Lone Ranger, he began a scene with "Meanwhile, in another part of town...the announcer for The Lone Ranger lost his place."
     
    He was a remarkable person, and he will be missed.
  6. Like
    Akril got a reaction from WilcoWeb in The Time Machination   
    Well, here I am...again.
     
    If you've been hanging around these forums for the last couple of years or so, you might have noticed the quotes from "a WIP" in my signature, or noticed me allude to a piece of fan fiction I was working on once or twice. You may also have heard the SQ Historian podcast episode where an excerpt from said fan fiction was read.
     
    Well, after nearly two years of on-again, off again work, it is (nearly) DONE. This is the first piece of SQ fan fiction I've written in years. I started it for various reasons which I won't get into right now, hit a lot of rough patches when I was about 2/3rds of the way through, and even when most of it was finished, I still had some difficulty getting this thing hammered out until I was (mostly) satisfied with it.
     
    I'm going to be posting one chapter a day throughout December. I probably won't have the entire thing posted by the time the new year rolls around, but at this point, I can't promise anything for certain.
     
    Now that all of that's out of the way, here is...
     
     


    Space Quest: The Time Machination


    Prelude

     Roger Wilco Junior – son of Roger Wilco, the man who had saved the galaxy multiple times despite being nothing more than a moderately skilled janitor – was confused.

     This was hardly an unfamiliar feeling for him, and after several years of his mind being dominated by fear, depression and hopelessness, it was a relief to be bothered by something as comparatively trivial as mere confusion. However, the reason behind the confusion was far from trivial.

     RJ (the name which Roger Wilco Junior had insisted that his peers and family call him by since he hit adolescence) had just sent Roger Wilco Senior back to the point in the past that RJ had originally pulled him from. As much as RJ wished that he could spend a little more time with him, the fear of causing irreparable damage to the timeline prompted RJ to immediately return his father to the Space Quest IV time sector while RJ himself remained in Space Quest XII time sector.

     He had sent his father back to his own time with a head full of questions to which the answers would not come for many years, if they would come at all. However, RJ's own head was bulging with questions as well, one of which loomed ominously above all the others (not unlike the massive Supercomputer that RJ was currently standing in):

     The Anomaly. What was it? Why did it exist? How could it exist?

     RJ gazed out at the mangled metropolis hundreds of feet below him, the memory of the events leading up to the discovery of the unimaginatively-named Anomaly slowly replaying in his frazzled mind.

     It all started with the Supercomputer -- the Supercomputer which a group of scientists (who in hindsight really should have known better) accidentally exposed to a crippling virus. This virus was in actuality a digital replication of the mind of Sludge Vohaul, an evil, twisted, aesthetically challenged scientist who made several attempts at dominating Xenon many years prior but was ultimately defeated by Roger Wilco.

     It turned out that Roger Wilco's defeat of Vohaul wasn't as ultimate as the people of Xenon thought. However, Vohaul hadn't given up on his plans of taking over the planet, and this time, he came very, very close to succeeding.

     The events that followed after the Vohaul virus gained control of the Supercomputer and nearly every piece of technology on the planet were, in short, very unpleasant. Though most of the population either fled Xenon or perished, a small number of people remained in hiding beneath the streets of the planet's central city, hoping to find some way of destroying the Supercomputer.

     When the rebels learned that the Supercomputer had discovered time travel, they had little time to ponder on this discovery. Recalling that Roger Wilco was the only person who had ever defeated Sludge Vohaul, the rebels realized that time travel could be their only chance of destroying the Vohaul virus. Two of the rebels (who had just recently decided to call themselves the Time Rippers, given the nature of their mission) were selected to steal some of the time technology, travel into the past and return to the present with Roger Wilco. RJ was one of these two rebels.

     In the time between the infiltration of the Supercomputer, the pilfering of the time tech (a pair of guns that looked suspiciously like modified hairdryers) and the departure for Space Quest IV, RJ and his companion discovered the following information:
     
    1) The Sequel Police -- the intimidating cyborgs tasked with making sure that the Space Quest timeline ran according to Vohaul's wishes -- were planning to travel to the past as well... however, their goal was to kill Roger Wilco.
     (This was bad.)

     2) In order to avoid accidentally setting off a retroactive chain of events resulting in the Vohaul virus never getting uploaded to the Supercomputer and thus erasing them from existence, the Sequel Police wouldn't confront Roger Wilco until after Space Quest III.
     (This was good...sort of.)

     3) Because of 2), the only available time when both the Time Rippers and the Sequel Police could reach Roger Wilco was a narrow window at the beginning of Space Quest IV.
    (This was because...)

     RJ quickly pushed the reason for 3) out of his flashback. He didn't feel like revisiting that memory just yet, but when put together, it became very clear that if he and his companion didn't rescue Roger Wilco from the Space Quest IV time sector before that window closed, there would be no way of stopping Vohaul.

     Fortunately, luck was on the Time Rippers' side: They arrived in Space Quest IV just in time to save Roger Wilco from being killed by a pair of Sequel Policemen. After sending his father to Space Quest XII, RJ paused for a moment to catch his breath, but before he could open another rip to follow his father into the future, there was the sound of a Sequel Policeman's rifle being fired and an explosion of pain in his side.

     RJ remembered little of what happened after that -- it was mostly brief, blurry moments of consciousness interspersed with what seemed like distorted dreams or hallucinations. After finally regaining full control of his senses, RJ found himself in the innermost sanctum of the Supercomputer, with his father standing in front of him. The pieces quickly came together: He was alive, his father was alive, they were inside the Supercomputer, and there was no Vohaul virus attempting to destroy them. They had won.

     RJ led his father outside to the landing bay, a large opening near the top of the Supercomputer which provided a great (but depressing) view of the ruined city. He explained what had happened on Xenon, and why his father had been transported to Space Quest XII. Though the conversation began well enough considering the circumstances, it became more and more uncomfortable as it progressed, and despite his disciplined mind, RJ was quite shaken by the time he was ready to return Roger Wilco to Space Quest IV.

     After saying a final good-bye to his father, RJ stared at the wall of the landing bay for several minutes, wondering what to do next. Then he returned to the entrance to the Supercomputer and began to make his way through the labyrinth of catwalks, circuitry and transport tubes, down into the heart of the technological colossus.

     Sometime later, he located the small, dark chamber that housed the Chronolux -- the massive mainframe that the Sequel Police had used to track Roger Wilco through the various Space Quest time sectors. To his amazement, the machine was still running. It was also surrounded by the lifeless bodies of several Sequel Policemen -- it seemed that once the Supercomputer had been shut down, the Sequel Policemen themselves suffered a similar fate. RJ (correctly) reasoned that the Chronolux must not have been connected to the Supercomputer, despite residing inside of it.

     RJ slowly approached the Chronolux. Then, with trembling fingers, he selected the Space Quest IV time sector, entered his father's name, and pressed the Scan button.

     Several minutes later, a message appeared on the Chronolux's main screen:

     SUBJECT PRESENT ON MAGMETHEUS UNTIL 00:001:00:26:07.
    NO PRESENCE DETECTED AFTER 00:001:00:26:07.

     The hairs on the back of RJ's neck stood on end. He glanced at the digital display on his time gun, looking for the line that displayed the last time entered on it. The line read: SQIV||MAGMETHEUS||00:001:00:00:00. That was the time and place he had sent his father to -- a time approximately twenty-six minutes before the Anomaly.

     RJ's mind reeled as the memory of the fourth thing that he and his companion had discovered during their infiltration of the Supercomputer came rushing back to him:

     A few hours after the Space Quest IV time sector began, Roger Wilco vanished. No matter how many scans Sequel Police had made on the ChronoLux, there was never a trace of Roger Wilco to be found...and he wasn't just absent from Space Quest IV, either: he was missing from every single time sector, all the way up to the end of Space Quest IX.

     This absence was what RJ called the Anomaly. When he first learned about it, he had little time to ponder what it meant or why it existed, but now that the chaos on Xenon had finally ceased, his questions about the Anomaly began careening through his mind like rocket-powered meteorites.

     What was going on? What had happened to his father twenty-six minutes after he returned to Magmetheus? Could he have been killed by the Sequel Policemen? If he had been killed, then why did RJ still exist?

     With both his heart and his mind racing, RJ had the ChronoLux run a scan of Space Quest V. Five minutes later, the message "NO TRACE OF SUBJECT DETECTED" appeared.

     RJ ran a scan on Space Quest VI, only to have the exact same message show up. He ran scans of Space Quest VII, VIII and IX and was about to run a scan of Space Quest X when he finally broke down, slamming his head into the keyboard with a howl of frustration.

     Saving his father's life hadn't changed anything. The Anomaly was still there -- from the beginning of Space Quest IV until the end of Space Quest IX, Roger Wilco was gone. As for Space Quest X and beyond...

     No, RJ told himself. Don't go there. Don't.

     He tried to make sense out of what the Chronolux was telling him, but couldn't. It just couldn't be true. His father had existed when RJ was born near the end of the Space Quest VIII time sector. RJ remembered listening to his father's stories of his past adventures; how his father kept calling him "Junior" no matter how many times RJ told him not to; and that one galaxy-wide family vacation where, despite driving a ship with the most easy-to-use navigational computer available on Xenon, his father still managed to get RJ and his mother thoroughly lost. The Chronolux had to be wrong...but if it was, why hadn't Vohaul or the Sequel Police spotted and corrected the error? After all, they were all machines to a great extent, and they built the Chronolux -- if they hadn't detected any problems with it, then why was the machine reporting Roger Wilco as MIA in spots in the timeline where he had undoubtedly existed?

     RJ lifted his head from the keyboard and noted that the Chronolux had finished its scan for an individual named LJNGHTDTCH (which it actually had located on a planet somewhere in the Dgjegtmxs galaxy). Though both mentally and physically exhausted, RJ wasn't ready to give up yet. He ran a search on his father in Space Quest I, II and III, and except for one odd patch of time in Space Quest I, Roger Wilco was detected in every one of those time sectors.

     RJ rubbed his eyes and stared blankly at the screen. What was going on? Was the man he knew as his father just a clone of the original Roger Wilco, or an android duplicate? Had an alteration of the timeline caused RJ to become his own father? Was all this an illusion he was experiencing while plugged into a console deep within the bowels of the Supercomputer?

     Roger Wilco only existed until the beginning of the Space Quest IV time sector. After that, he was completely absent all the way 'til Space Quest IX. Then, somewhere between Space Quest IX and Space Quest X (there was no way of telling exactly when this was, since for some reason, the Chronolux couldn't scan the time between sectors, just the sectors themselves), he vanished and never appeared on the timeline again. Of course, this had to be because...

     RJ tried to push that memory away again, but by this point, he was too weak to hold it back:

     ...because he was dead by then. Both him and Mom. No one could have survived an explosion that large...besides, if they weren't dead, Vohaul wouldn't have needed his lackeys to go back in time to bump him off...

     But why Space Quest IV? Why Space Quest IV!?

     KLUNK.

     RJ froze. Though he had been contemplating smashing his head into the keyboard again, he hadn't actually done it -- that noise had come from outside the room he was in. In fact, it seemed to have come from outside the Supercomputer.

     RJ's mind went on full alert. He had no idea what had made that noise, but he knew he wouldn't find out what it was by waiting next to the ChronoLux. He grabbed his time gun, sprang from his chair, barely avoided tripping over one of the deceased Sequel Policemen, and bolted out the door. He ran until he reached the tunnel that led to the landing bay, then crept stealthily along the wall, grateful that the deadly laser beams that once filled the tunnel were now deactivated. As he neared the end of the tunnel, he heard and felt the thrum of an engine filling the air. It sounded like a ship...a ship which definitely wasn't the kind used by the Sequel Police.

     As he reached the entrance to the landing bay, RJ flattened himself against the wall and cautiously peered around the door's circular metal frame. The sound of the engine grew louder and louder, and then there it was -- a small, bulbous shuttle that looked as if it had been built centuries ago. It had gull-wing doors, was painted a gaudy shade of purple and its windows were too dark to make out any of the occupants. It slowly approached the Supercomputer, but despite the massive size of the landing bay's entrances, the ship's nose collided with a section of the Supercomputer's outer wall several feet above the landing bay, producing a noise very similar to the one that RJ had recently heard.

     The ship slowly backed up, then after a moment of hesitation, it decreased its speed, banked slightly, then dropped its landing gear and gingerly maneuvered itself through the landing bay's rightmost entrance -- the entrance right in front of the tunnel where RJ was hiding. Suddenly the shuttle's thrusters cut out and it bounced off the floor of the landing bay with a jarring thud. The thrusters fired up again almost immediately, and after lurching drunkenly in midair for a moment or two, the shuttle slowly lowered itself until it was resting firmly on the cold, cracked plasticrete.

     As a cloud of dust billowed around the shuttle, RJ gripped his gun in his hands, ready to leap out of hiding and confront whatever or whoever was inside the shuttle. Then he remembered that the only thing this gun was good for was opening rips into different time periods. Maybe if he just acted as if it were a real gun, whoever was in that ship might think it was real...if only it didn't look so much like a giant hairdryer...

     There was a sudden hiss of escaping air -- the driver's side door of the shuttle was hinging open, and someone was stepping out. RJ leaped out of the tunnel, his gun aimed at the individual, who was still mostly obscured by the airborne dust.

     "Freeze!" he yelled.

     The figure jumped in alarm and tried to run away, but only succeeded in banging its head on the partially opened door. It clutched its skull with a primal outburst of surprise and pain that made RJ feel as if someone had injected liquid nitrogen into his veins.

     That voice...he knew that voice...

     The figure staggered unsteadily out of the rapidly thinning dust cloud towards RJ. RJ lowered his time gun, gaping at the figure with a mixture of astonishment, disbelief and a small amount of terror.

     It was him...and yet it wasn't him. He seemed older, his clothing was completely different...and his hair definitely wasn't that color when RJ had last seen him...

     Still cringing slightly, Roger Wilco lowered his hand from his head, looked into the widening eyes of his son and grinned.

     "Hey, Junior."

     Deciding that it risked serious damage if it remained conscious for a moment longer, RJ's brain promptly shut itself down. His body dropped to the plasticrete with a soft thud accompanied by a loud clatter as the time gun slipped from his limp fingers.

     Roger Wilco cautiously approached his son, stared mutely at him for a moment, then looked over his shoulder at the shuttle. A tall blonde woman had just emerged from the shuttle through the now open passenger door. She took a few steps forward, regarded the unconscious body sprawled in front of Roger for a moment, then glared coldly at Roger himself.

     "Uh..." said Roger sheepishly, "I guess it would've been better if you'd talked to him first, Bea."
     
     
     
    EDIT: Apparently, I can only center and indent individual lines in "Coding Mode" since if I attempt doing that in "Plain Text" mode, the entire body of text ends up centered or indented. Annoying...
  7. Like
    Akril got a reaction from JDHJANUS in Space Quest Historian Season 3   
    I would suggest a discussion of Space Quest knockoffs (like Altered Destiny, Rex Nebular and Ivan Lozhkin: Price of Freedom), but I suspect that that ground has been covered already.
     
    I'd also toss out the idea of a discussion of humorous sci-fi in general, but that might be too broad a topic, even if it were pared down to older and/or lesser known material.
  8. Like
    Akril got a reaction from Atomic_Matter in Space Quest Historian Season 3   
    I would suggest a discussion of Space Quest knockoffs (like Altered Destiny, Rex Nebular and Ivan Lozhkin: Price of Freedom), but I suspect that that ground has been covered already.
     
    I'd also toss out the idea of a discussion of humorous sci-fi in general, but that might be too broad a topic, even if it were pared down to older and/or lesser known material.
  9. Like
    Akril got a reaction from suejak in The Time Machination   
    Well, I've finally got a simple "Behind the Scenes" page for this story uploaded.* It's got explanations for the many obscure in-jokes and references, a lot of deleted scenes, a few sketches, and some other stuff.
     
     
     
    *I say "finally" because when I first uploaded the page, it turned out...wrong.
  10. Like
    Akril got a reaction from Chrono in The Time Machination   
    Well, here I am...again.
     
    If you've been hanging around these forums for the last couple of years or so, you might have noticed the quotes from "a WIP" in my signature, or noticed me allude to a piece of fan fiction I was working on once or twice. You may also have heard the SQ Historian podcast episode where an excerpt from said fan fiction was read.
     
    Well, after nearly two years of on-again, off again work, it is (nearly) DONE. This is the first piece of SQ fan fiction I've written in years. I started it for various reasons which I won't get into right now, hit a lot of rough patches when I was about 2/3rds of the way through, and even when most of it was finished, I still had some difficulty getting this thing hammered out until I was (mostly) satisfied with it.
     
    I'm going to be posting one chapter a day throughout December. I probably won't have the entire thing posted by the time the new year rolls around, but at this point, I can't promise anything for certain.
     
    Now that all of that's out of the way, here is...
     
     


    Space Quest: The Time Machination


    Prelude

     Roger Wilco Junior – son of Roger Wilco, the man who had saved the galaxy multiple times despite being nothing more than a moderately skilled janitor – was confused.

     This was hardly an unfamiliar feeling for him, and after several years of his mind being dominated by fear, depression and hopelessness, it was a relief to be bothered by something as comparatively trivial as mere confusion. However, the reason behind the confusion was far from trivial.

     RJ (the name which Roger Wilco Junior had insisted that his peers and family call him by since he hit adolescence) had just sent Roger Wilco Senior back to the point in the past that RJ had originally pulled him from. As much as RJ wished that he could spend a little more time with him, the fear of causing irreparable damage to the timeline prompted RJ to immediately return his father to the Space Quest IV time sector while RJ himself remained in Space Quest XII time sector.

     He had sent his father back to his own time with a head full of questions to which the answers would not come for many years, if they would come at all. However, RJ's own head was bulging with questions as well, one of which loomed ominously above all the others (not unlike the massive Supercomputer that RJ was currently standing in):

     The Anomaly. What was it? Why did it exist? How could it exist?

     RJ gazed out at the mangled metropolis hundreds of feet below him, the memory of the events leading up to the discovery of the unimaginatively-named Anomaly slowly replaying in his frazzled mind.

     It all started with the Supercomputer -- the Supercomputer which a group of scientists (who in hindsight really should have known better) accidentally exposed to a crippling virus. This virus was in actuality a digital replication of the mind of Sludge Vohaul, an evil, twisted, aesthetically challenged scientist who made several attempts at dominating Xenon many years prior but was ultimately defeated by Roger Wilco.

     It turned out that Roger Wilco's defeat of Vohaul wasn't as ultimate as the people of Xenon thought. However, Vohaul hadn't given up on his plans of taking over the planet, and this time, he came very, very close to succeeding.

     The events that followed after the Vohaul virus gained control of the Supercomputer and nearly every piece of technology on the planet were, in short, very unpleasant. Though most of the population either fled Xenon or perished, a small number of people remained in hiding beneath the streets of the planet's central city, hoping to find some way of destroying the Supercomputer.

     When the rebels learned that the Supercomputer had discovered time travel, they had little time to ponder on this discovery. Recalling that Roger Wilco was the only person who had ever defeated Sludge Vohaul, the rebels realized that time travel could be their only chance of destroying the Vohaul virus. Two of the rebels (who had just recently decided to call themselves the Time Rippers, given the nature of their mission) were selected to steal some of the time technology, travel into the past and return to the present with Roger Wilco. RJ was one of these two rebels.

     In the time between the infiltration of the Supercomputer, the pilfering of the time tech (a pair of guns that looked suspiciously like modified hairdryers) and the departure for Space Quest IV, RJ and his companion discovered the following information:
     
    1) The Sequel Police -- the intimidating cyborgs tasked with making sure that the Space Quest timeline ran according to Vohaul's wishes -- were planning to travel to the past as well... however, their goal was to kill Roger Wilco.
     (This was bad.)

     2) In order to avoid accidentally setting off a retroactive chain of events resulting in the Vohaul virus never getting uploaded to the Supercomputer and thus erasing them from existence, the Sequel Police wouldn't confront Roger Wilco until after Space Quest III.
     (This was good...sort of.)

     3) Because of 2), the only available time when both the Time Rippers and the Sequel Police could reach Roger Wilco was a narrow window at the beginning of Space Quest IV.
    (This was because...)

     RJ quickly pushed the reason for 3) out of his flashback. He didn't feel like revisiting that memory just yet, but when put together, it became very clear that if he and his companion didn't rescue Roger Wilco from the Space Quest IV time sector before that window closed, there would be no way of stopping Vohaul.

     Fortunately, luck was on the Time Rippers' side: They arrived in Space Quest IV just in time to save Roger Wilco from being killed by a pair of Sequel Policemen. After sending his father to Space Quest XII, RJ paused for a moment to catch his breath, but before he could open another rip to follow his father into the future, there was the sound of a Sequel Policeman's rifle being fired and an explosion of pain in his side.

     RJ remembered little of what happened after that -- it was mostly brief, blurry moments of consciousness interspersed with what seemed like distorted dreams or hallucinations. After finally regaining full control of his senses, RJ found himself in the innermost sanctum of the Supercomputer, with his father standing in front of him. The pieces quickly came together: He was alive, his father was alive, they were inside the Supercomputer, and there was no Vohaul virus attempting to destroy them. They had won.

     RJ led his father outside to the landing bay, a large opening near the top of the Supercomputer which provided a great (but depressing) view of the ruined city. He explained what had happened on Xenon, and why his father had been transported to Space Quest XII. Though the conversation began well enough considering the circumstances, it became more and more uncomfortable as it progressed, and despite his disciplined mind, RJ was quite shaken by the time he was ready to return Roger Wilco to Space Quest IV.

     After saying a final good-bye to his father, RJ stared at the wall of the landing bay for several minutes, wondering what to do next. Then he returned to the entrance to the Supercomputer and began to make his way through the labyrinth of catwalks, circuitry and transport tubes, down into the heart of the technological colossus.

     Sometime later, he located the small, dark chamber that housed the Chronolux -- the massive mainframe that the Sequel Police had used to track Roger Wilco through the various Space Quest time sectors. To his amazement, the machine was still running. It was also surrounded by the lifeless bodies of several Sequel Policemen -- it seemed that once the Supercomputer had been shut down, the Sequel Policemen themselves suffered a similar fate. RJ (correctly) reasoned that the Chronolux must not have been connected to the Supercomputer, despite residing inside of it.

     RJ slowly approached the Chronolux. Then, with trembling fingers, he selected the Space Quest IV time sector, entered his father's name, and pressed the Scan button.

     Several minutes later, a message appeared on the Chronolux's main screen:

     SUBJECT PRESENT ON MAGMETHEUS UNTIL 00:001:00:26:07.
    NO PRESENCE DETECTED AFTER 00:001:00:26:07.

     The hairs on the back of RJ's neck stood on end. He glanced at the digital display on his time gun, looking for the line that displayed the last time entered on it. The line read: SQIV||MAGMETHEUS||00:001:00:00:00. That was the time and place he had sent his father to -- a time approximately twenty-six minutes before the Anomaly.

     RJ's mind reeled as the memory of the fourth thing that he and his companion had discovered during their infiltration of the Supercomputer came rushing back to him:

     A few hours after the Space Quest IV time sector began, Roger Wilco vanished. No matter how many scans Sequel Police had made on the ChronoLux, there was never a trace of Roger Wilco to be found...and he wasn't just absent from Space Quest IV, either: he was missing from every single time sector, all the way up to the end of Space Quest IX.

     This absence was what RJ called the Anomaly. When he first learned about it, he had little time to ponder what it meant or why it existed, but now that the chaos on Xenon had finally ceased, his questions about the Anomaly began careening through his mind like rocket-powered meteorites.

     What was going on? What had happened to his father twenty-six minutes after he returned to Magmetheus? Could he have been killed by the Sequel Policemen? If he had been killed, then why did RJ still exist?

     With both his heart and his mind racing, RJ had the ChronoLux run a scan of Space Quest V. Five minutes later, the message "NO TRACE OF SUBJECT DETECTED" appeared.

     RJ ran a scan on Space Quest VI, only to have the exact same message show up. He ran scans of Space Quest VII, VIII and IX and was about to run a scan of Space Quest X when he finally broke down, slamming his head into the keyboard with a howl of frustration.

     Saving his father's life hadn't changed anything. The Anomaly was still there -- from the beginning of Space Quest IV until the end of Space Quest IX, Roger Wilco was gone. As for Space Quest X and beyond...

     No, RJ told himself. Don't go there. Don't.

     He tried to make sense out of what the Chronolux was telling him, but couldn't. It just couldn't be true. His father had existed when RJ was born near the end of the Space Quest VIII time sector. RJ remembered listening to his father's stories of his past adventures; how his father kept calling him "Junior" no matter how many times RJ told him not to; and that one galaxy-wide family vacation where, despite driving a ship with the most easy-to-use navigational computer available on Xenon, his father still managed to get RJ and his mother thoroughly lost. The Chronolux had to be wrong...but if it was, why hadn't Vohaul or the Sequel Police spotted and corrected the error? After all, they were all machines to a great extent, and they built the Chronolux -- if they hadn't detected any problems with it, then why was the machine reporting Roger Wilco as MIA in spots in the timeline where he had undoubtedly existed?

     RJ lifted his head from the keyboard and noted that the Chronolux had finished its scan for an individual named LJNGHTDTCH (which it actually had located on a planet somewhere in the Dgjegtmxs galaxy). Though both mentally and physically exhausted, RJ wasn't ready to give up yet. He ran a search on his father in Space Quest I, II and III, and except for one odd patch of time in Space Quest I, Roger Wilco was detected in every one of those time sectors.

     RJ rubbed his eyes and stared blankly at the screen. What was going on? Was the man he knew as his father just a clone of the original Roger Wilco, or an android duplicate? Had an alteration of the timeline caused RJ to become his own father? Was all this an illusion he was experiencing while plugged into a console deep within the bowels of the Supercomputer?

     Roger Wilco only existed until the beginning of the Space Quest IV time sector. After that, he was completely absent all the way 'til Space Quest IX. Then, somewhere between Space Quest IX and Space Quest X (there was no way of telling exactly when this was, since for some reason, the Chronolux couldn't scan the time between sectors, just the sectors themselves), he vanished and never appeared on the timeline again. Of course, this had to be because...

     RJ tried to push that memory away again, but by this point, he was too weak to hold it back:

     ...because he was dead by then. Both him and Mom. No one could have survived an explosion that large...besides, if they weren't dead, Vohaul wouldn't have needed his lackeys to go back in time to bump him off...

     But why Space Quest IV? Why Space Quest IV!?

     KLUNK.

     RJ froze. Though he had been contemplating smashing his head into the keyboard again, he hadn't actually done it -- that noise had come from outside the room he was in. In fact, it seemed to have come from outside the Supercomputer.

     RJ's mind went on full alert. He had no idea what had made that noise, but he knew he wouldn't find out what it was by waiting next to the ChronoLux. He grabbed his time gun, sprang from his chair, barely avoided tripping over one of the deceased Sequel Policemen, and bolted out the door. He ran until he reached the tunnel that led to the landing bay, then crept stealthily along the wall, grateful that the deadly laser beams that once filled the tunnel were now deactivated. As he neared the end of the tunnel, he heard and felt the thrum of an engine filling the air. It sounded like a ship...a ship which definitely wasn't the kind used by the Sequel Police.

     As he reached the entrance to the landing bay, RJ flattened himself against the wall and cautiously peered around the door's circular metal frame. The sound of the engine grew louder and louder, and then there it was -- a small, bulbous shuttle that looked as if it had been built centuries ago. It had gull-wing doors, was painted a gaudy shade of purple and its windows were too dark to make out any of the occupants. It slowly approached the Supercomputer, but despite the massive size of the landing bay's entrances, the ship's nose collided with a section of the Supercomputer's outer wall several feet above the landing bay, producing a noise very similar to the one that RJ had recently heard.

     The ship slowly backed up, then after a moment of hesitation, it decreased its speed, banked slightly, then dropped its landing gear and gingerly maneuvered itself through the landing bay's rightmost entrance -- the entrance right in front of the tunnel where RJ was hiding. Suddenly the shuttle's thrusters cut out and it bounced off the floor of the landing bay with a jarring thud. The thrusters fired up again almost immediately, and after lurching drunkenly in midair for a moment or two, the shuttle slowly lowered itself until it was resting firmly on the cold, cracked plasticrete.

     As a cloud of dust billowed around the shuttle, RJ gripped his gun in his hands, ready to leap out of hiding and confront whatever or whoever was inside the shuttle. Then he remembered that the only thing this gun was good for was opening rips into different time periods. Maybe if he just acted as if it were a real gun, whoever was in that ship might think it was real...if only it didn't look so much like a giant hairdryer...

     There was a sudden hiss of escaping air -- the driver's side door of the shuttle was hinging open, and someone was stepping out. RJ leaped out of the tunnel, his gun aimed at the individual, who was still mostly obscured by the airborne dust.

     "Freeze!" he yelled.

     The figure jumped in alarm and tried to run away, but only succeeded in banging its head on the partially opened door. It clutched its skull with a primal outburst of surprise and pain that made RJ feel as if someone had injected liquid nitrogen into his veins.

     That voice...he knew that voice...

     The figure staggered unsteadily out of the rapidly thinning dust cloud towards RJ. RJ lowered his time gun, gaping at the figure with a mixture of astonishment, disbelief and a small amount of terror.

     It was him...and yet it wasn't him. He seemed older, his clothing was completely different...and his hair definitely wasn't that color when RJ had last seen him...

     Still cringing slightly, Roger Wilco lowered his hand from his head, looked into the widening eyes of his son and grinned.

     "Hey, Junior."

     Deciding that it risked serious damage if it remained conscious for a moment longer, RJ's brain promptly shut itself down. His body dropped to the plasticrete with a soft thud accompanied by a loud clatter as the time gun slipped from his limp fingers.

     Roger Wilco cautiously approached his son, stared mutely at him for a moment, then looked over his shoulder at the shuttle. A tall blonde woman had just emerged from the shuttle through the now open passenger door. She took a few steps forward, regarded the unconscious body sprawled in front of Roger for a moment, then glared coldly at Roger himself.

     "Uh..." said Roger sheepishly, "I guess it would've been better if you'd talked to him first, Bea."
     
     
     
    EDIT: Apparently, I can only center and indent individual lines in "Coding Mode" since if I attempt doing that in "Plain Text" mode, the entire body of text ends up centered or indented. Annoying...
  11. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Well, I've finally got a simple "Behind the Scenes" page for this story uploaded.* It's got explanations for the many obscure in-jokes and references, a lot of deleted scenes, a few sketches, and some other stuff.
     
     
     
    *I say "finally" because when I first uploaded the page, it turned out...wrong.
  12. Like
    Akril got a reaction from suejak in The Time Machination   
    Well, Happy New Year, folks. Here are the last two chapters of The Time Machination.
     
     
     
     
     
    Chapter XXXVIII
     
     "So...that's pretty much it," Roger concluded.
     
    "Really?" RJ asked, caught off-guard by the abrupt end to the story.
     
    "Yes. I don't think he missed anything," Beatrice said.
     
    RJ slowly rose from the patch of plasticrete that he had been sitting on.
     
    "So...when is this little lizard guy going to get here?" he asked dubiously.
     
    "Well...it looks like he was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago," Roger said, glancing at his watch.
     
    "You don't think something might've happened to him, do you?"
     
    Beatrice stepped inside the Raphus' cockpit and pressed a button on the radio.
     
    "Leapin' Lizard, this is Tera. Do you read me?" she asked.
     
    For a moment there was static, then Bohica's thin voice responded:
     
    "I read you loud and clear, Tera."
     
    "What's taking so long, Leapin' Lizard?"
     
    "Sorry -- I ran into a couple of snags coming out of the chronostream, but everything's okay now. I'll be there soon," Bohica replied.
     
    Beatrice acknowledged Bohica's answer, then rejoined her husband and son outside the ship.
     
    "Well, he said he's on his way," she said.
     
    Roger and RJ both nodded. The trio stared out at the darkening sky. The quiet twilight seemed to smooth the jagged angles of the ruined city, making it seem a tiny bit less sad-looking.
     
    After a few minutes punctuated by awkward attempts at starting another conversation, a bright pinprick of light suddenly appeared in a gap in the clouds. It slowly grew larger and brighter, and Roger could soon make out several other lights following it. It was an ominous, yet strangely beautiful sight. In fact, it looked almost like a cluster of falling stars.
     
    Soon it became clear that these weren't meteorites, but spaceships with their headlights on. Roger recognized the lead ship as the one Bohica had picked out for himself back at PlanetAid's fortress, and many of the ships trailing it seemed familiar as well.
     
    Bohica's ship dropped lower and lower, with the ships behind it following its every move. Eventually, Bohica's ship touched down on a large, bare stretch of pavement. Once all the other ships had landed as well, the Bohica's ship took off again, but this time, the rest of the ships didn't follow it. Bohica's ship then sped towards the Supercomputer tower's landing bay, and Roger, Beatrice and RJ barely had enough time to move out of the way as the ship made a tidy, but slightly unsafe landing just a few feet away from the Raphus.
     
    "Well," Bohica said as he hopped out of his ship, "This does look pretty bad...but not quite as bad as I'd feared. Most of the equipment I brought with me should help with the more urgent problems this planet has, but -- "
     
    "Hello, Bohica," Beatrice said coolly.
     
    Forced to put his speculations on hold for the time being, Bohica greeted Roger and Beatrice, then introduced himself to RJ, who stared at him skeptically.
     
    "So you're the guy who's going to help us?" RJ asked.
     
    "Well, indirectly, yes," Bohica said. "That is -- I've made most of the preparations for restoring this world, but it will take more than a single individual to do the actual restoring."
     
    RJ nodded solemnly.
     
    "Although..." Bohica said, "There is something that might get a lot of our work done for us very quickly."
     
    The three humans stared expectantly at Bohica.
     
    "Well?" Beatrice asked.
     
    "Er...I don't think you're going to like it," Bohica said, glancing nervously at RJ.
     
    "Try us," RJ said.
     
    Bohica shook his head and stared at the ground for a moment.
     
    "The Supercomputer," he said.
     
    There was a long pause.
     
    "But...when I took down Vohaul, I formatted that thing," Roger protested. "There's nothing on it anymore."
     
    "True," Bohica said slowly. "But you know, Mr. Wilco...one thing I learned very early on in my profession that every computer -- no matter how large or powerful it might be -- is susceptible to viruses."
     
    He slowly reached inside a pocket in his lab coat.
     
    "And another thing I learned is that any scientist with more than two functional neurons to his name..."
     
    He withdrew his hand, which was now holding a small, flat, square object made of black plastic, with one side of it sheathed in a tiny metal sleeve.
     
    "...would be sure to have at least one backup of his system available."
     
    Roger and his family gaped at the object delicately clutched in Bohica's fingers.
     
    "But...but how?" Roger eventually managed to stammer.
     
    "I do have a time machine," Bohica reminded him. "I travelled back to pre-Vohaul Xenon, found a backup disk for the Supercomputer and made a copy of it for myself."
     
    "Hey," RJ said, waving towards the wall of the Supercomputer, "You're not talking about starting this thing up again, are you? Because I think that's a really, really bad idea."
     
    "I understand your reluctance," Bohica said, "But this computer doesn't have to keep operating indefinitely once we've got it up and running again. If you really do want to pull the plug once and for all once we've gotten this world back to the way it was before, I'm not going to stop you...but we'd all be fools to not take advantage of this technological marvel."
     
    RJ stared dubiously at Bohica, then at the ravaged city many feet below.
     
    "Well...all right," he slowly said after several moments of silent reflection, "But the minute that thing starts acting funny, I'll personally shut it down with this."
     
    He made a menacing gesture with his weapon, then remembered that he was still holding a time gun. He shuffled awkwardly for a moment, cheeks reddening. Bohica glanced uncertainly at RJ, Roger and Beatrice, then shrugged and began speaking again:
     
    "Since this Supercomputer was able to control the weather on this planet, it should be able to repair the atmosphere in just a few days, especially since it doesn't seem too damaged. I'm not sure what it has in the way of toxin removal technology, but the machines I've brought should be able to do whatever it can't.
     
    "I also collected genetic material from nearly all of this planet's native life forms on my trip to pre-Vohaul Xenon. After the Autotiller force-seeds the soil with the various plants I gathered and the vegetation reaches an optimal level, we can thaw out the other organisms that I've got in cold storage, give them a little time to acclimate to their surroundings, then turn them loose. And of course, the nanites should help reconstruct most of the buildings and structures once we've extracted the data about them from the Supercomputer."
     
    "Well...all right," Roger said, still not entirely sure he shared Bohica's confidence. "So, when do you plan on rebooting this thing?"
     
    Bohica suddenly seemed to wilt a little. He glanced nervously at the faces of the three humans, but said nothing.
     
    "Bohica..." Beatrice asked, using the tone of voice she had used with RJ in his younger days when she suspected that he had done something wrong, "What did you do?"
     
    "I admit that I...well...got a bit too eager," Bohica stammered. "While you three were talking, I opened a rip that dropped me inside the Supercomputer, and once I was able to find a working disk drive, I..."
     
    Three pairs of startled, astonished, and mildly alarmed eyes were now locked on Bohica. He fell silent and started to turn a shade of greenish gray. Roger suddenly became aware of a low, constant hum filling the air that hadn't been there when he and Beatrice had landed.
     
    "You restarted this thing already?" RJ said slowly, his voice low.
     
    Bohica didn't respond.
     
    "Do you realize what you might have DONE!?" RJ shouted.
     
    "I understand your concern," Bohica said nervously, "But please -- try to look at this rationally: the Vohaul Virus is gone. There's no trace of it left in this machine. Also, it wasn't the Supercomputer itself that did all this damage -- it was the virus. And like it or not, unless you want to start your civilization over from the Stone Age, this computer may be the only way of getting your world back on its feet...and already, it seems to be working very well."
     
    "Yeah? How?"
     
    Bohica looked out the bay entrance, staring upward.
     
    "Perhaps you might not have noticed...but there's been a change in the weather."
     
    Roger followed his gaze, and suddenly realized that the thick canopy of clouds that had covered the entire sky was dissipating, revealing irregular patches of deep blue, star-speckled sky. The air seemed to be noticeably less pungent as well, and there was a fresh, cool breeze blowing through the bay doors.
     
    RJ stared pensively at the sky.
     
    "So...you're sure nothing can go wrong?" he asked.
     
    "Without any new viruses infecting the system, I'd say we stand a fighting chance," Bohica said. "There is always the possibility of some setback, but hopefully, things should go well,"
     
    "Then why do you sound so uncertain?" RJ demanded.
     
    "Proclaiming that absolutely nothing can go wrong with a major endeavor has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of things going wrong with said endeavor by up to 1000%. It's a subset of Murphy's Law."
     
    RJ stared blankly at Bohica.
     
    "You're not serious, are you?" he asked.
     
    "I'm very serious," Bohica replied. "This theory has yet to be disproven in the many years since it was first postulated...in fact, I observed at least six distinct variations of the 'nothing can go wrong' sentiment when my former colleagues were preparing to operate on your father...and I'm sure you've heard how successful that plan turned out."
     
    RJ continued to gaze at Bohica for a moment or two, then shook his head. After several seconds of contemplation, he turned to face his now not-dead parents. The shock of realizing that they weren't dead still had yet to subside. The mental breakdown would have to wait until later, though. Right now, there were much bigger problems to deal with.
     
    "Well...I'd better get ready to start looking for survivors," he said quietly. "There's a cache of food and supplies hidden in an ancient sub-basement near here, and if there are any rebels still alive in this city, I'm sure they'll need both of those things. After we've gotten a good number of people assembled, we should start looking for the people who escaped to other planets, and possibly get some more help from them."
     
    He holstered his time gun and walked towards the large orange patrol shuttle once piloted by the Sequel Police. After clambering into the cockpit, it didn't take long for him to figure out how the shuttle worked. As its engine began to rumble, RJ waved good-bye to his parents, promising them that he would be back soon. Then the shuttle sped out of the bay doors and was soon out of sight amidst the dark ruins.
     
    Roger turned to Beatrice. She was standing motionless, looking out at the skeletal cityscape, and Roger suddenly noticed that she was crying.
     
    "Hey, don't worry, Bea," he said gently. "I know it looks really bad now, but we'll make it better somehow. It may be hard, but it can't be impossible...especially now that we've got help."
     
    He moved closer to her. Then, to his surprise, he realized that she was smiling.
     
    "My little boy," Beatrice said, her voice trembling with joy. "My little boy, a member of the freedom fighters! I...I can barely believe it!"
     
    "Oh...yeah. I know," Roger agreed. He glanced at his right hand -- the one which he was about to place reassuringly across Beatrice's shoulder -- then quickly hid it behind him.
     
    Bohica looked at Roger and Beatrice, tried to come up with something to say that would lighten the mood but also would stay well within the boundaries of good taste, but eventually gave up. He quietly informed them that he was going to find a safer place to park his ships, then shuffled back to his shuttle. Soon, he too had departed.
     
     
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
     
    Chapter XXXIX
    (SQXII||XENON||00:03:01:02:45)
     
    "Roger?"
     
    "Yeah?"
     
    "What are you thinking?"
     
    Roger stared up at the sky. By now, it had cleared enough for him to see many of Xenon's largest constellations. There was Ositha the Comet-Rider, Norell the Overachiever, and Margot and Riley the Platypuses.
     
    "Nothing," he eventually replied.
     
    Beatrice wasn't convinced. She looked up at the stars, then back at Roger.
     
    "Roger...you're not thinking of going somewhere, are you?"
     
    "I don't know. Maybe."
     
    Beatrice stared at him, astounded.
     
    "No, wait," Roger said quickly. "Don't get me wrong, Bea; I'm going to stay here and do as much as I can to get my planet back to the way it was. Once everything is okay, though..."
     
    Voice trailing off, he looked back up at the stars again and sighed wistfully.
     
    Beatrice was tempted to ask Roger what on Xenon would make him want to leave his home world, after spending so long trying to return to it. But no...this was no time for bickering. Perhaps she never would truly understand him, but this was no longer a problem that would keep her up at night. It was just another idiosyncrasy of his that she would have to get used to.
     
    She thought about the many people whose professions required them to remain several light years away from their spouses for weeks, months or even years. As unpleasant an ordeal as this was, it wasn't as heartbreaking as it had been in the early days of interstellar travel, a time when married couples (or triples, quadruples, etc., depending on the species and/or traditions of the individuals in question) spent the majority of their waking days in one another's company.
     
    Though this custom had long been associated with matrimony, as the average lifespan of Xenonites grew longer and longer, so did the rate of divorce and domestic violence. After many decades of scientific research, the ancient saying "familiarity breeds contempt" was determined to have a sizeable grain of truth to it, and it eventually came to pass that the idea of married couples spending time apart on a regular basis was not only suggested, but flat-out encouraged. Much to the chagrin of the older citizens and many of the self-proclaimed "Traditionalists", this new trend quickly took hold, and in the years that followed, the number of divorces and spousal abuse cases (as well as various neuroses associated with married life) began to decline.
     
    For the most part, Roger and Beatrice's marriage followed the "Together But Apart" ideology fairly closely. Beatrice's job kept her away from Roger for days at a time, and once RJ was old enough, Roger was more or less free to do his own thing (which was usually staying at home watching old Holovision shows). Still, the last few years Beatrice had spent travelling from planet to planet with Roger weren't as mentally scarring as the research had suggested. Despite the worry, the fear, the frustration, the hopelessness and that unpleasant incident with Zondra, she didn't feel traumatized by being in Roger's company for such a long stretch at a time. In fact, she felt almost as if she could live alongside him for a few more years.
     
    However, even though he was her husband, first and foremost, he was Roger. Roger Wilco. A janitor who had saved the galaxy, yet had remained an unsung hero for most of his life, a simple-minded yet inexplicably cunning, unlucky but fortunate, loveable (but perpetually enigmatic) guy. As much as it pained Beatrice to think it, she realized how unfair it would be to keep someone like Roger perpetually at her side. Besides, no matter how far he wandered, thanks to the tracking device he begrudgingly agreed to have reinserted, she would still know where he was.
     
    "Well..." she said quietly, "If you really do want to go somewhere else...I won't hold you back."
     
    Roger looked at Beatrice in mild surprise.
     
    "Really?" he asked.
     
    Beatrice nodded, and Roger grinned meekly.
     
    "Just promise me you'll try to keep in touch," Beatrice said. "And please...let me know when you're going."
     
    "I will," Roger said earnestly. "I'll even try to visit you and RJ when I have the chance."
     
    Beatrice nodded again and smiled. As Roger returned his gaze to the night sky, he began his inevitable reflection on the various events that led up to his current spatial and temporal location.
     
    Though Xenon was still in pretty bad shape, the thought that it would eventually look better than it currently did was somewhat reassuring. However, the thought that most of Xenon's people (and most of the galaxy) would never know about the role Roger played in Vohaul's defeat and the planet's restoration was slightly less positive. Still, as unfair as this concept seemed on the surface, it didn't seem to bother him as much as it might have a couple of decades earlier. If Keech Kwidnunk had been privy to what Roger was currently thinking (and was capable of speaking rationally), he might have reflected on how, given what he had discovered about Roger's nature, it seemed perfectly reasonable that while the universe itself was intimately familiar with Roger, at the same time he was completely unknown by nearly all of its inhabitants.
     
    Perhaps he never would regain the fame he had once had, but that didn't seem to bother him as much now. Perhaps there was a grain of truth to what Kwidnunk had said about his obscurity keeping him safe after all: Being presumed dead as well as obscure would probably make Roger far less likely to run into crazy scientists, evil geniuses he had unknowingly wronged, or (he fervently hoped), borderline-insane aging fangirls.
     
    He faintly recalled the question he had asked his son in the same location he was currently occupying, both several decades and several hours ago:
     
    Why wasn't I available in this time? What happened to me?
     
    After all these years, he finally had the answer to that question. His absence in Space Quest XII wasn't because he was dead -- it was because he was somewhere and somewhen else, unknowingly keeping his past self safe from Vohaul's detection. Now that he had finally returned to his home world --
     
    Roger's train of thought came to a shuddering halt. He had the sensation that he was being watched. Strangely, though, it wasn't a frightening feeling, but a familiar one. He looked up at the stars -- even though he knew that such a gesture was pointless, since the thing he was looking for existed all around him and spread out into infinity -- and spoke with his mind:
     
    "Don't worry. You don't need to watch me anymore. I think I should be all right from now on."
     
    Something beyond the stars seemed to stir slightly. A quiet, bemused sigh seemed to reverberate through every atom in Roger's body. Then, a voice audible only to him said:
     
    "Well, don't come crying to me if anything else goes wrong, Wilco."
     
    Though Roger was a little irritated by this reply, he resisted the temptation to respond to it. Instead, he said:
     
    "Well...thanks again, universe."
     
    For a moment, there was nothing but silence. Then, Roger thought he heard a faint, distant voice reply:
     
    "Happy trails, Pantload."
     
     
     
    Roger continued to stand on the landing pad as the night lumbered on, gazing out at the city and the stars. Beatrice remained by his side, and Roger was so deep in thought that he didn't realize her hand was on his shoulder until she was kissing him. As he gingerly returned her embrace, he was suddenly seized by a feeling of triumphant elation.
     
    He had won. The future he had been dreading for so long had come and gone...and he had survived it. Beatrice was also alive...and she was still beautiful. Xenon had gone through a pretty hard time, but not only was it still there, but there would soon be lots of people (and one slightly neurotic reptile with a collection of highly advanced machines) to aid in its recovery. He would definitely stay there to do whatever he could to help, but after that...
     
    ...after that, he was free. Though the conversations he had had with the universe had been brief and pretty unenlightening, he was now more eager than ever to start exploring it again. With an unburdened mind and a newly restored body, the urge to travel the stars in search of strange creatures, exciting worlds and intriguing tourist attractions burned more strongly within him than ever. Perhaps he could find the Aluminum Mallard again. Perhaps he could visit some of the less dangerous planets he had explored in the past. Perhaps he could simply look up some old friends.
     
    But before any of that happened, he had an incredibly large mess to help clean up.
     
     
     
     
     

    The End
  13. Like
    Akril got a reaction from pcj in The Time Machination   
    Thank you very much for the comments, Blockmaster! I'm glad you enjoyed this story, and I appreciate the positive feedback.
     
    I was inspired to write this a short time after playing the two main SQ fangames of 2012 (a few weeks before the announcement of SpaceVenture), then fell into a pretty deep slump towards the end of that year which slowed my work on this thing to a slow crawl. I was just able to get going on it again towards the later half of 2014, and I was just able to get it to a point where I was satisfied with it towards the end of November.
     
    I never intended for this story to be this large -- it originally started out as my own take for how the series as we know it would wrap up, while at the same time sticking as rigidly as possible to the future that SQ4 laid out for us as well as keeping the spirit of the original games as intact as possible. However, it didn't take long for the page count to grow into the triple digits, and keeping track of the timeline of the official games as well as the SQ7 to SQ9 timeline that I formulated fr this story turned this into a very complicated affair. Still, I'm glad it's done, and I'm glad that it has (so far) been received so well.
     
    Now I just have to finish piecing together the Behind the Scenes page for this thing (along with the plain HTML version of the story itself).
  14. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Thank you very much for the comments, Blockmaster! I'm glad you enjoyed this story, and I appreciate the positive feedback.
     
    I was inspired to write this a short time after playing the two main SQ fangames of 2012 (a few weeks before the announcement of SpaceVenture), then fell into a pretty deep slump towards the end of that year which slowed my work on this thing to a slow crawl. I was just able to get going on it again towards the later half of 2014, and I was just able to get it to a point where I was satisfied with it towards the end of November.
     
    I never intended for this story to be this large -- it originally started out as my own take for how the series as we know it would wrap up, while at the same time sticking as rigidly as possible to the future that SQ4 laid out for us as well as keeping the spirit of the original games as intact as possible. However, it didn't take long for the page count to grow into the triple digits, and keeping track of the timeline of the official games as well as the SQ7 to SQ9 timeline that I formulated fr this story turned this into a very complicated affair. Still, I'm glad it's done, and I'm glad that it has (so far) been received so well.
     
    Now I just have to finish piecing together the Behind the Scenes page for this thing (along with the plain HTML version of the story itself).
  15. Like
    Akril got a reaction from JDHJANUS in The Time Machination   
    Chapter II
     
    Several hours later, Roger and Beatrice landed on Utefu, a tiny, barren world at the edge of the solar system whose surface was covered almost entirely by sharp, jagged rock. It was not a place suited for most life forms; if the absence of an atmosphere or the extreme cold didn't prove fatal to the misguided soul who decided to take a walk on it without any protective clothing, he or she would most likely become shredded like mozzarella by the planet's rough terrain.
     
    The only inhabitable parts of Utefu were a spaceport and the Hilbert Hotel. This hotel was just one of a large chain of hotels owned by Don Hilbert -- an eccentric quadrillionaire best known for his ground-breaking mathematical discoveries as well as his somewhat disturbing obsession with monkeys. It was rumored that his hotels could accommodate a virtually endless number of guests, but just how that was possible was a topic of constant debate.
     
    Due to the bizarre nature of this hotel, Roger was easily able to get a room for both him and Beatrice despite lacking a reservation. The rooms were surprisingly cheap, a welcome surprise to Roger, especially after the cost of the flight from Magmetheus had taken such a large chunk out of the meager amount of cash he and Beatrice still had with them.
     
    Roger informed the receptionist that he and his wife were "Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Trace," and after answering a few other basic questions, the receptionist handed Roger a keycard, told him where the elevators were and wished him and Beatrice a pleasant stay.
     
     
     
    It took about thirty minutes for Roger and Beatrice to locate their room (Room 3x1023). By this time, Beatrice was growing very irritated, and Roger, who had remained mysteriously quiet, tranquil, and focused throughout their entire trip, was starting to return to his normal mental state -- he was also growing very nervous. As soon as he and Beatrice had entered their room, Beatrice folded her arms and glared daggers at him, not saying a word.
     
    Every nerve in Roger's body tingled with anxiety. Remembering his encounter with the future had shaken him up pretty badly, but why did Beatrice have to know about it as well? Why had he promised to tell her everything back on Magmetheus? Why couldn't he have made up a story or just pretended that he had no idea what was going on?
     
    Roger's anger with himself slowly faded into a sense of complete futility. He was frazzled, he was tired, and his back was killing him. He suddenly didn't care whether telling Beatrice about the future of Xenon caused a serious time paradox that erased one or both of them from existence. He had made a promise to Beatrice, and if that was going to be the last promise he ever made in his life, then damn it, he was going to keep that promise.
     
    "Beatrice, I...I have something to tell you. A lot of things, actually."
     
    "I'm listening."
     
    "You'd better sit down first," Roger said, gesturing to one of the beds (his calmer, smarter self had had the foresight to order a room with two single beds instead of one double bed).
     
    Beatrice walked over to one of the beds and sat down, never taking her eyes off of Roger as she did so. Roger sat down next to her.
     
    All right...this is it. You're going to tell Beatrice the truth...about her, about you, about Junior... everything.
     
    "I...uh..."
     
    Easy, now...stay calm...don't screw this up...
     
    "I...I was...that is, I will..."
     
    Spit it out!
     
    "Beatrice, before I first met you, I was on Magmetheus and Junior came there from the future and then sent me into the future. He was nineteen when I met him and he told me that the Xenon Supercomputer had been taken over by the mind of Sludge Vohaul and nearly destroyed the planet..."
     
    Breathe.
     
    "...and Junior had to go back in time to get me because something had happened to me at that point in time and I was the only one who could stop Vohaul again..."
     
    Breathe.
     
    "...and he also said that something had happened to you and that I wouldn't remember most of this once I returned to my own time and -- "
     
    BREATHE!
     
    Roger doubled over, his need to reveal everything to Beatrice overwhelmed by his need for oxygen. After hyperventilating for several seconds, he nervously glanced up at her -- it was the first time he had made eye contact with her during his entire rant. Beatrice opened her mouth to speak, but before she could utter a word, Roger had jumped up from the bed and made a break for the only place in the hotel room where he felt he would be safe: the closet. Beatrice stared in the direction he had gone, barely able to even think.
     
    Idiot...
     
     
     
    Several hours later, Roger emerged from the closet. He knew that hiding from Beatrice forever was impossible, and he also desperately needed to use the bathroom. After doing what had to be done, he slowly walked back to the two beds and collapsed on the one closest to the door.
     
    Beatrice was still sitting on the other bed. She looked at Roger, feeling confused, deceived, afraid...and yes, a little angry. It took several minutes for her to work out just what she ought to say to Roger, an when she finally spoke, her words had a distant, detached quality to them, as if she were a person in a dream Roger was having. Roger answered every question she asked him: Yes, their son was going to bring Roger's past self into the future to save Xenon; yes, Xenon was a horrible mess when Roger was there; and no, he hadn't completely remembered any of this until seeing his past self and the body of Junior's buddy had suddenly brought those hazy memories into sharp focus.
     
    "Until just a few hours ago, all I could really remember was you and Junior," Roger explained. "I remembered him mentioning you being my wife and the picture of you that he showed me, but I didn't remember how he'd talked about you in the past tense..."
     
    Roger sighed heavily.
     
    "Well...I guess I almost remembered," he said dully. "That must have been why I kept changing the subject whenever you brought up the idea of us getting married...something about that just seemed so wrong..."
     
    Roger paused, reflecting on his relationship with Beatrice. Despite the romance between them that had eventually developed after several false starts, unexpected turns and rough patches in both of their lives, Roger had still become nervous whenever Beatrice brought up the possibility of marriage. Though Beatrice initially brushed off his reluctance as a typical male reaction to the idea, Roger couldn't help but think that there was some deeper reason for the way he felt.
     
    For several years, he had continued to shy away from the marriage prospect whenever it entered the conversation, and his life remained relatively uneventful until that one night he and Beatrice had spent at the old bar on the planet Kerona. Roger had no idea what the drink he wound up was, but it was definitely not the Keronian Ale that he'd ordered.
     
    The next thing he knew, he was waking up next to Beatrice in an unfamiliar hotel room. According to what Beatrice told him, he had gotten down on one knee and proposed to her right there in the bar, and she was so moved by his sudden change of character that she said "yes" immediately. They were married just a few days later on one of the many picturesque moons of the planet Pantagama and were now a week or so into their honeymoon.
     
    Roger was sure that Beatrice was playing an elaborate practical joke on him until she showed him a holodisk with a picture of her that had been taken of her during their wedding. The picture showed Beatrice from the waist up, an elaborate crown of some sort atop her head, her golden hair framing her perfect face, her body clad in some sort of traditional style of dress that Roger wasn't familiar with...
     
    It was the same picture that Junior had showed Roger in the future.
     
    "...but it happened anyway," Roger said sadly. "I tried to change things, Bea...but I couldn't."
     
    He slumped back on the bed, both mentally and physically drained. Beatrice stared at the floor, her hands clasped together.
     
    "So..." she said quietly without much emotion, "Any day now, the Vohaul virus is going to attack the Supercomputer...then couple of years later, our son is going to go back in time to get you to save Xenon..."
     
    She paused. She looked at Roger, her brow furrowed.
     
    "Wait a minute...if that was you we saw on Magmetheus, and you say RJ returned you there just a few hours after he sent you into the future..."
     
    Roger continued to stare blankly at the ceiling.
     
    "Then we're...in the past?" Beatrice asked.
     
    Roger nodded. Beatrice's eyes widened and her voice grew a little more worried.
     
    "How are we going to get back to our time, Roger?"
     
    Roger turned his head to look at Beatrice. He tried to think of an answer, and none of the ones he could come up with seemed any good.
     
    "I don't know," he confessed sadly. He returned his gaze to the ceiling, studying the various stains and cracks that decorated it. "I just don't know."
     
    For several seconds there was a thick silence, broken only by the distant rumble of one of the hotel's innumerable ice machines. Then Beatrice noticed the strange gun lying near the foot of Roger's bed, where he had absently dropped it when he and Beatrice first entered the room.
     
    "What's the story with that thing?" Beatrice said, pointing at the device.
     
    Roger forced himself upright, picked up the gun and laid it across his knees.
     
    "This is the same kind of gun Junior used to send me through time," he said. "That dead guy was with Junior when I first saw him. I thought that I might be able to use that guy's gun to bring us back to our time, but..."
     
    He looked at the mangled device and sighed again.
     
    "Can I take a look at it?" Beatrice queried.
     
    "All right...but be careful."
     
    Roger passed Beatrice the gun. Beatrice held it gently, turning it slowly and examining its screen and keypad.
     
    "You don't know how this thing works, do you?" she asked.
     
    "Not really...all I know is that it's broken. The screen wouldn't be like that if it weren't broken."
     
    "Hmm...what if I pressed this?" Beatrice wondered out loud, reaching for a button on the keypad. Before Roger could protest, Beatrice had pressed it and the screen had flickered on with a high-pitched whine. Roger leapt back as if the gun had bitten him.
     
    "It's -- it's not broken," he gasped.
     
    Beatrice looked at the glowing red letters that had appeared on the screen. There were three lines of text, one beginning with "CURR", one beginning with "DEST" and one beginning with "LAST". LAST each consisted of a static row of text and numbers, but the numbers at the end of the CURR row were slowly changing, and DEST (aside from the word itself) consisted of nothing but zeroes.
     
    "What do those things mean?" Roger asked.
     
    "Well," Beatrice said after a moment's thought, "If this gun is supposed to send people through time, it should ideally show the user when and where he's going and where he is now. CURR must mean ‘current time', DEST must mean ‘destination time', and LAST must be the last time the user departed from.
     
    "Although," she said, staring dubiously at the screen, "I don't understand this timekeeping system this thing is using."
     
    She pointed at the CURR line. It read "SQV||UTEFU||-01:210:08:16:27."
     
    "I mean, we are on Utefu, but what's on that line doesn't make sense. What's ‘SQV?'"
     
    "It means...Space Quest V." Roger said quietly.
     
    "Huh?"
     
    "The name isn't important. It's the name of a time sector."
     
    "Oh," Beatrice said, satisfied by Roger's answer but still a little puzzled. She glanced at the CURR line again. It now read "SQV||UTEFU||-01:210:08:15:52."
     
    "Wait a minute...why is this clock counting down?" she asked. "And why is there a minus sign in front of it?"
     
    Roger had to think about this for a little while.
     
    "The Space Quest IV time sector ended just a few hours ago," he eventually said, "But the Space Quest V sector hasn't begun yet. We're in between the two sectors right now."
     
    "So when that clock reaches zero, we'll be in the next one," Beatrice concluded.
     
    Her glance dropped to the two other lines on the LCD screen.
     
    "So this is the last spot that man departed from," she said, pointing to LAST. This line read "SQXII||XENON||00:02:12:16:00."
     
    "Space Quest XII," she reflected. After a moment of contemplation, she turned to Roger.
     
    "Do you have any idea what sector we were in when we got shot back here?"
     
    "I think...I think it was close to the end of Space Quest IX," Roger surmised. He wasn't entirely sure how he came to that conclusion, but ever since his time-traveling experience in Space Quest IV, he had developed an uncanny awareness of where he was chronologically situated in regards to the various Space Quest time sectors.
     
    "Space Quest IX..." Beatrice said slowly. "And we're in between Space Quest IV and V."
     
    Roger sighed.
     
    "Looks like we've got a long wait ahead of us," he mumbled.
     
    Beatrice's face suddenly grew sour.
     
    "A long wait?" she repeated. "Roger, I'm not going to just sit on my thumbs and wait until we hit Space Quest IX...again."
     
    "But Bea, what else can we do? I mean, that gun may not even work..."
     
    "I turned it on," Beatrice countered. "That seems like a good sign that it's working."
     
    "But we don't even know how to use it," Roger protested. "And that user manual I found is useless!"
     
    "I guess we're only going to figure out how it works by experimenting, then," Beatrice snapped. Before Roger could protest, she had entered "SQIX||XENON||00:00:00:05:00" into the gun's DEST field. She then pointed the ungainly thing at the nearest wall and squeezed the trigger.
     
    There was a brief whirring sound that quickly choked and died. There was no blinding flash of light and no tear in the fabric of space-time appearing on the hotel wall. The gun had proven itself quite capable of telling the current time and seeing where and when Junior's buddy's last departure point was, but for actual time travel, it had just turned out to be utterly useless.
     
    Beatrice let the gun fall onto her lap, stared blankly at the wall for a moment and buried her face in her hands. Roger thought of saying something to comfort her, but was unable to come up with anything that sounded genuinely reassuring. What he had said earlier seemed to be ringing truer than ever: it seemed like he and Beatrice were in for a very long wait...
  16. Like
    Akril got a reaction from JDHJANUS in The Time Machination   
    Not a bad idea, but I'd say to wait a little while. Agreeing to narrate this story would be one heck of a commitment. 
     
     
     

    Close -- it's more like the end of SQIX. 
     
     
    Chapter I
     
    The first thing Roger became aware of was sand -- hot, coarse sand. This wasn't surprising at all, since Gritt was covered in sand, but somehow this sand felt different. He lifted his
    face out of the grainy nest it had planted itself in and started brushing the miniscule flecks of rock out of his eyes.
     
    "Roger..." a soft voice next to him moaned.
     
    Beatrice! She was alive!
     
    As soon as Roger had scraped enough of the sand away from his face, he turned in the direction of the voice to see Beatrice sprawled on the ground beside him. She looked disoriented and more than a little shell-shocked...but she was alive.
     
    Emotion overwhelming him, Roger scrambled over to her and threw his arms around her, holding her close to him. Fortunately for him, Beatrice was too weary to push him back as she might have done under normal conditions. However, she wasn't too weary to ask him what the hell he was doing.
     
    "It's okay," Roger said. "It's going to be okay -- it's over now. I'm okay, you're okay...everything's okay..."
     
    As Beatrice tried to figure out just what had come over her husband, something in the distance caught her eye. As she focused on the something, she suddenly realized what (or, in this case, who) it was, and her confusion immediately grew even greater.
     
    "Um...Roger..." she said slowly. "Who is that?"
     
    "It'll be okay," Roger said, still rocking her gently, his face buried in her hair. "It'll all be okay..."
     
    "Roger!" Beatrice hissed. "Look!"
     
    This time, the urgency in his wife's voice made Roger pause and do what she had demanded. Examining his surroundings, he realized that there was much more to their new location besides sand: they were lying between two rows of parked spacecraft, with many more rows disappearing into the distance. It was a parking lot -- but a parking lot for what?
     
    The answer to that question was a building just a few hundred yards to the couple's right. It was, large, domed, and had a fairly nondescript exterior. The only visible opening into the structure was a large doorway with a blue neon sign reading "BAR" affixed to the wall above it.
     
    The hairs on the back of Roger's neck stood on end. He knew this place. He had been here before, many years ago. However, the shock he was currently feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when he saw what had originally caught Beatrice's attention: a skinny male human with dark blond hair, wearing a grey uniform with purple sleeves, slowly walking towards the bar's entrance with an unsteady gait and a completely bewildered expression on his face.
     
    "Who is that?" Beatrice repeated, albeit with differently-placed emphasis.
     
    "That's...that's me." Roger said in a high, tremulous whisper.
     
    Beatrice squinted quizzically at the bewildered human in the distance.
     
    "Why does your hair look like that?" she asked.
     
    Roger didn't answer. As he watched his other self walk into the bar, a memory that had remained faded, distant and hazy for so many years suddenly came rushing back to him: the memory of that talk with his future son, Roger Junior, in Space Quest XII. What his son said about the Xenon Supercomputer, how he had spoken of Beatrice in the past tense, how he had implied that Roger didn't exist in Space Quest XII...Roger remembered it all as clearly as if it had just happened -- and suddenly felt very faint.
     
    "This was right after he sent me back," he whispered to himself. "I spent a few hours in that bar, then I went back outside and -- "
     
    "Roger, what is going on?" Beatrice demanded. "Why did we just see you over there? And what is this place?"
     
    "This...this is the planet Magmetheus," Roger said without any tone or inflection. "I stopped here for a few drinks years ago. I have no idea how we got here...but I think...I think it's a very good idea if we -- "
     
    Beatrice suddenly gasped. She was looking over her shoulder, the exact opposite direction she would have to look in order to see the bar. Roger turned to look in that same direction, and this time his shock was so great that he dropped Beatrice.
     
    One of the nearby ships was a bulky, yellow monstrosity perched on four equally bulky legs. Protruding out from behind the foot of one of these legs was another pair of legs -- however, these legs were much smaller, slimmer, and looked like they belonged to a humanoid.
     
    Beatrice rose to her feet and cautiously made her way towards the ship. After taking one last look at the bar's entrance, Roger got up and followed her. The body the legs were (thankfully) still attached to was sprawled on the ground. It was undeniably the body of a male human, and it looked very much as if it had fallen there. There was a dark, sticky, red puddle beneath it, and though the visor on its helmet made its features difficult to make out, the frozen expression of pain on its face was impossible to overlook.
     
    "Woah...you think he's okay?" Roger asked.
     
    Beatrice knelt down and touched two fingers to the man's throat. And after a few seconds, she shook her head.
     
    "He's dead, all right...and who knows what could have killed him, in a place like this..."
     
    "Junior!" Roger suddenly yelped.
     
    Beatrice stared at Roger, then at the dead man, then at Roger again.
     
    "Roger, what are you talking about? This isn't our son."
     
    Roger took a closer look at the body, and found that Beatrice was right: wasn't Roger Junior's body, but it was wearing the same dull green and brown outfit that Junior had worn when Roger had first met him. Roger hadn't recognized the uniform immediately, but a few seconds of staring at it had jogged his memory again.
     
    He knelt down alongside Beatrice and gingerly began to search the man's body. Before Beatrice could say anything, Roger had extracted a small, white booklet from one of the man's pockets. Printed on the cover were the words "User Manual", overlaying a pale gray diagram of a very familiar-looking device.
     
    It took only a few seconds for Roger to remember where he had seen that device before: it was the gun that Junior had used to send him through time -- this was the user manual for that gun!
     
    He opened the manual, only to find the text and diagrams within it completely incomprehensible. This wasn't because the language or terminology was too complex for him to understand, however: despite the manual being created inside the Xenon Supercomputer, for some inexplicable reason it had been originally written in Sarien, then translated into Rigellian, Ferbangi and then back into Sarien again before finally being translated into basic Xenonian. The result was an insane jumble of words that even the most powerful pocket translator would have run away from, screaming in horror. The text looked as if it might have been understandable at one time, but the only purpose it served now was decorating the manual's pages. Still, if Roger could make some sense out of the manual's diagrams, perhaps he could use that gun to...
     
    Wait a minute...
     
    "The gun...where is it?" Roger wondered out loud.
     
    Beatrice stared at him in disbelief for what had to be the eleventh time since they had arrived on Magmetheus.
     
    "What?" she asked.
     
    "The gun," Roger repeated, getting to his feet and cramming the manual into his pocket. "This guy had it with him the last time I saw him...unless the Sequel Police took it, it's got to be around here somewhere..."
     
    Roger tried to replay the scenario in his head: he and Junior had run one way while Junior's buddy had tried to split up the two Sequel Policemen that had almost killed Roger outside the bar. Junior's buddy must have run this way, only to get gunned down by one or both of the Sequel Policemen, who had then come after Roger and Junior. So if he had been running when he dropped his gun, the gun would have ended up...
     
    "There!" Roger said, running towards a sleek, blue skimmer parked nearby. The gun was lying in the sand just in front of it. Roger picked up the strange device and examined it. It looked just like the one that Junior had used...except this one looked as if it had either been run over or stepped on by an Andorian Megaped. Its casing was badly cracked and dented. There was a keypad and an LCD screen on the side of the gun, but while both were undamaged, the screen was completely dark. It looked as if the gun was completely useless for anything except beating someone over the head with.
     
    "Darn," Roger said, his hopes just as crushed as the gun was.
     
    Beatrice walked up behind him, her footsteps slow and heavy.
     
    "Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on or am I going to have to make you tell me?" she said through clenched teeth.
     
    "I don't know what's going on," Roger cried. "I mean...I sort of know what's going on, but I have no idea how we got here, or what happened on Gritt, or how we're going to get back home, or...or..."
     
    Roger paused. His surroundings suddenly felt strangely quiet, and time itself seemed to have slowed to a crawl. His fear and anxiety dissipated and his mind became almost completely clear. This serenity only lasted briefly before it was replaced by a peculiar sense of urgency. It screamed at him to get as far away from his current location as possible, and quickly. Roger didn't know what had trigged this bizarre sensation, but what he did know was that he and Beatrice needed to leave Magmetheus...and soon.
     
    "We need to leave Magmetheus," he told Beatrice firmly, "And soon."
     
    "Leave?" Beatrice cried. "But..."
     
    "Don't worry," Roger said. "I'll tell you everything...I promise. But right now, we've got to move."
  17. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Well, Happy New Year, folks. Here are the last two chapters of The Time Machination.
     
     
     
     
     
    Chapter XXXVIII
     
     "So...that's pretty much it," Roger concluded.
     
    "Really?" RJ asked, caught off-guard by the abrupt end to the story.
     
    "Yes. I don't think he missed anything," Beatrice said.
     
    RJ slowly rose from the patch of plasticrete that he had been sitting on.
     
    "So...when is this little lizard guy going to get here?" he asked dubiously.
     
    "Well...it looks like he was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago," Roger said, glancing at his watch.
     
    "You don't think something might've happened to him, do you?"
     
    Beatrice stepped inside the Raphus' cockpit and pressed a button on the radio.
     
    "Leapin' Lizard, this is Tera. Do you read me?" she asked.
     
    For a moment there was static, then Bohica's thin voice responded:
     
    "I read you loud and clear, Tera."
     
    "What's taking so long, Leapin' Lizard?"
     
    "Sorry -- I ran into a couple of snags coming out of the chronostream, but everything's okay now. I'll be there soon," Bohica replied.
     
    Beatrice acknowledged Bohica's answer, then rejoined her husband and son outside the ship.
     
    "Well, he said he's on his way," she said.
     
    Roger and RJ both nodded. The trio stared out at the darkening sky. The quiet twilight seemed to smooth the jagged angles of the ruined city, making it seem a tiny bit less sad-looking.
     
    After a few minutes punctuated by awkward attempts at starting another conversation, a bright pinprick of light suddenly appeared in a gap in the clouds. It slowly grew larger and brighter, and Roger could soon make out several other lights following it. It was an ominous, yet strangely beautiful sight. In fact, it looked almost like a cluster of falling stars.
     
    Soon it became clear that these weren't meteorites, but spaceships with their headlights on. Roger recognized the lead ship as the one Bohica had picked out for himself back at PlanetAid's fortress, and many of the ships trailing it seemed familiar as well.
     
    Bohica's ship dropped lower and lower, with the ships behind it following its every move. Eventually, Bohica's ship touched down on a large, bare stretch of pavement. Once all the other ships had landed as well, the Bohica's ship took off again, but this time, the rest of the ships didn't follow it. Bohica's ship then sped towards the Supercomputer tower's landing bay, and Roger, Beatrice and RJ barely had enough time to move out of the way as the ship made a tidy, but slightly unsafe landing just a few feet away from the Raphus.
     
    "Well," Bohica said as he hopped out of his ship, "This does look pretty bad...but not quite as bad as I'd feared. Most of the equipment I brought with me should help with the more urgent problems this planet has, but -- "
     
    "Hello, Bohica," Beatrice said coolly.
     
    Forced to put his speculations on hold for the time being, Bohica greeted Roger and Beatrice, then introduced himself to RJ, who stared at him skeptically.
     
    "So you're the guy who's going to help us?" RJ asked.
     
    "Well, indirectly, yes," Bohica said. "That is -- I've made most of the preparations for restoring this world, but it will take more than a single individual to do the actual restoring."
     
    RJ nodded solemnly.
     
    "Although..." Bohica said, "There is something that might get a lot of our work done for us very quickly."
     
    The three humans stared expectantly at Bohica.
     
    "Well?" Beatrice asked.
     
    "Er...I don't think you're going to like it," Bohica said, glancing nervously at RJ.
     
    "Try us," RJ said.
     
    Bohica shook his head and stared at the ground for a moment.
     
    "The Supercomputer," he said.
     
    There was a long pause.
     
    "But...when I took down Vohaul, I formatted that thing," Roger protested. "There's nothing on it anymore."
     
    "True," Bohica said slowly. "But you know, Mr. Wilco...one thing I learned very early on in my profession that every computer -- no matter how large or powerful it might be -- is susceptible to viruses."
     
    He slowly reached inside a pocket in his lab coat.
     
    "And another thing I learned is that any scientist with more than two functional neurons to his name..."
     
    He withdrew his hand, which was now holding a small, flat, square object made of black plastic, with one side of it sheathed in a tiny metal sleeve.
     
    "...would be sure to have at least one backup of his system available."
     
    Roger and his family gaped at the object delicately clutched in Bohica's fingers.
     
    "But...but how?" Roger eventually managed to stammer.
     
    "I do have a time machine," Bohica reminded him. "I travelled back to pre-Vohaul Xenon, found a backup disk for the Supercomputer and made a copy of it for myself."
     
    "Hey," RJ said, waving towards the wall of the Supercomputer, "You're not talking about starting this thing up again, are you? Because I think that's a really, really bad idea."
     
    "I understand your reluctance," Bohica said, "But this computer doesn't have to keep operating indefinitely once we've got it up and running again. If you really do want to pull the plug once and for all once we've gotten this world back to the way it was before, I'm not going to stop you...but we'd all be fools to not take advantage of this technological marvel."
     
    RJ stared dubiously at Bohica, then at the ravaged city many feet below.
     
    "Well...all right," he slowly said after several moments of silent reflection, "But the minute that thing starts acting funny, I'll personally shut it down with this."
     
    He made a menacing gesture with his weapon, then remembered that he was still holding a time gun. He shuffled awkwardly for a moment, cheeks reddening. Bohica glanced uncertainly at RJ, Roger and Beatrice, then shrugged and began speaking again:
     
    "Since this Supercomputer was able to control the weather on this planet, it should be able to repair the atmosphere in just a few days, especially since it doesn't seem too damaged. I'm not sure what it has in the way of toxin removal technology, but the machines I've brought should be able to do whatever it can't.
     
    "I also collected genetic material from nearly all of this planet's native life forms on my trip to pre-Vohaul Xenon. After the Autotiller force-seeds the soil with the various plants I gathered and the vegetation reaches an optimal level, we can thaw out the other organisms that I've got in cold storage, give them a little time to acclimate to their surroundings, then turn them loose. And of course, the nanites should help reconstruct most of the buildings and structures once we've extracted the data about them from the Supercomputer."
     
    "Well...all right," Roger said, still not entirely sure he shared Bohica's confidence. "So, when do you plan on rebooting this thing?"
     
    Bohica suddenly seemed to wilt a little. He glanced nervously at the faces of the three humans, but said nothing.
     
    "Bohica..." Beatrice asked, using the tone of voice she had used with RJ in his younger days when she suspected that he had done something wrong, "What did you do?"
     
    "I admit that I...well...got a bit too eager," Bohica stammered. "While you three were talking, I opened a rip that dropped me inside the Supercomputer, and once I was able to find a working disk drive, I..."
     
    Three pairs of startled, astonished, and mildly alarmed eyes were now locked on Bohica. He fell silent and started to turn a shade of greenish gray. Roger suddenly became aware of a low, constant hum filling the air that hadn't been there when he and Beatrice had landed.
     
    "You restarted this thing already?" RJ said slowly, his voice low.
     
    Bohica didn't respond.
     
    "Do you realize what you might have DONE!?" RJ shouted.
     
    "I understand your concern," Bohica said nervously, "But please -- try to look at this rationally: the Vohaul Virus is gone. There's no trace of it left in this machine. Also, it wasn't the Supercomputer itself that did all this damage -- it was the virus. And like it or not, unless you want to start your civilization over from the Stone Age, this computer may be the only way of getting your world back on its feet...and already, it seems to be working very well."
     
    "Yeah? How?"
     
    Bohica looked out the bay entrance, staring upward.
     
    "Perhaps you might not have noticed...but there's been a change in the weather."
     
    Roger followed his gaze, and suddenly realized that the thick canopy of clouds that had covered the entire sky was dissipating, revealing irregular patches of deep blue, star-speckled sky. The air seemed to be noticeably less pungent as well, and there was a fresh, cool breeze blowing through the bay doors.
     
    RJ stared pensively at the sky.
     
    "So...you're sure nothing can go wrong?" he asked.
     
    "Without any new viruses infecting the system, I'd say we stand a fighting chance," Bohica said. "There is always the possibility of some setback, but hopefully, things should go well,"
     
    "Then why do you sound so uncertain?" RJ demanded.
     
    "Proclaiming that absolutely nothing can go wrong with a major endeavor has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of things going wrong with said endeavor by up to 1000%. It's a subset of Murphy's Law."
     
    RJ stared blankly at Bohica.
     
    "You're not serious, are you?" he asked.
     
    "I'm very serious," Bohica replied. "This theory has yet to be disproven in the many years since it was first postulated...in fact, I observed at least six distinct variations of the 'nothing can go wrong' sentiment when my former colleagues were preparing to operate on your father...and I'm sure you've heard how successful that plan turned out."
     
    RJ continued to gaze at Bohica for a moment or two, then shook his head. After several seconds of contemplation, he turned to face his now not-dead parents. The shock of realizing that they weren't dead still had yet to subside. The mental breakdown would have to wait until later, though. Right now, there were much bigger problems to deal with.
     
    "Well...I'd better get ready to start looking for survivors," he said quietly. "There's a cache of food and supplies hidden in an ancient sub-basement near here, and if there are any rebels still alive in this city, I'm sure they'll need both of those things. After we've gotten a good number of people assembled, we should start looking for the people who escaped to other planets, and possibly get some more help from them."
     
    He holstered his time gun and walked towards the large orange patrol shuttle once piloted by the Sequel Police. After clambering into the cockpit, it didn't take long for him to figure out how the shuttle worked. As its engine began to rumble, RJ waved good-bye to his parents, promising them that he would be back soon. Then the shuttle sped out of the bay doors and was soon out of sight amidst the dark ruins.
     
    Roger turned to Beatrice. She was standing motionless, looking out at the skeletal cityscape, and Roger suddenly noticed that she was crying.
     
    "Hey, don't worry, Bea," he said gently. "I know it looks really bad now, but we'll make it better somehow. It may be hard, but it can't be impossible...especially now that we've got help."
     
    He moved closer to her. Then, to his surprise, he realized that she was smiling.
     
    "My little boy," Beatrice said, her voice trembling with joy. "My little boy, a member of the freedom fighters! I...I can barely believe it!"
     
    "Oh...yeah. I know," Roger agreed. He glanced at his right hand -- the one which he was about to place reassuringly across Beatrice's shoulder -- then quickly hid it behind him.
     
    Bohica looked at Roger and Beatrice, tried to come up with something to say that would lighten the mood but also would stay well within the boundaries of good taste, but eventually gave up. He quietly informed them that he was going to find a safer place to park his ships, then shuffled back to his shuttle. Soon, he too had departed.
     
     
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
     
    Chapter XXXIX
    (SQXII||XENON||00:03:01:02:45)
     
    "Roger?"
     
    "Yeah?"
     
    "What are you thinking?"
     
    Roger stared up at the sky. By now, it had cleared enough for him to see many of Xenon's largest constellations. There was Ositha the Comet-Rider, Norell the Overachiever, and Margot and Riley the Platypuses.
     
    "Nothing," he eventually replied.
     
    Beatrice wasn't convinced. She looked up at the stars, then back at Roger.
     
    "Roger...you're not thinking of going somewhere, are you?"
     
    "I don't know. Maybe."
     
    Beatrice stared at him, astounded.
     
    "No, wait," Roger said quickly. "Don't get me wrong, Bea; I'm going to stay here and do as much as I can to get my planet back to the way it was. Once everything is okay, though..."
     
    Voice trailing off, he looked back up at the stars again and sighed wistfully.
     
    Beatrice was tempted to ask Roger what on Xenon would make him want to leave his home world, after spending so long trying to return to it. But no...this was no time for bickering. Perhaps she never would truly understand him, but this was no longer a problem that would keep her up at night. It was just another idiosyncrasy of his that she would have to get used to.
     
    She thought about the many people whose professions required them to remain several light years away from their spouses for weeks, months or even years. As unpleasant an ordeal as this was, it wasn't as heartbreaking as it had been in the early days of interstellar travel, a time when married couples (or triples, quadruples, etc., depending on the species and/or traditions of the individuals in question) spent the majority of their waking days in one another's company.
     
    Though this custom had long been associated with matrimony, as the average lifespan of Xenonites grew longer and longer, so did the rate of divorce and domestic violence. After many decades of scientific research, the ancient saying "familiarity breeds contempt" was determined to have a sizeable grain of truth to it, and it eventually came to pass that the idea of married couples spending time apart on a regular basis was not only suggested, but flat-out encouraged. Much to the chagrin of the older citizens and many of the self-proclaimed "Traditionalists", this new trend quickly took hold, and in the years that followed, the number of divorces and spousal abuse cases (as well as various neuroses associated with married life) began to decline.
     
    For the most part, Roger and Beatrice's marriage followed the "Together But Apart" ideology fairly closely. Beatrice's job kept her away from Roger for days at a time, and once RJ was old enough, Roger was more or less free to do his own thing (which was usually staying at home watching old Holovision shows). Still, the last few years Beatrice had spent travelling from planet to planet with Roger weren't as mentally scarring as the research had suggested. Despite the worry, the fear, the frustration, the hopelessness and that unpleasant incident with Zondra, she didn't feel traumatized by being in Roger's company for such a long stretch at a time. In fact, she felt almost as if she could live alongside him for a few more years.
     
    However, even though he was her husband, first and foremost, he was Roger. Roger Wilco. A janitor who had saved the galaxy, yet had remained an unsung hero for most of his life, a simple-minded yet inexplicably cunning, unlucky but fortunate, loveable (but perpetually enigmatic) guy. As much as it pained Beatrice to think it, she realized how unfair it would be to keep someone like Roger perpetually at her side. Besides, no matter how far he wandered, thanks to the tracking device he begrudgingly agreed to have reinserted, she would still know where he was.
     
    "Well..." she said quietly, "If you really do want to go somewhere else...I won't hold you back."
     
    Roger looked at Beatrice in mild surprise.
     
    "Really?" he asked.
     
    Beatrice nodded, and Roger grinned meekly.
     
    "Just promise me you'll try to keep in touch," Beatrice said. "And please...let me know when you're going."
     
    "I will," Roger said earnestly. "I'll even try to visit you and RJ when I have the chance."
     
    Beatrice nodded again and smiled. As Roger returned his gaze to the night sky, he began his inevitable reflection on the various events that led up to his current spatial and temporal location.
     
    Though Xenon was still in pretty bad shape, the thought that it would eventually look better than it currently did was somewhat reassuring. However, the thought that most of Xenon's people (and most of the galaxy) would never know about the role Roger played in Vohaul's defeat and the planet's restoration was slightly less positive. Still, as unfair as this concept seemed on the surface, it didn't seem to bother him as much as it might have a couple of decades earlier. If Keech Kwidnunk had been privy to what Roger was currently thinking (and was capable of speaking rationally), he might have reflected on how, given what he had discovered about Roger's nature, it seemed perfectly reasonable that while the universe itself was intimately familiar with Roger, at the same time he was completely unknown by nearly all of its inhabitants.
     
    Perhaps he never would regain the fame he had once had, but that didn't seem to bother him as much now. Perhaps there was a grain of truth to what Kwidnunk had said about his obscurity keeping him safe after all: Being presumed dead as well as obscure would probably make Roger far less likely to run into crazy scientists, evil geniuses he had unknowingly wronged, or (he fervently hoped), borderline-insane aging fangirls.
     
    He faintly recalled the question he had asked his son in the same location he was currently occupying, both several decades and several hours ago:
     
    Why wasn't I available in this time? What happened to me?
     
    After all these years, he finally had the answer to that question. His absence in Space Quest XII wasn't because he was dead -- it was because he was somewhere and somewhen else, unknowingly keeping his past self safe from Vohaul's detection. Now that he had finally returned to his home world --
     
    Roger's train of thought came to a shuddering halt. He had the sensation that he was being watched. Strangely, though, it wasn't a frightening feeling, but a familiar one. He looked up at the stars -- even though he knew that such a gesture was pointless, since the thing he was looking for existed all around him and spread out into infinity -- and spoke with his mind:
     
    "Don't worry. You don't need to watch me anymore. I think I should be all right from now on."
     
    Something beyond the stars seemed to stir slightly. A quiet, bemused sigh seemed to reverberate through every atom in Roger's body. Then, a voice audible only to him said:
     
    "Well, don't come crying to me if anything else goes wrong, Wilco."
     
    Though Roger was a little irritated by this reply, he resisted the temptation to respond to it. Instead, he said:
     
    "Well...thanks again, universe."
     
    For a moment, there was nothing but silence. Then, Roger thought he heard a faint, distant voice reply:
     
    "Happy trails, Pantload."
     
     
     
    Roger continued to stand on the landing pad as the night lumbered on, gazing out at the city and the stars. Beatrice remained by his side, and Roger was so deep in thought that he didn't realize her hand was on his shoulder until she was kissing him. As he gingerly returned her embrace, he was suddenly seized by a feeling of triumphant elation.
     
    He had won. The future he had been dreading for so long had come and gone...and he had survived it. Beatrice was also alive...and she was still beautiful. Xenon had gone through a pretty hard time, but not only was it still there, but there would soon be lots of people (and one slightly neurotic reptile with a collection of highly advanced machines) to aid in its recovery. He would definitely stay there to do whatever he could to help, but after that...
     
    ...after that, he was free. Though the conversations he had had with the universe had been brief and pretty unenlightening, he was now more eager than ever to start exploring it again. With an unburdened mind and a newly restored body, the urge to travel the stars in search of strange creatures, exciting worlds and intriguing tourist attractions burned more strongly within him than ever. Perhaps he could find the Aluminum Mallard again. Perhaps he could visit some of the less dangerous planets he had explored in the past. Perhaps he could simply look up some old friends.
     
    But before any of that happened, he had an incredibly large mess to help clean up.
     
     
     
     
     

    The End
  18. Like
    Akril got a reaction from pcj in The Time Machination   
    Well, Happy New Year, folks. Here are the last two chapters of The Time Machination.
     
     
     
     
     
    Chapter XXXVIII
     
     "So...that's pretty much it," Roger concluded.
     
    "Really?" RJ asked, caught off-guard by the abrupt end to the story.
     
    "Yes. I don't think he missed anything," Beatrice said.
     
    RJ slowly rose from the patch of plasticrete that he had been sitting on.
     
    "So...when is this little lizard guy going to get here?" he asked dubiously.
     
    "Well...it looks like he was supposed to be here twenty minutes ago," Roger said, glancing at his watch.
     
    "You don't think something might've happened to him, do you?"
     
    Beatrice stepped inside the Raphus' cockpit and pressed a button on the radio.
     
    "Leapin' Lizard, this is Tera. Do you read me?" she asked.
     
    For a moment there was static, then Bohica's thin voice responded:
     
    "I read you loud and clear, Tera."
     
    "What's taking so long, Leapin' Lizard?"
     
    "Sorry -- I ran into a couple of snags coming out of the chronostream, but everything's okay now. I'll be there soon," Bohica replied.
     
    Beatrice acknowledged Bohica's answer, then rejoined her husband and son outside the ship.
     
    "Well, he said he's on his way," she said.
     
    Roger and RJ both nodded. The trio stared out at the darkening sky. The quiet twilight seemed to smooth the jagged angles of the ruined city, making it seem a tiny bit less sad-looking.
     
    After a few minutes punctuated by awkward attempts at starting another conversation, a bright pinprick of light suddenly appeared in a gap in the clouds. It slowly grew larger and brighter, and Roger could soon make out several other lights following it. It was an ominous, yet strangely beautiful sight. In fact, it looked almost like a cluster of falling stars.
     
    Soon it became clear that these weren't meteorites, but spaceships with their headlights on. Roger recognized the lead ship as the one Bohica had picked out for himself back at PlanetAid's fortress, and many of the ships trailing it seemed familiar as well.
     
    Bohica's ship dropped lower and lower, with the ships behind it following its every move. Eventually, Bohica's ship touched down on a large, bare stretch of pavement. Once all the other ships had landed as well, the Bohica's ship took off again, but this time, the rest of the ships didn't follow it. Bohica's ship then sped towards the Supercomputer tower's landing bay, and Roger, Beatrice and RJ barely had enough time to move out of the way as the ship made a tidy, but slightly unsafe landing just a few feet away from the Raphus.
     
    "Well," Bohica said as he hopped out of his ship, "This does look pretty bad...but not quite as bad as I'd feared. Most of the equipment I brought with me should help with the more urgent problems this planet has, but -- "
     
    "Hello, Bohica," Beatrice said coolly.
     
    Forced to put his speculations on hold for the time being, Bohica greeted Roger and Beatrice, then introduced himself to RJ, who stared at him skeptically.
     
    "So you're the guy who's going to help us?" RJ asked.
     
    "Well, indirectly, yes," Bohica said. "That is -- I've made most of the preparations for restoring this world, but it will take more than a single individual to do the actual restoring."
     
    RJ nodded solemnly.
     
    "Although..." Bohica said, "There is something that might get a lot of our work done for us very quickly."
     
    The three humans stared expectantly at Bohica.
     
    "Well?" Beatrice asked.
     
    "Er...I don't think you're going to like it," Bohica said, glancing nervously at RJ.
     
    "Try us," RJ said.
     
    Bohica shook his head and stared at the ground for a moment.
     
    "The Supercomputer," he said.
     
    There was a long pause.
     
    "But...when I took down Vohaul, I formatted that thing," Roger protested. "There's nothing on it anymore."
     
    "True," Bohica said slowly. "But you know, Mr. Wilco...one thing I learned very early on in my profession that every computer -- no matter how large or powerful it might be -- is susceptible to viruses."
     
    He slowly reached inside a pocket in his lab coat.
     
    "And another thing I learned is that any scientist with more than two functional neurons to his name..."
     
    He withdrew his hand, which was now holding a small, flat, square object made of black plastic, with one side of it sheathed in a tiny metal sleeve.
     
    "...would be sure to have at least one backup of his system available."
     
    Roger and his family gaped at the object delicately clutched in Bohica's fingers.
     
    "But...but how?" Roger eventually managed to stammer.
     
    "I do have a time machine," Bohica reminded him. "I travelled back to pre-Vohaul Xenon, found a backup disk for the Supercomputer and made a copy of it for myself."
     
    "Hey," RJ said, waving towards the wall of the Supercomputer, "You're not talking about starting this thing up again, are you? Because I think that's a really, really bad idea."
     
    "I understand your reluctance," Bohica said, "But this computer doesn't have to keep operating indefinitely once we've got it up and running again. If you really do want to pull the plug once and for all once we've gotten this world back to the way it was before, I'm not going to stop you...but we'd all be fools to not take advantage of this technological marvel."
     
    RJ stared dubiously at Bohica, then at the ravaged city many feet below.
     
    "Well...all right," he slowly said after several moments of silent reflection, "But the minute that thing starts acting funny, I'll personally shut it down with this."
     
    He made a menacing gesture with his weapon, then remembered that he was still holding a time gun. He shuffled awkwardly for a moment, cheeks reddening. Bohica glanced uncertainly at RJ, Roger and Beatrice, then shrugged and began speaking again:
     
    "Since this Supercomputer was able to control the weather on this planet, it should be able to repair the atmosphere in just a few days, especially since it doesn't seem too damaged. I'm not sure what it has in the way of toxin removal technology, but the machines I've brought should be able to do whatever it can't.
     
    "I also collected genetic material from nearly all of this planet's native life forms on my trip to pre-Vohaul Xenon. After the Autotiller force-seeds the soil with the various plants I gathered and the vegetation reaches an optimal level, we can thaw out the other organisms that I've got in cold storage, give them a little time to acclimate to their surroundings, then turn them loose. And of course, the nanites should help reconstruct most of the buildings and structures once we've extracted the data about them from the Supercomputer."
     
    "Well...all right," Roger said, still not entirely sure he shared Bohica's confidence. "So, when do you plan on rebooting this thing?"
     
    Bohica suddenly seemed to wilt a little. He glanced nervously at the faces of the three humans, but said nothing.
     
    "Bohica..." Beatrice asked, using the tone of voice she had used with RJ in his younger days when she suspected that he had done something wrong, "What did you do?"
     
    "I admit that I...well...got a bit too eager," Bohica stammered. "While you three were talking, I opened a rip that dropped me inside the Supercomputer, and once I was able to find a working disk drive, I..."
     
    Three pairs of startled, astonished, and mildly alarmed eyes were now locked on Bohica. He fell silent and started to turn a shade of greenish gray. Roger suddenly became aware of a low, constant hum filling the air that hadn't been there when he and Beatrice had landed.
     
    "You restarted this thing already?" RJ said slowly, his voice low.
     
    Bohica didn't respond.
     
    "Do you realize what you might have DONE!?" RJ shouted.
     
    "I understand your concern," Bohica said nervously, "But please -- try to look at this rationally: the Vohaul Virus is gone. There's no trace of it left in this machine. Also, it wasn't the Supercomputer itself that did all this damage -- it was the virus. And like it or not, unless you want to start your civilization over from the Stone Age, this computer may be the only way of getting your world back on its feet...and already, it seems to be working very well."
     
    "Yeah? How?"
     
    Bohica looked out the bay entrance, staring upward.
     
    "Perhaps you might not have noticed...but there's been a change in the weather."
     
    Roger followed his gaze, and suddenly realized that the thick canopy of clouds that had covered the entire sky was dissipating, revealing irregular patches of deep blue, star-speckled sky. The air seemed to be noticeably less pungent as well, and there was a fresh, cool breeze blowing through the bay doors.
     
    RJ stared pensively at the sky.
     
    "So...you're sure nothing can go wrong?" he asked.
     
    "Without any new viruses infecting the system, I'd say we stand a fighting chance," Bohica said. "There is always the possibility of some setback, but hopefully, things should go well,"
     
    "Then why do you sound so uncertain?" RJ demanded.
     
    "Proclaiming that absolutely nothing can go wrong with a major endeavor has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of things going wrong with said endeavor by up to 1000%. It's a subset of Murphy's Law."
     
    RJ stared blankly at Bohica.
     
    "You're not serious, are you?" he asked.
     
    "I'm very serious," Bohica replied. "This theory has yet to be disproven in the many years since it was first postulated...in fact, I observed at least six distinct variations of the 'nothing can go wrong' sentiment when my former colleagues were preparing to operate on your father...and I'm sure you've heard how successful that plan turned out."
     
    RJ continued to gaze at Bohica for a moment or two, then shook his head. After several seconds of contemplation, he turned to face his now not-dead parents. The shock of realizing that they weren't dead still had yet to subside. The mental breakdown would have to wait until later, though. Right now, there were much bigger problems to deal with.
     
    "Well...I'd better get ready to start looking for survivors," he said quietly. "There's a cache of food and supplies hidden in an ancient sub-basement near here, and if there are any rebels still alive in this city, I'm sure they'll need both of those things. After we've gotten a good number of people assembled, we should start looking for the people who escaped to other planets, and possibly get some more help from them."
     
    He holstered his time gun and walked towards the large orange patrol shuttle once piloted by the Sequel Police. After clambering into the cockpit, it didn't take long for him to figure out how the shuttle worked. As its engine began to rumble, RJ waved good-bye to his parents, promising them that he would be back soon. Then the shuttle sped out of the bay doors and was soon out of sight amidst the dark ruins.
     
    Roger turned to Beatrice. She was standing motionless, looking out at the skeletal cityscape, and Roger suddenly noticed that she was crying.
     
    "Hey, don't worry, Bea," he said gently. "I know it looks really bad now, but we'll make it better somehow. It may be hard, but it can't be impossible...especially now that we've got help."
     
    He moved closer to her. Then, to his surprise, he realized that she was smiling.
     
    "My little boy," Beatrice said, her voice trembling with joy. "My little boy, a member of the freedom fighters! I...I can barely believe it!"
     
    "Oh...yeah. I know," Roger agreed. He glanced at his right hand -- the one which he was about to place reassuringly across Beatrice's shoulder -- then quickly hid it behind him.
     
    Bohica looked at Roger and Beatrice, tried to come up with something to say that would lighten the mood but also would stay well within the boundaries of good taste, but eventually gave up. He quietly informed them that he was going to find a safer place to park his ships, then shuffled back to his shuttle. Soon, he too had departed.
     
     
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------
     
     
    Chapter XXXIX
    (SQXII||XENON||00:03:01:02:45)
     
    "Roger?"
     
    "Yeah?"
     
    "What are you thinking?"
     
    Roger stared up at the sky. By now, it had cleared enough for him to see many of Xenon's largest constellations. There was Ositha the Comet-Rider, Norell the Overachiever, and Margot and Riley the Platypuses.
     
    "Nothing," he eventually replied.
     
    Beatrice wasn't convinced. She looked up at the stars, then back at Roger.
     
    "Roger...you're not thinking of going somewhere, are you?"
     
    "I don't know. Maybe."
     
    Beatrice stared at him, astounded.
     
    "No, wait," Roger said quickly. "Don't get me wrong, Bea; I'm going to stay here and do as much as I can to get my planet back to the way it was. Once everything is okay, though..."
     
    Voice trailing off, he looked back up at the stars again and sighed wistfully.
     
    Beatrice was tempted to ask Roger what on Xenon would make him want to leave his home world, after spending so long trying to return to it. But no...this was no time for bickering. Perhaps she never would truly understand him, but this was no longer a problem that would keep her up at night. It was just another idiosyncrasy of his that she would have to get used to.
     
    She thought about the many people whose professions required them to remain several light years away from their spouses for weeks, months or even years. As unpleasant an ordeal as this was, it wasn't as heartbreaking as it had been in the early days of interstellar travel, a time when married couples (or triples, quadruples, etc., depending on the species and/or traditions of the individuals in question) spent the majority of their waking days in one another's company.
     
    Though this custom had long been associated with matrimony, as the average lifespan of Xenonites grew longer and longer, so did the rate of divorce and domestic violence. After many decades of scientific research, the ancient saying "familiarity breeds contempt" was determined to have a sizeable grain of truth to it, and it eventually came to pass that the idea of married couples spending time apart on a regular basis was not only suggested, but flat-out encouraged. Much to the chagrin of the older citizens and many of the self-proclaimed "Traditionalists", this new trend quickly took hold, and in the years that followed, the number of divorces and spousal abuse cases (as well as various neuroses associated with married life) began to decline.
     
    For the most part, Roger and Beatrice's marriage followed the "Together But Apart" ideology fairly closely. Beatrice's job kept her away from Roger for days at a time, and once RJ was old enough, Roger was more or less free to do his own thing (which was usually staying at home watching old Holovision shows). Still, the last few years Beatrice had spent travelling from planet to planet with Roger weren't as mentally scarring as the research had suggested. Despite the worry, the fear, the frustration, the hopelessness and that unpleasant incident with Zondra, she didn't feel traumatized by being in Roger's company for such a long stretch at a time. In fact, she felt almost as if she could live alongside him for a few more years.
     
    However, even though he was her husband, first and foremost, he was Roger. Roger Wilco. A janitor who had saved the galaxy, yet had remained an unsung hero for most of his life, a simple-minded yet inexplicably cunning, unlucky but fortunate, loveable (but perpetually enigmatic) guy. As much as it pained Beatrice to think it, she realized how unfair it would be to keep someone like Roger perpetually at her side. Besides, no matter how far he wandered, thanks to the tracking device he begrudgingly agreed to have reinserted, she would still know where he was.
     
    "Well..." she said quietly, "If you really do want to go somewhere else...I won't hold you back."
     
    Roger looked at Beatrice in mild surprise.
     
    "Really?" he asked.
     
    Beatrice nodded, and Roger grinned meekly.
     
    "Just promise me you'll try to keep in touch," Beatrice said. "And please...let me know when you're going."
     
    "I will," Roger said earnestly. "I'll even try to visit you and RJ when I have the chance."
     
    Beatrice nodded again and smiled. As Roger returned his gaze to the night sky, he began his inevitable reflection on the various events that led up to his current spatial and temporal location.
     
    Though Xenon was still in pretty bad shape, the thought that it would eventually look better than it currently did was somewhat reassuring. However, the thought that most of Xenon's people (and most of the galaxy) would never know about the role Roger played in Vohaul's defeat and the planet's restoration was slightly less positive. Still, as unfair as this concept seemed on the surface, it didn't seem to bother him as much as it might have a couple of decades earlier. If Keech Kwidnunk had been privy to what Roger was currently thinking (and was capable of speaking rationally), he might have reflected on how, given what he had discovered about Roger's nature, it seemed perfectly reasonable that while the universe itself was intimately familiar with Roger, at the same time he was completely unknown by nearly all of its inhabitants.
     
    Perhaps he never would regain the fame he had once had, but that didn't seem to bother him as much now. Perhaps there was a grain of truth to what Kwidnunk had said about his obscurity keeping him safe after all: Being presumed dead as well as obscure would probably make Roger far less likely to run into crazy scientists, evil geniuses he had unknowingly wronged, or (he fervently hoped), borderline-insane aging fangirls.
     
    He faintly recalled the question he had asked his son in the same location he was currently occupying, both several decades and several hours ago:
     
    Why wasn't I available in this time? What happened to me?
     
    After all these years, he finally had the answer to that question. His absence in Space Quest XII wasn't because he was dead -- it was because he was somewhere and somewhen else, unknowingly keeping his past self safe from Vohaul's detection. Now that he had finally returned to his home world --
     
    Roger's train of thought came to a shuddering halt. He had the sensation that he was being watched. Strangely, though, it wasn't a frightening feeling, but a familiar one. He looked up at the stars -- even though he knew that such a gesture was pointless, since the thing he was looking for existed all around him and spread out into infinity -- and spoke with his mind:
     
    "Don't worry. You don't need to watch me anymore. I think I should be all right from now on."
     
    Something beyond the stars seemed to stir slightly. A quiet, bemused sigh seemed to reverberate through every atom in Roger's body. Then, a voice audible only to him said:
     
    "Well, don't come crying to me if anything else goes wrong, Wilco."
     
    Though Roger was a little irritated by this reply, he resisted the temptation to respond to it. Instead, he said:
     
    "Well...thanks again, universe."
     
    For a moment, there was nothing but silence. Then, Roger thought he heard a faint, distant voice reply:
     
    "Happy trails, Pantload."
     
     
     
    Roger continued to stand on the landing pad as the night lumbered on, gazing out at the city and the stars. Beatrice remained by his side, and Roger was so deep in thought that he didn't realize her hand was on his shoulder until she was kissing him. As he gingerly returned her embrace, he was suddenly seized by a feeling of triumphant elation.
     
    He had won. The future he had been dreading for so long had come and gone...and he had survived it. Beatrice was also alive...and she was still beautiful. Xenon had gone through a pretty hard time, but not only was it still there, but there would soon be lots of people (and one slightly neurotic reptile with a collection of highly advanced machines) to aid in its recovery. He would definitely stay there to do whatever he could to help, but after that...
     
    ...after that, he was free. Though the conversations he had had with the universe had been brief and pretty unenlightening, he was now more eager than ever to start exploring it again. With an unburdened mind and a newly restored body, the urge to travel the stars in search of strange creatures, exciting worlds and intriguing tourist attractions burned more strongly within him than ever. Perhaps he could find the Aluminum Mallard again. Perhaps he could visit some of the less dangerous planets he had explored in the past. Perhaps he could simply look up some old friends.
     
    But before any of that happened, he had an incredibly large mess to help clean up.
     
     
     
     
     

    The End
  19. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Chapter X
    (SQV|| SUXTUU'BIIYU ||00:24:03:07:12)
     
    The Raphus, Roger discovered, wasn't as bad on the inside as it was on the outside. It was surprisingly spacious, even with two people sharing it. It had two sleeping cots, a food and drink dispenser, and even an older database. The pilot's and co-pilot's chairs were even equipped with seat belts -- a feature which had become less and less common on many of the spacecraft in Roger and Beatrice's time, despite numerous complaints from many transportation safety organizations.
     
    However, Roger was still skeptical about the reliability of the Raphus. The controls didn't always behave the way he wanted them to, and he often heard strange sounds coming from the engine. When their journey from Suxtuu'biiyu began, Roger was afraid that the Raphus would suffer a malfunction before they were a quarter of the way to Xirdneth. However, it wasn't until halfway to their destination that things started going wrong.
     
    It all started with a loud clunk from the belly of the ship that woke Beatrice out of a deep sleep. Unstrapping herself from her cot, she hurried to the cockpit and saw that several ominous red warning lights were on. Yelling at Roger to wake up, she hurriedly began to search the ship's database for the nearest habitable world. This turned out to be a small, dry planet named Minott, which the database claimed to be inhabited by a sentient species with a moderately advanced civilization. Under the circumstances, Beatrice couldn't have asked for more.
     
    After nearly an hour of tension, fear and near-panic, the Raphus made a majestic controlled crash onto the surface of Minott, just a few hundred yards away from the outskirts of Finndo, the planet's largest city. As Roger opened the ship and stepped outside, he realized that although there seemed to be in no imminent danger of the ship exploding, there was no denying that there was something seriously wrong with it. Opening the maintenance hatch revealed what the problem was: one of the ion coils hadn't been anchored properly, and the constant vibrations of the ship had knocked it out of alignment.
     
    "If we don't get that coil fixed, it's only a matter of time before it fails," Beatrice sighed. "Then that engine won't be anything more than two tons of dead weight."
     
    "I sure hope they can help us," Roger said, gesturing towards the crowd of aliens that was slowly approaching them.
     
     
     
    The planet Minott was first discovered several hundred years ago, and though its people had willingly embraced most of the information and technology their visitors had shared with them, their civilization appeared very much unchanged from its primitive past. The roads were unpaved, most of the buildings were built out of clay bricks, and even the largest cities on the planet took less than a day to pass through. However, closer examination would reveal that the wheeled carts which were their chief mode of transportation were pulled by robots, most individuals owned a telescreen or a database, and even though the Minottans had never shown any interest in space travel, there were still a few establishments on the planet which specialized in repairing spaceships.
     
    As for the Minottans themselves, they were creatures with flat, roughly square bodies, with one spindly leg to each corner, with two eyestalks and two prehensile tentacles protruding from the center of their bodies. For many visitors, it was difficult to describe them adequately without resorting to the phrase "table-shaped".
     
    Though the Minottans had welcomed the contributions from visitors from other worlds with open arms, they were surprisingly less welcoming of actual visitors. The average off-worlder would usually be shunned by the Minottans, while a more fortunate one would be tolerated...up to a point. It was difficult to say why the Minottans had such a profound dislike of other sentient species, but many had hypothesized that some sort of deep-seated cultural reason was behind it -- after all, the Minottans did have a habit of clinging tenaciously to their traditions, despite the sudden rise of technology on their world.
     
    The only off-worlders living in Finndo besides Roger and Beatrice were two humanoids named Grenold and Arngor, who both lived and worked in a small hangar on the outskirts of the city. They ran a small interplanetary taxi service (which didn't extend any further than four light-years) as well as a modest repair shop. After the humanoids had examined the Raphus, they informed Roger and Beatrice that the repairing the ion coil would cost 3,500 Buckazoids. Roger's heart sank at this. Once again, he would have to find some way of earning money, and on a planet as unfriendly towards off-worlders as Minott, that hardly seemed like an easy task. Fortunately, Grenold and Arngor were kind enough to offer them a place to stay, and even though said "place" was just a bare patch of land next to the hangar which was just large enough to park the Raphus on, Roger and Beatrice couldn't afford to be choosy in their current predicament.
     
    Unsurprisingly, there were very few Minottans who were even willing to entertain the notion of Roger working for them. Most of them would turn him away as soon as the words "I'm looking for a job" were uttered by him, and the few meetings with prospective employers that he did get resulted in the exact same outcome.
     
    The only lucrative activity Roger was eventually able to find was at a tiny restaurant. His job (if it could be called that) was walking around the city wearing a shirt that randomly flashed subliminal advertisements for the restaurant and its various dishes. The pay wasn't great, but it wasn't every day Roger had the chance to earn money by just taking a casual stroll. The only real problem he ran into was when he happened to glance at his reflection in a shop window and suddenly found himself craving kaetS kideN.
     
    One thing Roger noticed as he continued to walk around Finndo were the tall metal spires which he would occasionally see standing in a vacant lot, a wide field, or near the outskirts of the city. At first he thought they were antennas of some kind, but their lack of any lights, panels, or anything mechanical made him wonder whether they were bizarre works of art, of possibly religious symbols of some kind.
     
    When Roger was able to get the attention of a passing Minottan during one of his daily jaunts, he asked the little creature about the spires. However, the Minottan only mumbled an unfamiliar word under its breath, then hurried on its way. Two more attempts yielded the same result, and Roger eventually gave up. As he continued walking, he noticed that the streets were becoming strangely quiet. The longer he walked, the fewer Minottans there were to be seen. He stopped walking, wondering if such a dearth of potential customers was reason enough for him to take the rest of the day off. It was then that he realized how cold the day had become, and how thick the clouds overhead were getting.
     
    Yes, Roger decided. He was definitely going to take the rest of the day off.
     
     
     
    By the time Roger had made it back to the Raphus, it was so overcast that it seemed as if evening had arrived several hours early. The wind had picked up as well, blowing stinging waves of sand across the streets.
     
    "It looks awful out there," Beatrice remarked as he stepped inside and pulled the door shut behind him. "I don't blame you for coming home early. Even Grenold and Arngor have shut up shop for the day."
     
    Roger nodded.
     
    "Hook anybody today?" Beatrice asked.
     
    "Maybe one or two," Roger shrugged. "I might've earned a whole ten Buckazoids today."
     
    He collapsed into the chair in front of the ship's database and began to idly browse its various entries. Beatrice sighed and returned her attention to her computer. She was desperately trying to find another repair shop that didn't charge as much as Grenold and Arngor, but so far, her searches had turned up nothing. For some time, Roger and Beatrice remained engrossed in their respective activities, with the only sound coming from the wind outside.
     
    "Wow," Roger remarked, glancing out a porthole at the darkening sky, "It just keeps getting worse out there! What's the forecast like, Bea?"
     
    Happy to do something that didn't have a strong chance of ending in complete failure, Beatrice looked up the local weather report. Unfortunately, the weather was starting to have an impact on the network she was using, and it took nearly two minutes for the report to fully load.
     
    "Hmm...'60% chance of thlekthras today. Staying indoors strongly recommended. If you must go outside for any reason, be sure to wear a grounding device. You have been warned.'."
     
    "What the heck's a ‘thlekthra?'" Roger asked, cautiously trying out the unfamiliar syllables.
     
    "I don't know," Beatrice admitted. "It sounds like some kind of meteorological phenomenon, but there doesn't seem to be a word for it in our language...Just a minute, I'll look it up."
     
    She entered the word and waited for the network to respond. Roger returned to what he had been doing on the database before the weather had distracted him: flipping through a listing of all the ships available in various used shipyards throughout the quadrant, trying to find one that had a cool name as well as a low price. The list was in alphabetical order, and he was currently about halfway through the 50,000 or so A's.
     
    Altitonant...Altikron's Gem...Altarian Bolt...Aluminum Mallard...Alu'Quistaa...
     
    Wait a minute...
     
    Roger blinked and backtracked to the previous ship's entry. His eyes widened. There was no mistaking that name or the image next to it. It was his ship -- well, it had been his ship until it had gotten towed after he had accidentally parked it in a handicapped section at StarCon Academy. He had never been able to scrape together enough money to get it back and had almost forgotten about it over the years...but to see it now, looking almost as pristine as it had when he first discovered it half-buried in that trash freighter, Roger felt the hand of nostalgia pluck at his heartstrings.
     
    He had to have that ship, no matter how far away it was and how much it cost. He glanced at the location of the ship and the price, and was astonished to find that not only was the ship within his price range, but the planet that Fizak's Used Ship Emporium was located on was only two light-years away. It almost seemed too good to be true. At last he would have something familiar to have with him as he and Beatrice continued their --
     
    "Roger, where are you going?" Beatrice asked, looking up from her computer. Roger, who had nearly reached the ship's door by this point, turned to Bea and spoke to her as if he were six years old and had just gotten his first Hoverboard (not that this had ever actually happened to him).
     
    "The Aluminum Mallard is at a used shipyard on Plaxurik II!" he exclaimed.
     
    "The Aluminum what?"
     
    "That old ship I used to have," Roger said. "And I've got just enough Buckazoids to buy it! We don't have to fix that purple hunk of scrap at all -- we can just sell it after I buy the Mallard! All I need to do is catch a taxi out to the Dexikor System, and I'll be back here in just a couple of days!"
     
    Beatrice glared sternly at him.
     
    "Roger, we are not buying another ship," she said. "And you are definitely not...Hey! Look at me when I'm -- ."
     
    Beatrice's sentence was cut short as Roger, completely oblivious to her words, opened the door, only to nearly be bowled over by a strong gust of wind that came hurtling inside.
     
    "And you're definitely not going outside in this weather!" Beatrice continued. When Roger promptly did just what she had ordered him not to, Beatrice cursed under her breath and was rising from her cot to chase after him when she noticed that the entry on thlekthras had finally finished loading on her computer. After reading the first few sentences of the entry, panic seized her. She turned and bolted out of the Raphus, but was forced to cling to the doorframe in order to remain standing. Roger had almost made it to the road by now, wobbling unsteadily in the fierce wind.
     
    "Roger!" she screamed, trying to make herself heard over the howling maelstrom. "You've got to get back inside! It's not safe out here!"
     
    "Hey, it's just a little storm," Roger hollered over his shoulder. "I can handle something like -- ."
     
    Suddenly, the gloomy sky was illuminated by something that looked like a blue lightning bolt twisted into a spiral. It spun out of the clouds and came crashing to the ground several hundred yards away from where Roger was standing.
     
    "What was that!?" Roger yelped.
     
    "That was a thlekthra!" Beatrice yelled. "Roger, get back in the ship -- now!"
     
    Even though he still had no idea what a thlekthra was, the sight of one made Roger think that perhaps staying inside was a good idea after all. However, as he was turning to walk back to the Raphus, another strong gust of wind caught him, this one so strong that it sent him flying across the road, eventually crashing into the base of one of those mysterious metal spires. Roger lay stunned for a moment, then started to pull himself to his feet, using the spire to support him. However, just as he had hoisted himself into a hunched but steady sitting position, the gray sky above him flared with light again. Roger looked up just in time to see a blue spiraling lightning bolt come snaking down from what seemed to be directly above him. In a matter of nanoseconds, the bolt had struck the spire Roger was clinging to, then vanished.
     
    After recovering from the brief blindness caused by the flash, Beatrice stared at the spot the thlekthra had hit. The spire was still there, looking completely undamaged. Roger, however, was gone.
  20. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    EDIT: There have been several injokes/references in this story so far. How many have you spotted?
     
     
     
    Chapter IX
    (SQV||SUXTUU'BIIYU||01:02:60:12)
     
    As incredibly varied as aesthetics were for the many sentient species that populated the galaxy, Roger found it hard to imagine that any intelligent life form could see the ship that Beatrice had purchased as anything but ugly. It was squat, bulbous, painted a nauseating shade of purple, and devoid of any feature to inspire any feelings of confidence or pride in its owner.
     
    "I think it's sort of cute," Beatrice said.
     
    "It's embarrassing," Roger retorted.
     
    "It's also the thing that's going to get us out of here," Beatrice snapped. "I'm sorry it's not the most attractive ship in the galaxy, but for 100,000 Skrils, I was lucky to get one that worked."
     
    "Okay, okay, sorry," Roger said. He slowly ran a hand over one of the ship's tail fins and noticed the name Raphus emblazoned on the hull.
     
    "I think it still might need a few adjustments, but it definitely works." Beatrice said. "I just need to make sure it's really as space-worthy as the ad claimed before we leave this planet."
     
    "Good idea," Roger said. "But...where should we go?"
     
    "I actually haven't decided on a destination yet," Beatrice admitted, "But at this point, I'd prefer any planet to this one."
     
     
     
    Roger was so elated at the prospect of finally leaving Suxtu'biiyu that he was unnaturally cheery during the next few days as he worked at Bilkoria. The pranks played on him by his co-workers were little more than mild irritations, for he knew that it wouldn't be long before the various unpleasant smells, stains, and messes of Bilkoria would be nothing but memories. Even the incident where a new employee dumped a bucket of water on him that caused his hologarb to start flickering only caused him some mild concern -- a couple of minutes under the hand-drying machine in the restroom seemed to have saved the invaluable device.
     
    However, the sight of a large poster plastered to a wall next to the shuttle station one morning made all of Roger's happiness vanish almost instantaneously.
     
    The poster had his face on it. His real face, not the fake one his Hologarb was providing him with. The word "Wanted" was printed above his face in large, bold letters, and below his face in smaller print were the words:
     
    "Wanted for wanton destruction and theft of Bilkoria property. If you see this humanoid or know of his whereabouts, please contact Bilkoria Amusements, Inc. immediately."
     
    For several seconds, Roger could do nothing but stare at the poster in mute horror. He had just started to think that Bilkoria Amusements, Inc. (formerly the Gippazoid Novelty Company) was no longer on his case about the "free" whistle he had ordered. However, it seemed they were still hunting him down...but for different reasons.
     
    "Wanton destruction and theft of Bilkoria property"...that could only refer to the droids that Gippazoid had sent after Roger in the Space Quest III and V time sectors: Arnoid the Annihilator and WD-40. Roger had destroyed both of them (though the second one had been repaired with some drastic alterations), taken Arnoid's invisibility belt, and used the cloaking device from WD-40's ship to hide his own ship. It seemed unlikely that Gippazoid would have overlooked the loss of two such powerful droids that easily. It had taken them a long time, but now it seemed that they finally knew who was responsible...and there didn't seem to be any technicalities involving invisible ink that could clear Roger's name this time.
     
    Then there was the incident with the water bucket. Had the other employee recognized him? Did he know Roger was wearing a hologarb? Whatever the answer was, Roger couldn't risk such a thing happening again. However, Roger knew that there was one last trip to that company he absolutely needed to make.
     
     
     
    Once arriving at Bilkoria, Roger went straight to Quoob's office and informed him that he wanted to quit immediately.
     
    "It's my mother-in-law," Roger explained. "She's coming to visit me and my wife, and her brother was killed by one of your Radioactive Ant Farms ten years ago."
     
    Quoob slowly shook his head.
     
    "We tell them right there on the package that those ants will grow 100 times their original size," he sighed, "But they never read it."
     
    "Anyway, we've never met before, but if she finds out that I'm working for you guys..."
     
    "Say no more," Quoob said gloomily. "I understand."
     
    He launched into a speech about how pleased he was to have had Roger working for Bilkoria and how sad he was to learn that Roger would soon be leaving. It sounded as if he had given the exact same speech many times before, and was so devoid of any sort of emotion that Roger didn't even raise an eyebrow at the quality of his work being praised so highly.
     
    After several questions and some paperwork, Roger was no longer an employee of Bilkoria Amusements, Inc. He said his farewells to Quoob, turned to leave, and was just about to step out the door when Quoob spoke again:
     
    "Wait a second, Bodge...come back here. I forgot something."
     
    Roger froze. He looked over his shoulder at Quoob, who motioned for him to come closer. Heart thundering, Roger slowly walked the half-dozen steps to Quoob's desk and waited for the inevitable.
     
    "Here," Quoob said, placing a small cardboard box on the desk. "Some things to remember us by."
     
    Peering into the open box, Roger saw two pairs of chattering teeth, an explosive jawbreaker, a Gambeki Finger Trap, and a can of Crazy Cord.
     
    "We try to give packages like these to all our former employees as a parting gift," Quoob explained. "Just to show our appreciation. If you're worried about your mother-in-law finding any of these things in your place, you can always give them to your friends."
     
    Roger, still somewhat light-headed from his moment of panic, mumbled his thanks. After making up his mind that there was no way these free novelty items could be construed as anything but free, he picked up the box and left Quoob's office.
     
     
     
    Beatrice greeted Roger at the door once he made it back to the Port-A-Pad. She seemed less composed than usual and was about to say something to him, but Roger beat her to the punch:
     
    "We've got to leave," he said. "Now."
     
    "Now?" Beatrice asked, her face growing even more distressed. "What do you mean? What's happened?"
     
    Roger told her about the poster. Even though he had just quit his job at Bilkoria, the company was still practically right next door, and Roger had noticed several other posters with his face on them on his way home. If that employee who had drenched Roger told Quoob what had happened, or a Phurbian that had seen one of those posters happened to catch a glimpse of Roger with his Hologarb turned off, it was game over for him.
     
    "So where's the Raphus?" Roger asked.
     
    "I...It..." Beatrice faltered.
     
    "It's not still being repaired, is it?"
     
    Beatrice hesitated.
     
    "Roger..." she said slowly. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry, but..."
     
    "What?" Roger asked, growing worried. "What happened to the ship?"
     
    "It's been towed," Beatrice finally said. "I parked it in a zone I shouldn't have parked it. I thought that blue zones were fine to park in, but apparently only on the first and fourth days of the week. Phurbians can see in ultraviolet, and there must have been some ultraviolet markings in that zone that apparently mean that you're not..."
     
    "Where's the impound lot?" Roger interrupted.
     
    "What?"
     
    "The impound lot. Where is it?"
     
    "It's in Lot 2 in Dome A6," Beatrice said. "Wait...you're not thinking of going there, are you? I was there all morning trying to get the Raphus back, and all I got was a pile of paperwork I need to fill out before anyone there will even talk to me."
     
    "Well, I'm going to try getting it back, too," Roger said solemnly. "You'd better start packing in case I'm successful."
     
     
     
    The impound lot was an ugly patch of land near one of the colony's small industrial districts. Roger spotted the Raphus the moment he stepped through the front gate, which was no surprise, given what a gaudy caricature the Raphus was compared to the other spaceships that populated the rest of the lot. It, like the rest of the ships, was anchored to the ground by large yellow parking boot, making takeoff impossible.
     
    The impound lot's office was a small, shabby building, and the door looked so ancient that Roger was surprised that the doorknob didn't come off in his hand when he turned it. As Roger opened the door, he was greeted by a thundering voice that was so full of fiery rage that Roger could almost feel the heat from it on his face.
     
    "NO, I WON'T! YOU CAN PAY FOR THE REPAIRS YOURSELF! WITH A SHIP AS FROOFY AS YOURS, I'M SURE YOU'VE GOT THE MONEY FOR IT!"
     
    Another pause, then:
     
    "I SAID NO! NOW STOP CALLING ME OR I'LL COME OVER AND STAB YOU THROUGH YOUR BRAIN WITH YOUR OWN HOOD ORNAMENT!"
     
    There was the sound a phone being brutally smashed down onto its receiver. There were several heavy footfalls followed by a wall-rattling crash. Then, after a few moments of heavy breathing, there was silence.
     
    Roger cautiously peeked inside. The interior of the building was just as shabby as the exterior, with no furniture but a few threadbare chairs and a single table. Near the back of the room was a window that looked into a small, private office. Roger slowly approached the window. Looking through it, he saw what at first looked like a huge, hairy, scaly mound. As he drew closer, he could see that this was just the back of an enormous, red creature with large, leathery scales. The creature was hunched over and breathing heavily, still quivering with rage. Eventually, it turned and noticed Roger, and its already annoyed face grew even more peeved at the sight of him. The creature pulled itself up to its full nine-foot-plus height, then lowered itself into a ridiculously diminutive desk chair standing next to the counter.
     
    "What do you want?" it rumbled.
     
    "Um..." Roger said nervously, "Well, you see, my wife and I...we had a ship, and you towed it here."
     
    The creature's frown deepened.
     
    "Name?" it asked.
     
    "Nellwood Bodge," Roger replied.
     
    "Of the ship, you denseling," the creature snarled.
     
    "Oh," Roger said. "The Raphus."
     
    The creature sighed, turned to a nearby monitor and began pecking away at a keyboard with many dented and mangled keys.
     
    "Oh dear," the creature said after it ceased typing, without a shred of empathy to its words. "Parked in an Ultra Zone on the fifth day of the week? That's not good."
     
    "I know," Roger said, "But I'd really like to get it back."
     
    "In that case," the creature said, "I'll have to ask you to fill out these..."
     
    It produced a stack of forms from a drawer and slapped them down on the counter.
     
    "...and after that, if you could pay the full 5,000 Skril fine, we should have your vehicle ready to be returned to you within a couple of weeks."
     
    Roger stared at the pile of paperwork, overwhelmed with dismay.
     
    "But..." he protested, "Isn't there some way we could get our ship back sooner? I can probably pay most of that fee right away, but..."
     
    The baleful glare of the creature put a premature end to Roger's request.
     
    "Look," the creature said, in a voice so deep that it made the floor tremble, "I don't like this job. In fact, I downright hate it. The only reason I'm working here is because those fuzzy little fascists found me guilty of breaking one of their petty little laws. They gave me the choice of either two years of incarceration or two months working here.
     
    "You think coming here is a pain? Try working here. I've been at this lot for four weeks so far, and I can't tell you how close I've gotten to busting out of here and ripping the heads off of every walking, talking hairball I see. Now, I don't know you and you don't know me, but for both of our sakes, could you just let me do my job?""
     
    "So..." Roger said after a long pause, "There's no way I could get my ship back any sooner?"
     
    The creature quivered dangerously and seemed as if it were about to launch into another bombastic tirade, but the cheery chime of the phone seemed to quench its fury. With two massive claws, it picked up the receiver, holding it to its tiny ear.
     
    "A6 Towing," it droned.
     
    Roger could just make out the voice of the other end. It wasn't a Phurbian's, but it sounded just as irritated as Phurbians usually were. The creature's expression began to darken again as it listened to the voice.
     
    "Overcharged you?" it asked, tapping away at its keyboard as it spoke. "I'm sorry, Sir, but I've got your file on my screen right now, and it says you were fined the same amount that everyone who parks in a Red Zone is fined: 2,000 Skril."
     
    The voice at the other end became slightly louder.
     
    "I'm telling you, that's what the fine is," the creature growled.
     
    The voice persisted. The creature listened in silence for a few seconds, but it wasn't long before something inside its brain finally snapped:
     
    "LISTEN, YOU LAME-BRAINED WASTE OF CARBON," the creature roared. "YOU PAID THE FINE, YOU GOT YOUR SHIP, AND THAT'S IT! IF YOU'RE NOT HAPPY, THEN TOUGH! IF YOU STILL WANNA WHINE ABOUT IT, THEN THE NEXT TIME YOU PARK IN A RED ZONE, I'LL MAKE SURE YOU FORK OVER 2,000 SKRILS PLUS AT LEAST HALF OF YOUR VITAL ORGANS!"
     
    Slam went the receiver. The creature panted heavily for a few moments, its eyes staring blankly ahead, awash in pure bestial rage. Finally, it composed itself and turned to address Roger.
     
    "Excuse me," it said, "But there is something I need to go get. I will be back shortly."
     
    The creature squeezed itself through the door into the lobby, its scales brutally scratching the doorframe as it did so. After it left the building, Roger waited until his hands had stopped trembling, then peered over the counter. On the back wall, he saw a small pegboard filled with old-fashioned metal keys with yellow tags. Those had to be keys to the parking boots...but which key unlocked the boot anchoring his ship? Perhaps he could look up the parking space his ship was in by using the creature's computer, but what if the creature returned before he was successful? Roger didn't want to ponder that question too deeply. He was certain that the answer involved pain, dismemberment, and eventually death.
     
    Looking at the floor, Roger noticed an untidy pile of nuts, bolts, wiring and scrap metal. It looked like it had once been a small robot. Apparently it was what exploded when Roger had first walked in, but Roger couldn't figure out what would make a robot of that size explode in such a dramatic fashion unless someone stuck a live grenade inside it.
     
    The squeak of the office door and the scrape of scales along the doorframe heralded the return of the A6 Towing employee. Roger turned around to see the creature walking his way with a large box under its arm. The creature re-entered its cubicle, informed Roger that it would be with him shortly, then opened the box, dumping an assortment of fasteners, wires, wheels, circuit boards and other assorted parts onto the floor, parts which Roger realized were part of a Do-It-Yourself robot assembly kit. The parts also bore an uncanny resemblance to the nearby pile of scrap.
     
    Glancing at the box itself, Roger saw an illustration of a small, red robot on it. Above the robot were printed the words: "The Bot-Tharsis! Goes to pieces with a single kick or your money back!" Intrigued, Roger continued to study the box.
     
    "Are your frustrations with modern technology getting in the way of your peace of mind?" the text on the box inquired. "Are your aggressions with intelligent computers, AIs, and other forms of synthetic life keeping you from enjoying your own life? Are you just someone who is so fed up with the stresses of your day-to-day routine that you constantly feel like beating the functionality out of the nearest machine?
     
    "In that case, the Bot-Tharsis is just what you need! Whenever you get so annoyed with machines that you feel like throwing them out the nearest window, just take your anger out on the Bot-Tharsis! It's guaranteed to explode in a satisfying shower of parts with just one kick, which has been clinically proven to be one of the most effective remedies to technology-induced frustration. It's cheap and easy-to-assemble. No more expensive computers smashed in a fit of rage, no more million-Skril robots torn limb from limb -- just one swift kick to the Bot-Tharsis will make all your Tech Rage melt away!"
     
    Though the concept of a robot designed to malfunction puzzled Roger at first, the more he studied the box's spiel, the more sense it seemed to make to him. He couldn't count the number of times he'd been tempted to put his fist through a non-compliant computer's monitor or brutally punt a particularly annoying small robot, and he could only imagine how much stronger such urges were for a creature as temperamental as the red colossus behind the counter.
     
    Suddenly, an idea began to germinate in Roger's mind. He watched the creature closely, waiting until it finished assembling the robot it was working on. Fortunately, this didn't take much longer than five minutes. After the creature closed a small access panel on the robot's front and pressed a button on its underside, the automaton sprang to life and began to freely roll around the office on its four delicate wheels. The creature nodded, seeming pleased with itself.
     
    "Excuse me?" Roger said.
     
    "What?" the creature rumbled, sounding only mildly annoyed this time.
     
    "While you were gone, I looked outside and saw a couple of young Phurbians running around the lot."
     
    The creature's eyes blazed.
     
    "Phurbians?" it snarled. "What were they doing?"
     
    "Nothing -- at least, not when I saw them," Roger said. "But I'm pretty sure one of them was carrying a can of spray paint."
     
    The creature bared its teeth. Rising to its feet and cursing under its breath, it stomped out of the building at a deliberate pace. Once the thunderous footfalls had faded away, Roger crawled over the counter and into the office. He studied the Bot-Tharsis as it aimlessly wandered around the floor, seeming completely oblivious to him. Among the nest of packing material left over from the robot's box, Roger discovered a small screwdriver. Grabbing this, he gently picked the robot up. It was surprisingly light, and its sides seemed about as sturdy as cardboard.
     
    Unscrewing the robot's access panel revealed its surprisingly empty interior. There were a few wires and circuits, but aside from them, the only noteworthy thing inside the robot was a small, round, metal device mounted on a steel rod sticking up from the base of the robot's body. Roger realized this had to be the explosive that triggered the robot's spectacular demise. One good kick to the robot's flimsy frame would trigger it.
     
    He pulled out the can of Crazy Cord Quoob had given him and carefully began spraying it into the robot's body. Gradually, all the empty space inside the robot became filled with the colorful mess, completely encasing the explosive in a hard, crusty shell. Satisfied with his efforts, Roger resealed the robot and set it back down on the floor. Surprisingly, it continued functioning just as normally as before, albeit a bit more sluggishly.
     
    Roger replaced the screwdriver and climbed back over the counter into the lobby, and not a moment too soon -- within a minute, the creature had returned, looking very displeased.
     
    "If there were any Phurbians out there, they're gone now," it growled as it returned to its chair.
     
    "They didn't tag any of the ships, did they?" Roger asked, feigning concern.
     
    "I didn't see any tagging," the creature said, "But -- "
     
    Once again, the phone jangled. Grinding its teeth, the creature picked up the receiver. This time, the being on the other end was practically begging for the creature to return his ship to him, but the creature informed the caller that he hadn't filled out pages 8 through 10 of Form 113-J, despite the caller's claim that he had. The creature attempted to look up the caller's file on its computer, but apparently something wasn't working quite right. The creature hammered on its keyboard relentlessly before giving up, then informed the caller that if he didn't stop complaining and turn in the missing pages of 113-J, A6 Towing would cheerfully return the caller's ship by dropping it onto his house from a height of at least 200 feet.
     
    Slamming the receiver down, the creature got to its feet, growled, and gave the Bot-Tharsis a half-hearted kick. There was a dull clang, but no explosion. The creature paused, then kicked the robot again. When it got nothing for its efforts but a second dull clang, it let out a primal bellow and kicked the robot so forcefully that it flew through the air, made a 4-inch-deep dent in the wall and then tumbled to the floor...still completely intact.
     
    The creature let out a roar which shook the building and began to lay waste to the office. Filing cabinets were gutted and stomped into irregularly-shaped chunks of metal, the computer was obliterated, and the Bot-Tharsis' box was reduced to confetti. The creature tore its office door from its hinges and came barreling through the lobby, crashing through the door which led outside. Fortunately, Roger had started backing away from the creature the moment the phone conversation had started, and had concealed himself behind one of the larger chairs in the lobby. If he hadn't done this, the creature would have doubtlessly have twisted and mangled his body into a shape strongly reminiscent of a piece of modern sculpture, one which would have sparked numerous interpretations of its meaning by countless Phurbian art students.
     
    Emerging from his hiding place, Roger crossed the tiny waiting room and climbed behind the counter. The Bot-Tharsis, a bit dented but still unexploded, seemed to peer at him with a puzzled expression. Roger picked up the pegboard, which had been knocked to the floor but miraculously was still in one piece. With the creature's computer out of commission, it looked as if Roger was going to have to find which key matched his ship's parking boot the hard way. With the pegboard tucked under his arm, he ran from the office. The impound lot's main gate had been reduced to a tangle of metal by the creature's rampage, and Roger could faintly hear the sound of terrified shouting off in the distance.
     
    Roger ran to the spot where the Raphus was parked. Glancing at the symbol stenciled on the ground in front of it, Roger scanned the pegboard until he found a key with an identical symbol. He carefully inserted this key into the socket on the parking boot, and to his relief, the boot immediately came unlocked. Roger unlocked the ship, hurried inside and turned it on. For one brief, terrible second, it seemed as if nothing was happening. Then, the engine slowly spluttered to life, and Roger carefully elevated the ship until he was above the top of the barbed wire fence the surrounded the lot. Then he jammed the throttle forward, and the ship sped away, out of the lot and out of A6.
     
    Roger had probably broken at least thirty Phurbian laws in the last five minutes, but fortunately, most of the Phurbians in A6 were too busy running from a huge red creature running wild in their neighborhood to notice anything else. Thanks to Roger, they were becoming reacquainted with something they had not encountered as a species for many, many generations: True fear.
     
     
     
    Within an hour, Roger and Beatrice had cleared out their Port-A-Pad and left the Suxtuu'biiyu spaceport. It wasn't until were completely free of the planet's gravitational pull that Roger allowed himself to breathe a sigh of relief. Beatrice had a lot of questions for Roger, including how he had retrieved the Raphus so quickly, and whether he had any idea what had caused the emergency sirens in their neighborhood to start going off several minutes before his arrival, but she decided that those questions could be saved until later. Instead, she told him about a planet several systems away named Xirdneth -- a large planet with an equally large population, which seemed to be on par with Xenon in regards to its level of technology. It would take them a couple of weeks to get there in the Raphus, but it seemed well worth the wait.
     
    For several Xenon Standard Days, the Raphus sped merrily along, but Roger was unable to relax. He kept thinking about the company that had once been Gippazoid, wondering if he was truly rid of them and why he had never again been hounded by them while he was still Roger Prime. When he finally broached the topic with Beatrice, she looked thoughtful for a moment, then said:
     
    "Well, since Bilkoria filed for bankruptcy a while ago in our own time, I'd say it's obvious why they've left both of you alone."
     
    "Bilkoria filed for bankruptcy?" Roger repeated in surprise.
     
    "Yes -- it happened just a few months after we started dating...I guess it can't have happened yet in this timeline, though."
     
    Beatrice paused, gazing at Roger with a puzzled expression.
     
    "Wait -- you didn't know that?" she asked.
     
    Roger shook his head.
     
    "Hmm," Beatrice shrugged. "I thought everybody knew that."
  21. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Chapter II
     
    Several hours later, Roger and Beatrice landed on Utefu, a tiny, barren world at the edge of the solar system whose surface was covered almost entirely by sharp, jagged rock. It was not a place suited for most life forms; if the absence of an atmosphere or the extreme cold didn't prove fatal to the misguided soul who decided to take a walk on it without any protective clothing, he or she would most likely become shredded like mozzarella by the planet's rough terrain.
     
    The only inhabitable parts of Utefu were a spaceport and the Hilbert Hotel. This hotel was just one of a large chain of hotels owned by Don Hilbert -- an eccentric quadrillionaire best known for his ground-breaking mathematical discoveries as well as his somewhat disturbing obsession with monkeys. It was rumored that his hotels could accommodate a virtually endless number of guests, but just how that was possible was a topic of constant debate.
     
    Due to the bizarre nature of this hotel, Roger was easily able to get a room for both him and Beatrice despite lacking a reservation. The rooms were surprisingly cheap, a welcome surprise to Roger, especially after the cost of the flight from Magmetheus had taken such a large chunk out of the meager amount of cash he and Beatrice still had with them.
     
    Roger informed the receptionist that he and his wife were "Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Trace," and after answering a few other basic questions, the receptionist handed Roger a keycard, told him where the elevators were and wished him and Beatrice a pleasant stay.
     
     
     
    It took about thirty minutes for Roger and Beatrice to locate their room (Room 3x1023). By this time, Beatrice was growing very irritated, and Roger, who had remained mysteriously quiet, tranquil, and focused throughout their entire trip, was starting to return to his normal mental state -- he was also growing very nervous. As soon as he and Beatrice had entered their room, Beatrice folded her arms and glared daggers at him, not saying a word.
     
    Every nerve in Roger's body tingled with anxiety. Remembering his encounter with the future had shaken him up pretty badly, but why did Beatrice have to know about it as well? Why had he promised to tell her everything back on Magmetheus? Why couldn't he have made up a story or just pretended that he had no idea what was going on?
     
    Roger's anger with himself slowly faded into a sense of complete futility. He was frazzled, he was tired, and his back was killing him. He suddenly didn't care whether telling Beatrice about the future of Xenon caused a serious time paradox that erased one or both of them from existence. He had made a promise to Beatrice, and if that was going to be the last promise he ever made in his life, then damn it, he was going to keep that promise.
     
    "Beatrice, I...I have something to tell you. A lot of things, actually."
     
    "I'm listening."
     
    "You'd better sit down first," Roger said, gesturing to one of the beds (his calmer, smarter self had had the foresight to order a room with two single beds instead of one double bed).
     
    Beatrice walked over to one of the beds and sat down, never taking her eyes off of Roger as she did so. Roger sat down next to her.
     
    All right...this is it. You're going to tell Beatrice the truth...about her, about you, about Junior... everything.
     
    "I...uh..."
     
    Easy, now...stay calm...don't screw this up...
     
    "I...I was...that is, I will..."
     
    Spit it out!
     
    "Beatrice, before I first met you, I was on Magmetheus and Junior came there from the future and then sent me into the future. He was nineteen when I met him and he told me that the Xenon Supercomputer had been taken over by the mind of Sludge Vohaul and nearly destroyed the planet..."
     
    Breathe.
     
    "...and Junior had to go back in time to get me because something had happened to me at that point in time and I was the only one who could stop Vohaul again..."
     
    Breathe.
     
    "...and he also said that something had happened to you and that I wouldn't remember most of this once I returned to my own time and -- "
     
    BREATHE!
     
    Roger doubled over, his need to reveal everything to Beatrice overwhelmed by his need for oxygen. After hyperventilating for several seconds, he nervously glanced up at her -- it was the first time he had made eye contact with her during his entire rant. Beatrice opened her mouth to speak, but before she could utter a word, Roger had jumped up from the bed and made a break for the only place in the hotel room where he felt he would be safe: the closet. Beatrice stared in the direction he had gone, barely able to even think.
     
    Idiot...
     
     
     
    Several hours later, Roger emerged from the closet. He knew that hiding from Beatrice forever was impossible, and he also desperately needed to use the bathroom. After doing what had to be done, he slowly walked back to the two beds and collapsed on the one closest to the door.
     
    Beatrice was still sitting on the other bed. She looked at Roger, feeling confused, deceived, afraid...and yes, a little angry. It took several minutes for her to work out just what she ought to say to Roger, an when she finally spoke, her words had a distant, detached quality to them, as if she were a person in a dream Roger was having. Roger answered every question she asked him: Yes, their son was going to bring Roger's past self into the future to save Xenon; yes, Xenon was a horrible mess when Roger was there; and no, he hadn't completely remembered any of this until seeing his past self and the body of Junior's buddy had suddenly brought those hazy memories into sharp focus.
     
    "Until just a few hours ago, all I could really remember was you and Junior," Roger explained. "I remembered him mentioning you being my wife and the picture of you that he showed me, but I didn't remember how he'd talked about you in the past tense..."
     
    Roger sighed heavily.
     
    "Well...I guess I almost remembered," he said dully. "That must have been why I kept changing the subject whenever you brought up the idea of us getting married...something about that just seemed so wrong..."
     
    Roger paused, reflecting on his relationship with Beatrice. Despite the romance between them that had eventually developed after several false starts, unexpected turns and rough patches in both of their lives, Roger had still become nervous whenever Beatrice brought up the possibility of marriage. Though Beatrice initially brushed off his reluctance as a typical male reaction to the idea, Roger couldn't help but think that there was some deeper reason for the way he felt.
     
    For several years, he had continued to shy away from the marriage prospect whenever it entered the conversation, and his life remained relatively uneventful until that one night he and Beatrice had spent at the old bar on the planet Kerona. Roger had no idea what the drink he wound up was, but it was definitely not the Keronian Ale that he'd ordered.
     
    The next thing he knew, he was waking up next to Beatrice in an unfamiliar hotel room. According to what Beatrice told him, he had gotten down on one knee and proposed to her right there in the bar, and she was so moved by his sudden change of character that she said "yes" immediately. They were married just a few days later on one of the many picturesque moons of the planet Pantagama and were now a week or so into their honeymoon.
     
    Roger was sure that Beatrice was playing an elaborate practical joke on him until she showed him a holodisk with a picture of her that had been taken of her during their wedding. The picture showed Beatrice from the waist up, an elaborate crown of some sort atop her head, her golden hair framing her perfect face, her body clad in some sort of traditional style of dress that Roger wasn't familiar with...
     
    It was the same picture that Junior had showed Roger in the future.
     
    "...but it happened anyway," Roger said sadly. "I tried to change things, Bea...but I couldn't."
     
    He slumped back on the bed, both mentally and physically drained. Beatrice stared at the floor, her hands clasped together.
     
    "So..." she said quietly without much emotion, "Any day now, the Vohaul virus is going to attack the Supercomputer...then couple of years later, our son is going to go back in time to get you to save Xenon..."
     
    She paused. She looked at Roger, her brow furrowed.
     
    "Wait a minute...if that was you we saw on Magmetheus, and you say RJ returned you there just a few hours after he sent you into the future..."
     
    Roger continued to stare blankly at the ceiling.
     
    "Then we're...in the past?" Beatrice asked.
     
    Roger nodded. Beatrice's eyes widened and her voice grew a little more worried.
     
    "How are we going to get back to our time, Roger?"
     
    Roger turned his head to look at Beatrice. He tried to think of an answer, and none of the ones he could come up with seemed any good.
     
    "I don't know," he confessed sadly. He returned his gaze to the ceiling, studying the various stains and cracks that decorated it. "I just don't know."
     
    For several seconds there was a thick silence, broken only by the distant rumble of one of the hotel's innumerable ice machines. Then Beatrice noticed the strange gun lying near the foot of Roger's bed, where he had absently dropped it when he and Beatrice first entered the room.
     
    "What's the story with that thing?" Beatrice said, pointing at the device.
     
    Roger forced himself upright, picked up the gun and laid it across his knees.
     
    "This is the same kind of gun Junior used to send me through time," he said. "That dead guy was with Junior when I first saw him. I thought that I might be able to use that guy's gun to bring us back to our time, but..."
     
    He looked at the mangled device and sighed again.
     
    "Can I take a look at it?" Beatrice queried.
     
    "All right...but be careful."
     
    Roger passed Beatrice the gun. Beatrice held it gently, turning it slowly and examining its screen and keypad.
     
    "You don't know how this thing works, do you?" she asked.
     
    "Not really...all I know is that it's broken. The screen wouldn't be like that if it weren't broken."
     
    "Hmm...what if I pressed this?" Beatrice wondered out loud, reaching for a button on the keypad. Before Roger could protest, Beatrice had pressed it and the screen had flickered on with a high-pitched whine. Roger leapt back as if the gun had bitten him.
     
    "It's -- it's not broken," he gasped.
     
    Beatrice looked at the glowing red letters that had appeared on the screen. There were three lines of text, one beginning with "CURR", one beginning with "DEST" and one beginning with "LAST". LAST each consisted of a static row of text and numbers, but the numbers at the end of the CURR row were slowly changing, and DEST (aside from the word itself) consisted of nothing but zeroes.
     
    "What do those things mean?" Roger asked.
     
    "Well," Beatrice said after a moment's thought, "If this gun is supposed to send people through time, it should ideally show the user when and where he's going and where he is now. CURR must mean ‘current time', DEST must mean ‘destination time', and LAST must be the last time the user departed from.
     
    "Although," she said, staring dubiously at the screen, "I don't understand this timekeeping system this thing is using."
     
    She pointed at the CURR line. It read "SQV||UTEFU||-01:210:08:16:27."
     
    "I mean, we are on Utefu, but what's on that line doesn't make sense. What's ‘SQV?'"
     
    "It means...Space Quest V." Roger said quietly.
     
    "Huh?"
     
    "The name isn't important. It's the name of a time sector."
     
    "Oh," Beatrice said, satisfied by Roger's answer but still a little puzzled. She glanced at the CURR line again. It now read "SQV||UTEFU||-01:210:08:15:52."
     
    "Wait a minute...why is this clock counting down?" she asked. "And why is there a minus sign in front of it?"
     
    Roger had to think about this for a little while.
     
    "The Space Quest IV time sector ended just a few hours ago," he eventually said, "But the Space Quest V sector hasn't begun yet. We're in between the two sectors right now."
     
    "So when that clock reaches zero, we'll be in the next one," Beatrice concluded.
     
    Her glance dropped to the two other lines on the LCD screen.
     
    "So this is the last spot that man departed from," she said, pointing to LAST. This line read "SQXII||XENON||00:02:12:16:00."
     
    "Space Quest XII," she reflected. After a moment of contemplation, she turned to Roger.
     
    "Do you have any idea what sector we were in when we got shot back here?"
     
    "I think...I think it was close to the end of Space Quest IX," Roger surmised. He wasn't entirely sure how he came to that conclusion, but ever since his time-traveling experience in Space Quest IV, he had developed an uncanny awareness of where he was chronologically situated in regards to the various Space Quest time sectors.
     
    "Space Quest IX..." Beatrice said slowly. "And we're in between Space Quest IV and V."
     
    Roger sighed.
     
    "Looks like we've got a long wait ahead of us," he mumbled.
     
    Beatrice's face suddenly grew sour.
     
    "A long wait?" she repeated. "Roger, I'm not going to just sit on my thumbs and wait until we hit Space Quest IX...again."
     
    "But Bea, what else can we do? I mean, that gun may not even work..."
     
    "I turned it on," Beatrice countered. "That seems like a good sign that it's working."
     
    "But we don't even know how to use it," Roger protested. "And that user manual I found is useless!"
     
    "I guess we're only going to figure out how it works by experimenting, then," Beatrice snapped. Before Roger could protest, she had entered "SQIX||XENON||00:00:00:05:00" into the gun's DEST field. She then pointed the ungainly thing at the nearest wall and squeezed the trigger.
     
    There was a brief whirring sound that quickly choked and died. There was no blinding flash of light and no tear in the fabric of space-time appearing on the hotel wall. The gun had proven itself quite capable of telling the current time and seeing where and when Junior's buddy's last departure point was, but for actual time travel, it had just turned out to be utterly useless.
     
    Beatrice let the gun fall onto her lap, stared blankly at the wall for a moment and buried her face in her hands. Roger thought of saying something to comfort her, but was unable to come up with anything that sounded genuinely reassuring. What he had said earlier seemed to be ringing truer than ever: it seemed like he and Beatrice were in for a very long wait...
  22. Like
    Akril got a reaction from BlockMaster in The Time Machination   
    Not a bad idea, but I'd say to wait a little while. Agreeing to narrate this story would be one heck of a commitment. 
     
     
     

    Close -- it's more like the end of SQIX. 
     
     
    Chapter I
     
    The first thing Roger became aware of was sand -- hot, coarse sand. This wasn't surprising at all, since Gritt was covered in sand, but somehow this sand felt different. He lifted his
    face out of the grainy nest it had planted itself in and started brushing the miniscule flecks of rock out of his eyes.
     
    "Roger..." a soft voice next to him moaned.
     
    Beatrice! She was alive!
     
    As soon as Roger had scraped enough of the sand away from his face, he turned in the direction of the voice to see Beatrice sprawled on the ground beside him. She looked disoriented and more than a little shell-shocked...but she was alive.
     
    Emotion overwhelming him, Roger scrambled over to her and threw his arms around her, holding her close to him. Fortunately for him, Beatrice was too weary to push him back as she might have done under normal conditions. However, she wasn't too weary to ask him what the hell he was doing.
     
    "It's okay," Roger said. "It's going to be okay -- it's over now. I'm okay, you're okay...everything's okay..."
     
    As Beatrice tried to figure out just what had come over her husband, something in the distance caught her eye. As she focused on the something, she suddenly realized what (or, in this case, who) it was, and her confusion immediately grew even greater.
     
    "Um...Roger..." she said slowly. "Who is that?"
     
    "It'll be okay," Roger said, still rocking her gently, his face buried in her hair. "It'll all be okay..."
     
    "Roger!" Beatrice hissed. "Look!"
     
    This time, the urgency in his wife's voice made Roger pause and do what she had demanded. Examining his surroundings, he realized that there was much more to their new location besides sand: they were lying between two rows of parked spacecraft, with many more rows disappearing into the distance. It was a parking lot -- but a parking lot for what?
     
    The answer to that question was a building just a few hundred yards to the couple's right. It was, large, domed, and had a fairly nondescript exterior. The only visible opening into the structure was a large doorway with a blue neon sign reading "BAR" affixed to the wall above it.
     
    The hairs on the back of Roger's neck stood on end. He knew this place. He had been here before, many years ago. However, the shock he was currently feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when he saw what had originally caught Beatrice's attention: a skinny male human with dark blond hair, wearing a grey uniform with purple sleeves, slowly walking towards the bar's entrance with an unsteady gait and a completely bewildered expression on his face.
     
    "Who is that?" Beatrice repeated, albeit with differently-placed emphasis.
     
    "That's...that's me." Roger said in a high, tremulous whisper.
     
    Beatrice squinted quizzically at the bewildered human in the distance.
     
    "Why does your hair look like that?" she asked.
     
    Roger didn't answer. As he watched his other self walk into the bar, a memory that had remained faded, distant and hazy for so many years suddenly came rushing back to him: the memory of that talk with his future son, Roger Junior, in Space Quest XII. What his son said about the Xenon Supercomputer, how he had spoken of Beatrice in the past tense, how he had implied that Roger didn't exist in Space Quest XII...Roger remembered it all as clearly as if it had just happened -- and suddenly felt very faint.
     
    "This was right after he sent me back," he whispered to himself. "I spent a few hours in that bar, then I went back outside and -- "
     
    "Roger, what is going on?" Beatrice demanded. "Why did we just see you over there? And what is this place?"
     
    "This...this is the planet Magmetheus," Roger said without any tone or inflection. "I stopped here for a few drinks years ago. I have no idea how we got here...but I think...I think it's a very good idea if we -- "
     
    Beatrice suddenly gasped. She was looking over her shoulder, the exact opposite direction she would have to look in order to see the bar. Roger turned to look in that same direction, and this time his shock was so great that he dropped Beatrice.
     
    One of the nearby ships was a bulky, yellow monstrosity perched on four equally bulky legs. Protruding out from behind the foot of one of these legs was another pair of legs -- however, these legs were much smaller, slimmer, and looked like they belonged to a humanoid.
     
    Beatrice rose to her feet and cautiously made her way towards the ship. After taking one last look at the bar's entrance, Roger got up and followed her. The body the legs were (thankfully) still attached to was sprawled on the ground. It was undeniably the body of a male human, and it looked very much as if it had fallen there. There was a dark, sticky, red puddle beneath it, and though the visor on its helmet made its features difficult to make out, the frozen expression of pain on its face was impossible to overlook.
     
    "Woah...you think he's okay?" Roger asked.
     
    Beatrice knelt down and touched two fingers to the man's throat. And after a few seconds, she shook her head.
     
    "He's dead, all right...and who knows what could have killed him, in a place like this..."
     
    "Junior!" Roger suddenly yelped.
     
    Beatrice stared at Roger, then at the dead man, then at Roger again.
     
    "Roger, what are you talking about? This isn't our son."
     
    Roger took a closer look at the body, and found that Beatrice was right: wasn't Roger Junior's body, but it was wearing the same dull green and brown outfit that Junior had worn when Roger had first met him. Roger hadn't recognized the uniform immediately, but a few seconds of staring at it had jogged his memory again.
     
    He knelt down alongside Beatrice and gingerly began to search the man's body. Before Beatrice could say anything, Roger had extracted a small, white booklet from one of the man's pockets. Printed on the cover were the words "User Manual", overlaying a pale gray diagram of a very familiar-looking device.
     
    It took only a few seconds for Roger to remember where he had seen that device before: it was the gun that Junior had used to send him through time -- this was the user manual for that gun!
     
    He opened the manual, only to find the text and diagrams within it completely incomprehensible. This wasn't because the language or terminology was too complex for him to understand, however: despite the manual being created inside the Xenon Supercomputer, for some inexplicable reason it had been originally written in Sarien, then translated into Rigellian, Ferbangi and then back into Sarien again before finally being translated into basic Xenonian. The result was an insane jumble of words that even the most powerful pocket translator would have run away from, screaming in horror. The text looked as if it might have been understandable at one time, but the only purpose it served now was decorating the manual's pages. Still, if Roger could make some sense out of the manual's diagrams, perhaps he could use that gun to...
     
    Wait a minute...
     
    "The gun...where is it?" Roger wondered out loud.
     
    Beatrice stared at him in disbelief for what had to be the eleventh time since they had arrived on Magmetheus.
     
    "What?" she asked.
     
    "The gun," Roger repeated, getting to his feet and cramming the manual into his pocket. "This guy had it with him the last time I saw him...unless the Sequel Police took it, it's got to be around here somewhere..."
     
    Roger tried to replay the scenario in his head: he and Junior had run one way while Junior's buddy had tried to split up the two Sequel Policemen that had almost killed Roger outside the bar. Junior's buddy must have run this way, only to get gunned down by one or both of the Sequel Policemen, who had then come after Roger and Junior. So if he had been running when he dropped his gun, the gun would have ended up...
     
    "There!" Roger said, running towards a sleek, blue skimmer parked nearby. The gun was lying in the sand just in front of it. Roger picked up the strange device and examined it. It looked just like the one that Junior had used...except this one looked as if it had either been run over or stepped on by an Andorian Megaped. Its casing was badly cracked and dented. There was a keypad and an LCD screen on the side of the gun, but while both were undamaged, the screen was completely dark. It looked as if the gun was completely useless for anything except beating someone over the head with.
     
    "Darn," Roger said, his hopes just as crushed as the gun was.
     
    Beatrice walked up behind him, her footsteps slow and heavy.
     
    "Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on or am I going to have to make you tell me?" she said through clenched teeth.
     
    "I don't know what's going on," Roger cried. "I mean...I sort of know what's going on, but I have no idea how we got here, or what happened on Gritt, or how we're going to get back home, or...or..."
     
    Roger paused. His surroundings suddenly felt strangely quiet, and time itself seemed to have slowed to a crawl. His fear and anxiety dissipated and his mind became almost completely clear. This serenity only lasted briefly before it was replaced by a peculiar sense of urgency. It screamed at him to get as far away from his current location as possible, and quickly. Roger didn't know what had trigged this bizarre sensation, but what he did know was that he and Beatrice needed to leave Magmetheus...and soon.
     
    "We need to leave Magmetheus," he told Beatrice firmly, "And soon."
     
    "Leave?" Beatrice cried. "But..."
     
    "Don't worry," Roger said. "I'll tell you everything...I promise. But right now, we've got to move."
  23. Like
    Akril got a reaction from Troels Pleimert in The Time Machination   
    Not a bad idea, but I'd say to wait a little while. Agreeing to narrate this story would be one heck of a commitment. 
     
     
     

    Close -- it's more like the end of SQIX. 
     
     
    Chapter I
     
    The first thing Roger became aware of was sand -- hot, coarse sand. This wasn't surprising at all, since Gritt was covered in sand, but somehow this sand felt different. He lifted his
    face out of the grainy nest it had planted itself in and started brushing the miniscule flecks of rock out of his eyes.
     
    "Roger..." a soft voice next to him moaned.
     
    Beatrice! She was alive!
     
    As soon as Roger had scraped enough of the sand away from his face, he turned in the direction of the voice to see Beatrice sprawled on the ground beside him. She looked disoriented and more than a little shell-shocked...but she was alive.
     
    Emotion overwhelming him, Roger scrambled over to her and threw his arms around her, holding her close to him. Fortunately for him, Beatrice was too weary to push him back as she might have done under normal conditions. However, she wasn't too weary to ask him what the hell he was doing.
     
    "It's okay," Roger said. "It's going to be okay -- it's over now. I'm okay, you're okay...everything's okay..."
     
    As Beatrice tried to figure out just what had come over her husband, something in the distance caught her eye. As she focused on the something, she suddenly realized what (or, in this case, who) it was, and her confusion immediately grew even greater.
     
    "Um...Roger..." she said slowly. "Who is that?"
     
    "It'll be okay," Roger said, still rocking her gently, his face buried in her hair. "It'll all be okay..."
     
    "Roger!" Beatrice hissed. "Look!"
     
    This time, the urgency in his wife's voice made Roger pause and do what she had demanded. Examining his surroundings, he realized that there was much more to their new location besides sand: they were lying between two rows of parked spacecraft, with many more rows disappearing into the distance. It was a parking lot -- but a parking lot for what?
     
    The answer to that question was a building just a few hundred yards to the couple's right. It was, large, domed, and had a fairly nondescript exterior. The only visible opening into the structure was a large doorway with a blue neon sign reading "BAR" affixed to the wall above it.
     
    The hairs on the back of Roger's neck stood on end. He knew this place. He had been here before, many years ago. However, the shock he was currently feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when he saw what had originally caught Beatrice's attention: a skinny male human with dark blond hair, wearing a grey uniform with purple sleeves, slowly walking towards the bar's entrance with an unsteady gait and a completely bewildered expression on his face.
     
    "Who is that?" Beatrice repeated, albeit with differently-placed emphasis.
     
    "That's...that's me." Roger said in a high, tremulous whisper.
     
    Beatrice squinted quizzically at the bewildered human in the distance.
     
    "Why does your hair look like that?" she asked.
     
    Roger didn't answer. As he watched his other self walk into the bar, a memory that had remained faded, distant and hazy for so many years suddenly came rushing back to him: the memory of that talk with his future son, Roger Junior, in Space Quest XII. What his son said about the Xenon Supercomputer, how he had spoken of Beatrice in the past tense, how he had implied that Roger didn't exist in Space Quest XII...Roger remembered it all as clearly as if it had just happened -- and suddenly felt very faint.
     
    "This was right after he sent me back," he whispered to himself. "I spent a few hours in that bar, then I went back outside and -- "
     
    "Roger, what is going on?" Beatrice demanded. "Why did we just see you over there? And what is this place?"
     
    "This...this is the planet Magmetheus," Roger said without any tone or inflection. "I stopped here for a few drinks years ago. I have no idea how we got here...but I think...I think it's a very good idea if we -- "
     
    Beatrice suddenly gasped. She was looking over her shoulder, the exact opposite direction she would have to look in order to see the bar. Roger turned to look in that same direction, and this time his shock was so great that he dropped Beatrice.
     
    One of the nearby ships was a bulky, yellow monstrosity perched on four equally bulky legs. Protruding out from behind the foot of one of these legs was another pair of legs -- however, these legs were much smaller, slimmer, and looked like they belonged to a humanoid.
     
    Beatrice rose to her feet and cautiously made her way towards the ship. After taking one last look at the bar's entrance, Roger got up and followed her. The body the legs were (thankfully) still attached to was sprawled on the ground. It was undeniably the body of a male human, and it looked very much as if it had fallen there. There was a dark, sticky, red puddle beneath it, and though the visor on its helmet made its features difficult to make out, the frozen expression of pain on its face was impossible to overlook.
     
    "Woah...you think he's okay?" Roger asked.
     
    Beatrice knelt down and touched two fingers to the man's throat. And after a few seconds, she shook her head.
     
    "He's dead, all right...and who knows what could have killed him, in a place like this..."
     
    "Junior!" Roger suddenly yelped.
     
    Beatrice stared at Roger, then at the dead man, then at Roger again.
     
    "Roger, what are you talking about? This isn't our son."
     
    Roger took a closer look at the body, and found that Beatrice was right: wasn't Roger Junior's body, but it was wearing the same dull green and brown outfit that Junior had worn when Roger had first met him. Roger hadn't recognized the uniform immediately, but a few seconds of staring at it had jogged his memory again.
     
    He knelt down alongside Beatrice and gingerly began to search the man's body. Before Beatrice could say anything, Roger had extracted a small, white booklet from one of the man's pockets. Printed on the cover were the words "User Manual", overlaying a pale gray diagram of a very familiar-looking device.
     
    It took only a few seconds for Roger to remember where he had seen that device before: it was the gun that Junior had used to send him through time -- this was the user manual for that gun!
     
    He opened the manual, only to find the text and diagrams within it completely incomprehensible. This wasn't because the language or terminology was too complex for him to understand, however: despite the manual being created inside the Xenon Supercomputer, for some inexplicable reason it had been originally written in Sarien, then translated into Rigellian, Ferbangi and then back into Sarien again before finally being translated into basic Xenonian. The result was an insane jumble of words that even the most powerful pocket translator would have run away from, screaming in horror. The text looked as if it might have been understandable at one time, but the only purpose it served now was decorating the manual's pages. Still, if Roger could make some sense out of the manual's diagrams, perhaps he could use that gun to...
     
    Wait a minute...
     
    "The gun...where is it?" Roger wondered out loud.
     
    Beatrice stared at him in disbelief for what had to be the eleventh time since they had arrived on Magmetheus.
     
    "What?" she asked.
     
    "The gun," Roger repeated, getting to his feet and cramming the manual into his pocket. "This guy had it with him the last time I saw him...unless the Sequel Police took it, it's got to be around here somewhere..."
     
    Roger tried to replay the scenario in his head: he and Junior had run one way while Junior's buddy had tried to split up the two Sequel Policemen that had almost killed Roger outside the bar. Junior's buddy must have run this way, only to get gunned down by one or both of the Sequel Policemen, who had then come after Roger and Junior. So if he had been running when he dropped his gun, the gun would have ended up...
     
    "There!" Roger said, running towards a sleek, blue skimmer parked nearby. The gun was lying in the sand just in front of it. Roger picked up the strange device and examined it. It looked just like the one that Junior had used...except this one looked as if it had either been run over or stepped on by an Andorian Megaped. Its casing was badly cracked and dented. There was a keypad and an LCD screen on the side of the gun, but while both were undamaged, the screen was completely dark. It looked as if the gun was completely useless for anything except beating someone over the head with.
     
    "Darn," Roger said, his hopes just as crushed as the gun was.
     
    Beatrice walked up behind him, her footsteps slow and heavy.
     
    "Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on or am I going to have to make you tell me?" she said through clenched teeth.
     
    "I don't know what's going on," Roger cried. "I mean...I sort of know what's going on, but I have no idea how we got here, or what happened on Gritt, or how we're going to get back home, or...or..."
     
    Roger paused. His surroundings suddenly felt strangely quiet, and time itself seemed to have slowed to a crawl. His fear and anxiety dissipated and his mind became almost completely clear. This serenity only lasted briefly before it was replaced by a peculiar sense of urgency. It screamed at him to get as far away from his current location as possible, and quickly. Roger didn't know what had trigged this bizarre sensation, but what he did know was that he and Beatrice needed to leave Magmetheus...and soon.
     
    "We need to leave Magmetheus," he told Beatrice firmly, "And soon."
     
    "Leave?" Beatrice cried. "But..."
     
    "Don't worry," Roger said. "I'll tell you everything...I promise. But right now, we've got to move."
  24. Like
    Akril got a reaction from MusicallyInspired in The Time Machination   
    Not a bad idea, but I'd say to wait a little while. Agreeing to narrate this story would be one heck of a commitment. 
     
     
     

    Close -- it's more like the end of SQIX. 
     
     
    Chapter I
     
    The first thing Roger became aware of was sand -- hot, coarse sand. This wasn't surprising at all, since Gritt was covered in sand, but somehow this sand felt different. He lifted his
    face out of the grainy nest it had planted itself in and started brushing the miniscule flecks of rock out of his eyes.
     
    "Roger..." a soft voice next to him moaned.
     
    Beatrice! She was alive!
     
    As soon as Roger had scraped enough of the sand away from his face, he turned in the direction of the voice to see Beatrice sprawled on the ground beside him. She looked disoriented and more than a little shell-shocked...but she was alive.
     
    Emotion overwhelming him, Roger scrambled over to her and threw his arms around her, holding her close to him. Fortunately for him, Beatrice was too weary to push him back as she might have done under normal conditions. However, she wasn't too weary to ask him what the hell he was doing.
     
    "It's okay," Roger said. "It's going to be okay -- it's over now. I'm okay, you're okay...everything's okay..."
     
    As Beatrice tried to figure out just what had come over her husband, something in the distance caught her eye. As she focused on the something, she suddenly realized what (or, in this case, who) it was, and her confusion immediately grew even greater.
     
    "Um...Roger..." she said slowly. "Who is that?"
     
    "It'll be okay," Roger said, still rocking her gently, his face buried in her hair. "It'll all be okay..."
     
    "Roger!" Beatrice hissed. "Look!"
     
    This time, the urgency in his wife's voice made Roger pause and do what she had demanded. Examining his surroundings, he realized that there was much more to their new location besides sand: they were lying between two rows of parked spacecraft, with many more rows disappearing into the distance. It was a parking lot -- but a parking lot for what?
     
    The answer to that question was a building just a few hundred yards to the couple's right. It was, large, domed, and had a fairly nondescript exterior. The only visible opening into the structure was a large doorway with a blue neon sign reading "BAR" affixed to the wall above it.
     
    The hairs on the back of Roger's neck stood on end. He knew this place. He had been here before, many years ago. However, the shock he was currently feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when he saw what had originally caught Beatrice's attention: a skinny male human with dark blond hair, wearing a grey uniform with purple sleeves, slowly walking towards the bar's entrance with an unsteady gait and a completely bewildered expression on his face.
     
    "Who is that?" Beatrice repeated, albeit with differently-placed emphasis.
     
    "That's...that's me." Roger said in a high, tremulous whisper.
     
    Beatrice squinted quizzically at the bewildered human in the distance.
     
    "Why does your hair look like that?" she asked.
     
    Roger didn't answer. As he watched his other self walk into the bar, a memory that had remained faded, distant and hazy for so many years suddenly came rushing back to him: the memory of that talk with his future son, Roger Junior, in Space Quest XII. What his son said about the Xenon Supercomputer, how he had spoken of Beatrice in the past tense, how he had implied that Roger didn't exist in Space Quest XII...Roger remembered it all as clearly as if it had just happened -- and suddenly felt very faint.
     
    "This was right after he sent me back," he whispered to himself. "I spent a few hours in that bar, then I went back outside and -- "
     
    "Roger, what is going on?" Beatrice demanded. "Why did we just see you over there? And what is this place?"
     
    "This...this is the planet Magmetheus," Roger said without any tone or inflection. "I stopped here for a few drinks years ago. I have no idea how we got here...but I think...I think it's a very good idea if we -- "
     
    Beatrice suddenly gasped. She was looking over her shoulder, the exact opposite direction she would have to look in order to see the bar. Roger turned to look in that same direction, and this time his shock was so great that he dropped Beatrice.
     
    One of the nearby ships was a bulky, yellow monstrosity perched on four equally bulky legs. Protruding out from behind the foot of one of these legs was another pair of legs -- however, these legs were much smaller, slimmer, and looked like they belonged to a humanoid.
     
    Beatrice rose to her feet and cautiously made her way towards the ship. After taking one last look at the bar's entrance, Roger got up and followed her. The body the legs were (thankfully) still attached to was sprawled on the ground. It was undeniably the body of a male human, and it looked very much as if it had fallen there. There was a dark, sticky, red puddle beneath it, and though the visor on its helmet made its features difficult to make out, the frozen expression of pain on its face was impossible to overlook.
     
    "Woah...you think he's okay?" Roger asked.
     
    Beatrice knelt down and touched two fingers to the man's throat. And after a few seconds, she shook her head.
     
    "He's dead, all right...and who knows what could have killed him, in a place like this..."
     
    "Junior!" Roger suddenly yelped.
     
    Beatrice stared at Roger, then at the dead man, then at Roger again.
     
    "Roger, what are you talking about? This isn't our son."
     
    Roger took a closer look at the body, and found that Beatrice was right: wasn't Roger Junior's body, but it was wearing the same dull green and brown outfit that Junior had worn when Roger had first met him. Roger hadn't recognized the uniform immediately, but a few seconds of staring at it had jogged his memory again.
     
    He knelt down alongside Beatrice and gingerly began to search the man's body. Before Beatrice could say anything, Roger had extracted a small, white booklet from one of the man's pockets. Printed on the cover were the words "User Manual", overlaying a pale gray diagram of a very familiar-looking device.
     
    It took only a few seconds for Roger to remember where he had seen that device before: it was the gun that Junior had used to send him through time -- this was the user manual for that gun!
     
    He opened the manual, only to find the text and diagrams within it completely incomprehensible. This wasn't because the language or terminology was too complex for him to understand, however: despite the manual being created inside the Xenon Supercomputer, for some inexplicable reason it had been originally written in Sarien, then translated into Rigellian, Ferbangi and then back into Sarien again before finally being translated into basic Xenonian. The result was an insane jumble of words that even the most powerful pocket translator would have run away from, screaming in horror. The text looked as if it might have been understandable at one time, but the only purpose it served now was decorating the manual's pages. Still, if Roger could make some sense out of the manual's diagrams, perhaps he could use that gun to...
     
    Wait a minute...
     
    "The gun...where is it?" Roger wondered out loud.
     
    Beatrice stared at him in disbelief for what had to be the eleventh time since they had arrived on Magmetheus.
     
    "What?" she asked.
     
    "The gun," Roger repeated, getting to his feet and cramming the manual into his pocket. "This guy had it with him the last time I saw him...unless the Sequel Police took it, it's got to be around here somewhere..."
     
    Roger tried to replay the scenario in his head: he and Junior had run one way while Junior's buddy had tried to split up the two Sequel Policemen that had almost killed Roger outside the bar. Junior's buddy must have run this way, only to get gunned down by one or both of the Sequel Policemen, who had then come after Roger and Junior. So if he had been running when he dropped his gun, the gun would have ended up...
     
    "There!" Roger said, running towards a sleek, blue skimmer parked nearby. The gun was lying in the sand just in front of it. Roger picked up the strange device and examined it. It looked just like the one that Junior had used...except this one looked as if it had either been run over or stepped on by an Andorian Megaped. Its casing was badly cracked and dented. There was a keypad and an LCD screen on the side of the gun, but while both were undamaged, the screen was completely dark. It looked as if the gun was completely useless for anything except beating someone over the head with.
     
    "Darn," Roger said, his hopes just as crushed as the gun was.
     
    Beatrice walked up behind him, her footsteps slow and heavy.
     
    "Are you going to tell me what the hell is going on or am I going to have to make you tell me?" she said through clenched teeth.
     
    "I don't know what's going on," Roger cried. "I mean...I sort of know what's going on, but I have no idea how we got here, or what happened on Gritt, or how we're going to get back home, or...or..."
     
    Roger paused. His surroundings suddenly felt strangely quiet, and time itself seemed to have slowed to a crawl. His fear and anxiety dissipated and his mind became almost completely clear. This serenity only lasted briefly before it was replaced by a peculiar sense of urgency. It screamed at him to get as far away from his current location as possible, and quickly. Roger didn't know what had trigged this bizarre sensation, but what he did know was that he and Beatrice needed to leave Magmetheus...and soon.
     
    "We need to leave Magmetheus," he told Beatrice firmly, "And soon."
     
    "Leave?" Beatrice cried. "But..."
     
    "Don't worry," Roger said. "I'll tell you everything...I promise. But right now, we've got to move."
  25. Like
    Akril got a reaction from MusicallyInspired in The Time Machination   
    Well, here I am...again.
     
    If you've been hanging around these forums for the last couple of years or so, you might have noticed the quotes from "a WIP" in my signature, or noticed me allude to a piece of fan fiction I was working on once or twice. You may also have heard the SQ Historian podcast episode where an excerpt from said fan fiction was read.
     
    Well, after nearly two years of on-again, off again work, it is (nearly) DONE. This is the first piece of SQ fan fiction I've written in years. I started it for various reasons which I won't get into right now, hit a lot of rough patches when I was about 2/3rds of the way through, and even when most of it was finished, I still had some difficulty getting this thing hammered out until I was (mostly) satisfied with it.
     
    I'm going to be posting one chapter a day throughout December. I probably won't have the entire thing posted by the time the new year rolls around, but at this point, I can't promise anything for certain.
     
    Now that all of that's out of the way, here is...
     
     


    Space Quest: The Time Machination


    Prelude

     Roger Wilco Junior – son of Roger Wilco, the man who had saved the galaxy multiple times despite being nothing more than a moderately skilled janitor – was confused.

     This was hardly an unfamiliar feeling for him, and after several years of his mind being dominated by fear, depression and hopelessness, it was a relief to be bothered by something as comparatively trivial as mere confusion. However, the reason behind the confusion was far from trivial.

     RJ (the name which Roger Wilco Junior had insisted that his peers and family call him by since he hit adolescence) had just sent Roger Wilco Senior back to the point in the past that RJ had originally pulled him from. As much as RJ wished that he could spend a little more time with him, the fear of causing irreparable damage to the timeline prompted RJ to immediately return his father to the Space Quest IV time sector while RJ himself remained in Space Quest XII time sector.

     He had sent his father back to his own time with a head full of questions to which the answers would not come for many years, if they would come at all. However, RJ's own head was bulging with questions as well, one of which loomed ominously above all the others (not unlike the massive Supercomputer that RJ was currently standing in):

     The Anomaly. What was it? Why did it exist? How could it exist?

     RJ gazed out at the mangled metropolis hundreds of feet below him, the memory of the events leading up to the discovery of the unimaginatively-named Anomaly slowly replaying in his frazzled mind.

     It all started with the Supercomputer -- the Supercomputer which a group of scientists (who in hindsight really should have known better) accidentally exposed to a crippling virus. This virus was in actuality a digital replication of the mind of Sludge Vohaul, an evil, twisted, aesthetically challenged scientist who made several attempts at dominating Xenon many years prior but was ultimately defeated by Roger Wilco.

     It turned out that Roger Wilco's defeat of Vohaul wasn't as ultimate as the people of Xenon thought. However, Vohaul hadn't given up on his plans of taking over the planet, and this time, he came very, very close to succeeding.

     The events that followed after the Vohaul virus gained control of the Supercomputer and nearly every piece of technology on the planet were, in short, very unpleasant. Though most of the population either fled Xenon or perished, a small number of people remained in hiding beneath the streets of the planet's central city, hoping to find some way of destroying the Supercomputer.

     When the rebels learned that the Supercomputer had discovered time travel, they had little time to ponder on this discovery. Recalling that Roger Wilco was the only person who had ever defeated Sludge Vohaul, the rebels realized that time travel could be their only chance of destroying the Vohaul virus. Two of the rebels (who had just recently decided to call themselves the Time Rippers, given the nature of their mission) were selected to steal some of the time technology, travel into the past and return to the present with Roger Wilco. RJ was one of these two rebels.

     In the time between the infiltration of the Supercomputer, the pilfering of the time tech (a pair of guns that looked suspiciously like modified hairdryers) and the departure for Space Quest IV, RJ and his companion discovered the following information:
     
    1) The Sequel Police -- the intimidating cyborgs tasked with making sure that the Space Quest timeline ran according to Vohaul's wishes -- were planning to travel to the past as well... however, their goal was to kill Roger Wilco.
     (This was bad.)

     2) In order to avoid accidentally setting off a retroactive chain of events resulting in the Vohaul virus never getting uploaded to the Supercomputer and thus erasing them from existence, the Sequel Police wouldn't confront Roger Wilco until after Space Quest III.
     (This was good...sort of.)

     3) Because of 2), the only available time when both the Time Rippers and the Sequel Police could reach Roger Wilco was a narrow window at the beginning of Space Quest IV.
    (This was because...)

     RJ quickly pushed the reason for 3) out of his flashback. He didn't feel like revisiting that memory just yet, but when put together, it became very clear that if he and his companion didn't rescue Roger Wilco from the Space Quest IV time sector before that window closed, there would be no way of stopping Vohaul.

     Fortunately, luck was on the Time Rippers' side: They arrived in Space Quest IV just in time to save Roger Wilco from being killed by a pair of Sequel Policemen. After sending his father to Space Quest XII, RJ paused for a moment to catch his breath, but before he could open another rip to follow his father into the future, there was the sound of a Sequel Policeman's rifle being fired and an explosion of pain in his side.

     RJ remembered little of what happened after that -- it was mostly brief, blurry moments of consciousness interspersed with what seemed like distorted dreams or hallucinations. After finally regaining full control of his senses, RJ found himself in the innermost sanctum of the Supercomputer, with his father standing in front of him. The pieces quickly came together: He was alive, his father was alive, they were inside the Supercomputer, and there was no Vohaul virus attempting to destroy them. They had won.

     RJ led his father outside to the landing bay, a large opening near the top of the Supercomputer which provided a great (but depressing) view of the ruined city. He explained what had happened on Xenon, and why his father had been transported to Space Quest XII. Though the conversation began well enough considering the circumstances, it became more and more uncomfortable as it progressed, and despite his disciplined mind, RJ was quite shaken by the time he was ready to return Roger Wilco to Space Quest IV.

     After saying a final good-bye to his father, RJ stared at the wall of the landing bay for several minutes, wondering what to do next. Then he returned to the entrance to the Supercomputer and began to make his way through the labyrinth of catwalks, circuitry and transport tubes, down into the heart of the technological colossus.

     Sometime later, he located the small, dark chamber that housed the Chronolux -- the massive mainframe that the Sequel Police had used to track Roger Wilco through the various Space Quest time sectors. To his amazement, the machine was still running. It was also surrounded by the lifeless bodies of several Sequel Policemen -- it seemed that once the Supercomputer had been shut down, the Sequel Policemen themselves suffered a similar fate. RJ (correctly) reasoned that the Chronolux must not have been connected to the Supercomputer, despite residing inside of it.

     RJ slowly approached the Chronolux. Then, with trembling fingers, he selected the Space Quest IV time sector, entered his father's name, and pressed the Scan button.

     Several minutes later, a message appeared on the Chronolux's main screen:

     SUBJECT PRESENT ON MAGMETHEUS UNTIL 00:001:00:26:07.
    NO PRESENCE DETECTED AFTER 00:001:00:26:07.

     The hairs on the back of RJ's neck stood on end. He glanced at the digital display on his time gun, looking for the line that displayed the last time entered on it. The line read: SQIV||MAGMETHEUS||00:001:00:00:00. That was the time and place he had sent his father to -- a time approximately twenty-six minutes before the Anomaly.

     RJ's mind reeled as the memory of the fourth thing that he and his companion had discovered during their infiltration of the Supercomputer came rushing back to him:

     A few hours after the Space Quest IV time sector began, Roger Wilco vanished. No matter how many scans Sequel Police had made on the ChronoLux, there was never a trace of Roger Wilco to be found...and he wasn't just absent from Space Quest IV, either: he was missing from every single time sector, all the way up to the end of Space Quest IX.

     This absence was what RJ called the Anomaly. When he first learned about it, he had little time to ponder what it meant or why it existed, but now that the chaos on Xenon had finally ceased, his questions about the Anomaly began careening through his mind like rocket-powered meteorites.

     What was going on? What had happened to his father twenty-six minutes after he returned to Magmetheus? Could he have been killed by the Sequel Policemen? If he had been killed, then why did RJ still exist?

     With both his heart and his mind racing, RJ had the ChronoLux run a scan of Space Quest V. Five minutes later, the message "NO TRACE OF SUBJECT DETECTED" appeared.

     RJ ran a scan on Space Quest VI, only to have the exact same message show up. He ran scans of Space Quest VII, VIII and IX and was about to run a scan of Space Quest X when he finally broke down, slamming his head into the keyboard with a howl of frustration.

     Saving his father's life hadn't changed anything. The Anomaly was still there -- from the beginning of Space Quest IV until the end of Space Quest IX, Roger Wilco was gone. As for Space Quest X and beyond...

     No, RJ told himself. Don't go there. Don't.

     He tried to make sense out of what the Chronolux was telling him, but couldn't. It just couldn't be true. His father had existed when RJ was born near the end of the Space Quest VIII time sector. RJ remembered listening to his father's stories of his past adventures; how his father kept calling him "Junior" no matter how many times RJ told him not to; and that one galaxy-wide family vacation where, despite driving a ship with the most easy-to-use navigational computer available on Xenon, his father still managed to get RJ and his mother thoroughly lost. The Chronolux had to be wrong...but if it was, why hadn't Vohaul or the Sequel Police spotted and corrected the error? After all, they were all machines to a great extent, and they built the Chronolux -- if they hadn't detected any problems with it, then why was the machine reporting Roger Wilco as MIA in spots in the timeline where he had undoubtedly existed?

     RJ lifted his head from the keyboard and noted that the Chronolux had finished its scan for an individual named LJNGHTDTCH (which it actually had located on a planet somewhere in the Dgjegtmxs galaxy). Though both mentally and physically exhausted, RJ wasn't ready to give up yet. He ran a search on his father in Space Quest I, II and III, and except for one odd patch of time in Space Quest I, Roger Wilco was detected in every one of those time sectors.

     RJ rubbed his eyes and stared blankly at the screen. What was going on? Was the man he knew as his father just a clone of the original Roger Wilco, or an android duplicate? Had an alteration of the timeline caused RJ to become his own father? Was all this an illusion he was experiencing while plugged into a console deep within the bowels of the Supercomputer?

     Roger Wilco only existed until the beginning of the Space Quest IV time sector. After that, he was completely absent all the way 'til Space Quest IX. Then, somewhere between Space Quest IX and Space Quest X (there was no way of telling exactly when this was, since for some reason, the Chronolux couldn't scan the time between sectors, just the sectors themselves), he vanished and never appeared on the timeline again. Of course, this had to be because...

     RJ tried to push that memory away again, but by this point, he was too weak to hold it back:

     ...because he was dead by then. Both him and Mom. No one could have survived an explosion that large...besides, if they weren't dead, Vohaul wouldn't have needed his lackeys to go back in time to bump him off...

     But why Space Quest IV? Why Space Quest IV!?

     KLUNK.

     RJ froze. Though he had been contemplating smashing his head into the keyboard again, he hadn't actually done it -- that noise had come from outside the room he was in. In fact, it seemed to have come from outside the Supercomputer.

     RJ's mind went on full alert. He had no idea what had made that noise, but he knew he wouldn't find out what it was by waiting next to the ChronoLux. He grabbed his time gun, sprang from his chair, barely avoided tripping over one of the deceased Sequel Policemen, and bolted out the door. He ran until he reached the tunnel that led to the landing bay, then crept stealthily along the wall, grateful that the deadly laser beams that once filled the tunnel were now deactivated. As he neared the end of the tunnel, he heard and felt the thrum of an engine filling the air. It sounded like a ship...a ship which definitely wasn't the kind used by the Sequel Police.

     As he reached the entrance to the landing bay, RJ flattened himself against the wall and cautiously peered around the door's circular metal frame. The sound of the engine grew louder and louder, and then there it was -- a small, bulbous shuttle that looked as if it had been built centuries ago. It had gull-wing doors, was painted a gaudy shade of purple and its windows were too dark to make out any of the occupants. It slowly approached the Supercomputer, but despite the massive size of the landing bay's entrances, the ship's nose collided with a section of the Supercomputer's outer wall several feet above the landing bay, producing a noise very similar to the one that RJ had recently heard.

     The ship slowly backed up, then after a moment of hesitation, it decreased its speed, banked slightly, then dropped its landing gear and gingerly maneuvered itself through the landing bay's rightmost entrance -- the entrance right in front of the tunnel where RJ was hiding. Suddenly the shuttle's thrusters cut out and it bounced off the floor of the landing bay with a jarring thud. The thrusters fired up again almost immediately, and after lurching drunkenly in midair for a moment or two, the shuttle slowly lowered itself until it was resting firmly on the cold, cracked plasticrete.

     As a cloud of dust billowed around the shuttle, RJ gripped his gun in his hands, ready to leap out of hiding and confront whatever or whoever was inside the shuttle. Then he remembered that the only thing this gun was good for was opening rips into different time periods. Maybe if he just acted as if it were a real gun, whoever was in that ship might think it was real...if only it didn't look so much like a giant hairdryer...

     There was a sudden hiss of escaping air -- the driver's side door of the shuttle was hinging open, and someone was stepping out. RJ leaped out of the tunnel, his gun aimed at the individual, who was still mostly obscured by the airborne dust.

     "Freeze!" he yelled.

     The figure jumped in alarm and tried to run away, but only succeeded in banging its head on the partially opened door. It clutched its skull with a primal outburst of surprise and pain that made RJ feel as if someone had injected liquid nitrogen into his veins.

     That voice...he knew that voice...

     The figure staggered unsteadily out of the rapidly thinning dust cloud towards RJ. RJ lowered his time gun, gaping at the figure with a mixture of astonishment, disbelief and a small amount of terror.

     It was him...and yet it wasn't him. He seemed older, his clothing was completely different...and his hair definitely wasn't that color when RJ had last seen him...

     Still cringing slightly, Roger Wilco lowered his hand from his head, looked into the widening eyes of his son and grinned.

     "Hey, Junior."

     Deciding that it risked serious damage if it remained conscious for a moment longer, RJ's brain promptly shut itself down. His body dropped to the plasticrete with a soft thud accompanied by a loud clatter as the time gun slipped from his limp fingers.

     Roger Wilco cautiously approached his son, stared mutely at him for a moment, then looked over his shoulder at the shuttle. A tall blonde woman had just emerged from the shuttle through the now open passenger door. She took a few steps forward, regarded the unconscious body sprawled in front of Roger for a moment, then glared coldly at Roger himself.

     "Uh..." said Roger sheepishly, "I guess it would've been better if you'd talked to him first, Bea."
     
     
     
    EDIT: Apparently, I can only center and indent individual lines in "Coding Mode" since if I attempt doing that in "Plain Text" mode, the entire body of text ends up centered or indented. Annoying...
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