Anyone remember when I said that I loved All 4 One's art style? Yeah, as it turns out, I love the rest of it too. Shocking, that. So, after a few days of helping to pimp out the TVtropes article, I got off my fangirlish butt in one sense and sat down to do some actual writing. This is mostly just a writing exercise that I'm testing out— both in terms of style and ideas. It's not a 100 themes challenge or anything; I'm just using words from a random word generator. So yeah... these aren't the best ever, but they were fun to write.

I feel compelled to mention that, originally, I was going to put 10 prompts per chapter— and here we are, chapter 1, and I'm already breaking my own rules. I blame 'Coincidence'— it just wouldn't end. On a side note, I've had a new installment for Six Minutes rattling around in my head for eons and I think I've figured out how to work with it. (Alright, show of hands— who wants to see Orvus?) It'll probably be the next thing up— in the R&C fandom, anyway.

So...warnings... a few spoilers for A4O, but nothing too terrible as of yet. The Future trilogy is mentioned, but I don't think I included anything that would spoil ACiT past Krell Canyon, and ToD is safe. Oh, and there's fluff. Believe me, no shortage of fluff.

(Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that nothing has been updated since the 18th? It's like we all took a hiatus to play All 4 One when it came out, before returning to our fannish ways...)


Anniversary

Traditionally, a tenth anniversary gift is supposed to be tin.

Ratchet isn't particularly concerned about sticking to the tradition but, since Clank would like to try doing something the 'normal' way, they make an honest effort at finding something that fits the bill. They wind up coming home with a clock. And, as much fun as it was finding the "EXACT CENTER OF THE GARAGE" so the clock could be placed fifty centicubits away from it, Clank still seems rather irked by the fact that the 'mission' didn't go as planned.

Before the evening's over, Ratchet scoops him up and hugs him, grinning widely, "Thanks for putting up with me for ten years, tin can."


Fishing

When they'd been exploring Octonok Bay, batting Slorgs around and dodging Sepiad tentacles, neither Ratchet or Clank had really been serious about the 'I think I like fishing' thing. Unfortunately, that didn't matter to the Anglerprey that had just swallowed the Omniwrench. Yes, they could go on without it, but it wasn't like they were in a hurry and, as Ratchet had helpfully pointed out, "That was a good wrench, too!"

So they ended up taking the time to match wits with fish after fish after fish. That probably wasn't the best way to phrase it, but it felt like the fish were mocking them and Clank took it as a personal affront after the third one got away. By the time they found the wrench-thief, they'd amassed a large pile of very ugly, very dead Anglerpreys.

Yes, Clank had to take extra precautions against rust after that, the Omniwrench still smelled like fish and Aphelion had refused to admit them until they cleaned up... but it actually had been fun. And the memory of Ratchet absolutely covered in mud, cussing out a fish was definitely worth a slightly high oil bill and the several cans of air freshener that had been used on the Omniwrench. Today alone.


Milk

If one were to ask, most would tell you that Clank was a very pleasant robot. Those were the people who had never gotten him mad. It was crazy, really, how such a tiny robot could be so... scary, and, if she hadn't been there, Talwyn wouldn't have believed how effectively he could make a room go silent.

"I do not care why it happened, but should I ever discover who is responsible for this," He gestured loosely in the direction that his partner in crime had fled off to, "I will make the War Grok look tame in comparison."

With one last, accusatory, glance toward Qwark, the little 'bot stalked away, taking the tense atmosphere with him. One by one, the room's occupants started talking again, completely baffled as to what had just happened.

It was only Sasha's sheepish confession that cleared it up, "I... didn't believe it when Ratchet said that he was lactose intolerant..."


Interpreting

"Pal... if the words 'Lombax Whisperer' escape you in any way, shape or form, I will not be held accountable for my actions."

"That is alright, Ratchet. We can simply ask Dr. Croid to interpret them for us."


Nerd

Clank had never really considered 'nerd' to be an insult. Next to 'pal' it was Ratchet's favorite sort-of-term-of-endearment for him and, while it had never quite been in jest, it had always been in good humor. Even Qwark's usage was understandable, given the Captain-slash-President's rather childish tendencies.

What he simply couldn't understand was why these men had thought it a good idea to start harassing him about being a nerd. They had to recognize him from holovision— either Secret Agent Clank or the news, if their ramblings were anything to judge by... But the robot didn't comprehend why they would do such a thing, what they stood to gain from it— because really, it was a bad idea through and through.

Sure, picking on a 'nerd' may have sounded appealing to them at some point... but logic should have told them not to mess with the nerd who honestly did have posimorphic blaster cannons in each fingertip. And, even if that didn't work out, self-preservation should have told them not to mess with the nerd whose best friend had a hair trigger temper and access to several thousand weapons of mass destruction.

All things considered, Clank was perfectly happy being a nerd.


Last

Clank never had the metaphorical heart to mention it, but he had known for some time that, even if they managed to find the lombaxes, it could never end well.

It had been rather jarring, returning to Solana after the two years he'd spent away; while most major things had stayed the same, culture had evolved and was still evolving. Two years wasn't terribly unsettling, but the lombaxes had been gone for more than two decades. Even with the same 'starting point' their culture would have twisted away from what had once been the norm. But beyond even that, Ratchet had grown up away from his own kind; he didn't know how to read the language or understand the basic life-cycle. He'd been downright insulted when Aphelion had called him a "kit" several weeks ago, even though, as far as lombaxes went, 24 was still adolescence.

The betrayal at Tachyon's and— though accidentally— Azimuth's hands would have made them cautious, wary of possible turncoats. The robot couldn't say for certain, but he feared that, if they ever did find the lost race, they would want nothing to do with outsiders— lombaxan or not.

Even as disconnected from his culture as Ratchet happened to be, Clank would always consider him the last true lombax— that was to say, the last lombax as their universe knew them. Handy with a wrench, braver than he ought to be, and at times, truly brilliant, if not a bit smart mouthed. That was what the public opinion seemed to be... and if that list privately happened to include unfortunate curiosity, questionable inventing skills and scatterbrained tendencies... well, he wasn't telling anybody.


Commentary

"I once said that being a hero a hero is 45 percent strength"

"Not hard with that thick skull of his."

"60 percent bravery"

"But only when it doesn't pose any threat to your oh-so-heroic self, right Captain?"

"And 15 percent raw intelligence"

"Oh yeah, he's brain damaged like a vufox."

"President Qwark... that's 115 percent..."

"Thank you." Ratchet said along with the image of Qwark on the holovision set, expression set in a complete deadpan. He shook his head and buried his face in a nearby cushion, "What am I doing with my life?"

Clank watched these goings-on with an air of amusement, "You are mocking Qwark."

Ratchet threw the cushion at him.


Coincidence

Evil, it seemed, had lowered its standards.

Why yes, yes that was Dr. Nefarious, hassling the cashier at Galaxy Burger. Why he was there in the first place was a mystery in and of itself— maybe he was buying one of their 'Surprise Burgers' to experiment on or something— but, whatever the case, he and the Cazar behind the register seemed to be having some sort of dispute. And when you're an inter-galactic hero, self-proclaimed or not, dealing with acts super-villainy (however stupid they may be) usually falls to you. Fortunately, it happened to be the latter type of inter-galactic hero this time around.

After all, the Galactic President certainly had more important matters on his hands, right? Ratchet snorted at the thought; he happened to know that Qwark was trying to make that Presidential Retreat-Slash-Waterpark on Magnus a reality. The 'good Captain' had just called about Sepiad control twenty minutes ago.

Inside the fast food joint, Nefarious started waving his arms about.

Clank glanced from the scene back to Ratchet, knowing where this was headed.

"Do we have to do the right thing today?" The lombax complained even as he led their detour, "We don't even know if he's the one causing problems. Maybe they forgot his fries or something."

This was quickly disproven upon entering the building, though.

"Sir—" The Cazar tried to say, but Nefarious wasn't having it. The robot just went on in his rant.

"—but do they listen? NO! I happen to be a foremost—"

"Sir—"

"—expert in evil science! I'll have you know that I don't have just—"

"Sir—"

"— an arch nemesis, I have arch nemeses! See?" At this, Nefarious waved something in the cashier's face. Unsurprisingly, the Cazar withdrew from the aggressive gesture.

"I believe that may be our cue, Ratchet."

"I dunno, pal— I kinda want to hear where this is going."

Nefarious froze and, after a moment's silence, hesitantly looked over his shoulder. Clank waved amicably while Ratchet idly tapped his claws against the Omniwrench.

"Aaaaas I was saying, I have places to be and evil to do. Carry on." The villain slapped several bolts down on the counter and grabbed the bag of not-quite-food before making a tactical retreat.

"That was far simpler than I had assumed it would be." Clank commented, earning a brief nod from his companion.

"Sir!" The Cazar shouted after Nefarious, to no avail. He sighed to himself, picking up the piece of paper that the evil doer had shoved in his face, "You forgot this..."

"What is it?" Ratchet asked, trying to peer at it over the counter.

The cashier's eyes flicked from the paper to the lombax and back several times over, "Maybe... you could return it to him?"

"Huh?"

"I mean, in this photo... you know him, and all that arch nemesis stuff had to be a game... So you're friends, aren't you?"

"No." Ratchet answered.

"I believe so." Clank said at the same time.

There was a beat of silence and neither one of them looked at the other.

"Maybe," The lombax finally said, "It depends on whether or not he still wants to kill Qwark."

"...How so?" The 'bot asked, not without some measure of trepidation.

"Never mind." Ratchet said quickly, trying to cut his losses. To the Cazar he said, "Yeah, we can give it back to him... as long as it isn't, y'know, evil."

The cashier seemed mildly bemused by this but handed the paper over. Ratchet stared at it for a moment and handed it to Clank so the robot could take a look at it too, before tearing off after Nefarious.

It was the photograph from Magnus. Not the original photo, either, since the paper was completely different; it was a copy, cropped down to size by neatly cutting through Qwark's face. The little robot was already sprinting after the others as the implications clicked in his processing unit.

"Nefarious!" Ratchet called, once they'd managed to make up the distance between the two parties.

Amazingly, he paused in his retreat, and the lombax skidded to a halt to avoid speeding past him. Surprised by his friend's sudden stop, Clank ran into him; Ratchet chuckled and righted the little robot.

"What do you want?" Nefarious half-growled.

"We believe that this belongs to you," The smaller mech answered, offering him the photo.

The villain's expression went suspiciously blank and he snatched it away, "That doesn't mean anything. It's...my hit list."

It was a nice try, but nobody was buying it.

"Yeah, whatever makes you feel better." Ratchet said, looking thoroughly unimpressed. He started to turn away, but paused in the action, "We'll see ya whenever your next plan blows up in your face...so, what— about a week?"

The 'evil' robot grumbled in irritation, but didn't bother lying, "About."

Clank nodded, successfully keeping himself from giggling, "Until next week, then."

It was only after Nefarious was out of earshot that he asked, "Perhaps we should preemptively stop his plans?"

Ratchet waved one hand dismissively, "It's Nefarious, pal, it's not like it's our first time dealing with him. Or the second... or third. Besides, things were getting boring."

And really, there was no arguing with that logic.