Since the first version of this chapter turned out to be a bit…unsatisfactory…I decided to rewrite it! This may or may not lead to me rewriting the rest of the four chapters I had done, merely for the simple fact that I'm not quite satisfied with much of what I have so far. Even so, I want everyone's honest opinion on every chapter. J

Here we go, hopefully this time it'll be better! XD


"Ratchet…" Clank began as they flew through space, passing various planets and moons along the way. "Are you sure you know where you are going?""Trust me, I know exactly where I'm going," he replied, looking over at his friend. "It's just…taking a little longer than I-""Watch out!" The robot pointed in front of them. He looked back to what was ahead of them; while he was looking at Clank, he hadn't realized they were about to fly straight into an asteroid. He gasped and barrel rolled to the side, just narrowly missing the asteroid. He sighed as Clank sunk down in his seat. "That was too close…" Ratchet said quietly.

"I think my hard drive just froze…" Clank sighed.

"You worry too much, pal. We'll be fine. You just relax, okay?" Clank sighed, straightened up, and closed his eyes. "Hey," Ratchet began to his friend. "Do you think we've passed that moon already?" But when he looked over to the robot, he noticed that he had already slipped into sleep mode. He smiled softly at him and shook his head. "Never mind…" he said to himself.

Clank looked around, confused as he found himself in strange surroundings. It appeared almost to be a dark cave of some sort, blue and purple crystals hanging loosely from the ceiling. "Where am I?" he asked himself.

Suddenly, three Zoni appeared in front of him, causing him to jump slightly. The Zoni? he thought as the beings flew closer to him. It has been a while…

Then, without warning, they raised their tiny arms and zapped him, sending him a vision.

"Clank!" Ratchet said, blocking the incoming fire with his own body, his armor reflecting most of it back at the enemies. It didn't seem to stop them, however. "Stay behind me!""But Ratchet-" the robot protested.

"I said stay behind me!" He held his wrench out in front of him, practically daring the enemies to come closer. "Come on, you cowards!" he said. The creatures leapt forward, fangs bared at the Lombax as he prepared for the attack.

Suddenly, someone jumped in front of him, swiping the creatures away with a glowing purple sword. "Get back, you hideous beasts!" it shouted at the attackers.

-

"Only she can help you now," the Zoni said as the vision ended. The three stared at Clank as he shook his head from both disbelief and dizziness. After a moment, he looked up at the Zoni. "But…what does it mean?" he asked.

"You must find it, sire," was all they said to answer his question.

"I…still do not understand…"

"You must find it!" After they spoke, they disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared before him. "Wait!" Clank exclaimed just before they were gone. "I…want to know more…"

"Get off my tail already!" Clank heard Ratchet shout as he woke up. He looked around disoriented; they were still flying through space, most likely still in circles. This time, however, when he looked over at Ratchet, he looked both angry and even a little bit scared at the same time. "Ratchet?" he asked, catching his friend's attention. "Oh…you're awake…" he said sheepishly. "You, uh…have a nice little catnap?"

"Ratchet, what is going on?" Suddenly, someone shot at Aphelion from behind. Clank looked back to find four small dark green ships and a much larger black warship trailing behind them. "Yeah, uh…that's what's going on…" Ratchet said, still trying to lose the attackers.

"What are they?" Clank asked, turning around.

"Beats me. All I know is for some reason, they want us dead." Suddenly, a transmission came in over the radio.

"Attention starship signature 3371-Alpha!" the voice said. "Surrender now! We know you know the location of the rebel, Venus!""Wait…" Ratchet said. "Venus? Rebel? What are you-""Don't play dumb with me! We've done a bioscan on your ship…Lombax! Now tell us where she is and we promise we won't kill you!""I don't even know who you're talking about! How could I possibly know where this person is?!""Being stubborn, are we? Well, we'll just have to fix that! Open fire!" He tried to dodge the incoming fire, but in vain; the enemy ships were, of course, using seeker ammo, making it all too easy to shoot the two. The missiles hit Aphelion's thrusters, causing her to plummet to the surface of the planet below.

"Ratchet, you must do something!" Clank said, looking out at the clouds as they quickly passed.

"Right. I…hope this works better than it did last time…" he began, then continued. "Aphelion, engage gravometric stabilizers!""Negative," she said. "All systems are offline…shields are down…thrusters-" She suddenly froze in the middle of her sentence. "Aphelion?!" Ratchet said.

"Running diagnostic…" Clank said. Then, he looked at Ratchet, worried. "I am…afraid she is not responding…""Just like last time…" Ratchet said. "You ready for a HALO jump?" He grabbed Clank's arm, latched him onto his back, and launched out the ejector seat as Aphelion continued to fly down, crashing near a large stone wall.

Using the helipack as they neared the ground, the two landed safely and, for the most part, unscathed. "You okay?" Ratchet asked, looking over his shoulder at Clank. "Yes…" Clank replied, nodding. "I am…fine…but we should not stay here. If those ships were so intent on catching us in space, chances are they will land and come looking for us. We must find a way off this planet." Ratchet nodded and walked forward. Where he was going, however, he didn't know.

As the Lombax walked, Clank constantly had an uneasy feeling. "Ratchet…" he began. "My sensors a picking up…someone or something following us…" Ratchet's ears perked up. "You're sure?" he asked quickly. "You're positive it's not a malfunction? It…seems pretty quiet…""I am positive it is not a malfunction." Since Clank had been so insistent, Ratchet held his wrench tightly, preparing for a possible ambush. "I really hope it is just a malfunction…" he said, looking cautiously at their surroundings.

"I am afraid it is not!" Clank said. "Look behind you!" His ears drooped as he cringed, thinking about what it could possibly be. Do I even wanna know? he asked himself. He finally turned around to see what Clank was talking about. He jumped when he saw what was standing behind them.

There were at least seven hideous-looking creatures, similar to giant lizards with black scales and strange green markings on their bodies. Each one held either a blaster or a Constructo Bomb glove, but each one glared menacingly at the two with piercing blood-red eyes, its sharp fangs bared. "What the heck are these things?!" Ratchet exclaimed, backing away slightly.

Suddenly, one of the creatures seemed to have disappeared. Before he had time to react, it appeared before him and slashed his face, knocking him to the ground and Clank off his back. The robot landed several feet away, exposing him to the beasts. One of them saw an opportunity to be rid of him and shot its blaster at the robot.

"Clank!" Ratchet said, blocking the incoming enemy fire with his own body, his armor reflecting most of it back at the enemies. It didn't seem to stop them, however. "Stay behind me!""But Ratchet-" the robot protested.

"I said stay behind me!" He held his wrench out in front of him, practically daring the enemies to come closer. "Come on, you cowards!" he said. The creatures leapt forward, fangs bared at the Lombax as he prepared for the attack.

Suddenly, someone jumped in front of him, swiping the creatures away with a glowing purple sword. "Get back, you hideous beasts!" it shouted at the attackers.

"What the-" Ratchet relaxed a bit and looked at his defender confused. "What are you doing?!""Saving your life!" it replied, obviously female by its voice. She wore a hooded cloak, making it impossible for him to see any of her features. She stood up straight, glaring at the enemies. "And just what do you think you're doing?" she said to the leader, who in turn growled at her.

But then, his snarl turned into a smile as he spoke. "I should like to ask you the same thing…" he began.

"Venus."

Ratchet looked in shock first at the leader of the attackers, then at the cloaked figure in front of him. "Venus?" he said. She laughed slightly. "I see you've heard of me…I'm surprised," she said to the creature, lowering her hood, revealing a familiar pair of black-striped ears. He was even more surprised now. "I must say, I've never had much of a reputation outside the village."

"You're a Lombax?!" She looked over her shoulder for a second, smiling. "Can't get nothin' past you, huh?" she said, her blue eyes sparkling, standing out against the pitch-black fur around them, as the final rays of sunlight set her pure white fur aglow with a dim orange hue. She then turned back to the creatures, keeping her expression calm. "So, what is it you want with this Lombax?" she asked.

"We knew he knew your location, Venus!" the leader growled. "And we were right! Now you both shall die!""Okay, first of all, I've never even met this guy!""What? You must have!""Why? Just because we're both Lombaxes? That makes perfect sense!" She finished her sentence sarcastically and gripped her sword tighter. "How 'bout you and me finish this? One-on-one!""Whenever you're ready!" He aimed his blaster at her.

"Bring it on, Tall, Dark, and Ugly!"

The creature growled at her. "On my signal," she began to Ratchet. "get out of the way and take cover."

"What?"But before she could explain, the leader fired his blaster at her. "Now!" she said, jumping up as Ratchet grabbed Clank by the arm and jumped to the side. He looked back to the other Lombax as she landed in front of her enemy, slashing his neck with her sword. He roared in pain and tried slashing her with his sharp claws, but she quickly jumped out of the way, landed behind him, and stabbed him in the back. He roared one final time, then fell to the ground, limp and dead. "How's that for backstabbing?!" she said, grinning at her fallen enemy. She then turned to the others, who were all staring at her in fear and astonishment. "Well, what are you waiting for?!" she said, walking slowly toward them. "Get your sorry tails outta here!" The second she finished speaking, they turned and ran away screaming. Ratchet and Clank just stared at her in awe.

She turned to face them and walked over to them. "You two okay?" she asked, helping them up.

"Uh…yeah, but…" Ratchet began. "What are you doing here? And where are we anyway?"

"You seriously don't know?" she asked. They both shook their heads. "Well, I guess it doesn't really surprise me. You're on Quantos. And I've lived here all my life.""You have?"

"Yeah. I was raised by the local Fongoids. They gave me this." She showed them the necklace around her neck; a simple woven string with a large, raindrop-shaped glass bead on it. The bead was filled with some sort of blue shimmering liquid. "When they gave it to me, they said it was supposed to have some mystical qualities…I haven't yet figured out what they meant by that, and they never explained it to me.""Interesting…" Clank said. "May I see that for a moment?"

"Yeah, sure." She removed it from her neck and handed it to the robot, who examined it carefully. "As long as your friend's looking at that little trinket…" she began. "I believe proper introductions are in order." He nodded and said, "I'm Ratchet. This is Clank.""Venus Carapell, at your service," she said, bowing and grinning. He didn't respond; he just stared oddly at her, an eyebrow raised. "You can give me your honest opinion on me, ya know. I've been told repeatedly that I am a little odd…though I don't take offense to it. On the contrary; I take pride in being different!" She laughed a little as he smiled at her remarks.

"I see what it is now…" Clank said suddenly, catching the attention of the two Lombaxes. "Excuse me?" Venus said, kneeling down to look at him.

"The liquid inside of this bead has been infused with some sort of defensive Fongoid magic, it would seem." He handed it back to her. "Well, a lot of good it's done me so far," she said, putting back on her neck. "You'd be surprised what kinds of creatures are running around this jungle."

Then, they jumped as they heard a creature roar in the distance. "Uh…would that be one of them?" Ratchet said.

"No," she replied. "That sounds like more of those troops. Come on, we're not safe here." She began walking forward. "Where are you going?" he asked.

"I live not too far from here," she said, turning to face the two as they slowly followed her. "We'll probably be safer there than we would be just standing here." Ratchet nodded, walking slightly faster as he latched Clank onto his back again.

"So…Venus…" he said, walking next to her. "That doesn't really sound like a Fongoid name…"

"That's because it's technically not…" she replied as she looked over at him. "If you want my Fongoid name, it's Erissa…but once I left the village, I decided to change it to Venus.""Just out of curiosity…you ever heard of someone the Fongoids around here call 'the White Tigress'?" She looked at him in slight shock as he continued. "The last time I was here a few weeks ago, they told me about someone going by that title…""They most likely meant me…" she said, grimacing. "I guess you could call me a local legend, but with Fongoids that doesn't mean much; you take out a few Zyphoids and you're instantly a hero…"

"Good point…they could've mentioned it was a Lombax, though.""They're not always the best with details…"

"I've noticed."

"Uh…Ratchet?" Clank said.

"What is it?" he asked looking over his shoulder. He jumped again and tapped Venus's shoulder. "Oh, for the love of Orvus…" she said, almost afraid to turn around. When she did, she saw what the two were looking at; yet another one of the troops. "Where are all these guys coming from?!" she said, gripping her sword. Ratchet took out his Constructo pistol and aimed it at the creature, but Venus put her hand on it and lowered it. "I got this…" she said. He noticed her sword was glowing brighter than before.

Suddenly, she swung it in the air in front of her, releasing a long stream of light and sending it flying at the troop. The attack knocked it into a tree behind it, and the stream of light coiled around him, trapping him on the tree. "Come on!" she said, turning to run away. "That won't hold him there for long!" The troop roared its protest as the two ran away as fast as they could.

"What do these things want with you anyway?!" Ratchet said as they ran.

"I'll explain everything," she replied. "I promise! Just keep moving! We're almost there!"

Reaching the top of a hill and sliding about halfway down, she looked behind her to see Ratchet slowing down as he continued. "Ratchet, hurry up!" she said. "It's right down here!" He ran up to her and asked, "So then, where is it?""Right there," she said, pointing in front of them. It wasn't much; just a small cottage with a bit of smoke raising from the chimney. She motioned for him to follow her as she walked towards the door. She opened the door as he walked inside, gasping for breath as she followed behind him.

When she got inside, she locked the door tightly, setting her sword down next to it. "You gonna be alright?" she asked Ratchet. He nodded. "Take a seat. I just need to do one thing." He sat down on the couch and looked around. The interior was just as simple as the exterior; a small living room with a kitchen attached, a fireplace near the simple furniture with a warm fire burning inside, and a staircase at the back of the room leading up to a second level, the hallway at the top leading to two different rooms on the left and right.

"I know it's not much, but we'll probably be safe here for the time being," she said, setting a couple more logs on the fire. "As long as they smell a fire instead of Lombax, they should stay away."

"Why do you say that?" Ratchet asked.

"These creatures are rather primitive; they're terrified of fire , and can't even stand the smell of it."

"So, what is it they want with you?" he said as she walked away from the fire and over to a tall bookcase. "You said you'd explain everything.""Working on it," she replied, digging through the books. "But before I tell you anything, I need to know that you won't reveal this information to anyone, not even your closest and most trusted friends. Can I trust you with this?"

"Yes," Clank said.

"Of course," Ratchet said.

"Good," she said, pulling a chair over to the bookcase and standing on top of it, still rummaging through the various titles. "Now, another thing you should know…you know the Lombaxes were once renowned engineers, correct?"

"Yeah."

"Well, this is from long before engineering and technology even existed; back when they believed in magic and the Great Spirits." Her ears perked up suddenly. "Ah-ha! There it is!" She pulled out a maroon-covered book, its pages yellowed by the years, and brushed the dust off it. "This should explain everything," she said, taking a seat in the chair across from them. She set the book down on the table between them. It was titled simply 'Ancient Lombax Myths and Legends'. She opened it and flipped through the pages. "Why would you have that just lying around here?" Ratchet asked.

"I find history to be quite an interesting subject," she replied. She suddenly stopped flipping through the pages and said, "Here it is." She handed the book to him. On the page was a sketch of a strange heart-shaped gem. There was various information written on the page about it, mostly large words that he didn't understand. "What is this?" he asked, looking up from the page.

"It could mean the difference between life and death for everyone in the universe," she replied. "At least, from what I understand from the legend. Ancient Lombax shamans once foretold that a shadow would be cast over the Polaris Galaxy. If not stopped, it would eventually spread over the entire universe, destroying everything in its path; every planet, moon, and living thing." He looked at her in shock as she continued. "To stop this from happening, they created this. They called it the Heart of the Dragon Leviathan.""Dragon Leviathan?" Clank asked. "What is that?""It was their god; they believed it to be the creator of everything in the universe." She turned the page. On the next page, there was a sketch of a large, serpentine creature, a fiery crown upon its head. "They believed that infusing this gem with everything that is their god would be able to stop it. There's just one thing they overlooked…""What's that?" Ratchet asked, almost afraid to find out.

"Since they infused it with everything that is the Dragon Leviathan, they infused it with the gifts of life and light. But at the same time, they also infused it with the curses of death and darkness. If that gems gets into the wrong hands…it could assist the shadow along its path of destruction." Ratchet and Clank looked at each other, both in fear and slight disbelief. "Is this true…or not?" Ratchet asked.

"I'm not sure, to be totally honest," she replied, shaking her head. "But that's irrelevant. I get the feeling that whoever's commanding the troops that attacked you two will kill anyone and everyone in his path in order to find this thing. That's why I'm going after it. To stop this guy from doing any more damage than he's probably already done."

"But…how are you gonna get off this planet?" Ratchet asked.

"For the past few years, I've been finding parts of star cruisers in the jungle. I've been using them for my own ship. I finally finished it a few days ago and have been planning to leave as soon as possible.""Do you even know how to get this gem?" Clank asked. She nodded and replied, "Turn the page. That'll tell you." Ratchet did as instructed and looked at the page. There was a sketch of four amulets forming a diamond shape. In the center between the four, there was a fifth drawing, but it was faded and impossible to see. "The shamans sealed it safe in a chamber, away from anyone who would misuse it. In order to gain entry, one must possess a kind of proof; these four amulets. Each one represents one of the four basic elements; sapphire for water, emerald for earth, ruby for fire, and topaz for air. Each one is supposed to be on the planet that best represents its element; say, for example, the emerald amulet. Emerald represents earth, therefore it would be on the planet that best shows the power of earth."

"And who exactly do you plan on going with?" Clank asked.

"Well…no one," she replied. "The only friends I have are Fongoids, and it's far too dangerous for them."

"But what about a Lombax?" Ratchet said. Her ears perked up. "Wait…" she said. "You're not…saying you wanna come, are you?"

"Well, you'll need someone who's experienced in combat, and who knows this galaxy like the back of their hand. I'm just the guy you need.""I think I should just do this alone. From what I've heard from tourists…well, for most, I'm the only Lombax they've ever seen. That's all I need is to be responsible for the loss of half the universe's Lombax population. I want you two to go back to wherever it is you came from. I'm sure I can handle this alone.""I don't think so!" Ratchet said, getting up from his seat. "I've seen things you could barely even imagine. You're not doing this alone, Venus."

"But, Ratchet-""You might as well accept it," Clank said. "He is the most stubborn person I have ever met. Once his mind is made up, there is no changing it. And wherever he goes, I go."

"You two must be suicidal…" she said, shaking her head. "But if I can't talk you out of this…" She got up and looked out the window; it was already getting dark outside. "Get some rest, you two. There's a guest room up the stairs and to the left." She looked over her shoulder as she walked over to the stairs. "We leave at dawn."

"You won't mind if I just flip through this a bit more, will you?" Ratchet asked, motioning towards the book.

"No, but try to get some sleep. We'll have to leave as soon as possible." He nodded as she walked into the room on the right and closed the door behind her. For a moment, he looked in the direction she had just walked in. then, realizing that Clank had been watching him, he turned to face the robot. "What?" he said.

"Is…something the matter, Ratchet?" Clank asked. The Lombax looked thoughtful for a moment, then replied to his friend's question. "I don't know what it is…" he said. "But something seems vaguely familiar about her…something in her eyes…" Then, he shook his head and got up. "Ah, well. I'm sure it's nothing. Come on. We should try to get some rest." Clank nodded and followed his friend up the stairs and into the guest room.

Clank hopped up onto the chair next to the bed and went into sleep mode. Ratchet lay down on the bed and quickly fell asleep.

While he was asleep, Clank had another vision.

It was almost as if he were in some strange room, or looking in through a window. All that could be seen was two figures; one was a black silhouette, the shape of Venus, against a white background. The other, the white silhouette of Ratchet, stood out against a pitch-black background. Then, the voice of the Zoni could be heard:

"Her past will be revealed…"


This turned out a little better than the first version.

R&R! J