Chapter 2- Imprisonment of Desire
Sasha Phyronix always hated her mornings. The drain of energy at thought of the oncoming day was usually more than enough to remove all of the life from her. She paced through the halls of her pride and joy, the Starship Phoenix. She only prayed that Al had fixed the caf machine as she felt that her ritual morning cup of caf would be the only thing which could sustain her long enough to keep her awake through her arduous shift.
She passed through the door into the ships mess hall. She found her fears unfounded as she watched the light on the machine blink on and off in sequence with the hum of its motor, waiting endlessly for someone to finally request its services. Sasha approached the machine, typing out commands of the controls. The warm liquid dripped into her plain white mug sitting underneath the machine. She removed the cup; she sniffed its warm contents, the hot steam wafting through her nostrils a symphony to the taste that danced across her tongue with her first sip.
With her coffee in hand Sasha continued her walk through the tight ship corridors towards Ratchet's quarters. The metal doors parted for her as she stepped into the dark void of his room. Sasha activated the overhead lights, a primal groan resonated through the room in quick response.
"Ratchet?" She called out.
Another deep groan. Sasha walked across to his bed to find him where right where she expected, collapsed across his bunk bed, a sheet covering his shirtless, furry torso. Sasha pocked his exposed ribs in an attempt to wake him from hid slumber, but he just batted her hand away in a futile attempt to remain firmly in place. She had to do this more forcefully. She reached down and clasped his side, shaking him violently she wrested him from his peaceful slumber. He rolled off the edge of the bed, collapsing loudly on the floor, entangled in the sheets and dressed only in a pair of boxers.
"Nice to see you awake" She smirked down at him.
He looked up at her, his face awash with surprise and annoyance. "Euurh. Why did you wake me up?"
She smiled mischievously, poking him in the stomach. "Come on. Dad wants us on Marcadia for a meeting today" Sasha placed her cup on the table. She scooped a clean jumpsuit off of the sofa and threw it at him. He rose onto his elbows, the jumpsuit hitting him square across the face dropping him to the floor once again.
"Get dressed; he wants to meet us again as soon as we hit Marcadia. We'll be there in less than an hour". She picked up her cup of caf from the tabletop and headed for the door.
"You're not goanna stay?" Ratchet said with a snide smirk. She sighed as she turned to face him.
"I've already seen what's under those boxers hotshot" She gave him a suggestive wink. "Not too bad" She resumed walking out through the open doors.
The light of Marcadia's second sun shone through the thin curtains that wavered gracefully in the window to hit the President square in the eye. "I need to get thicker curtains" He mumbled to himself. He raised his hand to his eye to shield himself from the blinding light.
Sliding out of bed he yawned with a roar that would rival the battle cry of his Ancient Warring ancestors of Cazara. He walked into his ensuite bathroom and after showering and washing he donned his Presidential robe and left his now empty bedroom.
Once he was in the corridor he was met by his two burly security guards positioned on either side of the door. "Good Morning Sir"
He waved his hand at the guard. "You too Bob"
The President set off down the corridor. Behind him he heard Bob's voice, a low hush in the background. "The Big Man is up and about. Repeat, the big man is up and about. Over"
As he turned the corner the President was met with his personal assistant Anya. The young Cazar matched his pace, ready to detail him on his schedule of the day. She held a large stack of papers and a personal organizer in her thin arms as she clutched them both tightly to her chest. "Good morning sir. Today you have a meeting with the Galactic Transport Minister at nine"
She rummaged through the papers that she held to her chest tightly in her arms. She pulled out a folder and handed it too him. "And you have a meeting with your daughter and Mr. Ratchet to finish discussing your plans for the reconstruction of the Galactic Military. Here's the dossier I have prepared for you"
The President pushed it away with one large hand. "Just leave it on my desk with my cup of caf and I'll deal with it.
"Yes sir" With that Anya scurried away to her task.
The President continued his leisurely stroll through the Presidential Palace, finally coming across a door that which lay slightly ajar. He looked inside to see it was Sasha's room. He stepped inside to see the drapes were still drawn. He walked across the room, flinging the light material apart, the room now awash with clear early morning light. He looked across Sasha's room- the Hover Board racing posters splashed across the walls, the VG 9000 hooked up to the TV that dominated the far wall. She spent so much time away commanding the Starship Phoenix that she rarely spent more than a few days in this room any more.
Coming back down from his thoughts the President remembered that he still had to review the dossier before his meeting this morning. He briskly walked towards the door to return to his work. But in the process of doing so he clipped his large leg against the sharp corner of the desk the impact sending several books and their content crashing to the floor in a heap.
He brought his knee up, his hands clasped at the injured joint. As the pain eventually subsided he knelt down to scoop the discarded contents of the book from the floor. He picked up some of the books, laying them back on the desk. He suddenly realized that the discarded papers on the floor were in fact
As he drew closer the papers on the floor turned out to be photos. He scraped them off the floor; the first image was of Sasha. Only she was half dressed in her room aboard the Phoenix, looking as if she was in the middle of changing. The camera angle suggested that the picture must have been taken from a security camera or something. He crumpled the photo in his hand. "No one treat's my daughter like a piece of meat!" He snarled. "Whoever was responsible for this is going to face the full force of my anger". He felt the anger boil and writhe inside him. "Roar! In a fit of anger he slammed his fists down on the desk, nearly sending a crack tearing through the wood. One of the photos slipped free of his iron grip, gliding gracefully onto the desk. The Presidents eyes snapped to the photo, his eyes burning with pure rage. The image was of Ratchet in his underwear, laid out across a silk bed. "That sick bastard!" He slammed his giant fist down on the photo; the President knew exactly who to exact vengeance upon.
Sasha's boots slammed down onto the concrete floor of the landing pad outside the Main Entrance to the Galactic Palace. Ratchet jumped down from his fighter, landing gracefully next to her.
"Sasha!" The booming voice of the Galactic President called out. He came walking out of the Palace, his huge feet stomping across the polished concrete. The President reached his daughter, squeezing her into a crushing fatherly hug. She wrenched herself free of the vice of her father's grip. The Presidents eyes rose to Ratchet, his eyes turning from the beaming joy of seeing his daughter again to the flaming red of all hells fire at the sight of Ratchet.
"Hello Ratchet" He fought to keep his voice level, all those years in politics was finally being of use. He raised his hand, as a forced sign of greeting.
"You too Mr. President" Ratchet took his hand, shaking it.
"Nice too see you and Sasha are so close". Ratchet could taste the glint of anger in his voice.
"Oh we are very good friends" Ratchet squeezed his hand slightly harder, just to ensure his point was made.
"Oh, you're going to get it you little" The President thought to himself. He leant his chin slightly to the right, compressing a small switch concealed in his collar. He released his hand from Ratchet's iron grip. The President looked out across the open sky above the Palace. Sasha followed his gaze, trying to decipher what exactly he was searching for.
"Something wrong dad?" Sasha questioned innocently.
The Presidents train of thought shattered. "Ugh, no" He stepped to one side, motioning them forward along the pathway towards the palace. "Shall we?". Ratchet and Sasha walked forward, the President bringing up the rear as they strode towards the dominating palace Grounds. "Where are they?" The President once again looked to the skyline, searching.
Just as they were half way along the walkway leading into the palace the sound of a Dropship resonated against the high walls. "About time" The pres thought to himself. Sure enough a Federation Dropship suddenly rounded the east side of the Palace, the main hatch lowered as it drifted through the sky. The ship hovered over the landing pad.
A squad of Galactic Rangers leapt from the open hatch, slamming down onto the concrete walkway, the sound of their metal feet cracking the ceramic floor resonated in Ratchets sensitive ears. Two of the Rangers blocked the route back to Ratchet's fighter, the other two securing the entrance to the palace. They were surrounded.
Before anyone could even react, the Rangers raised the blasters welded into their arms. "Freeze!" Their weapons were trained directly onto Ratchet. These were not the standard Rangers that Ratchet had fought alongside with on numerous missions- these Rangers casings were the tar black reserved for Special Forces commandos. Their belts were lined with a full arsenal of weapons and Gadgets that Ratchet had seen or used in his military career as well as some that he had heard the Gadgetron techs were working on, but as of yet were still to be released.
Ratchet's military instinct kicked in, he reached for his blaster. Two of the rangers fired, claws shot from the barrels of their weapons, connected to the gun by long metallic cables. The claws latched onto Ratchets wrists. As soon as the locks were engaged Ratchet felt a storm of electricity surge through his body, every nerve in him burning as his armour did nothing to shield him from the dual blasts.
Another symptom accompanied the pain. As his reflexes instinctively forced him to reach for the hot spots of pain he felt his muscles clench, ensuring that all control of his muscles was confiscated from him. The other two rangers surrounded him, pushing Sasha and the President out of the way as they secured their prisoner. Through the few seconds that had passed Sasha was stunned and Ratchet was in no position to make sense of anything but the President remained completely un-phased, as though nothing was happening.
"Hey! Get away from him!" Sasha screamed as she watched the Rangers scrambled around Ratchet. Sasha threw herself forward, trying in vain to throw the first ranger off balance, only to be thrown into the waiting metallic arms of the second Ranger, the solider holding her tightly against his chest. "Captain Phyronix, please. Stand down" The trooper spoke in their usual monotone voice.
She beat at his armored chest relentlessly, only succeeding in bruising her hands concealed by her purple elbow length gloves. As soon as the Rangers were sure Ratchet was secure the President stepped forward, Sasha was moved out of the way by the Ranger still clutching her tightly to his metal chest with one arm.
"I knew Special Forces Rangers would be necessary to arrest you" The President leant down to stare into Ratchets confused yet determined face.
"Arrest me! For what?" Ratchet screeched as he strained against his binds, only to feel his muscles well and truly hypnotized by the electric blasts.
"Don't lie to me! I found the smut you took of Sasha!" He reached into his pocket, throwing the collection of photos to the cracked concrete floor.
Sasha eyes shot open when she saw it what he was referring too, the realization hit her hard. This was her fault. "Dad! No, it was-"
But she was cut off when her father spoke again in his booming voice. "Ratchet. As punishment you are now stripped of your military rank and dishonorably discharged into exile"
"What!" Ratchet shrieked.
"Dad you cannot be serious?" Sasha pleaded, still being restrained by the Ranger.
"Take him away" The President threw his arm round into the air, directing the Rangers into the palace grounds. The troopers pulled Ratchet to his feet, dragging him along the concrete walkway. The President turned, watching as the Troopers escorted Ratchet inside of the Palace. Sasha stared her dad down- face was a mix of anger, shock and utter disgust. "Dad. How could you?"
The President snapped to face her. "How could I not! He was a delinquent Sasha" He rolled his hands into tight fists. "Whatever he gets is far more than he ever deserved"
That was the last word on the subject. Two days later command of the Starship Phoenix was transferred to Captain Torn, a Cazar officer who served as one of the Galactic Presidents lap dogs, as the ship was being used for Ratchet's transfer to the distant mining colony on Derman.
Sasha meanwhile was confined to her room within the Palace on Marcadia. But she was not going to surrender while her first love was carted off to the edge of the galaxy for her mistakes, she had a plan. Sasha sat in her room, her father had instructed her to remain grounded until the Starship Phoenix returned to Marcadia in a few days.
She lay on her bed, running the plan through her head over and over. Every thing was planned, every detail carefully laid out, every contingency prepared. All except one. She reached for her communicator on her bedside table. Typing in the code the device hovered into the air in front of her as she sat cross-legged on her bed. The screen crackled with static, finally clearing to reveal the bright yellow sun of Angela Cross's face. "Sasha. What's going on?"
Sasha was surprised that she instinctively assumed it was bad news, but she assumed that it was written plainly across her face. "It's Ratchet. My Dad just had him arrested by the Galactic Rangers. And he is having him exiled on a mining colony" Angela was speechless.
"Oh god he found them didn't he?" Angela's face was covered in shock.
"Found what?" Sasha asked.
Angela pulled her hands up to her mouth. "You know. Whatever you and Ratchet were…" Angela trailed off, expecting Sasha to fill in the blanks. Only to be met with silence. "Don't look at me like that!" Angela broke the awkward silence, her voice laced with defensive rage. "Now I assume you have a plan to get our boy out of this?"
Now it was Sasha's turn to don a smirk. "First of all, he's my boy. Not ours. Secondly, yes. But I am goanna need a partner who just happens to be an ex-master Thief".
Ratchet sat in his cell, his back pressed against the side wall. The pulsing red field before him looking out over his former room aboard the Starship Phoenix, now being used as a makeshift holding area during his transfer. The bars of Qwarks cage had been moved closer together to ensure that the slim crafty lombax would not be able to simply slip through the bars if the power were shut off.
Ratchet had accepted his fate long ago. But these thoughts were easily shattered when he heard the doors swing open and the clanking sound of steel toed boots against metal. But it was not the rhythmic clanking of the Galactic Ranger guard bringing him his meal, or the pounding crash of the Galactic President coming to emphasis his coming demise. Instead these footsteps were graceful and timed, as though they were trying desperately not to be heard. His theory was confirmed when he saw two figures cloaked in dark robes step through the doors, their faces obscured behind jet black fabric and flowing hoods. They entered through the door, scanning the room for any possible threats before approaching the containment field that separated his cell from the rest of the galaxy.
The first figure was at least a head taller than the other. Ratchet rose to his feet, watching the two figures as they approached. "Who are you-" He was cut off.
"Shush!" The shorter one stepped forward, raising a finger to where their lips were behind the dark veil of the cloak. They gripped the fabric of their hood, flinging it over their head. Sasha smirked at him. "Hey hotshot". That certainly took Ratchet back a step.
"How did you get in here?" He really had no idea. Sasha had never really exhibited much skill with stealth, at least not enough to pass through a Federation Flagship undetected.
"Come on Ratchet" The other figure spoke. They stepped forward, flinging their hood back as they spoke. "Between an ex-thief and the ships former Captain you really don't think we would be able to find a way in?" Angela smirked at seeing her furry 'Protopet exterminating' friend once again.
"One thing my Dad should know about me by now. I am damn determined when I am angry" She placed her hand against the force field that separated them, not concerned with the tingling static feeling that coursed through her hand. "Or in love"
Ratchet smirked at the prospect of his future once again being in the hands of these two. "Then I assume you have a plan which involves me getting out of here?" Ratchet crossed his arms, ready to hear what they had contemplated for their daring escape plan. They each smirked at each other, as though they could send telepathic messages between one another. Or they had an idea.
"Oh we have a plan…" Sasha spoke.
"…a very good plan" And Angela finished.