The beginning of a long tale. Considering the rumors that IG is now making an FPS, I believe it's safe to write a story set after UYA. And, should IG return to R&C and continue (yay! Let's hope so D), this fic will either be an "in-between" or an AU, depending on continuity crisies that may occur.

Title is a WIP; suggestions will be taken into consideration.

Disclaimer: All characters copyright Insomniac.

"You couldn't hit the Phoenix from two feet away!"

"You couldn't fly straight if your life depended on it!"

"You couldn't pilot your way out of a paper bag!"

"Oh yeah? Well the only reason you're even captain of this ship is because you're the president's daughter!"

Everything froze. The bridge crew didn't blink. The engines, no longer receiving input commands, hushed. Even the particles of space dust outside the window seemed to grow still. The deafening silence was so thick you could cut it with a knife. Sasha's anger, incited by the biting retort, seemed to electrify the air around her. If said knife had been in the room, it would have made a fine lightning rod.

"Get. Out," she growled, not daring to look at what had caused her so much anger. It was fine he insulted her piloting skills, and before that, her shooting ability. He was a more skilled, experienced pilot and marksman. But no one, no one, accused her of riding her father's coattails. "I don't have to deal with you. Get off my ship." She turned and sat in her chair, furiously staring at the screen before it.

When the doors to the bridge whooshed closed, she relaxed ever so slightly. She could feel the eyes of her fellow bridgemates boring into the back of her chair. She whipped and and snapped irritably, "WHAT?" They all turned and busied themselves with their monitors, not wishing to incur her wrath. Helga wondered if it was 'that time of the month' for her again.

Ratchet growled to himself, irritated. He wanted something to kick, to punch, to bash with his wrench, to shoot and have blow up. Something, anything, to relieve his tension. He stormed to his quarters and turned on the VG9000. Perhaps a few rounds would relieve him. It wasn't quite as satisfying as blowing up an enemy perhaps, but it was certainly less messy - and more convenient.

His hands shook as they gripped the controller. In the time he'd been adventuring, he'd become quite strong. Before, his hands had been fairly strong - being a full-time mechanic was quite the upper-body workout - but with needing to lift heavy weaponry daily, he was sure his strength had doubled, despite his apparently unchanged physique. In less than a year, he'd gone from Ratchet, Mr. Fixit on the plateau to Ratchet, Intergalactic Hero.

In that time, he'd also gone from Ratchet, confirmed bachelor to Ratchet, Sasha's boyfriend. Sasha...she was so delicate. He felt like he'd break her of he held her too tight, one of the few times he wasn't proud of his increased strength. Of course, that was a simple illusion of size: while she may have have been fine-boned, she was tough as nails. As he'd learned both from observation and experience. He wouldn't admit it, but she came very close to breaking his VR training records. All of them.

And now, she was mad at him. No, worse than that - she was infuriated with him. He'd touched a nerve, a deeply exposed one, and she'd ordered him off the ship - off the ship! Not just out of her sight for the next hour while she collected herself, but actually away from her. He growled again; the game was getting the better of him. Those digital enemies were taking advantage of his distraction! They were going to -

Crack! He looked down at the controller in his hands. One side had split from the pressure of his hands. It wasn't broken beyond repair, even a simple strip of duct tape would have fixed it, but it was enough to make him angry. He threw the thing onto the couch beside him and stood up, switching off the console. "Clank! CLANK!"

"Yes?" The robot in question appeared momentarily.

"Let's go. Get to the ship; we're going somewhere."

"Somewhere?" Clank wondered, hurrying to catch up with Ratchet. The Lombax's swift strides belied his annoyance. Something had him in a knot, and apparently, "going somewhere" would cure it. Clank could only surmise it had something to do with someone on board the ship.

Ratchet started the ship, growling to himself the entire time. "You seem...upset. Is something bothering you?"


"Was one of the Rangers insubordinate, perhaps?"


"Helga has finally beaten your obstacle course record?"


"Then Captain Qwark has been taking credit for things you did again?"

"I only wish..."

Clank's robotic eyes widened in shock. If Ratchet would prefer Qwark's one-upman-ship to this, it must have been something awful. "Al defeated you in Space Invasion 3 for the sixth time?"

"No! It doesn't...have anything to do with them. Any of them. The Q-Force isn't a part of this."

Silence overcame the small craft again. Clank pondered the question. If the Q-Force and the Rangers were not the source of his foul mood, then what could possibly be? He and Sasha argued sometimes, usually over whose turn it was on the VG9000, but it never put him in a bad mood for very long, certainly not one so deep. But it was possible... "Did you and Sasha have an argument?"

Ratchet's whole body stiffened. His fingers gripped the controls so tightly Clank feared they might snap, though whether it would be Ratchet's fingers or the controls he couldn't say. "Not...really... ...Yes..."

"Ah, so that is what is bothering you. Very well. Perhaps 'going somewhere' will help, after all. The explosive destruction of various objects and lifeforms seems to have a tonic effect on you."

The sight of the small craft leaving the Phoenix created a blip on the screen of a spaceship parked unobtrusively in a nearby meteor field, though the pilot did not need the radar to know of the exit. The lombax's brightly-colored ship and glowing engines stood out in the dark void of space. Fine, pearlescent teeth gleamed in the faint output screen of the radar. Yes, now was the perfect opportunity...