Here we are; the FINAL CHAPTER, and I managed to make it longer this time! Brace yourself for more **** happening, plus the return of an old friend.
Zander left his quarters with a yawn, though it was more habitual than due to fatigue. The corridor he entered bustled with lombaxes trotting here and there, and he sensed he had been asleep for far too long. He had duties to perform.
What duties? he asked himself. He had a pervading sense of imminent responsibility, but the immediate crisis was over. So why did he feel he had a lot to do?
He shrugged off the thought, then started to navigate the Voidfare's complex passages towards the bridge.
Along the way, several lombaxes stopped in their tracks and stood aside quickly, saluting.
Zander at first thought that Leliana might be trailing behind him, but when he looked, there was no one there. Unsure of how to respond to the apparent gesture of respect, he simply thanked them and moved on. It was only until he was disappearing round the corner that they appeared to go on with their business.
Zander stepped onto the bridge, with its panoramic view of space and numerous consoles, before each of which stood a busy operator. A curved expanse of green filled half the void outside, along with two other ships. Zander looked closer. He could have sworn that before he went to bed there was only one other ship in the fleet. Understanding dawned on him when he managed to identify one as the Phoenix. Of course; Ratchet would be more than eager to donate his personal capital vessel. That must also mean the planet they appeared to be orbiting was Jasindu.
Zander looked about for Leliana, who would undoubtedly have some task or another for him, but she was nowhere to be found.
He found it odd that the consul would not be on their own flagship's bridge.
Then a uniformed golden female approached Zander and saluted. "Commander Renn. Angela Cross asked that you be notified-"
"Wait… who?" asked Zander, not quite believing what his ears were telling him.
"Miss Angela Cr-"
"No, before that".
Before the officer could get any more words out, Leliana's powerful voice came from behind Zander.
Zander turned around to find himself staring straight into the lombax leader's piercing green eyes. He glanced away quickly. It was not possible to maintain eye contact with Leliana for more than a few seconds. "You're promoting me?"
"Yes. I was very impressed by what happened over Fastoon. Exploding paint to make the damage seem critical, even when hardly any power is going to the offending weapon? Genius".
Zander almost fell over. Compliments from Leliana? She must have meant it. "But I haven't even entered the military!"
"If you were born a lombax you would have already been given a rank when you reached adulthood. Every one of us is expected to fight when the time comes, but that's besides the point. You're commander of the fleet and captain of this vessel now, and that's my final word. If we're going to have a chance at stopping my former co-consul's mad crusade, we need people like you".
If he was arguing with anyone else, Zander would have pointed out he didn't know the first thing about leading a military force. But this was Leliana, and the way she stressed final gave him the feeling she would make him Jerec's replacement as well if he said anything more.
"You'll still report to me, of course, on matters of strategic importance, but otherwise you have full tactical control".
Zander did the only thing he could do. He gave the lombax salute.
"That's what I want to see. I will meet you here at fourteen hundred hours to discuss plans from here, but for now, familiarise yourself with every one of the bridge staff". Leliana then turned on a point and strode out.
Zander stood there stunned.
He shook himself out of it, then turned back to the female officer.
"As I was just informing you, Angela Cross asked you to be notified she has left for planet Siberius in the Bogon galaxy. She is of the opinion that you would know why".
"Thank you". Zander could think of more than one reason why she would leave so hurriedly, but he kept that to himself. At least her destination showed she was making use of her time. Zander then decided to make good on Leliana's most recent order. "What's you name, by the way?"
"Senior administrative officer Selena Reid, sir".
Zander twitched at the mention of her surname. "You're related to Mack Reid?"
"He was my paternal uncle, sir".
"I'm… I'm sorry about what happened".
"Permission to speak freely, sir?"
Zander narrowed his eyebrows. "Of course, you don't need permission for that".
"Protocol dictated I do, sir, but thank you regardless".
Zander gestured for her to continue.
"You shouldn't blame yourself for his death, sir. He only did what was expected of all of us, and he was unlucky. I doubt anyone holds you responsible".
"Thank you. I needed that", said Zander, waving his hand for Selena to go.
Selena remained standing where she was.
"Oh, uh… dismissed".
Selena saluted once more, then turned on her heels and disappeared.
Right. One down, fifty to go, thought Zander, looking about himself.
Angela absentmindedly flicked through the star charts as she approached the edge of the Polaris galaxy. She needed the practise with her new fighter's interface.
New was a figurative term, however. Ratchet had insisted that she take his Megacorp Star Explorer, 'for old times' sake'. She smirked at the thought. It seemed like only yesterday that she had been pursued back and forth across Bogon by this very ship, when in reality it had been five years.
How times had changed.
Suddenly, a light on the dashboard started flashing, and alarms began to wail.
Critical warp failure. Unidentified external disruption, said the display.
Angela wished for a moment that Megacorp equipped their fighters with AIs, as the lombaxes did with theirs. Listening to a voice was much easier than squinting at the all-too-small text. Still, the ship was free, and it wasn't at all a shabby piece of hardware.
A field of stars replaced the mixed colours of warp space as the star explorer engaged its rocket thrusters, and several immense ships flew into view.
"Angela", said a cool voice over the radio. "Surprised?"
Even before his face flashed onto the star explorer's holoscreen, Angela balled her fists at the mix of emotions that voice stirred up in her.
Sasha Phyronix hit the send button on yet another reply to another angry citizen's holo-mail. Something about the sky over Metropolis being a too bright shade of blue.
As well-paying as it was to be mayor of Metropolis, it was also far duller than being captain of the galactic fleet's flagship.
Sasha looked at the subject of the next complaint. 'Disrespect of elderly folk by robotics specialists'. She sighed in frustration. This was the third time she had received the exact same message. At least she wasn't Al, who had to talk to these people personally on a daily basis.
The young Cazar was about to delete the holo-mail, when her office telecommunicator beeped. She lazily pressed answer. "Mayor Phyronix speaking, how may I help you today?"
"Sasha! Still mayor?"
"Ratchet? You did call the mayor's office".
"Yeah, well… listen. I need a really big favour right now".
"As long as it's better than christening the latest grav-train, anything at all".
"Well… you might not say that after I ask. You see…"
Sasha's eyes steadily grew wider as Ratchet recounted his every move over the past months.
"…and we're going to need your help", he finished.
Sasha immediately stood, throwing her chair against the wall behind her. "A Thirteen!"
Immediately, the robust form of a Galactic Ranger burst through the door.
"Mayor Phyronix! What is it?"
"Get my father on the line, and send word to assemble the fleet!"
"Right away!" The Ranger left just as quicky as he had come, letting the door thud shut behind him.
"I take it that's a yes?" said Ratchet, obviously having heard the exchange.
"Hang in there. We're on our way".
And there ends The Omniverse Chronicles Book I: A New Kind of Hero. I originally started this out as a way to vent my imagination, which was (and still is) running in overdrive. Almost fifty thousand words later, and I can't believe that it is nearly fifty thousand words. Damn, you'd think I'd be better at getting essays up to one thousand.
Thank you again to all my wonderful reviewers. I couldn't have done it without you.
Keep any eye out for THE OMNIVERSE CHRONICLES BOOK II: BLACK AND WHITE, appearing soon in a Ratchet & Clank section near you!
(very) Shocking revelations will be made, **** will get blown up (several times, on multiple occasions), and the damsel in distress will complain endlessly about being labelled as such.
Additionally, the crossover may have been pushed back a whole book, but it is still seriously planned. No more details yet.
Minor lombax history lesson (in my own R&C universe): The lombaxes were a pacifist race of renowned engineers for generations, until the Cragmite Empire enslaved them. In order to fight back and lead the rebellion, they completely restructured their society so the each one of them had a military role, and that the military and the government were one and the same. This is why, up until Zander's promotion, Leliana and Jerec were the military commanders, and the Senate took on the role of the war council. Despite not all lombaxes actively fighting, they all have a wrench lying around and are taught how to use it. The wrench itself as a weapon is a remnant of their peaceful past of simply building things, and somehow lombaxes find that no other tool feels quite as comfortable in their hands. This last bit explains why, even though Ratchet was untouched by lombax society, he finds himself preferring to have a wrench, of all weapons, handy at all times.