Hello everyone. Red Mage 04 here, though some know me better as Aratech. To those more familiar with my other works, such as Finishing the Fight, this is one of the other projects that I mentioned that I was working on for one of my friends. I owed them a favor, they called it due, which these days means "write me a story."
I'll admit I am… hesitant to post this one. Up until recently, I haven't paid much attention to the R&C universe. Played the first game or two back in the day, but that was about it. I've managed to bring myself up to speed on it, I hope, but I'm still extremely nervous. First, because this is a crossover story that has more in common with Finishing the Fight than I'm entirely comfortable with, and I can only hope that I've put enough effort into making this story different that it stands out. The second is that the other crossover element comes courtesy of an original universe that I've been working on for the past few years. I'm not sure how compatible it is with R&C, and I am seized by my paranoia that my OCs are all going to turn out to be Mary/Gary-Sues. Only one way to find out, I suppose.
The other major point is that there are going to be some AU/Semi-AU elements present in this story. Nothing too major, I hope, but there are going to be some aspects that differ from the primary canon of the R&C universe. I should also point out that this story takes place just after A Crack In Time.
Lastly, a great big thanks to Swordsman289, BoondockJake, and my dear friend Atlan from Spacebattles, who have all helped me with ideas, suggestions, proofreading, and helping me to ensure that the characters remain in character. Thanks a bunch guys, I owe you.
That said, here's the two prologue bits for this story. Hope they're not a complete train wreck.
Ratchet and Clank: Legacy
Prologue Part One: Boredom, Dust, and Lamentations
The small robot looked about as he entered the main living chambers of the apartment. His audio receptors had picked up a noise that he was by now quite familiar with: the whirring of power tools and wrenches as his apartment-mate fiddled with yet another engineering project. If Clank's mouth was capable of frowning, he would have made the expression at that moment. As it was, he was forced to merely cross his arms as he made his way over towards where Ratchet sat; what had once been a living room table was now covered in grease and other fluids.
"I do hope you're planning on scrubbing out the carpet," he muttered softly.
He got no response. His eyes narrowed a bit and he cleared his throat. "You remember what happened the last time? I don't think either of us wants to go to the expense of having to get the floor deep-cleaned."
He heard his companion grunt for a moment, but it soon became apparent that Ratchet was less responding to Clank's concerns, more struggling with a particularly stubborn element of whatever it was he was working on. A moment later, the smell of solder filled the room and a few sparks leaped up from the device. "I'm fairly certain that is a class three fire hazard…"
There was another moment of silence, and then Ratchet peeked up over the top of his contraption and for the first time Clank noticed a pair of blast goggles pulled down over his eyes. "I know. I've got an extinguisher a half meter away from me in case I need it."
"That is not really the point," Clank said, hopping up into a nearby chair to get a better look at his much larger friend. "Rather, my concern is that you are currently engaged in yet another attempt to build a…" he trailed off for a moment, cocking his head to the side as he tried to determine what it was.
"It's a new thrust vectoring system for my hoverbike. Tighter turns, more maneuverability," he growled, wiping the soldering tool on a sponge before putting it back in its holder.
"Another engineering project. This is the twenty-sixth one that you've attempted since we got back from the Clock. That was less than a two months ago." The diminutive robot crossed his arms over his chest again. "Do you see my concerns?"
"Not really, no." There was the whirring of a hydrospanner as Ratchet went back to work. Clank sighed and cradled his head against his palm.
Clank shook his head for a moment and then looked up at the ceiling and sighed. "This is not a healthy way to deal with whatever feelings you might be wrestling with. Or boredom, for that matter… given that this is hardly a sound environment to be doing heavy engineering in."
"Feelings I'm wrestling with…" Ratchet muttered softly, before putting his tools down. He sighed and shook his head. "And what feelings do you think I'm dealing with?" the question had a tone to it, and Clank narrowed one of his eyes. Was it rhetorical? Sarcastic? He decided to go with the straightforward approach and simply respond.
"Alister's… obsession, his attempts to kill you, his demise… finding out that you're the next to the last of your kind in this plane of existence. It is… a lot for someone to take in, and I worry that you still have not fully come to terms with it all." The small droid clambered up onto the tabletop, walking around the thruster system so that he could look at Ratchet directly.
"Your ability to read me is disturbing sometimes," the Lombax shook his head as he went back to work, squinting behind his goggles.
"We have known each other for seven years, Ratchet… I would not be much of a friend if I had not figured out how to read you by now. Please… can we… can we talk about this?"
"What's there to talk about?" Ratchet put his spanner down, and the suddenly slumped into his chair, cradling his hands in his head. He remained silent for a moment, and then let out a weary sigh. "Sometimes… sometimes I just wish that things were back to the way they were before. Before Drek, before Qwark, Nefarious, and every other half-witted villain with ambitions of galactic domination waltzed into the picture. When I was just a mechanic back on Veldin."
"To long for the 'good old days' is not uncommon among people, Ratchet," Clank said, a bit of warmth creeping into his voice modulator as he walked up to his friend and placed a three-fingered hand on the Lombax's shoulder. "Fate, destiny, or chance, whatever it is; you have been dealt a most unusual hand… but you cannot change what has happened. You are more than just a mechanic now, for better or for worse." He paused for a moment. "But despite the obligations that have been placed on you, that doesn't mean that you have to keep problems bottled up inside of you, or that you cannot take a break from it all when it does get to be too much for you." The small robot chuckled for a moment. "After all, you are not much use to the universe if you're in a padded room, bouncing off the walls."
Ratchet reached up and pulled off his blast goggles, shaking his head slowly. "No… suppose you're right. Besides, I doubt Nefarious would appreciate me intruding on his domain."
The two friends shared a laugh at that, and Clank grinned inwardly. It felt good to hear Ratchet laugh, relax, and just be more… normal. He shook his head again as he leaned against the thruster system. "Oh, which reminds me… have you… communicated with Angela again?"
Ratchet nodded his head slowly, frowning for a split second. The other Lombax had begun slowly reestablishing contact with the duo over the past few months, having been in hiding during the Cragmite incursion. "Yeah… her new project hasn't been going very fast lately. Said they finally got through that door, got a small probe in, but not much seems to be inside."
"Oh dear… well, I'm sure Megacorp will find something worthwhile, they are resourceful, after all. You should probably call her again soon; see what the latest development is."
Ratchet cocked an eyebrow, his large ears twitching a bit. "You're not just saying that because you want to get a sneak peek at whatever xenotech or historical artifacts might be locked away inside those ruins, right?"
"Oh, do perish the thought," Clank responded, quickly shaking his head and waiving a hand nonchalantly, but his tone suggested that if he were capable of it, he would be grinning impishly.
Ratchet rolled his eyes and looked down at his timepiece. "Okay, tell you what, she normally gets off shift in about an hour… I'll give her a call then, okay?" Inwardly, he had to admit, he was a bit curious himself. Wasn't everyday you finally got to bore your way into what might be some long lost civilization's tomb.
At that moment, the other remaining Lombax in the universe, one Doctor Angela Cross, was having her own problems. She ripped the filtration helmet off her head as she stormed into her pre-fab "home" on the dig site. Her azure eyes narrowed as she moved over towards a large vid-screen, slamming the helmet down and trying in vain to comb some of the dust and dirt out of her ponytail. She punched in a few numbers and glared as the screen flared to life. She found herself looking at a dark skinned, humanoid alien, much larger than her, gazing up from a computer screen. On his desk a holographic tab read: Randolph Barti, Head of Exploration and Experimental Research.
"Hello, Ms. Cross, I've been expecting a call from the team for some time now." He said as he laced his fingers together. "What can I do—"
"Cut the bull, Randolph," she hissed, leaning in close to the screen, her fingers clenching and unclenching as she flexed her arms, as though she wished to wrap them around something and squeeze. "Six months, six freaking months, you've had us out here in this wasteland, with nothing to show for it, and now that we've finally, finally, managed to cut through those doors you're pulling the plug?"
"This project has had six months to start turning a profit, Ms. Cross." Barti said quietly a calm, suave smile appearing on his face. "We allowed this to go forward because your supervisor promised us results. Xenotech, historical artifacts, something to put Megacorp back on the map in Sector Twenty-Three. It is simply… not working out." His grin grew wider, and Angela knew that if she'd been standing in front of him, she'd have been hard pressed not to take his head and slam it into his desk. The write-up might actually be worth wiping that insufferable smirk off his face. "I cannot help but notice that Mr. Arden did not contact me himself. Hasn't the courage to admit his failure to me, so he gets an underling to do it?"
The female Lombax's gaze further narrowed, and her eyes seemed to burn. "That's got nothing to do with this… I decided to contact you myself."
"Then I'll give you the same message I sent to him, my dear. Megacorp is just what the name says: a business. If businesses do not make profits, credits or otherwise, they die. The Protopet disaster hurt us badly and Gagetron's increasing influence is already making the Board uncomfortable, to say nothing of Zeo Matrix and Emeraud. The assets going into your project might be better spent elsewhere. Such as, I don't know," he tapped a large finger against his mouth, "getting those prototype Class-VI combat drones up and running. We impress the Galactic Federation in Solana enough and they'll give us that contract to begin replacing their Ranger forces."
"But nothing, Ms. Cross. You've had your chance. It did not pan out. You've got two days to wrap up what you're doing, pack your bags, and report back to headquarters." Barti's white eyes narrowed, and he leaned in closer to the vid-screen. "Do I make myself clear?"
Angela balled up a fist, her gaze matching the corporate officer's. Neither backed down for several seconds, before Angela growled out, "Perfectly." She'd concede this battle, save herself for one that she could win. Two days, right? Not much time, but perhaps enough time to find something, go above Barti's head, get Fizzwidget himself to approve them staying out here.
"Good. See you in a week, then, Ms. Cross." That smug grin returned and Barti closed the link.
Angela took a deep breath, and then another, and then a third, and pivoted about on her heel. She stomped back over towards where her filtration mask was, and set about reattaching it, before pulling up the hood of her cloak, tightening it around the mask. Between the two of them and the electromesh body suit that she was wearing, she'd be protected from Argus IV's elements. She entered the airlock, and then opened the outer hatch.
The perpetual sunlight of this section of the planet was bright, even though the tinted goggles of the filtration mask. The desert wastes weren't the only feature of this tidally-locked planet, she knew, and found herself longing momentarily for the eternal twilight of the planet's termination zones, where the bulk of its cities—and about ninety-nine percent of the population—were located. Seeing the sky awash in a permanent purple, indigo, and orange, interrupted only by the skyscrapers… it was a sight that never failed to take her breath away.
Her current location stood in stark contrast to those regions. The warm glow of sunset replaced by a hateful little fusion ball that never moved, glaring down at any interlopers like the gaze of an irate god. It could get blisteringly hot out here if one wasn't careful, and it was very easy to lose track of time with the planet's sun always hanging in the same location. She supposed that might have been why these ruins had been left undisturbed for so long.
Well… that and whoever had built them had built them to last. The Lombax glanced over at the massive Megacorp "Earth-Cracker" mining drill that was in the center of the camp. Four stories tall, and powered its own fusion generator, the laser drill could maintain a consistent terawatt level output for weeks on end. This particular model earned its nickname from being able to rapidly bore down into a planet's crust and mantle to get at valuable mineral deposits. In this case, it had taken six months to bore a hole through the primary doors large enough to send a probe droid through.
That alone should have been enough to justify them being out here, Angela thought as she balled up a fist once again. The materials science advancements that could potentially represent, the things that a corporation could do with that kind of technology… but then, as Barti had pointed out, they already had those samples, and the materials science division was trying to make heads or tails of the mysterious metals that the doors were composed of.
She kicked up a plume of sand in front of her, shaking her head again. It didn't make any sense. There should have been something behind there. Xenotech, perhaps a data cache of valuable, previously unknown science and engineering discoveries, maybe some preserved corpses that she could use her genetics and biology expertise on. Nothing. Nothing but a series of dead ends and a massive hollow chamber large enough to cram a squad of starfighters into. Why? Why go to such lengths to protect something, and then not have anything inside? It was like a riddle, the answer tantalizingly close, but just out of reach. And now the funding was being cut and the project scrapped. The young woman sighed, and slumped against one of the pre-fab structures around her.
She needed a distraction, something to cheer her up. Ratchet, maybe? He was good for that sort of thing. She supposed. She started to walk towards the center of the camp. A moment later she was on her face, her toes throbbing from where they'd found a stray bit of rock.
"Ow…" she muttered. She looked about to see if anyone had seen her trip. For the moment, she was by herself and she let out a sigh of relief. Angela lay where she was for a moment, letting her suit absorb and dissipate the heat of the sand and dust, thinking about her life. Sure, she'd give Ratchet a call. What could it hurt? She needed a friendly face to talk to right now.
What neither she, Ratchet, nor anyone else knew was that life in the Bogon galaxy was about to get turned upside down by the introduction of some new, very unstable factors.