The Death of Roger Wilco (Part 1 of 2)
by Decaffeinated Jedi

Historical note: This story takes place an indeterminate amount of time after the events chronicled in Space Quest VI: The Spinal Frontier.

"Dearly beloved..." began the holo-reverend, clearing his throat. It's just so hard to find the real thing these days. "We are gathered here today to lay to rest a true hero, Roger Wilco."

The DeepShip 86's holocabana was packed with the friends and family of Janitor Second Class Roger Wilco--his wife Beatrice Wilco, his close friend Stellar Santiago, the DeepShip's Commander Kielbasa, the former crew of the SCS Eureka, a couple of weird-looking guys with mohawks and snount-like proboscises, and numerous others. Many of the mourners had met one another for the first time over the course of the past few days since the accident.

The holocabana had been programmed to bend and shape waves of coherent light in such a way to mimic the appearance of a peaceful countryside scene. A CasketCapsule 3000TM sat atop a small platform in the holo-shade of a holo-tree at the front of the room. The holo-rev was positioned beside it, standing behind a flimsy-looking podium.

"As I am sure you can see from the sheer number of people who have gathered here today, Roger was a man that touched the lives of almost everyone with whom he came into contact. Roger was also the kind of man that would not have enjoyed seeing those he loved mourning his passing. Instead, he would have wanted us all to celebrate the joys of his and our lives. Therefore, we join here today not in mourning, but in celebration. Many of you have requested the chance to say a few words about Roger and the manner in which he impacted your lives through the years. Personally, I cannot think of a more appropriate way in which to remember this truly heroic figure. So, without further delay, I would like to introduce our first speaker: Clifford 'Cliffy' Crawford, former chief engineer of the SCS Eureka under the command of Roger Wilco and current chief engineer of the SCS Goliath."

Cliffy stood up from his seat, pulled up his pants a bit, and worked his way out to the aisle. As he made his way to the front of the room, the holo-rev gradually faded back into nonexistence. By the time Cliffy placed his sloppily-scrawled notes at the podium, there was no sign of the holo-rev.

"Ladies and gentlemen," Cliffy ventured, "I ain't no public speaker, so I'm gonna try to make this short, sweet, and straight to the point."

"I served with Captain Wilco a few years back aboard the SCS Eureka," Cliffy began. "Now, the Eureka might not have been the prettiest or the fastest ship in the fleet, but she had real character. In fact, ya might even say the same kinda thing about Captain Wilco. The first time he strolled into the engineering lab, I remember thinking to myself, 'Well, here's another damn yahoo sent out by StarCon to try and tell us how to do our job! I wonder how long this one will last.'"

Several members of the congregation chuckled at Cliffy's comment--particularly his former Eureka crewmates. Flo, Droole, and WD40 had all managed to make it to the proceedings on relatively short notice. After the defeat of the Sludge Bandits and the destruction of the Eureka, they had all been assigned to new posts around the galaxy. They looked forward to catching up with one another over a few drinks at 8-Rear after the ceremony.

"Captain Wilco proved pretty quickly to me that he wasn't just another StarCon wingnut with a few extra pips on his collar--no offense intended, Commander Kielbasa." The felinoid Kielbasa knowingly nodded his head to dismiss any possibility of tension. "Like the rest of us, Captain Wilco didn't end up on the Eureka because of some outstanding service record. He ended up there for the same reason we all did--because he screwed up royally or he pissed somebody off."

"Anyway, like I was saying, Captain Wilco put his ass on the line for me more than once. He bailed me out when I was thrown in the brig after a little, ah, altercation at the Spacebar. When I was drifting through an asteroid field and running low on oxygen, he jumped in a rescue pod that was six years overdue for StarCon safety inspection and saved my bacon. I, ah, guess that I never mentioned that last part to him at the time."

Again, a bit of reserved laughter worked its way around the room. Cliffy had already lightened the somber mood of the gathering somewhat.

"So, Captain Wilco proved himself to me, and he proved himself to the rest of the crew. He may have been stuck on the Eureka 'cause he rubbed that bastard Quirk the wrong way, but he made the most of his time there. After StarCon had been trying to take out those Sludge Bandits for months, Captain Wilco managed to mop 'em up in a matter of days. Not many of us get a chance in our careers to serve alongside a true hero. Flo, Droole, WD40, me--we did."

"Now, Captain Wilco being busted back down to Janitor Second Class after saving the galaxy, that was a raw deal. Sure, he might have broken a few rules along the way, but he also made a real difference. As far as I'm concerned, there's not a better captain in the fleet today."

Cliffy made a motion with his hand in the direction of the other members of the Eureka crew. They all stood and brought their hands to their foreheads in a salute. Cliffy did the same.

"Captain Wilco, the former crew of the SCS Eureka salutes ya, sir. And we'll never forget ya, ya knucklehead."

It was one of the few heartfelt salutes Cliffy had given since he entered StarCon so many years ago. Although Cliffy would never admit it, a little tear welled up in the corner of his left eye as he returned his hand to his side. As he left the podium and made his way back to his seat, the holo-rev reappeared beside the CasketCapsule 3000TM.

"Thank you, Mr. Crawford. Now, we are going to hear from one of Roger's friends and crewmates here aboard the DeepShip 86. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Circuit Sydney."

Circuit Sydney, the DeepShip's android officer, conveyed a definite sense of purpose as he strode the podium. In the past year or so, Roger had tried to help him develop a more casual stroll for moving around the ship, but Sidney--despite having a 400 megagig harddrive for a brain--could never seem to get it quite right.

"Good day. My name is Circuit Sydney. It is unfortunate that I had to meet many of you for the first time under the present circumstances. I truly wish that we had the chance to get to know one another better before Roger's untimely accident."

Upon mention of the accident, a cold chill seemed to pass through the room. Despite being by far the most advanced android in all of the Star Confederacy, Sydney did not seem to notice the sensation. In fact, his external temperature sensors indicated no fluctuation whatsoever.

"When I initially came aboard the DeepShip 86, I quickly found that I simply did not necessarily 'fit in' well with the remainder of the crew. In fact, I had experienced a similar phenomenon during my years at StarCon Academy. It seems that my being an android--and a quite advanced android at that--sets many humanoids ill at ease. After roughly one year, two months, three days, and seven hours aboard the DeepShip, I must admit that I was relatively 'down in the dumps,' as they used to say." Sydney accentuated his statement with precisely-timed finger quotation marks.

"It was after one year, two months, three days, and seven hours that I first made the acquaintance of Roger Wilco. I was seated in 8-Rear, enjoying a refreashing beverage and amusing myself by mentally charting the subspace algorithmic fluctuations of the Pleimert VII wormhole. Speaking of which, can you believe that Hofflinger's Entropy Quotient only holds true in cases of neutrino cancellation when in the vicinity wormholes? I wish they taught that in the astrophysics classes at StarCon Academy. But, I digress."

"It was after one year, two months, three days, and seven hours that that Roger sat down across from me at my usual table and introduced himself. He explained that he was new aboard the DeepShip 86--which was rather apparent, considering I had taken the time to memorize the name, rank, serial number, uniform size, and official StarCon biography of every member of the crew."

"Roger and I spoke for nearly two hours during our initial meeting. In the months that followed, we became close friends, convening regularly in 8-Rear during our off-duty hours. During these carefree meetings, Roger would often regale me with stories of his many adventures across both the galaxy and the chronostream. He told me of his meteoric rise to the rank of captain and his subsequent demotion back to janitor. He also spoke frequently of how much he missed seeing his beloved Ambassador Wankmeister-Wilco on a regular basis. To be honest, I suppose Roger was my first--and best--friend. Whenever Roger needed me, I was more than willing to lend him a hand--and vice versa." As Sydney made this statement, the few members of the gathering that knew the details Roger's exploits in rescuing Stellar from Sharpei's clutches chuckled softly. Sydney, of course, had intended no joke.

"Ever since my tenure at StarCon Academy, I had felt a certain degree of 'envy' toward organic creatures and their robust emotional capacities. During our time as friends, Roger demonstrated to me what it truly meant to be a human being. As Roger made clear on various occasions, to be human is to be fallible. More importantly, Roger taught me that it is entirely possible to transcend these minor shortcomings with nothing more than a positive outlook on the universe and a modicum of hard work. That, I would posit, is the true essence of humanity. No matter what obstacles stood in Roger's path, he met them with determination and a jovial disposition. Even as the ship's custodian, he set an example that the entire crew would do well to follow."

"In the few brief years that we were friends and crewmates, I learned more from Roger about what what it means to be human than I had in all the prior years since my activation. Now, in his death, I have learned to appreciate how valuable a human's life--a friend's life--can be. As a twentieth-century Terran comedian often said, 'Thanks for the memories.' I'll be sure to save a seat in 8-Rear for you, Roger."

Circuit Sydney stepped out from behind the podium and walked back to his seat in what he had previously calculated in less than 8.6 nanoseconds was the most efficient route. Once again, the holo-rev reappeared behind the podium.

"Thank you, Sydney," said the holo-rev. "I'm sure that you're not the only person that's gathered here today who learned many a lesson from Roger's example. Now, I would like to introduce our next speaker--Corpsman Stellar Santiago."

Stellar Santiago stood up from her seat near the back of the holocabana and made her way up to the podium. She was clad in a striking blue StarCon dress uniform and had her dark hair pulled back into a stylish ponytail. When Stellar had first received news of the accident, she was busy tracking down a moddie smuggling ring in the quadrant. Fortunately, StarCon was more than willing to give her a few days of leave to attend her dear friend's funeral.

"Good afternoon, friends. My name is Corpsman Stellar Santiago," she stated as she stepped behind the podium. Stellar seemed rather calm and collected considering the setting. "I first met Roger during his freshman year at StarCon Academy. I was a senior at the time, and we were both enrolled in the same self-defense class. I remember we were paired up as sparring partners one day early in the semester. When it was all said and done, Roger finished that session with quite a few bumps and bruises. He never quite seemed to get the hang of hand-to-hand combat."

"As the semester progressed, though, Roger and I got to know each other much better both inside and outside of class. In fact, we even dated for a short period of time over the course of that year. It didn't take too long for us to realize that romance wasn't really in the cards. We just made better friends than we ever did romantic interests. After we both arrived at that conclusion, Roger and I became the closest of comrades. When the semester came to an end, however, it was time for me to ship out with the Star Confederacy Corps. So, Roger and I parted ways. I went off to do my thing, and he remained at the Academy for his sophomore year."

"I remember the day that I received the subspace communiqué from Roger telling me all about his appointment as captain of the SCS Eureka. Although it came as quite a surprise to both of us, I was so proud of him. When I heard he had wiped out the Sludge Bandits, I just knew that Roger was on his way to a brilliant career in StarCon. He was going places. That's why his demotion back to janitor second class came as such a shock. I'll never understand why the Star Confederacy Council decided to do that to him, but Roger seemed to just accept it and get on with his life. It was as if he knew that the custodial arts were always his true calling."

"The next time I bumped into Roger was on Polysorbate LX. A couple of goons had kidnapped him, and I just happened to pick up his homing beacon. That was just before Roger rescued me from that evil wench, Sharpei. For those of you that haven't heard the story, this woman had planned to transfer her mind into my body to prolong her life. Roger was actually shrunk down to microscopic size and injected into my body to drive her out. Roger saved my life, and I'll never forget that."

As she continued, Stellar was clearly starting to lose her composure. Tears began to well up in her eyes, and her voice wavered slightly.

"During that entire affair, Roger had an opportunity to speak at my 'funeral' after Sharpei and one of her associates faked my death. While I wasn't able to attend, I've been told that he delivered a truly moving eulogy in my honor. Even though Roger would never admit it, he had a way with words." The tears that had formed a few minutes earlier finally began to trickle down her cheeks.

"I just don't know what to say, Roger. You were as close a friend--as close a friend as anyone could ask for. You'll always be an inspiration to me. And I just know--I know that wherever you are right now, you've already unclogged all drains and scrubbed the floors squeaky-clean, getting it ready for the rest of us. Thanks for everything, Roger. You may be gone, but you're def--definitely not forgotten."

As Stellar finished her sentence, she broke down into tears for a few moments. She quickly regained her poise, however, and made her way back to her seat. Concurrently, the holo-rev reappeared behind the podium.

"Thank you, Corpsman Santiago. I'm sure that Roger would appreciate your kind words. Now, allow me to introduce our next speakers. They are...the Two Guys from Andromeda? Is that correct?"

From the back of the room, two voices responded in unison, "That's us!"

The Two Guys from Andromeda--their names roughly translated into Standard as Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy--were dressed in burgundy flight suits. Their snouts, mohawks, and trademark shades certainly made the Two Guys stand out in any crowd--especially this crowd.

"Hello, ladies and gentlemen," said Mark as he stepped up to the podium.

"We just flew in from Terra and, boy, are our arms tired!" Scott added. Only Mark chuckled at the joke. The remainder of those in attendance merely rolled their eyes.

"Most of you probably don't know who we are, so allow me to introduce ourselves. We are the Two Guys from Andromeda, galaxy-renowned computer game designers," said Mark.

"You might remember our stunning universe-wide sensation, AstroChicken," interjected Scott. "Over the past few years, we've been hanging around on the backwater planet of Terra, producing a series of games called Space Quest."

"Although the sales of the Space Quest series are a little feeble this far out in the galaxy--I blame the promotional budget--I think everyone here today would enjoy the games," Mark stated. "Believe it or not, they're based on the adventures of your friend and ours, Roger Wilco."

"That's right," Scott continued. "We met Roger when he risked life and limb to rescue us from the evil clutches of ScumSoft, Inc. We were being held in their compound on Pestulon against our will, churning out crap like--forgive me--flight simulators. I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen."

"Our time at ScumSoft wouldn't have been so bad if they were actually paying us. But, sadly, they weren't," Mark added. "That's why we decided to slip a secret message into AstroChicken, alerting anyone who beat the game to our predicament."

"We figured anyone that could beat the game and figure out the secret code certainly had what it took to best the forces of ScumSoft," Scott stated. "Looking back, the plan might not have been the best idea we've ever had, but it all worked out in the end. Roger made it to Pestulon and saved our bacon."

"The three of us spent many hours aboard the Aluminum Mallard after the rescue. During that time, Roger told us all about his adventures," Mark said. "Although he didn't seem like the sharpest knife in the cupboard, there was no doubt that this guy was a hero. When we flew through the wormhole together and eventually ended up on Terra, Scott and I began chronicling Roger's adventures in the form of computer adventure games--the aforementioned Space Quest series."

"We stuck pretty closely to Roger's stories when designing the games. Of course, we changed his hair color from brown to blonde about halfway through the series. Plus, we really screwed up that whole Gippazoid deal." Both Scott and Mark laughed at this statement.

"Unfortunately," Mark added, "we haven't had a chance to release a new Space Quest game in a few years. It seems that the company we worked for on Terra decided that fans just weren't interested in Roger's adventures anymore. Even though the Space Quest series is gone, it's certainly not forgotten."

"You know, the same could be said about Roger himself," Scott continued. "I'm sure that he's made an undeniable impression on every man, woman, and android in this room today. As soon as word reached us on Terra about Roger's accident, we hopped a ride on the first flying saucer that passed by and hitchhiked our way out here. By the way, here's a little tip: if you're riding with the Kandorians, be sure not to order the Alterian Slime Devil for your in-flight meal. Trust me on this one; you'd be better off with the Big Belcher Combo at Monolith Burger."

"I admit that we didn't really know Roger all that well. Still, we knew that we needed to be here today. We owed Roger one. We've had a lot of fun sharing Roger's adventures with all the fans of the Space Quest series over the years. Hopefully, we'll get another chance to do that sooner or later."

"All of you here today were friends and associates of a very special man. Of course, you know that already," Scott stated. "I guess that means all that's left for us is to give Roger the traditional Andromedean salute."

Both Guys from Andromeda raised the hands to their heads, fingers extended. They placed their thumbs against their foreheads and began wiggling their fingers.

"See you on the chronostream, broom jockey!" they stated in unison before leaving the podium and heading back to their seats. Once again, the holo-rev reappeared behind at the front of the holocabana.

"Thank you very much. That was quite interesting. Now, please allow me to introduce--" A sound distortion interrupted the holo-rev.

"Please allow me to intro--" Once again, static broke up his statement. Then, the holo-rev's appearance began to warp and waver. As confused glances shot around the holocabana, a new form slowly replaced the holo-rev. After a few seconds, a stout figure with pale blue skin and a flight suit covered in countless tubes and electronic devices stood in the holo-rev's place. The figure cleared his holo-throat.

"Surprised to see an old friend?" His voice echoed through the holo-cababa with a spooky other-worldliness. "For those of you that might not know me, I am Sludge Vohaul, evil genius and future Supreme Emperor of the Universe."

Proceed to Part Two!

This story is ©; 2001 Decaffeinated Jedi.

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