Well, being a bit of a newbie round here it seems some of my original formatting didn't come through. Hopefully the 'new' version (haven't changed the content at all) should fix that. Anyway, thanks for the kind reviews guys. It really does give you a sense of encouragement when the first thing you've written since year 6 is received positively. Also, please do let me know if I have a slip-up or two in regards to canon. Place names, characters, plot holes, stuff like that. I'm fairly good at this stuff but I'm by no means flawless.
The Kyzil Plateau, planet Veldin. If you were asked to describe it in one word, that word would be reliable. You could rely on it to be dry, rely on it to be hot and, because of its tendency to be made up entirely of rocks, you could rely on the fact that it possessed no comfortable place to park your behind. The Plateau had survived invasions, bombardments and even the odd planet-destroying laser, but it had been and always would remain reliably hot, dry and uncomfortably rocky…
…which was not to say that fate would stop trying to break the Plateau's perfect record.
A few seconds after the violent noise, a bright point of light appeared over the Plateau. It rapidly expanded, then disappeared, leaving only a dark shape, rapidly falling towards the ground.
The shape's enthusiastic distress call, also known as a scream of terror, was cut off by the welcoming embrace of the Plateau…
…But not too welcoming.
Elsewhere on the rust red Kyzil Plateau lay an unassuming garage, from which two very bored voices carried out onto the flats.
"Hand me my wrench, would you Clank?" the first of the voices said. It emanated from underneath a sleek red starfighter, which looked rather out of place amongst the other contents of the garage, which were mostly rusty and crumbled.
"That would be rather unproductive at the current time, Ratchet" replied the small boxy robot whom was sitting on a nearby couch, occupied with the holoscreen in front of him. A yellow, furry figure with facial features that made him look like a cross between a rabbit and a cat abruptly emerged from beneath the shining vehicle. Grease covered every inch of his worn blue jumpsuit.
"What? You don't want to peel your optical sensors from the Science Channel for two seconds?" Ratchet accused.
Clank turned to face Ratchet with his green mechanical eyes narrowed.
"That is correct. However, it is not the reason I do not wish to present your wrench to you"
Ratchet had to restrain himself from shouting.
"Then what is the reason?"
"You are holding it" Clank answered in a perfectly calm tone.
"Oh…" Clank returned his attention to the Science Channel, while Ratchet ducked back under the ship to distract himself from how stupid he felt. An hour of silence passed between the duo, broken only by the monotonous drone of the Science Channel's host and the tapping of Ratchet's operations underneath the ship. "Done!" Ratchet declared after tightening one last bolt in the ship's hull. He slid forward, stood up and admired his handiwork. "Ah, it's good to have her back again. Hey Aphelion, you can wake up now." Clank turned off the holoscreen and walked over to Ratchet when he heard the ship's systems spring smoothly to life, emitting a low humming sound. "Well, how do you feel?", Ratchet queried seemingly to nobody. A smooth, metallic voice with a slight echo to it answered from within the ship.
"All systems operating at one hundred percent." Over the past month, Ratchet had been restoring Aphelion to the state in which he had found her. After a crash on planet Quantos, she had undergone a complete restructuring and repainting at the hands of the Zoni. However, Ratchet found he preferred her original lombax design and set about reversing the changes. Of course, Aphelion herself was more than willing to have Ratchet reverse the changes, citing her original four-winged design as 'a lead contributor to intimidation tactics'. Ratchet suspected this was Aphelion's way of saying 'I was more badass that way', though he did not repeat it aloud.
"So, you ready for a test flight?" Ratchet queried.
"Affirmative". Ratchet waited expectantly for Aphelion to open her canopy to allow him access to her cockpit. This did not happen. Ratchet crossed his arms impatiently.
"Well, you gonna open up for me?"
"Negative" was Aphelion's blunt reply. Ratchet was beginning to get sick of living only with two machines for company. They never told him what he needed to know, Clank included. They answered questions, of course, but they never followed up with an explanation unless prompted to do so.
"Why?" Ratchet said simply through gritted teeth.
"You would get engine grease all over my new upholstery. Recommend you take necessary self-grooming action immediately". Ratchet stood there gaping at his ship. He couldn't believe his ship, his ship, had just ordered him to take a shower. Sure Aphelion was up-tight at times, but now she was sounding as if she believed she were his mother. Knowing there was no arguing, Ratchet stalked towards the bathroom, ears pointed back and fur standing on end.
One shower later, Aphelion was cruising through the skies of Veldin, with Ratchet at the wheel. He was wearing his green Megacorp jumpsuit this time, at Aphelion's insistence. Clank had opted to stay behind – a documentary about the relationship between pi and the square root of negative one had just started on the Science Channel.
"You're sure, Aphelion?"
"Scanners indicate no other craft in the area."
"Negative" Ratchet hesitated with his next query.
"Negative" replied Aphelion very clearly, betraying her own relief at the absence of that imbecile. Ratchet didn't know what to say. Every time he had been out flying he had run across trouble in one form or another. It was difficult to resist the urge to break into a barrel roll right then and there.
"Finally, the hero gets some rest" Ratchet told the universe in general, slumping his shoulders. As though the universe heard, the onboard HD-800 holoscreen lit up with alert messages.
"Alert. Wounded being located. Recommend assistance" Aphelion declared.
"I just HAD to open my big mouth, didn't I?"