Welcome to my Ratchet & Clank fanfic. I hadn't intended for this to be my first submission at , but it's sure a good one to choose for that. First of all, to deal with the legal stuff.

Ratchet & Clank, all associated characters, galaxies, planets, weapons, gizmos and what not, © 2001 – 2008 Sony Computer Entertainment, used without permission, nor the approval of Insomniac Games, Inc. But hopefully with their tacit approval. All other characters and content, © 2008 Stephen Stryker, and may not be used without express permission.

Now for a warning. This fiction is based on Ratchet & Clank Future Tools of Destruction, and includes details from previous games in the series. As such, this should be considered

ONE LONG STRING OF SPOILERS.

So if you don't want any surprises ruined, I suggest you play those games first. In fact, I highly recommend you buy a copy of R&C Future and a Playstation 3 if you haven't already. Not only will the fic make more sense, but Future is an excellent game, and the PS3 a superb game system and media player.

My shameless plug done, I leave you to enjoy the fic. I will leave notes at the end of the chapter so you aren't completely left dangling. Please leave comments.


Ratchet & Clank Future II: In Search Of Clank

Chapter 1: NEXUS

It began with a tunnel of light, impossibly long, and then...

His mind awoke suddenly. 'I am... someplace, now, but... where?'

He found himself lying on a shining circular platform, and as he got to his metal feet, he saw that this was a very strange world he was on, as all around him stretched the alien architecture of a shining city. The very substance of it gleamed from within. And then he blinked in astonishment at what it consisted of.

Raritanium... entire buildings made of Raritanium? And diamond, and crystallized metals... elements of power and beauty. Not just a city like a jewel, but a huge circuit, humming with power. His sensors could find no end to it... was the entire planet made of this? An organic being would have found it breathtaking, but Clank was no less impressed. Even the sky above was unique, rippling with wavering lines, indicating the convergence of numerous boundaries of some kind. He touched his cheek in amazement, murmuring, "Unbelievable..."

And everywhere, on every remotely level surface of this city, were the dormant purple bodies of the Zoni, as far as he could see. While he marveled at this sight, he became aware of a whispering of voices in his mind.

'Awaken us, sire.'

He was hesitant to do so, as the Zoni had kidnapped him, after all. However, he would need their help to return as he had no idea where he was, or why they had taken him, except it had something to do with learning his destiny. Finally, he touched his hands to the dome of his head and transmitted the activation signal.

It was amazing to watch the circle formed by the awakening little robots racing away from him at virtually light speed as they responded to his call. And then he fell over at the impact of their spoken response as an entire world of it rushed back into the center. "ZONI."

As he regained his composure, he found a small group of the beings approaching, informing him, "We will speak for the others. We know you have questions."

"Why, thank you," he replied, tapping his chin thoughtfully, for he did indeed have a multitude of them. "To begin, I must know why I was taken from my world, and my friends." To him, the others he knew paled in comparison to Ratchet, but he wanted to be polite, and also, just in case, not draw special significance to the Lombax.

They replied in their combined voices, "You are needed here, sire. Your purpose can only be served here."

Clank would have loved to be able to frown just then. "Please explain."

"This world is centrally located, so that it borders on every universe in existence. We are the Zoni. We were created in the distant youth of the universes to serve the Guardian. The Guardian is our master."

Clank gaped at them in astonishment. Truly, this was a unique world... centered in the midst of all realities? Then there was the mystery of this Guardian. That was a rather ambitious title, and he wanted to know more about it. "Tell me about the nature of your Guardian. What is his purpose? Does he require my services for some reason?"

"The purpose of the Guardian is to secure the integrity of the many universes, and to shepherd the living beings in them."

Clank blinked in surprise. "Shepherd? What is the nature of this shepherding?"

They explained in their buzzing monotone, "While the universes are governed by order and principle, they are also disrupted by forces of chaos and misfortune. Likewise, living things are subject to irrational impulses, raw emotions and selfish ambitions. This unreasonable nature not only makes living difficult, but it causes conflicts, violence, death and war. These two disruptive principles, chaos and unreason, if left unchecked, would result in a universe riddled with disaster. At the direction of the Guardian, we Zoni intervene at his instruction to cause significant events to transpire in ways which are more in harmony with peace and logic. Because the Guardian is not omnipotent, we Zoni serve to carry out his diverse will. And because we Zoni only have a certain number and power, the events chosen for intervention must be decided with great care and wisdom."

Clank's eyes flashed in amazement... was this the nature of the many interventions which gave rise to the belief in a divine Providence? The memory of the Zoni guiding him to do things such as rescue Talwyn from her imprisonment was particularly compelling. "That is very noble! I must say that the ones who originally founded this system carried out these intentions amazingly well. However, I must know more about the Guardian and the history of your system, as well as it's ultimate goals." And, hopefully an answer as to why he had been taken away, which... he was begining to wonder about.

They replied in a way that was much a dissertation to him as an answer to his questions. "The lifespan of the Guardian is not endless. The strain of sifting through the numerous events happening in every universe at all times eventually causes the Guardian to fail. At this point, the essential collective data defining his being is retrieved and merged with those of the Guardians which preceded him. This is referred to as the Guardian Archetype. The Guardian Archetype actively serves as the guide to the new Guardian when he is selected to assume the duties of universal shepherd."

Clank was beginning to see where this discussion was headed, as the regal title of 'sire' had been nagging him. "I see... and... I have been chosen as the new Guardian, I take it?"

There was a kind of bow from them, and an emphatic, "Yes."

Clank had to giggle at that, telling them, "Well... that is very flattering. But... why me? I see nothing all that special about me."

The reverence and awe in their reply was obvious. "It has been determined that you are unique among robots of this age, sire. You have a particularly strong sense of duty, and a serving, giving nature which it is assumed would be very useful factors in your duties as Guardian. And there are others which are not revealed to us."

He shook his head at that with a smile. "Oh, my... you are giving me a big head, and I am sure if... my friend was here, he would have something to say on the matter." He smiled fondly at the many remarks he was sure Ratchet would make about all this. But he knew there was still much to learn before he somehow convinced the Zoni they had the wrong robot for the job, resuming his questions. "But, if the Guardian Archetype is still functional and aware, why not simply provide a suitable vessel which would enable it to carry on instead? Surely the Guardian Archetype itself would be the perfect Guardian."

They replied in their unison monotone, "While the Guardian Archetype is fully active and functional, it does require the Guardian as a host, and they reach a consensus on all matters of consequence. In addition, the Guardian Archetype desires the unique thinking and viewpoints of new Guardians to insure that their combined intellect and reasoning does not grow stagnant."

Clank nodded, his eyes dimming slightly. "I... see."

"Ultimately, it is the intent of the Guardian Archetype to cause the ever growing interventions in the lives of all beings to result in a universal age of logic, in which irrational impulses, raw emotions and selfish individual ambitions no longer exist."

This sounded uncomfortably like the plans of Dr. Nefarious, and Clank took a step backward in reaction, murmuring, "Oh, my..."

The Zoni asked him, "Why do you give that response?"

Clank was determined to make them understand, drawing himself up as tall as he could manage. "While the intentions of your creators were noble, and this all sounded at first like some kind of providence, the ultimate goal is nothing less than a dictatorship. This is wrong. You must understand me."

They edged closer. "Why do you say that? Are you not a robot? Do you not see how the foibles of organic beings, dominated by individualism, selfishness, flawed emotions and illogic result in wasted potential and unnecessary trouble in the universes?"

Clank shook his head. "I know only too well, but this is not the solution. Not only would living things resist this subjugation of their free will with all their might, but there is a strange kind of nobility in living out their troubled lives. They grow as beings by overcoming their flaws and inadequacies, and learning from their errors. And their lives are rich because of their emotions, not in spite of them. Music, art, literature, charity, heroism, philosophy, love, even religion... all of these and more are expressions of the sentient, passionate spirit manifesting something glorious. And they have nothing whatsoever to do with sterile logic. The aims of the Guardians may have originated with pure intentions, but they will ultimately result in a tyranny which will crush the very life from the universe... from all universes."

The Zoni gazed at him silently for an uncomfortably long time. "Do you reject your chosen destiny?"

Clank regarded them sternly. "It is only a chosen destiny if I choose to fulfill it, and I will have no part of this. In fact, I will resist it with every aspect of my being."

Despite not having a throat, Clank swallowed as the Zoni began to close in on him almost menacingly. "You do not have a choice, sire. The needs of the many always outweigh the desires of the one. The universes must have a Guardian."

He groaned as he unconsciously assumed his Agent Clank stance, "Do even robots have to resort to worn out cliches like that?" And then when he realized with an inner blush how silly he must look, he decided to make the best of it and cut the air with a few snappy hand chops.

The Zoni hesitated, and every little robot on the planet intoned in admiration, "Ooooh... he is Agent Clank!" One of them drifted forward with a scribe pad extending from it's chest. "May we have your autograph, sire?"

He was taken aback by this, but he nodded with a smile. "Well, of course. Anything for a... collective fan." He extended a stylus from his finger, marking the bar code of his autograph on the electronic pad with a chuckle, and adding below it a sketch of him smiling. As the Zoni rejoined the circle, Clank heaved a sigh of relief, grateful that the situation had evidently been defused, unaware that they were again closing around him. "Well then, now that that is over with, I want you to return me to my - AAGH!"

He was stunned when he found that the Zoni had snared him in a ring of energy and lifted him into the air, proclaiming with a twisted cheerfulness, "This is the true reason you were chosen after all! Agent Clank is the perfect candidate for the new Guardian!"

He groaned woefully, "I cannot believe this... now I am captured by interdimensional fiends because of a blasted holovid role?! Where are you taking me!"

They replied with that warped joy, "To the receptacle which will become your new form. With it, you will realize your true purpose as the Guardian of all realities."

He looked over his shoulder to see he was flying rapidly to a huge structure which was evidently going to absorb him in some fashion. They didn't slow very much, and he slammed into a receptacle with his body shape, a tremendous "YAY!" sounding from the Zoni. As he recovered, he could see the face of the structure beginning to shift, rippling with polygonal facets as the crystal began to reconfigure, the strange metal merging with his own. Struggle as he might, he was held fast. But worse, he felt some very powerful data currents beginning to flood his circuits, using brute power to overcome some of his defenses and invade his architecture like a virus. The Zoni hovered almost tauntingly in front of him, saying as his consciousness was ravaged by this electronic invasion, "You will see the error of your reasoning when you join with all the Guardians which existed before you, and the sum of their logic and experience becomes one with you. You will understand, and you shall willingly carry out the purpose of the Guardian Archetype."

Clank began to cry out, then to wail as if in agony, "Ratchet... RATCHET!!"


Author's notes, so you don't feel completely lost:

Clank: Ratchet's ever-present sidekick is a small robot, a little smaller than a backpack, and equipped with numerous gadgets to help his friend overcome the obstacles on their adventures. Clank is exceedingly intelligent, and advises Ratchet on his options, sometimes whether it's wanted or not. While they do bicker on occasion, they are dear friends and would do anything to protect the other. Agent Clank is a James Bond-like starring role Clank played in a "holovid" series, an occasional point of jealousy with Ratchet.

Dr. Nefarious: a robotic villain Ratchet and Clank faced in Up Your Arsenal, a raving megalomaniac who despised organic life, and sought to robotize every living thing possible in the universe.

Raritanium: A rare substance, possibly an ultra-heavy element, which is used to upgrade weapons and other devices in the Ratchet & Clank universe.

Talwyn: a feisty young woman who will be detailed in the following chapter.

Zoni: small alien robots – I am assuming they're robots – which serve some sort of master in Tools of Destruction, and refer to Clank throughout ToD as "Sire." They cannot be detected unless they choose to reveal themselves, which they did to Clank, causing Ratchet a few headaches. While initially they seem benevolent and kindly, helping our heroes out in the course of their adventures, they reveal a possibly sinister side when they make off with Clank.