The Inside Story (Part 1)
by Troels Pleimert

Historical note: This short story takes place between Space Quest V and Space Quest VI, before Roger Wilco was stripped of his captains rank. This takes place after the end of Space Quest V, where Roger destroys the SCS Eureka and swoops off in the Star Confederacy's flagship, the SCS Goliath, when he's on his way home to StarCon.

Miss Johnson hurried up the stairs to the attic. Only moments ago, she had recieved a rather unusual audial message through the comm speakers strewn throughout the house, yelling: "Look out belooooooow!" Then, seconds later, an extremely loud crashing sound was audible, apparently coming from the top floors of her house.

As she opened the door to the attic, she was shocked to witness a StarCon escape pod, having crashed head-on through the ceiling and settled almost horizontally with the nose in the floor and the rear up in the air. Miss Johnson was speechless. Can't really blame her, either, can you? I mean, anybody who gets their ceiling destroyed by a StarCon escape pod is bound to be just a little bit startled.

She didn't even have time to get her braincells back into gear, when the hatch opened and the blond face of a StarCon captain in his red uniform looked out, with a dazed facial expression.

"Where ... where am I?" he mumbled to himself.

"My ... my ... my ceiling! My beautiful ceiling!" gasped Miss Johnson and grabbed hold of her own head, almost as if to keep it from falling. She turned to the captain, who hadn't spotted Miss Johnson until now. "Look what you've done to my ceiling!"

"It, it wasn't my fault, I ..." the captain began, but Miss Johnson didn't care to hear his excuses.

"That cost 220.000 buckazoids for renovation, paint job and new tiles! Do you understand what you've done?! You've just cost us 220.000 buckazoids!!!" Miss Johnsons face started changing colors, now more or less resembling the light show found at a Jean Michel Jarre-concert.

"I understand, miss, but ..." he tried again, but Miss Johnson just kept on going.

"It took us five years to redo that ceiling! Five years! And now you just crash through it, like, "Oh she probably won't mind if I crash through her nice ceiling, which she's worked on for the last five years, but oh what the hell"," she continued as she turned around and walked back down the stairs.

"Five years!" she mumbled as she headed down the stairs.

Roger Wilco was quite surprised at the way that woman had been acting towards him, considering what he'd been through recently. Hell, he had been running for his life, and then this crazy woman just walks up and gives him hell like that. To think, after all these years of saving galaxy after galaxy, to be rewarded with golden mops and honors, nobody remembered him.

Instead of thinking too much about that, Roger turned to glance at his surroundings. He had crashlanded in a Xenon City suburb. This was easy to figure out. The window displayed a small street with houses on each side, with side streets strewn around various places. Typical suburban material; not the sort of tall condos and office buildings one might find in the grand Xenon City.

This place didn't look that bad either. Of course, he had only seen the attic yet, but from what he could deduce from the tidy and well-presented attic, the ground floor would probably be even more spectacular. Actually, this kind of reminded him of his childhood home. He too lived in one of these nice suburbs, away from all the noise and pollution of downtown Xenon City.

Oh well, can't stay here forever, he thought and started to climb out the pod.

Miss Johnson got the fright of her life, when the captain walked down the stairs into her kitchen. Then she figured, hell, he probably doesn't mean any harm. He's a StarCon captain, for chrissakes.

"You feelin' better?" she asked, in a feeble attempt to be friendly.

"Yeah, thanks," said the captain. "Say, you wouldn't by any chance have a comm unit, I can borrow for a moment?"

"Uh, yeah," she replied and pointed over in the corner, where a small, black device was fixed to the wall. "Over there."

"Thanks," said the captain and went over to the unit.

He pressed the communicator button on the pad and the small LCD-screen came to life, and displayed the familiar message: "PLEASE ENTER RECIEVER CODE". Patiently, he entered the comm code for the StarCon space station, orbiting Xenon.

After a little while, miss Johnson could see, that the conversation was over and the LCD-screen turned itself off. The captain sighed, then approached her.

"Is everything alright?" she inquired.

"Yeah, fine," replied the captain, although it was quite obvious, that it wasn't the case.

"Would you like something to drink?" she asked.

"No thanks," he replied. "They'll be coming to get me in a while."

"Who?" she asked.

"So you're Roger Wilco, eh?" said commander James E. Benzeen. "Well, not exactly what I had expected! What you've been up to as of late?"

"Not much," Wilco replied. "Just saving the galaxy again ... in fact, I'm going to need your help."

"My help?" asked Benzeen, obviously surprised. "As I recall, you were once a janitor on this station when it was still called Xenon Orbital Station 4, before we were entered into the Star Confederacy! And I remember, you used to slack off constantly! So you've finally decided to actually do something? I'm surprised!"

"Cut the crap, commander," Wilco retorted. "I'm not in the mood for it right now."

"Oh, so your captains rank has made you a bit more confident," replied Benzeen. "Must be great, now you have a captains cabin to slack off in, in stead of those broomclosets—"

"Will you just listen to me?!" Wilco yelled, obviously getting extremely agitated. "The SCS Goliath has been destroyed—"

"What!?" Suddenly, commander Benzeen leaped up from his commanders chair. "The Goliath destroyed? How'd that happen?"

"Well, it's kind of a long story," replied Wilco.

"The destruction of the Star Confederacy's flag ship can not be simply dismissed with a corny phrase like "Well, it's a kind of a long story"! You gotta tell me!" Benzeen said, obviously worked up about the incident. In spite of this, he managed to take his seat again.

"Okay, okay," said Wilco. "It all started aboard the SCS Eureka ..."

As I'm sure you're aware of, the Eureka was destroyed during the mutation infection of the villanous Captain Quirk, who was puked out by the primordial soup from the Genetix corporation. Me and my crew managed to escape in the SCS Goliath, along with ambassador Wankmeister, whom we dropped off at the nearest starbase.

I was happy. I had a new command on the greatest ship ever to grace the black void of the universe. Of course, the stench wasn't that wonderful, but we did manage to clear that up. We did rescue the entire crew of the Goliath, and that of course included the cleaning staff.

Anyway, on our voyage home to StarCon, we picked up a strange distress message on our comm signals.

"Help us ... <snap> ... this is the StarCon scientific installation in the Rutheminon galaxy ... <crackle> ... we've been attacked by ... <pop> ... god knows who ... we need immediate assistance ... <rice krispies> ... any Confederacy ships in range, please respond! <cracklesnazzle>"

Flo, my communications officer, turned to inform me. "We've lost transmission, captain."

"Did you get a fix on their coordinates?" I inquired.

"Negative, captain, the transmission was too short to pin down," was the reply.

"Figures," I said as my green communications officer turned back to her station. Hitting the communicator button on my chair panel, I reached for our female, robotic science officer, WD40.

"WD40, do you know anything about a scientific installation in the Rutheminon system?" I asked.

"Negative, Captain Wilco," replied her metallic voice. "Last known record of any scientific installations in that region would be Vohaul's secret asteroid fortress, which was discovered and destroyed during Space Quest II."

"Yeah, I remember vividly," I said and felt a chill run down my spine. "So you think it might be heading for a setup?"

"That would be the most logical assumption," answered WD40. "However, my information package is out of date and needs to be updated. It is possible that the installation is simply a new one, that I have not been informed of."

"Yup, that is a possibility," I said. "Wilco out."

"Affirmative," WD40 replied and closed communications.

"Flo," I said and turned to face her. "Can you look up in the data banks for any science installations in the Rutheminon system?"

"Could try. Let me get back to you," she replied, in her casual, almost sarcastic tone of voice. She pressed a few buttons, then turned around again. "Nope, there's nothing in the official data banks to suggest anything about a science installation around there. Maybe somebody in StarCon screwed up or—"

"Droole, set a course for the Rutheminon system," I said, ignoring Flo, who kept on going, but eventually gave it up.

My navigations and weapons officer, Droole, with the strange head formation, turned to me and asked. "Shouldn't we find out about the station first?"

"There's no time. If they're really in trouble, do you think we can spare the time?" I retorted.

"Hmm, guess not," he replied and turned back to his console.

"Thought so," I replied. "Lite speed!"

"Lite speed," Droole repeated and did just that.

Stars zoomed by the viewscreen as we approached the Rutheminon galaxy, where we'd picked up the strange signal. Upon arriving in the system, I told Droole to go to regular speed. I then hailed Cliffy, the chief engineer, now having a full engineering section to command, and told him to cloak the ship, in case it was a trap.

I could hear the cloaking device kicking in with a silent, humming sound as our ship disappeared.

"Sir, I'm tracking a waste beacon," said Flo.

"Activate RRS— Uh, what?" I said.

"Sorry, he-he, old habit," she said. "What I meant was, I'm tracking a distress beacon."

"Where?" I said, suddenly leaping to a standing position.

"Orbiting the planet Revina IX," she replied, then turned with a puzzling look. "How the hell do you spell that anyway—"

"Not now, Flo," said Droole, which in turn caused Flo to turn back to her station and continue her spelling practices another day.

"Flo, confirm, is it coming from the scientific installation?" I asked my communications officer. We still hadn't figured out, if it was a genuine StarCon installation, or just some pranksters ... or even worse, pirates in an ambush.

"Confirmed, there is a StarCon installation here. Classified as "top secret". That's why we couldn't find anything in the data banks," she replied. "Uhh ... according to the read-outs, the stations shields have weakened 70% and increasing ..."

"Increasing?" Droole interrupted.

"Flo, are there any other ships in the vicinity?" I asked.

"Negative, captain, there's not a ship in range for the next two solar systems," she replied, a bit agitated. "Maybe cloaked," Droole suggested.

"No, the scanners would've picked up the ion trails if it had left the system, but there's nothing there," she replied. "It's as if a ghost is in there, causing havoc to the machines."

"Flo, check again. You're making things up."

"Up yours, lobster head, this is for real! It's still dropping ... Somethings in there, and it's purposely causing machinery damage!" Flo replied.

"Scan for lifeforms! Anything in there?" I asked WD40 over the comm.

"Lifeform readings impossible, Captain Wilco," replied WD40's metallic voice. "The stations shielding are fluctuating so wildly, that it is blocking our scanners."

"We'll have to go in there and see for ourselves, cap'n," said Cliffy, now butting into the conversation.

"If the scanners can't penetrate, neither can the transporter beam," I said, hoping that he would give up the idea. Usually, when somebody said "we have to go in there", it usually meant I had to go in there.

"Maybe there is a possibility," said WD40.

"Oh great," I mumbled under my breath.

"I calculate a 73,4% chance of success in penetrating the shield, if we can match the transporters ionic frequence with that of the station's fluctuating shield," WD40 suggested.

"But with the shields fluctuating so widly, the gauges will be skipping up and down like a kangaroo mating dance," said Cliffy, once again presenting us with his weird humor, usually the aftereffects of too much chill Keronian ale.

WD40 countered with a possibility. "If we install an autocorrectional ionscanner to the transporter lockmechanism, it should be a simple matter to—"

"Wait, wait, wait," I interrupted. "Say we do get this transporter to work, what are we going to do in there?"

"We?" said everyone on the bridge and on the comm.

"Alright, me! What am I gonna do?" I said with a sigh.

"Check the computer systems for malfunction, cap'n. If we can find any survivors, and you can shut the shields down, we can evacuate the wounded and be on our merry way," said Cliffy.

"Right," I said, standing up. "If no-one else has the guts to go in there, I'll do it! WD40, make it so!"

"Yes, Captain Pica— uh, Wilco," said WD40 and closed the comms.

As I exited the bridge through the turbo lift and out into the transporter room, I could hear my bridge crew behind me sigh in relief. I would've just loved to turn around, sit down and say, "I changed my mind. Droole, you're going in," but that would've just made me a coward.

"Made?" asked Benzeen with a grin.

"Shush, subordinate," replied Wilco, obviously not amused. "Don't interrupt me while I'm telling you my story."

"Sor-ry," replied Benzeen with a faked, sorry look.

"Anyway, as I was saying ..."

As I entered the transporter room, I felt a sensation that can only be likened to that of the lemming, about to jump over the cliff. I felt certain, that I was embarking on a suicide mission, and that I would never return to see my home sun ever again.

"All ready," said Cliffy, now manning the transporter unit. "I've set it up to auto-calibrate itself to match that of the station's shieldfrequency. If this works correctly, we should be able to beam you to the command section of the station."

"All right," I said, taking my position on the transport pad. "Let's do it. Energize."

"Energizing, sir. Good luck!" Cliffy said while activating the beam.

"Thanks," I said as I saw the blue tube of light coming down on me.

"You're gonna need it," Cliffy added under his breath.

All of a sudden, a gigantic blast hit the ship, causing it to skip up and down, making numerous, untasteful changes to the interior. One of which was a big box of tools, having been placed on a shelf above the transporter unit, which fell onto the transporter console and caused it to snap crackle and pop.

Cliffy and WD40, the only two present in the transporter room, jumped to safety as the transporter console exploded.

"Holy shit," Cliffy said, while trying to pick himself off the floor. "What the hell happend?"

"Chief engineer Cliffy, report to the bridge immediately!!!" shouted Flo's agitated voice through the comm system. "Repeat, chief engineer Cliffy to the bridge on the double! It's a friggin' emergency! Get up here!"

"Coming!" yelled Cliffy to the comm unit, as he stood up and rushed over to the doorway.

Proceed to Part Two!

This story is ©; 1996 Troels Pleimert.

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