Been a while since I was here last, eh? Seems kind of nostalgic. :)

I apologize, first of all, for how long it took me to finish The White Tigress. It should've been done long ago, and I have no excuse for why it took so long.

Now then, I realize that this first chapter is ridiculously short, but it's just the intro. Future chapters will likely be longer.

Location: Planet Quantos

5th of June

12:35 P.M. local time

It was, once again, a beautiful day. The sun shined down warmly on the jungles outside the Fongoid village. For just a little over a year now, Ratchet had been living with Venus in her little cottage near the outskirts of the settlement.

"Thanks for seeing me on such short notice, you two," a male Fongoid said as the two Lombaxes welcomed him into their humble home. "I wouldn't have come if it weren't urgent."

"No, really, it's not a problem," Venus said warmly. "What's wrong?"

"It's the Zyphoids again… They've infested our crops and gotten completely out of control." Before the Fongoid even finished explaining, Ratchet had grabbed his wrench from where it rested near the door. She looked up at him as he said, "Ready when you are."

"In that case," she began, taking her sword from its sheath at her left hip. "let's go hunt some Zyphoids." The Fongoid smiled at them as they followed him back to the village, where the mutated fungal creatures ran rampantly through the village.

It would be several hours before they finished their work with the infestation. The inhabitants thanked the two graciously when they left. "If nothing else," Venus said as they approached the hill outside the cottage, "that was a nice change from the norm." She was right - ever since the defeat of Zarthon and his army, things had been very calm and peaceful for them. However, scars still remained from their past ordeals, both physical and mental. Ratchet still bore the scar on his chest from the Shraalite that had attacked him during his rescue of Venus from Zarthon's warship as a reminder of the pain he had endured. Venus, too, bore a scar of her own - a burnt-off patch of fur on her left shoulder where she had been shot with the blaster when he tried to save her from the Shraalite ship.

As bad as the physical damage had been, the emotional damage took even more of a toll, especially on Ratchet. Although more than a year had passed since the loss of Clank, he still found himself lying awake some nights thinking about it. Other nights, he suffered terrible nightmares about it, jolting him awake, making it difficult even for Venus to comfort him. As for Venus, she often worried about the monstrous Shadow Hydra sealed within the bead around her neck. More than once, she had wondered whether or not it would somehow escape from its prison, but she did her best to keep that thought from her mind.

Suddenly, as they neared the top of the hill, they heard something coming from the cottage. It sounded as if someone were rummaging around inside, followed by a mechanical clicking noise. They looked at each other, grasping their weapons tightly. She motioned for him to sneak into the thick foliage around the house and go around to the side. He nodded and disappeared into the trees as she extended her wings and silently flew upward toward the cottage.

What she found alarming was that the door had been broken off its hinges. The clicking grew louder and was soon accompanied by a strange whirring sound and the shattering of glass. She looked down to her right, seeing Ratchet peering up at her through the trees. She signaled for him to stay where he was, then slowly descended to a window near the door. Looking carefully through the cloudy glass, she saw many large, dark figures lurking through the inside of the house. Their forms shined metallically, and they had round orange eyes that glowed brightly against their black forms.

After a moment, she ducked down and crawled over to the tree where Ratchet hid. "So?" he said when she finally stood up again. "What is it?"

"I'm not exactly sure," she replied, looking back at the cottage. "Looks like a group of hostiles sifting through the place. I couldn't tell how many, but there's a lot of them in there."

Suddenly, something landed hard next to them. When they turned to face it, they saw a huge gray robot with a pulsating light blue sphere in its chest. Its optics were round and bright orange, and on its head was a pair of antennae with small red lights at their tips. Running down its back were long, black metal spines. In each of its six fingertips was a plasma cannon capable of obliterating just about anything in its path, and on both wrists was a row of three spikes that crackled with electricity. As it looked down at the two, it emitted several different pitched beeping sounds. From out of the cottage, more robots exactly like the one in front of them marched, then even more came from the trees surrounding them.

Reacting quickly, Venus slashed at the robot, cutting it in half. Then, turning to her left, thrust her sword into another. "Venus!" Ratchet cried. "Get out of the way!" She turned around and jumped back just as yet another shot a plasma cannon at her before Ratchet knocked its head off its shoulders with his wrench.

However, no matter how many of the hostile machines they destroyed, more kept appearing from out of the shadowy foliage. "It's no use!" Ratchet said. "There's too many of them!" Even the waves of energy from Venus's sword couldn't keep them at bay for more than a few seconds. By now, her vitality was beginning to wane as her energy-sapping attacks grew weaker and weaker.

Then suddenly, another came from behind, slamming a hand into Ratchet and knocking him into a tree, knocking the air right out of his lungs. He lay on the ground in pain for a moment, eyes shut tight as he gripped his right side in agony. His eyes burst open again when he heard a desperate shriek from Venus. One of the robots had bound her hands behind her back and now had flung her over its shoulder. He tried to get up, but found himself immobilized by the pain surging throughout his body.

"Target acquired," came the voice of the robot who had Venus. "Returning to base."

"Ratchet!" Venus cried just before the multitude of machines disappeared with a flash of light, teleporting back to who-knows-where.

He frantically looked around for a moment as he struggled to his feet. "Venus?" he called. The only response he got was the calling of the birds and the wind rushing through the tree branches. "Venus!" His ears drooped as he realized hat his love wasn't coming back…not on her own, at least.

Looking forward to working on this! Just a quick little warning: with the school year closing in fast, I may not have much time to update as often as I would like, and that limited time will likely diminish even more once the year actually starts again. However, I will update this as often as I possible can.