|Once the Future's Passed
Author: shielddrake42 PM
As time catches up to him, Clank muses over his past, the future and Ratchet. Future fic, a little sadness, and slight spoilers.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship/Drama - Clank - Words: 3,792 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 13 - Published: 07-05-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7148247
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: All things related to the Ratchet and Clank series, including characters, plotlines, quotes and so forth, are the exclusive property of Insomniac Games, Inc. I am not making any money from this...Though it would be pretty cool if I was directly involved in the series' production, alas, this is not the case.
Warning: This fic does contain some spoilers for the games, including the end of A Crack in Time. If you do not wish to be spoiled, please exit the fic at this time. If that is not a concern, then please read on and enjoy!
"The Clock, much like time itself, is a gift…"
Thinking back on the wise words of his father, Clank wholeheartedly agreed. Time was a gift. And like many gifts, he had taken it for granted. Pretty ironic, considering he was the Senior Caretaker of the Great Clock, the Keeper of Time. One would think he would be more aware of time than anyone else…but this had not been the case. Time had slipped right by, and he barely noticed it.
The term "barely" is used, because although he had noticed it he usually let it go without a second thought. Clank did not age after all. Sure, there was the occasional rusting bolt that needed oiling, radiator core that needed to be flushed or sprocket that needed lubing, but overall Clank had not changed a bit. Even though, unlike some other robots, he was born with a soul, his body was for the most part eternal. Anything that was influenced by time could be repaired or eventually be replaced. The only thing that did age was his soul, and souls are eternal.
Organics are not.
The memories in his memory bank were intact. He could remember the years following the time he decided to leave the Clock until Ratchet found his family, and then his return to the duty his father left for him. That had been his plan, his promise to his father and to Ratchet. Clank wanted to help Ratchet find his place in the universe, and then go back to the Great Clock. He didn't know at the time if he could keep to those plans, but it had somehow worked out in the end.
There were other Lombaxes in the universe, somehow surviving the tyranny of Tachyon and remaining hidden in the darkest corners of each galaxy. Of course, once they heard that the son of the Keeper of the Dimensionator had defeated Tachyon and was searching for any remaining Lombaxes, most of them were thrilled to gather again. It had taken some time, but the Lombaxes migrated back to Fastoon to make it their home again. While perhaps not thriving the way they were before the Great War and the rise of Tachyon, progress was being made every day. It was unlikely that the Lombaxes would ever become the superpower race that they had been once upon a time, but what was being accomplished was enough for them.
If only Alister had been willing to wait a little longer…
And Clank went home to the Great Clock. Sigmund was ecstatic at his return, to say the least, and the two worked together to maintain the Clock and the balance of time. His days were filled with recording the events of the universe, repairing time rifts, trying to move the Clock more precisely to the exact center of the universe rather than just within fifty feet of it, and fixing the 4.3 trillion moving parts that inevitably would need repair. Like his father, Clank only left the Clock on two occasions: for Ratchet's wedding and the birth of his best friend's first child.
While Clank was performing his duty as caretaker, Ratchet had taken a leading role on Fastoon. This was no surprise, considering he was the son of the Keeper of the Dimensionator. He sat on the Lombax Leadership Council, was Chief Inventor for the rebuilt Center for Advanced Lombax Research, and was a Three Bolt Magistrate of the New Lombax Praetorian Guard (the only thing keeping him from Four Bolt Magistrate status was his frequent trips to visit Clank). On the more personal side, Ratchet married a female Lombax named Kaylee and had three children, two sons and a daughter. Clank had visited Fastoon for the firstborn's birth, Kaden, named after Ratchet's father, but had been unable to leave for the birth of Shelby and Ryder.
That should have been his first indication that time was moving forward. Ratchet was so proud to present his first son to his best friend, Clank was afraid he was going to explode with pride. But the fact that Ratchet's children were also growing up, having families of their own…
Clank may have not left the Great Clock very often, but that certainly didn't stop Ratchet from visiting him instead. Ratchet was of course a very welcome visitor, coming as often as once a month for many years. They would talk for hours at a time, Ratchet speaking about his family, the progress the Lombax race was making or whatever crazy invention he was working on, and Clank about the function of the Great Clock and the many new ways time rifts were being formed, both intentionally and not. Clank looked forward to those visits every month. Sigmund was a good friend and all, but it was nice to see Ratchet and hear more about what was happening outside of the Clock.
Slowly, however, the visits became less frequent. Ratchet's monthly visits were stretched to every other month, then every half year, and then yearly…Before Clank knew it he received a hologram message from Ratchet, claiming that he was not up to the trip anymore and was wondering if they could keep correspondence through holograms or an Obsidian Eye, one of which was conveniently found in some of the older ruins on Fastoon. Clank of course agreed to this, and soon they were speaking every month again as if nothing had changed.
But things had changed, by a lot. Clank should have seen it coming to be honest. It was the logical order of life after all. He should have noticed the tired look in Ratchet's eyes, the slowing movements, or the graying fur around his muzzle and ears. Deep down, he knew that this particular day would come and was waiting for it, but it was sooner than expected. Clank could recall thinking, after one particularly short conversation with his Lombax friend, that Ratchet would be gone someday but had pushed the thought out of his mind, summing it up that it was probably still a few years down the line.
How foolish that thought had been. When exactly did "a few years down the line" become "yesterday"?
The next time the Obsidian Eye was used, it wasn't Ratchet on the other end but his oldest son Kaden. Kaden had gotten to know Clank fairly well, trying to keep the family connection alive. Clank spoken with Shelby and Ryder on occasion too, but it was the eldest child that the miniscule robot became closer too. Kaden was the one who tended to hang around his old man more than his siblings, especially as Ratchet got older. Therefore, Clank did not think anything of it when Kaden dialed into the Obsidian Eye to say hello.
It was Kaden's sad eyes and drooped ears that told Clank that something was terribly wrong.
"You know how Dad's been sick the past few weeks?" Kaden had said, referring to Ratchet's illness that, at the time Clank last spoke to him, had only presented itself as a feeble cough. "Well, Mom and I took him to the hospital a few days ago. He…He died in his sleep last night."
With that statement, Clank's time stood still.
And so, the little Sentry-bot found himself piloting a ship for the first time in decades on his way to Fastoon for his best friend's funeral. Clank was never much of a pilot; in fact, he was pretty sure that the last time he actually flew a ship was when he escaped from Planet Quartu and crash landed on Veldin, just before he met Ratchet for the first time. Well, that obviously did not work too well, so he left the piloting to Ratchet from then on.
"Whoa, this is great! So THAT'S where I've been stuck this whole time!"
"Please return your appendages to the steering mechanism, sir."
"Huh? Oh right, sorry."
How old had Ratchet been then? Sixteen? Just a kid really, both mentally and physically. And they certainly did not hit it off too well, especially where Qwark was concerned.
"Those are Drek's ships destroying that planet! We must help that commando!"
"Are you serious? That's it! I am outta here! Captain Qwark is gonna be sorry he messed with me!"
"This is not about Captain Qwark anymore. There are innocent lives being lost."
"Yeah, well I'm done with this stupid hero stuff! I got my own agenda now!"
"Ratchet, this is not like you."
"What do you know about me? You spent this whole time looking for Qwark. You don't know anything about me!"
Looking back, Clank let out his trademark chuckle. The two of them certainly had their share of arguments during that first adventure. Although those early memories did not put Ratchet in a good light, the memories of a few days later, after they had fought and defeated Qwark for the first time, definitely did.
"Yes, I know. It is worse than I expected too."
"Look, maybe you were right. This is a lot bigger than you or me. I was really selfish focusing on Qwark."
"It is not too late to stop Drek."
"Hey, yeah! We got this new ship! Let's go get him!"
"Now you are talking!"
And of course, there was the time, not too long after, when Clank truly saw how far the young Lombax would go to protect the home he cared about.
"Ratchet? Are you…alright?"
"He…is going…to pay!"
"It shouldn't have taken me this long for me to see it! Drek is going to find out what happens when you mess with my home! …What are you smiling at?"
"This is the Ratchet I always knew was there."
Clank had not been so proud before in his life. Sure, there were other moments involving his Lombax friend that made pride an emotion he felt in his processor, but that one really stood out.
Not to say that there weren't times that Clank caused Ratchet grief as well. He was sure that his kidnapping by a masked stranger (later discovered to be Angela) and later on by the Zoni worried Ratchet to no end. And the Lombax had come for him, just like many times before. Yes, there were plenty of times that Ratchet screwed up, but he was not the only one.
That episode with Klunk for example…oh, he would never forget Ratchet's reaction to that.
"Look, Clank! It's Dr. Nefarious! And that butler guy. And…they've got Clank! They're, uhh, holding you prisoner…How 'bout that?"
Laughter was the only response he got.
"I guess I should be feeling pretty stupid right now. I don't suppose there's any chance he's the evil Clank?"
"Yeah. Didn't think so."
And then getting revenge on Dr. Nefarious for all that. It was quite satisfying to say the least.
"Agent Clank? What's going on here? What do you think you're doing?"
"After all those holovids, there is one thing you should know by now: Do not mess with Agent Clank!"
Then there was his abduction by the Zoni and Dr. Nefarious, followed by his adventures at the Great Clock for the first time. Clank later learned from Talwyn how Ratchet had spent a year searching for Clank after the two had defeated Tachyon. He was glad that Talwyn and later Alister had been with his friend when he couldn't be. Ratchet had grown up over the years, but he knew that the young Lombax sometimes needed a guiding force, or at the very least a conscience, until they were together again.
Ratchet always came for him. And for that, Clank would be forever in his debt.
Having been completely lost in his memories, Clank did not notice when he arrived at Fastoon, and therefore had ignored the messages he received from the New Lombax Praetorian Guard demanding that he identify himself. It was his own fault really, but at the time he was taken complete by surprise when he was fired upon.
"Whoa! One moment!" Clank yelled, pushing a few buttons and talking into the speaker. "Wait! This is Clank, friend of Commander Ratchet. Please hold your fire!"
"Clank? Dammit!" a voice cried from the other end of the communicator. He recognized the voice as Ryder, Ratchet's youngest son who had taken up a post at the Guard. "We fired because we didn't recognize your ship's ID! Are you all right?"
"Let me check the—" Clank began, but was cut off by the ship's report.
"Warning. Stabilizers offline. Thrusters offline. Tether offline," Clank listened, his fear growing more and more as each one was listed off. "All weapons offline. Reflectors offline. Landing flaps offline."
Was anything not offline? Well, the ship's voice processor, apparently.
"Going down!" Clank screamed as his ship continued to plummet to Fastoon's surface.
He could hear Ryder calling for him on the communicator as his ship tumbled through soil and trees before stopping…upside down. The fuel system of the ship ignited, setting the remains of the ship on fire. The wings were bent in awkward directions, and the cockpit window had cracked and shattered, spreading multiple shards of glass all over the forest floor. Pieces of the hull's plating lay scattered both next to the ship and along the charred path it had created as it skidded along the forest floor. Strange…Clank did not recall Fastoon having a forest.
Thank goodness for ejector seats though.
Clank slowly sat up from the spot where he landed when he ejected from his ship. He groaned as he felt that the parts that made up his right arm had been cracked, pulled and twisted out of place. Although he couldn't feel pain, it certainly was an unpleasant experience. Taking a glance at the fire that consumed his ship, Clank sighed. Oh well. He would rather deal with a busted arm than be in a currently burning spaceship.
Another memory strayed its way to the forefront of his mind…
"That was close! Thanks!"
"My arm appears to be…badly damaged."
"Ah, you'll be alright."
At least he knew he landed on Fastoon, and Ryder knew that he had been accidentally shot down. He was probably searching for him now. On the other hand, Clank did not want to hang around for any Nanophytes to find him. Maybe he could hide somewhere, and when Ryder or some other Lombax came around he could make himself known.
"Hey!" A young voice called out, causing Clank to turn around in shock. "Are you all right?"
Clank watched as a Lombax rushed up to him and kneeled down. He was young, obviously much more so than Ratchet had been when Clank first met him, and wore the normal clothing of a Lombax, including a wrench symbol on his chest and large gloves. He was slightly darker than most Lombaxes, being more orange than yellow and with dark, almost black stripes.
The Lombax waved a hand in front of Clank's face. "I said, are you all right?"
"…Yes, I am fine," Clank replied, recovering from his shock.
"You came down in this big ball of fire, and you say you're fine?" The boy yelped. "Wow. You're tough. Or been through worse."
"That would sum it up nicely. I was shot down by mistake," Clank agreed. "Young man, how far am I from civilization?"
"Not very far. Town's only a couple miles from here," answered the Lombax. "And what's with the 'Young man' thing? My name's Mason. What's yours?"
"Oh, and by the way, you can stop calling me sir. The name's Ratchet."
"Pleased to make your acquaintance, sir."
"You got a name?"
The robot shook his head, forcing that old dialogue out of his head. It was far too similar to now, and it reminded him of Ratchet. His name? Clank had to admit that he had quite a few names and titles: his movie title of "Secret Agent," his serial number B5429671, the name his father gave him, XJ-0461, Sigmund called him "Sir" even now…but to be honest, despite all of these designations, there was only one name he would consider his true name.
"I'm Clank," he finally answered.
"Clank…wait," Mason hesitated a moment. "You're not the same Clank that was friends with Grandpa Ratchet, are you?"
"I am good friends with Commander Ratchet," Clank explained. "A very old friend. I was on my way here for…well…"
"His funeral tomorrow," Mason finished sadly, his big ears drooping.
"Yes. I was on my way here to Fastoon, but I became distracted and did not identify myself in time," the robot continued. "The Guard shot me down. It was an accident."
"My dad's in the Guard," Mason said. "Since you knew Grandpa Ratchet, you probably know him too. His name's Ryder?"
"Yes, I know Ryder," Clank confirmed. So Mason must be Ratchet's youngest grandson. He could vaguely remember Ratchet mentioning him when he was born, but that was a few years ago obviously since this boy was no longer a baby.
"Maybe…you could tell me a little about your adventures with Grandpa Ratchet?" Mason requested. "He told me a little about when he was my age, but not all of it."
"He was a little older than you when I met him," Clank clarified.
He paused for a while. He wasn't sure if he really wanted to talk about his traveling with his old friend. It opened too many wounds that were still fresh. The memories just kept coming and going faster than he could control them. Meeting Ratchet, the battle with Drek, the Protopet incident, the two battles with Dr. Nefarious, Klunk's impersonation of him, Qwark's multiple betrayals, the DreadZone, Tachyon, the Zoni, Alister…the list just went on and on. And yet, throughout it all, the pair had stuck together. Even when Clank thought for a bit that he would remain with the Great Clock, he couldn't leave Ratchet alone.
"I…cannot stay. I am sorry, but…discovering my family has made me realize that I cannot leave Ratchet. Not until he finds his own. I…hope you understand."
He had rushed as fast as he little robot legs could carry him to catch up with Ratchet before he took off from the Great Clock. He hopped into Aphelion just moments before the cockpit closed. Clank took one look at Ratchet, who at first stared at him in disbelief before smiling in what was obviously gratitude. Ratchet then took off into the stars with a big grin on his face while Clank sat back to enjoy the flight. No words were even necessary. There was only understanding.
"I'd like to hear more about him sometime," Mason persisted, knocking Clank out of his musings. He shuffled his foot nervously. "You know, it'd be nice to hear some happy stories, instead of just thinking about what's happened now."
The little robot looked closer at the Lombax in front of him. Perhaps it was due to his young age, but this boy seemed innocent and earnest, quite a bit like Ratchet had been. At least, like Ratchet had been before he had to deal with saving his planet and eventually various galaxies from destruction. Mason was a little calmer and more polite in his speech, but Clank could tell the similarities between grandfather and grandson. He had the same curiosity in his aqua green eyes…
Aqua green eyes. Mason had inherited Ratchet's eyes.
"Perhaps after the funeral, we can share stories," Clank suggested. "I do not know everything about what Ratchet had done during all his years here on Fastoon, after all."
"You might want to ask my dad about some of that. I'm too young to know all of it," said Mason, logically. "But I'd be happy to tell you what I know."
"I would like that," Clank responded, sincerity in his tone.
Clank began to walk again, only to hear the sound of clattering robot parts and feeling pieces of his damaged right arm fall out of place. He sighed, picking the parts up again with his good arm. Mason let out a small chuckle.
"Let's get you back home first," he offered. "I'm pretty good with tools. I can fix you right up!"
"Hey, Tin Can! Where do you think you're going? We, uh, still need to fix that arm."
Clank's eyes rolled around in his version of a blink. His memories were plaguing him, no matter where he was or what the context was. Despite this, he gave the Lombax a smile similar to the one he had given Ratchet all those years ago.
"I think…" he said. "That would be a great idea."
Time would roll on. There was nothing Clank could do about that. His robot body would last while everything organic would age, and eventually die, around him. Ratchet had, and in the back of his mind he thought about how Mason would as well. But if working at the Great Clock had taught him anything, it was that one had to appreciate the natural order of time, and although it brought him some pain to think about it Clank wouldn't have it any other way. He may have lost Ratchet, and no one would ever replace him, but the memories Clank had of his best friend and ally would always remain with him.
Another good thing about time was that was never-ending. The end of one story just meant that another was going to begin. As Clank walked towards the closest town, meeting Mason's strides easily, he couldn't help but keep smiling, knowing that a new adventure had already started.