AN: Hey guys, it's me, SweetT. I'm really sorry for the long wait being I haven't updated this for over a year. I've been busy and a lot of things are going on on my side of things. However, I will try to pop out more chapters after this one. Hopefully I get at least one more before the new year.
Again, I just want to say that I'm sorry to my fans for waiting this long. I hope you enjoy this chapter (and again sorry if it's a bit lazy too).
-Chapter Ten, Ranvier's Madhouse-
"Erm," Nefarious struggled with the wires, trying to think how to figure out a way to contact the Great Clock, an impossible task in his mind. "You know what, I give up!"
"Nefarious, you have to figure out a way to get in contact somehow." Clank replied
"Yeah, sure, just give me a few months or years and I'll get back to you, and by then we most likely would be dead…"
The little robot shook his head until he heard the mad doctor speak again.
"Don't you still have some sort of code you were able to use? I mean, you had to contact the Clock somehow those months back?"
"What are you thinking, doctor?"
"Thinking about what?!" He then noticed the expression on Clank's face. "Oh, yeah, that." Nefarious just rolled his eyes. "If I really wanted to get into that head of yours, I would have done it already. I don't have any use for the Clock anymore anyways; I have other…'Plans'…"
"Hey, aren't I suppose to be helping you guys or something at the moment?! What I plan to do after this dance has nothing that you should question!"
"I'll take your word for now, but you are right about that, just -"
"Clank?" Talwyn asked as she walked into the room, "You able to contact Sigmund at the Clock?"
"Not yet, but I have thought of a plan. I was able to contact Sigmund at the Clock when I was on Morklon, so I still have the codec, but I put it in a firewall and cannot retrieve it."
"I have purposely sealed off my means to contact the Clock. A robot such as myself is liable to having his mind pried into." Clank gave an irritant glare Nefarious' way.
Nefarious just looked back. "What? I don't know what you're worried about, I tried to get in that wretched mind of yours for more than a year and I didn't get anywhere!"
"Couldn't you just fly there?" Talwyn suggested. "Both you and Nefarious have been there before."
"Because even from this part of Polaris, it would take a really long time to get there." Nefarious said.
"Yes, and I thought it best to try and contact Sigmund remotely before attempting to fly there." Clank explained.
"Okay. So, how can I help?"
"I'll need someone to extract that information manually. Since Ratchet is not here, I have to entrust you, Talwyn, with the ability to access my databanks. Since you are the one I trust most, only you can get it."
"Why's that?" Talwyn questioned.
"I have a permission-based security system that senses who is gaining access to my systems. Since you have my permission and trust, it is a lot easier for you to get in than it would be for others."
"Boy, do I know that problem." Nefarious commented.
"Er, okay, so how would I get it?"
"Hook me up to that terminal over there," Clank said, "my programming will guide you."
He walked over to the computer terminal in the room and plugged his finger into a socket. His eyes dimmed, and then pulsed in a rather calm manner. A window popped up on the monitor asking for a file search.
"Hmm, let's see here..." Talwyn said, walking up to the monitor. She searched around for the Great Clock contact algorithm, and then found it in a portion rather deep into the system. "Okay, got the codec number." She closed the program and unplugged Clank from the terminal. His eyes lit up as he came fully online.
"Okay Clank, input codec number 1769245B."
"Ha!" Nefarious exclaimed, "Now that I know the codec number, it should be easy for me to-"
"I am changing the number once the call has finished." Clank stated calmly.
"Codec entered. Attempting connection with the Great Clock..."
A few rings and beeps followed until he heard sounds on the other end.
"Ugh, stupid boss…"
"Sigmund, come in? Sigmund?"
"Whuh? Clank?! Is that you?" Sigmund said in confusion on the other side.
"Yes, it is me Sigmund."
"Sir, it is you! I haven't heard from you in months!"
"It is good to hear you voice again. Do you have a moment?"
"Sure, hold on a sec." There was a brief pause and the sound of plastic fumbling about. "Okay, here! Just pausing my game."
"Yeah, playing a vid-comic of that old Qwark movie during my break."
"Senior Caretaker to Solana Terminal 6." said a voice in the background of the Clock.
"Er, nevermind, what was it you wanted?"
"Sigmund, Ratchet and I were on Lumos a few hours ago, and we have been looking for something and found what is called the Nexus Core. Do you happen to know what that may be?"
"Th-the Nexus Core?! Where did you hear about that?!"
"Erm, um," Kor'jack spoke close to Clank, not sure if he could hear him. "That would be kinda my fault." He played with his thumbs nervously.
"That voice sounds like I heard it before. Is that you Kor'jack?"
"E-eyah it's me. Wait? You know my name?" The Agorian said surprise.
"Sure do. We have files on all the personnel who know about and maintain the Obsidian Vault, so we can keep track. But, I don't fully understand why you're asking this, sir? Why do you need to know about it?"
"Well," Clank continued. "I think you already know, but there is someone out to get their hands on the Core, and they almost did. We have it here at the station for safe keeping."
"What?! They got past security?" Sigmund jumped up from the floor a little, but took the same to get focus again... "But, yeah, I can see why you called then. I recall the Zoni saying that this was not the first time those guys have tried to get their hands on one of our Nexus Cores."
"You mean there are more of them?"
"Yes sir, they're what power some of our most advanced Zoni machinery. The Great Clock, IRIS, you name it. I guess you can say it's a really powerful battery. In fact, we just changed one a few weeks ago, and sadly, they must have caught onto that info somehow."
"But if it is not of any more use yet still working, why did you change it?"
"We do it every ten-thousand years, protocol reasons if it dies out too early; and the Clock is too important to let that happen. We put our used items in the Vault so it doesn't get into the wrong hands. While it may not be of use to us anymore, it's still has juice in it to run IRIS even for a month or two."
"But if it's still a problem, why can't you just destroy it?" Talwyn butted in.
"You know how powerful those things are?! Too dangerous to just do that without being careful."
"I see," Clank thought for a second. "But, why would they want a Nexus Core in the first place?"
"Beats me. I don't know too much about the enemy you're facing other than what the Zoni have told me. That's why I told the staff to keep it in the deepest parts of the Vault to begin with." Sigmund sighed. "Sorry I can't be of anymore help sir. But it is a good thing you called to begin with, being we're having another problem."
"What would that be…?"
"Well, Zoni have been lowering in numbers all across the universe lately, and we have no clue why. Almost quarter here at the Clock are missing. We think it may be linked to this new threat we're having."
"Hmm," The little robot rubbed his chin before speaking again. "We shall look into it; we got a new lead an hour ago. Hopefully when Ratchet gets back, we can get some information about this as well…"
"If you can, that would be great."
"You have been a great help Sigmund, thank you."
"No problem sir, just make sure you get back to me if you happen to get in touch with what happened to missing Zoni."
"I shall, take care."
As Clank hung up, he heard footsteps entering the room and turned around, seeing Ratchet and Jens coming in.
"Hey Clank, were you able to contact Sigmund?" Ratchet asked.
"Yes, I just finished talking to him. How was your outing?"
"I hope you got that gear I need," Nefarious complained. "And not waste the rest of my money."
"Oh yeah, right," Jens then realized something. "Oh! I think I left my bag in Aphelion, hold on a sec!" She ran back out of the room as Ratchet and others watched. The Lombax then turned back around and looked at Nefarious.
"So, anything new?"
"Good thing you asked," Nefarious claimed, "I recorded this news report for you; tell me if you think it would be any use." He picked up the remote from the desk next to him, and pressed play…
"Hello, I'm Kip Darling!"
"And I'm Pepper Fairbanks!"
"'Planet Moorah is going to turn into a ghost town!' Claims the overreacting Planetary Ambassador Nola Sidwad. It his response to the claims of property damage on his planet and fellow citizens being reported missing!"
"The backwater planet is well known for its friendly natives, fantastic fishing spots, and is the home of the Moorah Bay Resort, opening up next summer as Ambassador Sidwad is hoping to lure people in as a fantastic and luxurious new vacation spot-"
"You didn't really need to stick that in, Pepper. Shameful plug aside, about Fifteen cases of missing persons have been reported around the Halogen City area on Moolah, with twenty-five percent of them being innocent families searching for their loved ones! The Ambassador put up picture of the missing persons onto their Holonet Missing Persons site. If you spot any of them, the Galactic Authorities advise you to call them immediately!"
"Let's just pray they get home safe Kip. Unrest is appearing on Moorah in the form of riots, due to half of the cases being those who happen to work for the luxurious Moorah Bay Resort, opening up this summe-"
"I think once is enough, Pepper! We'll be right back..."
The holoscreen shut off at the end of the report, as Nefarious just sat back down with his chair turning in an angle. "Shame really, I was thinking of blowing up that place after taking a vacation there. They have such lovely oil baths, and they would catch fire like none have ever seen!"
Everyone in the room just eyed him confused, with the robot giving a sigh. "I forget I'm talking to goodie-two shoes," He mumbled. "Never mind, but that was the best I could get my hands on at the time. I haven't gotten much else unusual."
"Even if it has no involvement with them, it may still be worth a check out." Ratchet looked down at Clank. "So, what were you able to get a hold of from Sigmund?"
"Oh crap!" Footsteps down the hall interpreted the robot as both turned around. Jens breathed heavy as she came to a stop, worried.
"What's wrong, Jens?" the Lombax asked.
"I looked all over in Aphelion, but I can't find my bag." She gasped covering her mouth. "I think I left it in the restaurant! Almost all the things I bought were in there!"
"What?!" Nefarious screamed. "Are you telling me the gear you bought, along with other things, you forgot and also spent with my bolts?!"
"You don't need to remind me Nef."
"Of course I do, it was my bolts!"
"Don't have a screw up your butt, I'm only human. I make mistakes."
"What's that?" Nefarious said in confusion.
"It's a figure of speech." She sighed, taking something out of her back pocket. "Well, at least I still have my Shockbow I bought."
"Oh, you'll keep that thing in your pocket but the rest - wait, how were you able to fit that in your pocket?"
As Kor'jack tuned in, he took a piece of wood and a carving knife out of his pants pouch and started to sculpt something out of it.
"How is Ratchet able to fit all his weapons in his pocket?" Jens acclaimed.
Nefarious questioned that as well. "…That's not the point! You left-"
"Ahem!" Ratchet interrupted as he cleared his voice as he and Clank looked at them with arms crossed.
"Right, stop fighting," The girl replied back with a small chuckle. "But yeah, sorry about the missing gear, Nef."
"Um," Kor'jack butted in, "I know this isn't none of my business, but I, well, made this just now." The Agorian opened up his hand, relieving a gear for Nefarious he made all out of the wood he used. "It isn't much, but it is a replacement, right?"
"Wow!" Jens said full of amazement. "This is awesome! Yes, this would work great. See Nefarious, luck is on your side."
"Hey, I didn't know you sculpted?" Ratchet said.
"Oh, yeah, it's a hobby of mine when I'm off duty, heh."
She took it out of his hands and smiled. "Oh, I don't believe we met before. My name is Jens." She put out her hand.
"It-it's Kor'jack." He shook it.
"Nice to meet you," Jens was about to let go of her hand until noticing Kor'jack still had grasp on it. "Um, Jack, you can let go now."
"Oh, yeah, right, sorry!" He blushed in embarrassment as he let go. He then turned his back to her, looking at his hand. 'She-she touched my hand…'
"But yeah, we'll-" Ratchet looked around, turning behind him and around. "Hey, where did Tal go?"
"I think she went down that hallway?" Kor'jack pointed.
"She likely went to the shooting range then, it's down that way." He sighed. "She may be still annoyed with me. I'll try talking to her later, she can use some time alone."
"Hm." Jens took out her Shockbow again, before turning that way. "Maybe I could try talking to her, being you wanted her to warm up to me at least. Want to try out this baby anyways." She looked over to Nefarious. "If you don't mind, 'master'" She asked while putting up air quotes.
"You do whatever you want," Nefarious whined, "I don't care anymore!"
"Oh, sweet!" Jens ran off, waving to them with her back turned. "Good luck on the mission Ratchet!"
"Thanks!" The Lombax then looked down at Clank. "Well, let's get going…"
"Wait!" They turned to their side hearing the Agorian's request. "Um, I know this may sound odd to you, but, um…erm…"
"What is the matter Kor'jack?" Clank asked.
"Well, um…I would like to join you guys, on the mission that is?"
Ratchet was puzzled, not knowing how to react. This is the guy who cowered and almost gave up back on Lumos, why the change of heart? "That does seem odd to you, why all a sudden?"
"Well, I…you know that girl Jens right, well," He looked around before speaking again, hoping she wasn't in the room. "I…I kinda like her."
"Ha, called it!" Nefarious shouted in the Lombax's face, shoving the fact he was right this whole time. He started to jump around and sing. "Heheh, Kor'jack has a crush, Kor'jack has a crush, Kor'jack has a-"
Ratchet gave him a hard whack in the head, as everyone looked at him. "…someone had to shut him up?" He then pondered before giving an answer. "I still don't get why you would want to go with us, and what your crush has anything to do with it."
"But don't girls like strong, heroic men?!"
"Yeah Jack, but-"
"Oh please, I promise I won't cause any more damage like I did back at Lumos. You even said for an Agorian I'm a wuss, I want to change that!"
"Erm, I didn't really mean that. Well, I did somewhat half of it, but… sure, I guess it won't hurt. Just – just be careful. You aren't used to this kind of work." He looked back at Clank. "You two wait by Aphelion, I'll meet you right out."
"Understood Ratchet." Clank and Kor'jack then left the room. Ratchet picked up his wrench and his bomb glove.
"I called it, ya know." Nefarious said proudly.
"Heh, just a lucky guess, Nefarious." The Lombax walked out of the room leaving Nefarious…
Pressing the trigger on her gun, she fired a few blaster bolts, hitting both the targets in the middle. Talwyn pushed her hair out of the way, as she put down her weapon.
"Huh?" She turned around, seeing Jens by the door. "Oh, Jens, I didn't notice you there."
"I just got here really," The other girl replied. "Sorry if I'm disturbing you, I'll leave if you want me to."
"Oh, no, not at all, guessing you want to test out your new weapon." She backed away to side of her. "I'll leave you be."
"Hey Tal," Jens spoke in a cheerful tone, "Why don't we shoot a few rounds?"
"Um, sure, If you want."
"It'll be fun anyways. Besides, I'm worried I may break something again, heh…"
An hour went by as both girls kept shooting, keeping track of points.
"You keep getting perfect shots, Tal! Cut me some slack, won't ya?"
"Hey, I did have a good few years of training and all." Talwyn put down her gun again with a smile. "Besides, you were the one who asked me to shoot a few rounds, right?"
"Ya got a point there, I guess." Jens was up, as she aimed her weapon at the target. She pulled the trigger, with the arrow flying across the room, missing once again. "Damn it…"
"You know, if you bend your knees and keep one of your legs father away, you may have better luck."
The Levisian did as she was told before pulling the trigger again, keeping her eye focused as she let out another arrow. She put her weapon down, sighing, expecting to miss, until she heard the hit. She turned around, noticing that it was in the center of the target. "…I…I hit it! Oh my god!"
Talwyn gave out a small giggle. "Told you it would help," She then put her gun back in her holster, leaning on one of the boxes in the room. "You know, that was kinda fun…"
"I'm glad you did have fun."
She smiled. "Listen, Jens. I'm…I'm sorry about the way I acted before with you. I let my emotions get the best of me. We got off the wrong foot.
Jens smiled back. "It's ok; I don't think I left the best first impression anyways. Yet again, I always am cautious about that. But, why were you letting your emotions getting the best of you anyways? I didn't do something to piss you off, did I?"
"Well, I…" Talwyn looked to the ground. "I…I rather not talk about it."
"So, I did something wrong, did I?"
"No, you aren't to blame! It's just…" She sighed. "Jens, can I tell you something…?"
"But you have to promise me this! You can't tell anyone about this, including Ratchet. Understand?"
"Talwyn, cross my heart, swear I won't lie, what are you trying to talk about?"
"Well…" She didn't know how to say it, rubbing her arm. "Let's just say that you're feelings that I had a crush on him her kinda right on." She looked to side of her, not know what else to say.
"I had a gut feeling that was the case, but…I felt maybe I was a little rude to assume that."
"A little, yeah, but…"
"Are you going to tell him?"
She perked up by that question. "No, why would I? We-we're just friends. I can't just tell him that. What if he doesn't feel the same? What if it ruins our friendship, what if-"
"Talywn, you have to tell him sooner or later, otherwise it's going to linger to the point where it'll hurt more inside."
"I…I can't." Talwyn looked back up to Jens. "Jens, you can't tell him this! You got that?!"
"I do, but," She sighed. "I'm just saying that, well, what if you don't know if he feels the same. It won't hurt to at least tell him." Jens started walking to the doorway with her head turned. "Anyways, I'm going to check up on gear head, see if he needs some help. I had fun though…" She walked out, leaving Talwyn in the room…
Aphelion landed right on the soft soil, next to the Halogen city entrance. Ratchet, Clank and Kor'jack hopped out as they walked into town.
"We should probably go check out the Town Hall," Ratchet suggested, "they'll be able to put us in the right direction." he looked at the state of the town. "...if it hasn't sunk underwater first."
The city (if you would call it that) was pretty small. It was more of a village as opposed to anything else. However, like any city, it was full of civilians walking up and down the streets. They were an interesting breed. Most were tall and thin, with big bug like eyes. Skin varied from blue to green, to red.
"Hm, where is the town hall for a matter of fact?" Ratchet saw someone passing by. "Um, excuse me?"
"Hmm?" The townfolk said. "What can I do for ya?"
"We're trying to find the Town Hall."
"Oh, it's five minutes away from here, ten if you walk. May want to take a taxi there if you're in a rush."
"Nah, we'll move by foot, thanks anyways."
"It's a big building, you can't miss it."
All three of them continued down the streets…
"There it is!" Clank exclaimed, pointing to the direction of the building. They walked inside, looking all around as they walked over to a woman behind the counter. "Excuse me, ma'am?"
"Hm?" She looked down at the small robot with a smile. "Oh hello there, is there anything I could help you with?"
"Yeah," The lombax looked up. "Is the Ambassador in by chance? We need to ask a few questions."
"I'm afraid I can't just let you see him-" the woman then noticed just who she was talking to. "Oh! It's Ratchet and Clank! I can make an exception with you heroes."
"So, can we see him" Ratchet asked.
"Ambassador Sidwad is in, but he's a bit tied up at the moment with something that has been happening all around Moorah as of late; it's been more busy than normal. However, I can see if he has any openings this week."
"Erm, we kinda have to see him now…"
"I'm not sure if he can today. If you need to speak with him right away, maybe I could work something out?"
"Well," Clank answered her question. "We heard that you have been having cases of missing civilians. We are trying to get more information on the matter, being it may be connected to ours as well."
"Oh, so you're reporting a missing person. Unfortunately he cannot see you for that, but if you give us a pi-"
"No, no, no. No-one we know is missing; we're just trying to help out."
"Well…" She looked around before turning back at the lombax. "I'll see what I can do. Just take a seat over there, but I can't promise anything. Hopefully he can see you right away."
"Thank you for your assistance, ma'am."
All of them sat down on the couch, as Kor'jack looked Ratchet's way. "You sure they can help us? They do seem very busy at the moment."
"If they don't get back to us in an hour or so, we'll have to take matters into our own-"
"You guys are in luck," Said the sectary, "The ambassador noticed you down stairs. He seems to know who you are and will gladly talk to you."
"Really?" Ratchet and the other two got back up from their seats. "That's great he can talk to us."
"His office is right up the stairs, to the left."
They nodded. "Kor'jack, you wait down here. We'll be back in a bit."
Both the lombax and the robot went up, and entered though two huge double doors. As they walked in, they noticed a tall, green skinned man walking back and forth nervously until he saw the two come in.
"Ah," Ambassador Sidwad said with pride while still having anxiety in his tone of voice. "I never expected to see the great Ratchet here on Moorah!"
"You heard of us?"
"Why wouldn't I? I'm sure most of the Polaris galaxy has heard of you two. I'm a fan." He said. "Please take a seat Mr. Ratchet., Mr. Clank."
Both sat down on the sofa right by Sidwad's desk.
"Can I get you something? A glass of water? Oil?"
"We are fine, Ambassador," spoke the little robot.
"I'm good as well." Added Ratchet. "Sorry if we came at a bad time, I'm sure everything has been stressful around here." Ratchet rubbed the back of his head as he continued. "Anyways, thanks for seeing us."
"Oh no, no, you here isn't a problem at all. I'm quite honoured to have you as guest. So, what can I do for you? You had to come here for a reason, yes?"
"Yeah, pretty much. We heard about the disappearance of some of your citizens here, we thought you would like some help."
"Oh my goodness, you have no idea how much stress I've been in the last few days!" He started to panic again, going back to his movements before. "Natives keep coming in everyday complaining what's going on with the search, hearing families arguing, and even reports of riots." He gasped. "This may even ruin my re-election!"
"Ambassador!" Ratchet exclaimed, "Calm down, you getting rallied up won't help the matter."
"Yes, yes, you're right, but it doesn't make this any better. I'm just happy that there aren't any more cases coming in to add to the load. And it's not the worst part of it! The worst part is…" He looked over to his desk, walking over as he picked up a photo frame of him and a younger woman right beside him. "…that my daughter is one of them…"
No words were spoken.
"Oh, my dear Elora," He shook his head, almost feeling like he was about to tear up. "She's the only thing I have left, and now she's gone. Just the idea of what may happen to her even pains me more. I just hope she's alright."
After hearing the sadness in his voice, Clank got up from his seat, walking up to him. "I am so sorry to hear about your daughter, sir. But she would not want to see you miserable."
"Yes, but I can't bear seeing those who kidnapped her. What are they even doing to her?"
"Ambassador," Ratchet spoke up. "We'll find your daughter and bring her home safely, as well as the rest of the missing citizens, we promise."
He turned back around, with a tear falling from his eyes. "Please do. If there is any way I can help, I…I will…"
"Did you get any leads or anythin'?" Kor'jack asked as they walked out of the building.
"No, or at least not anything that would help us." Ratchet thought to himself before speaking back to the others. "Not sure where we should start …"
A growl was heard as Kor'jack looked down to his stomach, and he put his hand on it. "Can we talk about it after lunch, I'm starving!"
"How could you even think about food at a time like this?"
"How can't you think without it?"
"So I heard you seem to be lookin' for somethin'?"
All three turned around after hearing a southern sounding voice behind them, and there leaning on the walls of a building was the Smuggler, taking out his straw from his mouth not looking at the others with his parrot on his shoulder.
"Seems like you're always bumping into us..." Ratchet replied. "What're you here for?"
"Oh, just here on some business 'o course. Yourselves?"
Ratchet said rather skeptically, "Yeah, we're looking for the missing natives."
"It's all I hear on this damn planet the past few days."
"Are you here to help us, or are you waiting for somebody?"
"Well, I need a bit of help, and I'm sure you do too. You remember how to do this dance?"
"Like a backscratching tango."
"Bwak, like a broken record!" skwaked the parrot.
"Have I told you before how much I hate the bird?" Clank looked up at Ratchet.
"I'll tell you the information if you make a deal."
"Always a catch." Ratchet sighed. "What is it?"
"There's a space station out orbiting this said planet, and it has been abandoned for years. But lately there's been, let's say, some abnormal actively. Something I believe would interest you."
"If it's been abandoned for years, why would it be of use to you?"
"I heard from a good partner o' mine overhearing that a cache of rare and unique weapons is on that station that I can sell on the black market, state of the art. Being stranded for over a week without a way to pay for your ship damage kinda hinders with your schedule. He also said they don't think they would approve of someone out of their business getting their hands on such items."
"So you want us to just waltz on up there and get them for you?"
"Pretty much. If you do, I'll open the gates for yeh, so to speak."
Ratchet turned to Clank, and replied. "Well if it's the only lead we can get, I guess this is the best chance we have." Ratchet turned back to the Smuggler. "But we need the information before getting your cache."
"Now why in all of Sargasso would I want to do that?" the Smuggler snorted.
"Bwak! Dead lombax walking, bwak!"
With a smug look, Ratchet boldly answered "Who do you think is more trustworthy?"
The Smuggler looked back at him, with a small laugh. "Heh, I guess you do have a point there. Very well."
"So, about this space station?"
"Right," He leaned back on the wall not giving any eye connect as he spoke. "There been rumours going around that the station is haunted, the Ghost Station as they call it. But I knew better. Even then, I saw someone inside as I collated, straggled to get my ship out of there until my wing broke and I crashed down here. Think I saw a few people in cages as well."
"And why did you not report this to the authorities?" Clank replied back to his tale with his fists at his sides.
"I'd love to report it to the authorities, but as a man with a colorful history, that'd do me more harm than good. Anyways, somethin' is going up there, what I have no idea. Then that said client told me about the weapons and I thought it would be my ticket out of here. Of course, I couldn't get back up there myself. Even then, I was looking for the… adventurer type, if you know what I'm sayin'."
"Did you see anything else while you were there?" Ratchet asked.
"Nope. But I'm sure you'll find more when you get up there."
Ratchet nodded, and started to walk the other way. "C'mon, let's get going. I'll contact Aphelion to pick us up."
"So I'm guessing this means we aren't getting lunch then…" Kor'jack looked back over to the Smuggler before walking away, following the others.
Aphelion flew in slowly though the small cracks between the station, sure not to touch the hard metal that may damage her.
"Any luck finding an entrance in?" Ratchet asked her.
"Negative. Or at least one that would assure a safe and silent way in. However, there are a few hatches that lead into an air duct. From what I gather from my scanners, it seems wide enough for all three of you to enter the station into."
"Think you can drop us down there? We'll continue on our own."
"I advise wearing an H2O mask. There is no air bubble protecting the outer parts of the station."
"Will do. This station is damaged, so chances are there isn't any air on the inside either."
"Wait a second, fuzzy guy!" Kor'jack butted in. "What about me?"
"We have a spare mask in my glove department Kor'jack, no need to worry."
Apehlion flew closer in. She hovered above a hatch that leaded to the inside as Ratchet took a leap out with Clank jumping right on his back, following Kor'jack right after.
Ratchet started to turn the knob before looking back up to his friend. "Can you lend a hand? It's a bit stiff." He spoke with his voice somewhat muffled from the mask he was wearing. Kor'jack walked up and put his hands on the handle and pushed it open. The two dropped in, the Agorian closing it right after.
"There seems to be air inside the station." Ratchet said, noting the resistance against the air his limbs now had. "Should be safe to take off the masks." Both he and Kor'jack removed them. Clank of course, being a robot, had no need to wear one in the first place.
"Alright, we're in." Ratchet said to his wrist comlink to Aphelion. He looked all around the air duct, debating where to go. Forwards was the only way, as it turned out. "This way, I guess…"
They ventured in. While the duct was tall enough for Ratchet to walk upright just fine, Kor'jack was forced to bend over. They stopped, and noticed there was a vent below them. Ratchet looked down and saw a few robots pass by. They were different from the ones he encountered on Krell Canyon, but they still beared the logo associated with the Neoprine Empire. However they more resembled Nefarious' solders, if not a bit run down.
"Yup, they're working with the Neoprine alright." The Lombax looked back up and turned around. "Alright, we're going to need to sneak in undetected. Aphelion, you hear me?"
"Loud and clear, how can I be of assistance?"
"Think you can give us another scan so we know where the soldiers are less active?"
"Scanning now." A few seconds went by. "While there isn't a safe spot per say, the lowest activity I'm detecting is going down the air duck until you get to a fan, then turn to your right and the next vent hop out. I'm also picking up some heat signatures that are seen in organics a hallway further down from that position; they could be guards as well. I would be careful regardless; this station is surprisingly well armed inside."
"We will. Going silent."
It went static as they kept going through the duct following Aphelion's directions. They turned away from the fan until they spotted their exit out. "Clank, you think you can open this?"
Clank took out his Geo-Laser and started piercing though the metal bars below them with the sparks flying in his face. It fell to the ground, making a big thump. He hopped down following Ratchet.
"So, which way now…?"
"Um, guys?" Both turned their heads up, noticing Kor'jack's legs hanging from the ceiling, "A little help here please!" He tried pushing himself out slowly as Ratchet just shook his head.
"Here, let me help," He jumped up grabbing the Agorian's foot and pulled on his weight. A simple pop later, He fell through falling on his backside.
"Oof!" Kor'jack looked back down, noticing Ratchet right beside him getting up. "Thanks."
"Got to hold off on the fast food, Jack."
"Erm, more or less how Agorians are built really…"
"Figure of speech…"
"Raniver, please tell me you got something…?"
Ratchet's ear perked up hearing a woman's voice down the hall. "You guys hear something?" He ran in the direction of the conversation until reaching a small archway. He stopped right before entering it and peeked though, back to the wall, the other side.
"Not yet, my queen, but z'oon."
Behind the archway was a huge lab, hoarding tubes, glasses and chemicals, the normal science equipment seen in such laboratories. In the room Ratchet noticed a Terachnoid standing in front of a holoscreen, which showed a young woman speaking to her client. It was Lania, although Ratchet, Clank and Kor'jack didn't know it.
"Well, how much longer do you expect to have the data and technology ready? You know I'm on a tight schedule as it is with all the interference going on now!" Lania crossed her legs and put her arms on the side of her chair with a less than pleasant expression.
"You cannot rush zcience! But I do assure you, z'oon enough…" a light yet morbid laugh came out of the Terachnoid, who bearded a heavy German sounding accent (the best way to describe it anyways). His build was like any of his species, putting aside some features he only had. A scar ran down above to far below his left eye, his right arm was robotic.
"You better start picking up the pace then, and not fooling around with your captives. You know I had to send most of them away to a labor camp as it is."
"But…but it'z fun…"
"Call me back once you have something…" she said irritably. With that, the screen shut off and Ranvier went back to work.
"Impatient woman zhe iz…" Raniver then left the room, walking right through the archway Ratchet was hiding behind. He held his breath nervously as the Terachnoid scuttled past, but didn't notice the lombax and carried on none the wiser. Ratchet sighed, and walked into the room and looked around.
"Hey, over here…" A young woman whispered across the room as he turned around. She, along with two other captives were in cages.
"Ratchet, you should be more careful-" Clank and Kor'jack walked into the room noticing the hostages as well.
"Hey, did you come here to help us?" She spoke a little louder, but soft enough so no one else outside the room could hear her.
"Yeah." Ratchet ran over and kneeled down putting his hands on the cage. "What's your name; can you tell me what happened? Did they hurt you?"
"No, we're fine." She sighed. "My name is Elora Sidwad, we were held here for a few days now when a bunch of those robots took me by surprise while I was on an empty street. Don't have a clue why though…"
"Are you the Ambassador's daughter? He was worried about you." Clank replied.
"Yes, I'm his daughter." She started to play with her hair as her nerves got the best of her. "Oh man, I can't imagine all the pain he's in right now. He gets very troubled easily. We don't even know why we're here to begin with; they never tried to get any information out of us."
"Yeah!" One of the other captives spoke out. "All that madman wants to do with us is 'experiment' on us."
"Experiment?" Ratchet queried. "What for?"
"If we had the slightest clue," the other captive said, "we would have told you by now. Though it seems to be, well, a hobby for him. A few of us were already either killed due to them. The ones that weren't were sent somewhere else."
"Do you know where they were sent?" Ratchet butted in.
"No, but I think it was some labor camp. Some 'Lania' person didn't want it to be a distractionto that scientist over there. It's mainly because she didn't want to release them back home, safety reasons I'm guessing."
"It's better than being held here, I'm sure." Elora looked back at the three as she tried to break though the bars with a pocket laser. "Ugh. The bars are too thick…"
The sound of footsteps were heard as Raniver walked down the hall. The six heard them as Elora quickly turned her head back at the heroes. "You need to hide! Now!"
Ratchet looked around the room fast for a hiding spot. "Over there." He pointed to a bunch of boxes and the three ran over to them, as they hid behind them. The Terachnoid grumbled on his words walking in.
Ratchet, Clank and Kor'jack peeked out to see what was going on. Ranvier had a cage in his hand, carrying a Zoni inside, bumping on the glass trying to escape.
"A Zoni!" Ratchet exclaimed quietly. "Hey Clank, I thought they're able to teleport?"
Clank rubbed his chin in thought. "Perhaps it has some sort of mechanism that prevents it from using its powers."
A soft laugher filled the room with Ranvier getting to his huge desk in the room, a little above his height. Out of his backpack around his back, spider-like legs extended and landed on the ground with a light thump. The more they came out, the higher he went until reaching the necessary level.
He put the cage down, clinking sounds coming from his mechanical legs as he walked over to the other side of his desk. He opened one of his drawers and took out some sort of device. He struggled lifting it as he walked back to the Zoni, still trying to get free.
Ratchet rose himself a bit more from the crates to get a better look with Clank climbing up for the same effect.
Ranvier finally picked up the cage and put it in the center of the device. He rubbed his hands together with the same evil chuckle as before, taking out a remote from his pocket. With the press of a button, the room shinned with a bright light, almost blinding. Everyone had to shield their eyes within the room from how strong it was.
When a good amount of seconds passed by, Ratchet opened his eyes back up. The light was gone, but still was seeing colours from the blast. After gaining full sight, he looked over to where the Zoni was but the scientist was blocking his view.
"HAHA!" Raniver's laughter was so loud it could be heard throughout the whole section of the station. "It worked! It worked!" It got louder. He picked up a tube that was attached to the gadget. The inside of it was full of bright blue light, moving about. The humour in his voice died down as he got himself together. "Well, time to zend in the report…"
Finally, the Terachnoid left the room, still amused for unknown reasons. Now out of the way, Ratchet took his view at the Zoni and was shocked from what he saw. "Um, Clank, you may want to see this…"
"What is it, Ratchet?" Clank and Kor'jack got out of hiding with their eyes widen from the sight of what happened to the creature.
Still in the cage was the Zoni, but its normal light was gone. It was dim, with almost no life within it as it appeared to be drained of its energy. It tried to get up but the little floating it could do, it fell right back down.
Seeing what happened to it shocked them.
"We…we need to find a way to help it." Clank stuttered.
"But how?" Ratchet looked back over to the cage. Before he could even think of the slightest idea, ashes started to flow down off the Zoni's skin. Soon enough, the residue appeared to be breaking it down piece by piece…
"It's… It's breaking apart!"
Clank's mouth opened as looked around the room trying to find something. "Ratchet, we have to do something! We can't let it die like this!"
"But what can we-" They turned back around. Eyes were even wider when they saw that the Zoni was no longer there. All that remained was the husk of its body and the suit that was worn by it.
Nothing but silence filled the room. Clank took a few steps back, still stunned on what happened. He couldn't even speak from how scared he was from what he saw…
Ratchet looked down at Clank, seeing the unpleasant look on his face. "Clank, I…" He sighed, not knowing what to say to him.
The little robot gulped, getting his mind back together as best he could. "There…there is nothing we can do for it now."
"You're right, there isn't, but... hey, are you all right, Clank?" His friend replied, worried.
"Yes, I am…" He almost choked on his own words. "We need to help the hostages before he comes back. I do not think we would want any more lives lost on our hands…"
Ratchet nodded. He looked around for Kor'jack until he spotted him across the room with the others, pulling on the bars. "C'mon, budge!"
"Jack, what you doing?"
"Trying to get to get these guys out!"
"I would think you would have ran off already?"
"Where is there to run off to?! We're trapped!" He tried pulling his weight onto them, hoping the more pressure he put on them, the better chances of breaking them loose. This didn't happen. "Gah, stupid bars!"
"Pulling on them isn't going to break them." Elora responded as she took his hands off the cage, preventing himself from straining out more than he already did. "We tried everything as it is. Pushing them, cutting them, you name it. You're wasting your time."
Ratchet folded his arms. "So, you're just giving up?"
"Of course we're giving up!" Said the other hostage. "Didn't you hear her? We tried everything! Are you-"
"Avi, please." Elora looked back at them with sorrow. "No, we're not, but you shouldn't waste your time saving us. You should be more worried about your lives than ours…"
"Wait a second! Fuzzy guy, doesn't Clank have that green laser thing?"
"She already said that her pocket laser wasn't strong enough! What would-"
"That's right!" Ratchet exclaimed "Clank, your Geo-laser still has juice in it, right?"
"I do believe it does." Quickly, Clank transformed his hand and walked over to the bars as he powered up his gun. "Please stand back." The laser cut though the bars like butter, with the sound of metal falling on the ground as each bar was fully cut. "That should do it."
With a huge hole to crawl though, Elora, Avi and the other captive pulled themselves out. All three stood up on their feet as the girl wiped off the dust from her dress. "Well, guess we're getting out of here after all…"
"We just happened to get out of the cage Elora, we're still-"
"Avi! Can you think positive for just one moment?! These brave men risked their lives to help us, be grateful!"
"We're not out of dodge yet," Ratchet said. "We still need to get off this station…"
"I thought Aphelion was our way out of here, fuzzyguy?"
"That is, if we can find a way outside these walls first. Aphelion?"
"Yes Ratchet?" Aphelion replied.
"We got some extra passengers here; think you can find us an escape route?"
"Positive, I located one nea-" Before Aphelion could finish, a huge explosion hit the room they were in, causing everyone to fly in different directions. The lombax hit the wall close by, with his body throbbing with pain. He tried to get back in contact with his ship until he saw two soldiers aiming their guns at him. His ears lowered as he rolled his eyes.
An evil laugh took him by surprise as he turned over to his side and saw Raniver, making quite an entrance with his spider legs still extended.
"Well, well, what we have here?" he laughed between his words as he spoke, looking down at him, "An intruder? We don't get many here."
"Great, another mad scientist." Ratchet said, "Not like the universe doesn't have enough of them already…"
"Who are you calling mad, space rat!?" Ranvier yelled, "Do you know who I am?!"
"A guy who overcompensates with his legs?"
The two guards chucked from that comment, with the Terachnoid shifting his eyes over to them; confused at what they were laughing at.
"Wha- What'z zo funny?" He scratched his head while he was puzzled.
"I think your guards aren't as obedient as you think they are", Ratchet said, hand over his mouth.
"He's right, sir!" A guard chuckled, "Your legs are enormous!"
Raniver extended a spider leg, observing it.
"Which means..." Ratchet said slyly
"Zilance!" He shrieked with his legs raising higher, unaware of it as he started to manically cackle again, looking straight down at the Lombax with a glare in his eyes. "But now that you're here, you cannot ezcape!" Out came a few more mechanical legs from his backpack, with each side breaking apart shaping as claws as sharp as broken glass. "I always wanted to zee what makez a lombax tick!"
"Hang on there, fuzzy guy!" A rocket flew across the room hitting the wall, blowing away Raniver and the two guards nearby.
Coming out unscratched, Ratchet saw Kor'jack, as well as Clank and the captives behind him, though the smoke, the Agorian holding a heavy weapon in his hands. He was breathing hard with his eyes full of shock. He looked around the room realizing that the explosion left a really bad mess of the room they were in. He dropped the gun and rose his arms up.
"Um, sorry?" He said, the only reply he could even think of.
Ratchet started to walk over to the others until he heard the clinks and clouts of those noisy legs again and turned right around.
"Come back here you rodent zo I can dizzect you!" Raniver rose out of the rubble that fell on him. Before he could reach the others, he heard a few beeps below him and looked down.
Ratchet looked as well, and saw little plasma bombs a bit scorched themselves, presuming they ejected from the rocket as it detonated. They beeped faster. "You got to be kidding me!" His eyes widened, getting a head start. "Go, go, go!" The Lombax commanded the others as they ran quickly out of the room, not without him picking up the heavy weapon used as the last one, leaping and rolling on the ground as the explosion hit.
He quickly got up, and looked over to the group he was with. "We got to get out of here, now!" They all started to dart though the station as Ratchet tried to contact his ship.
"Aphelion, you there?" There was a bit of static and sounds in the background as he tried to reach her.
Raniver jumped right out this time around, with the rubble flying in the room with three guards standing right next to him. "After them!"
"Aphelion, c'mon pick up!"
"Ratchet, is that you?!"
Finally getting an answer on the comm. channel, Ratchet smiled. "We need a pick up, now!"
"Negative!" The connection was fuzzy as he heard the sound of rockets flying right at her. "I'm being attacked by their defense systems. They likely assumed you had some sort of transportation up here."
"Damn it! Ok, try to get yourself out of there and to Halogen City, we'll find another way off the station!"
"I spotted a hanger not too far from where you are, but it's heavily guarded."
"Not surprising, the alarm is blaring red in here. We'll meet you planetside after finding the hanger." Ratchet hung up, looking over to Clank. "Clank, are you able to pinpoint where the hanger is?"
"Yes, it is just ahead." He replied
"How did you know that?"
Clank pointed to a yellow sign that read "Hanger Ahead".
"Ah, of course!" The six of them ran up to the doorway, and peeked around the frame. The entirety of the large hanger bay was full of guards and support staff fixing and tuning ships for the next departure. The ships were nothing major, just small civilian vessels, way too small to fit the whole group. Beyond them, however, were some cargo ships, and behind that was another room with glass windows, and just outside the door were two guards, seemingly having a good time minding their own business. To the left of all of that was a large airlock door that doubled as the entire right-hand wall.
"Seems well protected." Elora noted. "Any idea how to open the doors?"
"Well, knowing most supervillain lairs, they'll have a control panel or some crank you gotta turn, should be easy."
"Well, at least they don't lack for confidence, do they?" Elora asked jokingly.
"Um, you say that like it's a good thing." Kor'jack replied.
"That room over there may have a way to escape," Ratchet said," but it's dangerous for all of us to go. Unless any of you guys know how to hold a gun."
"None of us know how to use any sort of weaponry." Elora confirmed, crossing her arms, "and you three-"
"I don't know how to fight neither!" The Agorain randomly interpreted.
"- Well, two of you then, are going to get massacred out there."
"We've done this ton of times before, Elora, we'll be fine."
"And us? We can't wait here. There has to be more troops on this station than the ones right in front of you. Heck, I'm sure they're looking for us right now."
"She does have a point." The little robot looked up to Ratchet, as the lombax rubbed his chin. "There has to be an alternate approach to this situation."
"Wait!" Elora exclaimed. "Look over there!" She pointed to a ladder and a large casement on the very top of the wall. "You see that there? It goes right to the top of the girders holding up the ceiling. If we can all get there, we can sneak past most of the guards and to the other side."
"Wow, that's…not a bad idea." Ratchet rubbed the back of his neck as he thought about it some more. "Alright, I'll go over to that room over there, chances are the way to open the airlock doors are in there. We can do this."
"Glad to help, but I think we should worry about getting out of here first before you expect a heroes kiss or something." She quickly ran over to the ladder and climbed up. "C'mon,"
They quietly snuck over and ascended the ladder. Kor'jack, to the surprise of none of them, had trouble getting his ample body up, let alone balancing over the girders on the way over.
"W-woah!" It slipped off the rail and before he could fall, Ratchet grabbed his hand and pulled him up. "Got ya!"
Once he got his balance back, Kor'jack smile and nodded. "Thanks."
"Okay, you guys wait here." Ratchet said once they got over an unoccupied cargo ship. "I'll head inside the room and open the airlock. When it does, get inside it and wait for me to get to it so we can take off. Clank? Swingshot and some rope, please." Clank took out Ratchet's Swingshot from his chest compartment and handed it to Ratchet.
"And if you can't open the airlock?" Elora asked as Ratchet walked off down the girder.
"Then… we think of something else?"
Elora didn't find this very reassuring.
Ratchet stopped over the two guards, unaware of the Lombax as he aimed directly over them.
"And then he pointed to his kitchen sink asking me to clean the green gunk up, and I'm like 'no way am I going to-AH!"
"Going to do what?" The other guard turned around, noticing his college was gone. "Huh? Steve, where'd you go?"
A second later, the other was lifted up as well as he let out a small yelp. The two of them were now tied up on the girder and unable to move or say anything. Ratchet jumped down and entered the room.
He scanned over the panel to see where the controls could be. "Ok, let's see... ah, here it is!"
He pulled down the lever, the bay doors screeching slowly due to their age. The guards quickly took notice of this, aware there were no shipments in or out today. As the station had no air bubble, all the air in the station started to suck out of the now gaping space the doors had made.
Clank jumped down from above, taking out two of them near the cargo ship, and opened the door. The rest followed and huddled into the ship. "Ratchet?"
"I'll be right there!" Ratchet kicked open the door in the room, knocking down a few of the guards blocking the way. He took out his wrench, holding an attack position as he darted across.
Ratchet came to a pause once he made it to the ship, and turned to his side. Raniver hovered over the lombax with a few of his men besides him.
"Was wondering when you were going to show up!" Ratchet said slyly.
"There iz no ezcape from here, rodent! Even if you managed to leave the hanger, my turrets are targeting everything that movez!"
"Guess you've never seen me fly before then!"
"Ratchet!" Clank shouted over to him, "the hanger door is closing and no one is in the control room!" Indeed, the doors were slowly going back to their closed position.
"What, how is it then?!"
"Thiz zation haz a fail zafe zystem, just zo that if I ever encounter zuch foolz that they realize they made the worst miztake of zheir lives!" He laughed manically again, with his legs expanding outwore. "Zo, now letz zee, zhould I put a nuclear fusion core in you, or zhould I make a electaic blanket out of your fu-OH CRAP!"
A huge rocket flew right at him, taking him by surprise as he flew across the room. Before hitting the wall, he quickly braced himself with his claws, following shortly after with a Bam!
"Where did tha-?" Ratchet turned right around, standing proud and tall was Elora holding a heavy rocket launcher over her shoulders as she smiled.
"He was talking too much!"
"Hey fuzzyguy?!" Kor'jack butted in, holding a few other weapons that just happened to be in the cruiser. "There's a bunch of these in here, think these are what that guy was looking for?!"
Smoke entered the room, catching their attention. All turned around, and noticed one of the pipes behind Raniver where the rocket hit was leaking. Ears raised up alert as Ratchet got right in. "I think this is our cue to leave, everyone inside!"
The ship zoomed though the bay doors before it closed shut, flying back to planet Moolah.
Raniver shook his head dizzily and saw the pipe. "Erm, this iz the third zation that blowz up on me." He sighed. Causally walking over to his lab he grabbed his device and then back to the hangar, and to a small round doorway. With a press of a few buttons, the doorway opened to a small escape pod. He turned back one more time and snarled, crawling in.
The pod shot out and flew far away, with an explosion in the station ripping it into little tiny pieces...
Kor'jack took a big bite out of a big, juicy burger, munching away like he hadn't eaten in days. Ratchet and Clank were sitting on top of Aphelion watching him.
"Yeah, he was hungry alright." Ratchet looked over to his buddy. "Well, once he's done eating, we'll head back to the station. Already gave our 'friend' the weapons he wanted. Did you talk to Elora yet, Clank?"
"Yes, and the Ambassador was very grateful for her return, though he is a bit worried about how long it will take to clean up the remains of the station, notably in the resort region. It is still a shame we were not able to get back the others."
"At least three of them are safe and sound. Don't worry Clank, we'll figure out where they are."
"I do hope so."
Both turned back to the Agorian, already on his fifth burger.
"Heh, may be a while longer thought…" Ratchet joked. He looked down at Clank, noticing the distress on his face as he closed his eyes, head sinking down. "You're still thinking about what happened to the Zoni?"
The lombax sighed sadly. "There wasn't anything we could have done for him. I'm sorry Clank."
"I know Ratchet, but..." He choked on his words. "I cannot imagine if the same happened to the other Zoni that are missing."
"I know. Just…what would they need the energy for?"
"I do not know, and I do not know if I want to find out."
"Um, I'm sorry to interrupt," Aphelion spoke, "but you have a missed call from Talwyn."
"Huh? What about?"
"I think you should see for yourself, perhaps?"
Ratchet hopped into the ship, curious of what he missed. "Aphelion, play last message…"
The holoscreen turned on, playing the call:
"Ratchet, you there? Oh god, please pick up!"
There was a bit of static coming from the video feed, a little shaky as well. In the background there were lasers going on and off.
"Oh man. Ratchet, if you get this message, you have to come back to the station right away. We're under attack!"
Ratchet's eyes widened from hearing the news. "Under attack?"
"If you get this and we're not here, I- AH!"
She screamed as she was pulled off screen by the hair.
Then there was static and nothing more.
"I must have received that while I was being shot at." Aphelion said. "I'm sorry I didn't notice…"
"Clank," Ratchet said angrily, "get in the ship, we need to go now."
"Hey, what you guys talkin' about?" Kor'jack walked over.
"We need to get back to the station quick, Kor'jack. Something is happening." Clank hopped in as he spoke to the Agorian.
"Wait, what's going on?"
"Get in," Ratchet replied harshly, "we'll tell you on the way, we got to get there now!"
"You seem upset! Something bad is happening isn't it?" He ran in, and sat down as the ship's doors closed quickly and Aphelion quickly took off in the sky…
At the station, the quickly flew into the garage. As soon as the doors opened, Ratchet popped out and ran right into the first room. He stopped right in his tracks as he was full of shock.
The station was completely trashed.
Ratchet made a fist as he ran though out the station, which held the same sight. "Damn it! Talwyn?! Cronk?! Anyone?!" He kept shouting out the names of his friends. Nothing. No response, not even a sound.
'Don't tell me we're too late…'
He turned around, looking over his shoulders as he saw Clank and Kor'jack walking into the room.
"Clank, did you see anyone in the station?"
"No, I have not…"
Ratchet, full of disbelief, didn't give up hope; he kept running around, calling out for his friends.
The lombax looked down after hearing the little cry, and there he saw Jens' cat. "Pooka?" He picked him up, fitting right in his palms. "At least someone is still here. Where's Jens? The others?" Pooka gave as much of a response as one could expect a cat to.
Ratchet's ears then caught something shaking under a desk. Ratchet walked over to it and looked under. "Qwark?"
"Huh?!" Qwark opened one of his eyes still shivering. "Ratchet, you're back! What a sight for sore eyes!"
"Yeah, glad to see you're ok…" Qwark wasn't exactly who Ratchet wanted to find. "Where're the others, is Talwyn safe?"
"Erm, I can't answer that being…"
"Well, I didn't really look around; I was hiding the whole time. Didn't even get a glimpse of who even attacked!"
"So, you just cowered here, like you always do, watching everyone being taken away?!" Ratchet roared in anger. He took in a deep breath and sighed in frustration. "Whatever, they're gone now, nothing we can do about that. If only we knew where they were…" Ratchet then darted his eyes across the room, noticing something…
The safe that the Nexus Core was inside was cracked wide open, but he couldn't even see if anything was inside. "Oh crap." Ratchet ran over as Pooka hopped up his shoulders. He moved the door a bit and his eyes widened. The Core was gone.
"Damn it! They stole the Nexus Core!" Ratchet slammed his fist onto the wall.
"Hey, Fuzzyguy?" Ratchet's ears perked up when hearing his name.
"What is it?" he replied, frustrated.
"Clank found something."
Ratchet walked over to the big computer with Kor'jack, with Qwark finally getting up from the table as he followed.
"What is it, Clank?"
The little robot looked up at his friend. "Someone left a recording…"
He jumped up a bit. "Play it."
With a press of a button, the screen turned on and played the message.
"Oh, hello there Fuzzball. Remember me?"
On the screen appeared Thanatos, giving a salute has his way of greeting them.
"I still didn't forget out last encounter. Pest you are, ya know that? I got berated cause of you and the next time I ever see you… you know the drill. But," He shrugged his shoulders as he tilted the camera to the right of him, "…that's not why I left this message."
Right behind him was Talwyn, restrained by two soldiers with her struggling to get loose. She mumbled on her words as her mouth was covered with a mask of some sort.
"Tal!" Ratchet shouted is distress.
"I would have already killed her, but I had my orders to bring her in alive. As for the rest of your friends, well, that's up to Lania." He took out a cigar as he lit it. "If you want to see her and your friends again, we just need one thing from you. I think already know what that is…
"You bring the Nexus Core; you'll get the girl back. Simple as that. Sadly won't be there to see you pout, I'm sure Lania will tell me all about what I'll miss later. There are directions on how to get to her place in this file. You got about three hours, should be enough time. If you don't get there, well…" He took his finger and made the silt in the neck expression.
"Well, I should end this here. She'll be waiting for you, and she doesn't like being disappointed." He then turned around. "Alright boys, let's round the rest up and get the hell out of here, got other business to attend after this…"
And with that, the video ended. There was nothing but silence.
Ratchet then growled, his fits hitting the dashboard. "Damn it!"
"Ratchet, are you alright?" The little robot asked.
The lombax looked down at him, still a bit annoyed. "…Yeah, I'm fine." He said, relatively more calmly as he shook his head. Lost in thought, he realized something. "Wait, he said he they didn't get the Core?"
"Yes, I heard that, but…the vault was open?"
"I know…" Ratchet looked over to the other room.
"But, if they do not have it, who does?"
"Oh, I think I have a good idea who does." He replied sternly.
"Who would that be?" Clank walked over to his friend who was looking right at the escape pods, seeing that one was missing. The lombax shook his fist in irritation.
"The only person we haven't thought about at all yet."
-End Chapter Ten-