I do not own Ratchet & Clank. They are owned purely by Insomniac Games and High Impact Games. I'm in no way affiliated with them, though I must admit that I am quite the literal insomniac myself.
First time writing just for Ratchet & Clank! I figured that I love the two so much, that they deserved some kind of fic. And this idea has been in my head for a while – see, one of my favourite bits of Ratchet & Clank 2 was the hoverbike races. I've always thought they were a lot more fun than any racing game I'd ever played, and as many would agree, a hell of a lot faster.
My dream job would be to be a video game designer. Director, if I could get either. I'm not sure if I can, but that's beside the point. I've always wanted to see something like this in Blackwater City, and I myself think it'd be pretty fun to have a suicidal speedway winding through the high towers. I always imagined it whenever I listened UYA's Blackwater City theme, (I've always personally thought it was one of the most dangerous-sounding themes there were in the games, mainly because of the way they use those violins at the start. Though a lot of music from these games are intended to build tension, so there's a lot of others that give the same effect) and now I finally decided to write it. Hope everyone here in this fandom gets just as much enjoyment out of reading it.
I believe I've rambled enough. Story it is! R&C Future: Tools of Destruction never happened.
It's a Quicker Route, Clank... We'll be Fine!
"Hey Clank, remember when this place nearly got destroyed?"
"Yes," a small robot said, looking up at and approaching his owner after he'd gotten out of the ship. "It was quite lucky they didn't. Imagine what would have happened to the share prices for Hovercom if Blackwater City had have been taken out by the Tyrranoids."
The lights of Blackwater City shone over into the usual dark, murky sky. Today was a good day for most of Rilgar; the clouds were always there, but it wasn't raining a drop. Ratchet stared at the skylights in the built up city from the landing pad, which were a fair way away. Ships flew in every direction, though in perfect synchronisation with each other – there were never any crashes thanks to the Automated Planetary Positioning Towers, which would guide the ships in and out via radio waves according to the coordinates punched in, as long as the planetary positioning signal hadn't been wired to be blocked.
The lombax began to stare to his side. "Huh, this's new. The... Blackwater City Speedway. The entrance is right here... wanna give it a shot? It's apparently a faster route than on foot."
"Ratchet, you are aware that -"
"It'll be fine!" Ratchet said confidently. (and rather naively) "Look, we can even hire a hoverbike to use for just five-hundred bolts."
"I can tell I'm going to regret letting you do this." Clank finished with a sigh as Ratchet disregarded him and went and hired the bike, giving no heed to what his robotic friend was trying to warn him about.
"Yeah, um, just be careful, will ya?" the assistant asked warily, throwing the keys up onto the counter. "A lotta my bikes and clients are never seen again on that thing. The place has been nicknamed lovingly by some of us locals as the Ride of Suicide. If you can't drive, lombax, I can't see you comin' out in one piece. The mayor was nuts to build it."
Ratchet rolled his eyes, tapping his tail on the ground almost impatiently. "So? I've won a few hoverbike competitions myself."
The assistant raised one of his eyebrows and crossed his arms. "Oh yeah? Which ones?"
"The one on Vukovar Canyon on Planet Barlow and there's another one hosted by Megacorp on Joba. They're both in the Bogon Galaxy, in case you're wondering."
"Kid, Bogon Galaxy hoverbikes are tame. You aint' seen nothing 'till you've seen one o' these bad boys. Gadgetron really outdid themselves to make them."
Ratchet merely groaned. "Whatever. Just gimme the bike. I already paid you."
Clank's eyes and the shop assistant's met, and they just shook their heads at each other in agreement. Ratchet took the keys to a bike off the counter and searched through a line of hoverbikes for his one. "Clank, get a move on! We're going!"
With about as much of a nauseated look on his face as the robot could master, he sat in the back seat of the hoverbike and clipped himself in with no-less than four seatbelt straps, as Ratchet pushed the bike to the starting point and got in, strapping himself up and putting his old spiked biking helmet on.
"Be careful! This is only a midway point – most of the traffic comes from the city loop to get to the main city, and it's peak hour! Your entry onto the main Speedway's gonna be a rough one!"
Ratchet completely ignored the shop assistant's yell and only asked if Clank was ready. The small robot said no very clearly, though that was taken as a yes, anyway.
The engine was switched on and the pedal was pushed. And neither Ratchet nor Clank ever expected it to be nearly as fast as it was. Ratchet's neck was aching already and felt almost as if it could be torn off by the sheer force of the bike moving. Clank had his head wisely tucked right into his body, eyes barely open as he was unwilling to find out what was going on. There was a grand total of ten miniature rocket engine thrusters on the back, each automatically running at full capacity, no matter how lightly the peddle was pushed down. It was at least three times as fast as any other hoverbike the pair had ever seen.
The first part was a very long strip of flat launch road, about two hoverbike lane-spaces thick. It was so long that you couldn't have seen the end of it from where it started, though when the end was visible, (in a matter of seconds) Ratchet could see exactly what it was.
A vertical drop straight into the murky blue Rilgar ocean.
"Airlock!!!" Ratchet screamed, watching a forcefield cover their heads. The bike kept to the road perfectly as it dived straight downwards and plunged into the water, thrusters still at full throttle and showing no signs of slowing down, even with the water pressure working against them.
Ratchet had been through too many life-threatening situations to count, but none of them held a candle to this. He was mildly surprised that they didn't smash onto where the road levelled off, instead of, just as before, remaining glued though hovering atop the roadway.
"This is absolutely insane!!" the lombax yelled, swearing that his heart was trying to beat its way out of his chest. The road suddenly became circular and turned into a one-lane pipe-tunnel. It was pitch black – impossible to see anything outside the hoverbike. "Who the hell built these bikes and why with so much freaking thrust?!"
Clank had no time to reply as the two suddenly saw a bright yellow arrow flash, milliseconds before they took a bone-chillingly sharp turn to the right, curving straight up the tunnel walls and around in a 360 before settling on the bottom again. The turn had hit the pair like an anvil.
"You're the one who decided to take this route!" Clank yelled. Ratchet turned to face him so he could hear what he was talking about, only to have the robot yell in terror and point forwards. "It's the Speedway's entrance!"
Gripping the handlebars for dear life and facing forwards again, Ratchet could see the main Speedway approaching at an alarming speed. And it wasn't just the Speedway; it was a sharp left turn into peak hour gridlock traffic, all going at the same incredible speeds as they were. Eight lanes of it.
If it hadn't've been for the incredible noise of all the other bikes revving through the underwater tunnel, Ratchet's very loud expletive probably would have been heard all over Blackwater City and beyond.
Somehow, and mark my words; Ratchet and Clank had absolutely no idea how exactly, they made it out of the tunnel and into a gap on the edge of the Speedway alongside many equally terrified motorists. The road continued in a dangerously sharp loop to turn towards the city, and then on a fifty degree slant upwards.
Ratchet and Clank had somehow wound up in one of the many middle lanes of the Speedway, and so far, (the word 'amazingly' wouldn't be doing it any justice) no one that they could see had had any kind of horrible accident.
The surface of the water approached fast, and the hoverbikes sped out of it at blinding speeds, splashing water and carrying it right up with them. The water tension even effected you while underneath the sea at this velocity – coming out of it, you were lucky you if you didn't get whiplash.
The road now went high into the air now, and both robot and lombax were painfully aware of the many twisted breakages there were on the side-railings. It was obviously a common occurrence for bikes to go careening off the edge and plummeting into the open water – or worse, as marks on the passing Blackwater towers indicated. Ratchet gritted his teeth down with determination, and made sure to keep his tail close to his legs so it didn't get caught in anything in the event of an accident.
Ratchet could see the top of the road where the bikes were beginning to curve – that meant that the next part of the Speedway was either flat, or it went down. Though he heard something through his radio communication system (which came from the bike next to him) that probably saved his and Clank's lives.
"Oi, lombax! Sharp right turn up ahead as soon as the road curves downwards!"
The voice was muffled, and Ratchet wasn't quite sure that he'd heard what had been said correctly. Quickly, he swivelled to face Clank to ask. He didn't exactly get the right answer, but it was a valid one nonetheless.
"Ratchet, eyes on the road!"
They were already at the top, and when Ratchet turned back to face forward, he could feel his fur prickling up. Everyone on the road sped downwards from the hill, so much faster than falling, heading directly towards an extremely sharp right. His eyes became wide, gripping the handlebars and turning them as far as they would go while many other people slid off the side, falling to the murky blue ocean. Whether or not to their deaths, Ratchet wasn't exactly willing to find out.
The hoverbikes that did manage to make it across the devastating turn now had more room on the road, which was much, much better – Clank had seen that in the row behind them, someone furthest from the edge hadn't seen the turn coming and had consequently pushed everyone in their row off, themselves included.
To make matters worse, they were still travelling downwards, slanted on a very soft right turn now as they curved slightly around the main group of the Blackwater Towers. Going almost directly down at speeds like this, both occupants wouldn't have been able to clamp themselves onto their seats if it wasn't for the (seemingly ridiculous, though thoroughly justified) quadruple-lock seatbelts.
The road thankfully levelled off just above the water, still eight lanes thick. It continued to make a curve around the towers. Ratchet thought his troubles might nearly be over – just one more sharp right into a tower and then there'd be a resting point.
He couldn't've been more wrong.
Just as the lombax's body was beginning to relax, a Helpdesk message from his wristband attachment was heard, loud enough to be distinguished over the top of several hundred roaring engines. Apparently, Blackwater City's Automated Planetary Positioning Towers were up ahead – and so were the electricity lines. The Helpdesk advised the two to keep to the middle of the road at all times.
Unfortunately, not everyone had Gadgetron Helpdesk wristband attachments.
As a result, not all of the other hoverbikers out on the Speedway knew about the winding twist roads that were also just up ahead. For clarification, the winding twist roads wound around the six Planetary Positioning Towers, going upwards as they went.
Ratchet didn't have time to wonder why the hell someone had made it twist around the towers instead of just having the road curve around the outside. For that matter – why on earth had someone thought going up to the towers (which were a fair way away from the main city towers) for no apparent reason. (other than, of course, an extra chance at causing the hoverbikers' demises)
If the lombax's fur was standing on end earlier, he was sure that by now he must look like some kind of fluff-ball. He could feel every little tiny bit of hair standing on end, prickling his skin. He and many other bikers managed, (again, amazingly just doesn't do the situation justice) to barely get around the many bends, continually increasing in height. Some, however, fell through already twisted metal barriers straight into the sea. Where the enormous piranha fish roamed...
Ratchet thought that he was going well – that he'd get away with it without falling off the (now incredibly high) Speedway. He was right in the middle of eight, not-exactly heavily occupied lanes. What could go wrong, if he just kept the turns right?
A smashed-up hoverbike, smoking, and left in the middle of the road was what could go wrong.
Ratchet nearly screamed when he came around the bend and saw the blockage. See, he was going at a speed that could have been considered somewhat-dangerous if there was a very unexpected sharp turn ahead. The lombax clamped his hands onto the handlebars and turned them to the left with possibly enough force to break them off. It took a lot of skill and effort on Ratchet's part (more than you could possibly ever hope to achieve) to regain control of the vehicle.
It wasn't however, completely successful. The side of his and Clank's rented hoverbike ripped open a power line on the fifth tower, leaving sparking electricity flying out from the damaged main.
One of the next hoverbikes that rushed past accidentally hit the the damaged part of the tower with its fuel line. It's easy enough to guess what happened after that incident.
Both occupants of Ratchet's hoverbike heard the earsplitting explosion from behind them, and they both turned their heads to look, eyes completely off the road, as well.
Ratchet had to remind himself very harshly to return his focus to the steering mechanisms and the road when he saw Automated Planetary Positioning Tower Number 5 explode in a shower of sparks and hot burning metal. Clank, however, kept an extremely sharp eye on it – and he didn't like what he could see.
"Oh no... Ratchet, it's falling!"
"Oh God, what next?!" the lombax almost cried, wanting nothing more than for this to end. He'd take swingshotting over open seawater infested with hordes of hungry piranhas any day compared to this.
The tower, with a horrible forewarning crashing sound, toppled over and was took some roadway down with it, heading straight for the pair.
"Can't this thing go any faster?!" Ratchet yelled frantically, looking for anything that could help them escape their imminent deaths. And he found it, too. Just when they thought all hope was lost, (and that there was absolutely no way to go faster because it just wasn't physically possible) the bike sped up with such force that it could have seemingly ripped the seats they were strapped into right off. They just managed to escape the Tower crunching and destroying that section of the Speedway.
"But – how?"
Ratchet grinned, but didn't face the robot. He knew better than to do that now. "I upped the pressure in the fuel line. Not many know how to get to that part, but I'm a mechanic. It's second-nature." Suddenly, Ratchet's face fell as he continued to hold tightly onto the wheel. "But I think I increased it too much... it cut the breaks!"
Clank didn't say anything, but he had an 'Oh, you are joking...' look about his face, anyway.
The Speedway now headed straight out from the six Planetary Positioning Towers on a direct course to the high city. They were about as high up from the water as the road ever got; the drop was a long way down. And when you were going at Ratchet's speed, which meant overtaking hoverbike after hoverbike, swerving to avoid other motorists was becoming rather a little too dangerous.
The road began to slant downwards, and with the breaks cut, the bike subdued to gravity even more than it did before. It became increasingly difficult to avoid incoming hoverbikers as they whizzed past, most of them amazed that there was such a bike that could go the speed Ratchet's was.
"There's the main Tower City!" Clank yelled, looking at the main entry to the cluster of towers thankfully. "We'll be able to stop there as soon as we get inside!"
Ratchet would have facepalmed himself if he wasn't so wary of taking even one hand off the handles. "But we don't have breaks anymore!"
Darkness covered them as they entered the main tower entrance of the Speedway. They were almost there. They turned around a corner and – there it was. The exit, indicated by a green glowing exit sign. They'd missed it altogether. Ratchet was just about ready to pull his fur out. "Now what?!"
"Just keep going and take the left when we get out of the tunnel! My scanner indicates that there's a city loop that'll go around the top of the towers and end up back here."
Lip bitten down, he kept his mind on what Clank had said. Going at this speed made it hard to see what objects were where, as they flew by so quickly that they all just looked blurred. Ratchet squinted his eyes to attempt to see what was going on around himself, though it was by no means an easy task. At least there's barely anyone left on the road. Ratchet thought with relief – he was betting that most of them had turned off into the main tower, leaving eight lanes of Speedway practically free. Though he decided not to tempt fate and allow the bike to move more freely over the road – a single error could easily prove fatal here.
The exit came faster than either of them expected, and the left turn they were taking was, like many other corners, incredibly sharp and had a fair bit of twisted and broken railing. Ratchet nearly slid off the side, unable to slow the bike down with the breaks cut, but was saved by some railing that was twisted inwards. It did slightly damage the hoverbike, but at least it put them on the right track.
The road curved around the main towers, still high in the air. They thought they were in the clear – that it was finally over. But, just like the principal that there'd always be just that one more tiny Tyrranoid to bash with your wrench, there was just that one more thing that chilled blood to freezing point.
"You know, Clank? About them calling it the City Loop...? It turns out that they kinda meant that... literally..." Ratchet didn't want to finish what he was saying so it didn't have to be verbally confirmed – but that didn't change the reality of the situation at all. What stood before them was a massive structure – at least twenty metres high and twenty metres wide. An actual eight-lane wide loop-to-loop.
Ratchet only had a second to wonder why on earth anyone with any amount of mental sanity left would build a structure such as this, as part of a public Speedway. Even with the magnetic surface that kept bikes from falling off if they were on the side or travelling upwards.
A lombax, being an organic life form, felt the full force of the gravity as the hoverbike turned upwards. His neck ached even before he'd gotten to the loop, and this had only aggravated it further. He had become so sure it would have snapped by the time he got over the loop, at their speed. The pressure weighing down on him was incredible.
If there was one thing he was, it was glad when he finally got out of the loop, shaken up – certainly – but otherwise unharmed.
Though Clank became worried when he saw the driver's apparent dizziness from the loop. Being a robot, things like loops only ran a very minor risk of jumbling his electronics, and even that wasn't too likely, as most of the electronics in him were of very good quality and very sturdy as well, so they didn't fall and clatter around in the event of a shock.
Ratchet, thankfully, quickly recovered his senses, but only in time to see something he should have realised would happen a while back.
"Uhh... you wouldn't think that, say, we hit a really quite necessary Planetary Positioning Tower, would you?"
"They're all necessary." Clank said informatively, about to continue on all about what they did and how they did it despite the circumstances, but his furry companion cut him off before he could get anywhere close to doing that.
"Yeah, Clank, I know about all that – but I think we've knocked out the signal..."
The small robot looked upwards, only to wish he hadn't. Neither of them had noticed before because they were focusing on the Speedway, (and if it was going to kill them at the next turn) but now, there it was.
The busy traffic that always circulated Blackwater City wasn't exactly in perfect synchronisation anymore. In fact, briefly for when the hoverbike travelled directly underneath, there was a horrible ship crash in which two ships collided with each other and burst into a fiery explosion of twisted metal.
There was another even briefer moment in which another ship came swirling in front of their bike and smashed into the Speedway, though it was still a fair way away, the road was completely disintegrated up ahead.
"What are we supposed to do now?! We're going to fall into the sea, or get painfully killed in a high-speed crash into the other side of the road!"
"Ratchet, I believe this hoverbike can exert enough thrust at maximum capacity to keep us in midair for the next thirty seconds, though after that it will run out of fuel." Ratchet didn't quite move for a second, eyes heavily focused on the crash that was ahead. Clank had to yell his name to snap him out of his trance.
"Alright! Got it... Clank, I need my wrench, now!" Clank dug it out of his compartment, and watched the metal unfold and elongate. The lombax took his beloved tool, and with a well-aimed smack, snapped the regulator off from the fuel line. It flew off the bike, skidded across the road and ultimately landed in the ocean where it sunk to the sea floor. Ratchet handed his wrench back to Clank, and whilst keeping a worried eye looking at him, stated, "Here we go!".
Ratchet slammed the handlebars to the right, fully aware that there was no mechanisms to drive a hoverbike up or down – they weren't created for flying through the air. Since most of the weight was at the front of the bike (thanks to Ratchet's heavy weight in comparison to Clank's compact size and mass) they began to start falling downwards; nosedive style.
He knew that he'd have to do something, or they'd end up at the bottom of the ocean. So he did the only thing that he could think of – shifting the weight to the back. Noting that they still had the airlock forcefield above their heads as a kind of comfort factor, Ratchet unclipped his quadruple-lock seatbelt and, whilst hoping for the best, kept a firm grip on the steering wheel.
Steadily but quickly, as he could feel himself ready to fly off the bike and become stuck to the back part of the forcefield while they continued to plunge. Ratchet put one foot over to Clank's seat floor, and then brought the other one over, which he pressed flat against the driver's seat – all the while still holding on to the handles with a grip of steel. Then, with all his strength, he leaned backwards and put all of his weight on the rear of the bike.
It was a long shot by far. They were still falling, though the bike was beginning to stop nosediving. Ratchet put his other foot up against the driver's seat and pulled with even more strength that he thought he didn't have.
The bike turned more, but the water below was getting awfully close, especially at their current speed. Unfortunately for them, while a lombax was sizable enough (though barely) to make this hoverbike fly upwards, they were too light to make the change take effect quickly enough. Since he was standing up and not strapped in, the water hit Ratchet like a block of cement. It nearly made him come forward and smash into the windscreen, and he also came very close to shoving both of his arms out of joint, too.
They might have practically dive-bombed into the drink, but this didn't stop the lombax from continuing to pull back as hard as he could. Rilgar's oceans were incredibly deep, and it'd still take ages to reach the bottom on a nearly out-of control hoverbike. The bike eventually tipped upwards, to the point where Ratchet was actually hanging from the handlebars. The drag on his body stopped him from putting one foot back on the front seat so he could lean forward and prevent them tipping over, so before he could, the bike tipped upside down and diagonally burst out of the water.
Ratchet desperately jammed his feet inside both ends of the seat so he could remain sturdy, and hanging nearly upside-down. With a lean forwards, closer to the windscreen, he managed to tip the bike up the right way – and by adjusting where he was putting his weight, he was able to control the height and angle of the bike.
But it was so hard for him to stay put like that. There was enough force on him when he was strapped in, let alone now, where all the pressure went to his spinal cord as he struggled to stay upright.
Though he did at least have control of where the bike was headed, even if it wasn't exactly what one would call 'stable'.
"If you go left from here, you'll get straight into the main tunnel again." Clank said calmly, though his eyes were wide-open – they told a different story; he was terrified. The bike was shaky at best, and kept fluctuating in height if Ratchet wobbled. Trying to fight against so much pressure wasn't an easy task, as Ratchet had found out.
They turned left straight into the Blackwater towers' tunnel, but this time, Ratchet was ready. They swerved into the main tunnels and overtook (and by over, I mean literally over the top of) several bikes that had survived the road to here, and then, as the tunnel's end came closer, (according to Clank's scanners) Ratchet grabbed his wrench from the robot and hacked off all ten rocket thrusters.
The hoverbike came down to the road and stopped flying, shooting right past the rest point and continuing down the tunnel. Almost at the very end, there was a large building machine. Clank's eyes widened and Ratchet's ears drooped. The bike smashed into it, throwing Ratchet face-first into the forcefield. The impact caused it to drop, allowing the concussed lombax to fall not-so-gracefully on the ground. Clank was restrained by his seatbelts, though preferred not to move and merely tilted his head back on the seat to rest.
Ratchet feebly made an attempt to stand up straight, and was immediately approached by none other than Darla Gratch, who (as he knew) sought nothing more than a good news story. (and, for that matter, to get as far away from Qwark's self-proclaimed 'massive guns' as physically possible)
"This is Darla Gratch reporting live from Blackwater City. It appears that Ratchet and Clank, who've saved the Salona Galaxy numerous times from imminent destruction, have been some of the first to try out the new Blackwater City Speedway - coming just mere days after its opening. Ratchet, is there anything you'd like to say about this high-velocity alternative to the Blackwater Towers?"
"If you wanna go on this thing... then you need a brain surgeon, because there's something wrong in here!" Ratchet pointed to his head, though it didn't last long as there and then, the lombax fell backwards to the ground, completely knocked out. Darla Gratch looked around for a moment, before herself quickly shifting the camera away from his unconscious form.
"Well, from... what we can gather from this response, is that it certainly is very fast. This reporter is in no doubt that the speedway will be of great value to the citizens of Blackwater City, and the Salona Galaxy, making getting to the hoverboard races quicker and less dangerous than ever before. Darla Gratch, Channel 2 news."
Took me roughly four days to write, I think? It's a bit longer than your usual oneshot, but meh. This started as more of an idea of what might be fun to have in one of the games rather than a story, so it might be slightly different than what most stories are like. I'm not sure. Doesn't matter. If it was enjoyable, then I'm happy.
Oh, and I almost forgot; yes, whoever built this Speedway was probably clinically insane, and hell-bent on killing as many people as they could. Knowing R&C... that's entirely possible. :P