Chapter 1: New Universe, New Galaxy, New Friends
Polaris was saved. Tachyon had been vanquished. It was time for an extra long break before the next villain tried to destroy the galaxy… again, although Clank hoped that wouldn't happen for some time. Clank was all for some down time to clean his sprockets. Blasting Cragmites was hard work. One look at Ratchet, though, and the short robot knew that his tuneup would have to wait.
Clank looked around at the weary, but excited faces around him. There was Captain Qwark and Rusty Pete, engaging in some nonsensical pirate talk. Was it wise, keeping those two in the same room? There was also Cronk and Zephyr, using Ratchet's Omniwrench and the Dimensionator to reenact the final battle with Tachyon. Mildly humorous. There was also Ms. Apogee, who seemed a little jumpy, as if she too could feel Ratchet's hidden sadness.
Ratchet himself looked fatigued, exhausted both emotionally and mentally, if not physically as well. He hadn't even removed his armor. The young Lombax had saved Polaris. Actually, he had saved three galaxies. Clank knew that the revelations of the fate of the Lombaxes and about Ratchet himself had hit the Last Lombax harder than he wanted to admit.
Clank sighed and approached Ratchet, his best friend, and the closest thing he had to a brother. Before Clank could say anything, Ratchet asked, "Do you think he was telling the truth, Clank? About my father? About my purpose?"
Ah. I see, thought the little robot. "I detected no lie in his voice," Clank began. "But I believe that your purpose has already been filled," He continued, seeing Ratchet's half-formed question. "You vanquished Tachyon, something even the Lombaxes could not do."
Ratchet glanced up, something close to surprise on his face before he broke out into a grin. "Thanks, Clank."
"Of course, Ratchet. At the risk of inflating your ego further, I haven't even begun to mention the galaxies you've saved in the past. The universe needs you," Clank replied, his face resembling a smile.
"And besides, somebody needs to repair the damage to the space station that some Lombax created on the way in," came a teasing voice.
Ratchet stood and turned to Talwyn, offering his goofy grin. "You wouldn't happen to know this Lombax, would you? He sounds like somebody I'd like."
Talwyn just rolled her eyes and gently shoved Ratchet. "You're such a furball."
Ratchet smiled. The gloom that had been over his heart lifted as he looked around the terrarium of the Apogee Space Station. Clank was right. This was home. This was where he belonged, with friends and family. Ratchet reached for his utility belt, laden with all of his gadgets and weapons, beginning to unstrap it for hopefully the last time. He was done. He was home.
A sound like thunder cracked out as a vortex of blue energy manifested in the middle of the room.
"What the heck is that?!" Ratchet yelled out, leaving his utility belt on and grabbing his wrench from Zephyr.
"Don't look at me," Cronk said nervously, gesturing up at the Dimensionator, sitting loosely on his head. "You said it was broken," He accused Zephyr.
Suddenly, three figures, humming and pulsing with energy appeared in the room, surrounding Clank. Ratchet involuntarily took a step back.
"We needed to ensure your survival," They seemed to hum, as their bodies lacked mouths. "Now it is time to come home."
"Whoa, Clank, are these the Zoni?" Ratchet said with wonderment, stepping closer and reaching out a hand.
Ratchet grunted as an electrical shockwave suddenly pulsed and knocked him onto his back. Jumping up, Ratchet was just in time to see the Zoni telepathically lift Clank up.
"The time has come, Sire," They said, "To learn who you are, and who you will become."
"LET HIM GO!" Ratchet growled out, voice filled with menace. Leaping up at the Zoni brandishing his wrench, Ratchet was surprised as another pulse knocked him down again.
"It is time to understand your purpose." Ratchet could feel an unfamiliar panic bubbling in his stomach as he saw his oldest friend getting robo-napped by these Zoni things!
"It is time to come with us," They spoke hypnotically.
"Yes, time to come with you…" Clank babbled in a goofy daze.
"Clank!" Ratchet called out, fear tainting his voice. "I'm coming, buddy!" Seeing the portal beginning to collapse, Ratchet leapt forward desperately, reaching for his friend. Too late. Clank was gone. But instead of falling back, Ratchet felt himself being sucked into the closing portal.
"Talwyn! Qwark!" He called, looking back at his friends. The last thing he saw was their faces creased in worry, their mouths moving, their voices swept away by the roar of the wormhole. Ratchet reached for them blindly, the bright blue blinding him. "Find Clank!" He yelled. "Find him!"
Then he was gone. The energy disappeared, and in its wake, it left behind a confused, devastated, and angry group. Talwyn couldn't believe it. They had just stopped Tachyon from destroying the galaxy. Now, both Ratchet and Clank were gone. She had forged a bond with those two in the heat of battle. She even thought that perhaps Ratchet and her… Now, though, all of that had been stripped away in a single moment.
Everybody stared up at the spot where the Zoni had taken Ratchet and Clank, dumbfounded at the turn of events. The same questions flitted through their minds. Where was Ratchet and Clank, and how would they get them back?
For Kaidan Alenko, the day had started out terribly. First, their shakedown run suddenly evolved into something so much more deadly. Eden Prime gets attacked by geth, machines that hadn't been seen outside of the Perseus Veil for over 300 years. Then Jenkins… He was still so young… Damn the geth. Then that Spectre, Nihlus, is found dead, shot in the back. Then, the geth try to blow up Eden Prime and the Prothean artifact along with it. Kaidan didn't want to know what else could go wrong.
At least now, something was finally going right. The beacon was secured, and Eden Prime was saved. Lieutenant Alenko was saying something to Shepard, but he could tell that the Commander wasn't paying complete attention.
Suddenly, Shepard pushed past Kaidan, dashing toward the beacon and Williams, who was being dragged closer to the beacon, which looked like it had activated. What the hell? Grabbing the gunnery chief around the waist, Shepard grunted as he gave a mighty heave, throwing Williams clear, but at the expense of himself. Shepard began to feel the pull of the beacon, drawing him near.
"Commander!" Ashley Williams yelled, trying to help Shepard.
"No! It's too dangerous!" Alenko yelled, holding Ashley back. The gunnery chief seemed to go limp as both watched on, helpless as Shepard was lifted in the air. The Prothean artifact suddenly glowed brighter and emitted a strange hum.
"Get down!" Kaidan yelled, turning away from the beacon as it exploded in a shower of sparks and shrapnel. As suddenly as it had started, it was over, and the commander's body fell to the ground.
"Shepard!" Ashley cried out, quickly moving to the commander's side, checking the man's vitals. Kaidan too moved forward, but he could feel something brewing in the air. Something he didn't like.
Suddenly, a cloud of energy exploded in the air, nearly knocking him to the ground. "Williams!" Kaidan called out, putting a hand to his eyes, shielding himself from the blowback.
"I'm okay! The Commander too!" Ashley called out as the storm died down as quickly as it had come. Kaidan looked around, hoping it wasn't the eye of the hurricane. Then the umpteenth weird thing in the day happened.
Kaidan saw that directly under the spot where the energy storm had erupted, a creature lay on the ground, completely unconscious it seemed. It was short and furry, gripping some sort of oversized wrench. He was wearing some sort of armor too, which was torn apart, fizzling, and sizzling all over.
Walking over slowly, Kaidan took out his shotgun, senses at the ready. Behind him, he could sense Ashley drawing her Assault Rifle. When he was close enough, Kaidan prodded the thing with his gun. It was completely limp, like a sack of dead meat.
"What is it?" Ashley called, still watching over Shepard's prone body.
Kneeling down, the lieutenant searched for vitals, hoping that the alien's anatomy was somewhat similar to humans. It had five fingers and looked mammalian after all.
"It's alive!" He called to Ashley, who stiffened and gripped her gun in response. She didn't trust aliens. "It's out cold, though!"
"Be careful, LT!" Ashley called out. "It could be hostile."
"Maybe, but we can't just leave it here."
Ashley was quiet. Even if she didn't like aliens, she wasn't cruel.
Just then, the Normandy could be heard in the distance, slowly approaching the area. "Commander, come in," Joker's voice crackled over the radio.
"Joker!" Alenko spoke calmly. "The commander's hurt I think. We've secured the artifact, though, and an… anomaly of sorts. We need a pickup."
"Are you saying that it's a SNAFU, lieutenant?" Joker replied sarcastically.
"We need evac quick, Joker! The commander could be hurt. Now isn't the time for your jokes." Alenko almost barked. He didn't like surprises, and there had been too many for his liking today.
Shepard was thoughtful as he looked at the creature on the sickbay bed. It was yellow, fuzzy, and had huge ears. Almost like a humanoid cat. He (at least, Shepard assumed it was a he) was about 5'6" and strong, by the looks of it. He still looked young, a teenager even. He looked peaceful sleeping, but then again, so did most creatures at rest, with the exception of krogan perhaps.
The alien's equipment was laid out in the supply room in the back of the medbay. It was a strange collection. There had been a huge wrench, the smoking remains of what appeared to be high-tech armor, and a well-preserved belt with some gadgets and gizmos on it – weird gadgets and gizmos that seemed to operate on technology that he had never seen before.
According to Alenko, the alien had also appeared out of a 'blue energy storm' right around the same time that Prothean artifact had given him that vision. He had been out cold at the time, so when Captain Anderson had questioned him about the alien, he couldn't definitively offer anything of worth.
Alenko and Anderson were discussing the furry alien right now. Shepard, though, felt instinctively that the alien wasn't a hostile – a gut instinct, yes, but an instinct that had served him well in the past. Suddenly, the alien's eyes snapped open.
Ratchet's first sensations bombarded him in a rush as his eyes snapped open. He saw gray and blue. It was dark. It was silent, but there was that telltale hum of machinery. Ratchet was on a space vessel of sorts, but it definitely wasn't the Apogee Space Station. All of his instincts coming into play, Ratchet bolted up and looked around. There was somebody next to him, looking alarmed. Other than that, he was alone.
No weapons, no armor, no nothing. He was dressed in his flight suit. Who had taken the armor off? Had they taken his gadgets and weapons? Did they have Clank? Were the Zoni working with them? Ratchet pushed his thoughts aside quickly before deciding on a course of action. Survival first. Rolling off the bed, Ratchet flipped sideways onto his feet, landing in a ready position.
"Who are you?!" He growled menacingly to the stranger, who looked like no species Ratchet had ever seen before.
The alien looked bewildered, in alarm almost at Ratchet's speedy maneuver, before composing himself and beginning to speak.
"Myufhgnajmehgilsfghspehdkarkd. Wyuohesraehguo?" The alien said calmly, his hands also raised defensively, feet splayed apart.
Ratchet kept his face impassive, but mentally quirked his head. He only processed garbled mumbo jumbo through the static. Thinking quickly, Ratchet realized that his omni-translator didn't recognize the alien's language. So he wasn't in Polaris, Bogon, or Solana. Where was he? The Lombax quickly appraised the alien in front of him. It was clear that whoever he was (Ratchet assumed that it was a he), he was a soldier, from the uniform to the stance to the face.
Backing up slowly, Ratchet was surprised to hear a door slide open behind him. Glancing quickly behind him, Ratchet bared his teeth at the stranger before turning and leaping toward his wrench, which he noticed resting on a table. Rolling into his landing, Ratchet sprung up and grabbed his wrench, whirling back towards the door where he saw the alien standing there, looking quite alarmed at his brandished weapon.
Shepard was surprised at the speed and agility the alien possessed. He had grabbed his wrench, and by the way he was holding it, he knew how to use it in a fight. Shepard didn't want to try his own luck, especially without any armor or weapons of his own.
Shepard was also surprised that his translator didn't work properly. The alien was clearly intelligent. It wasn't a feral berserk, but neither was it a timid creature. He spoke a language that Shepard didn't understand at all.
The commander tried to negotiate again, hoping that the tone in his voice conveyed his meaning. "My name's Shepard, and I don't intend to harm you." He wan't sure how much the alien understood.
Ratchet narrowed his eyes again as his omni-translator began to slowly work, trying to decipher more of the language.
"Me name Shepard. I tent arm you." The translator still had a ways to go, obviously.
Although Ratchet thought he understood, he decided to try something simple. "Me. Ratchet," He said, pointing at his chest, but keeping his wrench ready.
The alien suddenly recoiled, as if surprised to hear his name in his own language. "You, Ratchet?" He asked somewhat cautiously, voice mixed with curiosity and wonder.
Ratchet nodded, understanding the need for simplicity as their translators deciphered the new languages.
"Me, Come-dear Shepard," came the hesitant voice of the alien.
Ratchet's brow furrowed in concentration. Come-dear? "Shepard?" He asked, picking out what he thought could have been the alien's name. The alien nodded and smiled in confirmation. Ratchet nodded in reply. Some things truly were universal it seemed.
"Copy of language? For translator… Shepard?" Ratchet stated, hoping the alien understood. There was a brief pause as the alien tried to piece together Ratchet's words, causing the Lombax to hope that he wasn't dealing with an idiot.
"Translator language?" The alien finally repeated, as if in confirmation, to which Ratchet nodded and slowly lowered his wrench, raising his hand in a peaceful gesture. The alien seemed to understand Ratchet's body language as he too seemed to relax. Neither truly let their guard down, a fact both recognized and respected.
"Come with me," The alien said, backing through the door slowly, making sure to keep an eye on the Ratchet.
Ratchet had no problems with that and followed Shepard, but kept his wrench all the same. Another door opened on the far side of the room, and Ratchet realized that they were leaving some sort of medical bay. He had seen plenty of these on starships.
Outside, Ratchet saw other aliens who looked like Shepard. As they tensed upon seeing him, he gripped his wrench just a little harder, glaring back.
Shepard made a hand motion. "He's friendly, I think," The commander said to Ashley, gesturing for her to relax. Ratchet, catching Shepard's tone and gesture, realized that he was perhaps exacerbating the tension. Reluctantly, he strapped his wrench to his back, realizing that he didn't have his utility belt on him.
Shepard thought about how quickly first contact had progressed with what was clearly a new species. Somehow, Ratchet's species had achieved space flight without coming into any contact with the Citadel species yet. Interesting. He hoped he had understood Ratchet correctly when he asked for translator software. But if this was a first contact situation, how would Ratchet and his species know to have a translator in the first place? Humans sure as hell didn't have translators when they met the Turians.
Leading the furry alien to Lieutenant Alenko's workstation, he raised his arm, letting Kaidan know that it was alright. "Kaidan, this is Ratchet. Ratchet, Kaidan."
Ratchet raised his eyebrow. Wouldn't it have been easier to make introductions with an updated translator? The Lombax nodded his head at Kaidan, tentatively raising his hand to grasp the alien's outstretched hand.
Kaidan was slightly surprised that Ratchet understood the gesture of a handshake. "Nice to meet you, Ratchet."
"You too," Ratchet replied, glad that his omni-translator was able to handle simple phrases.
Shepard smiled to himself as he saw Kaidan and Ratchet interacting. The furry alien was significantly shorter than both Kaidan and himself, making the exchange mildly amusing. "Ratchet here needs a software patch for his translator."
Kaidan looked surprised. "His translator doesn't work? We exchanged greetings just fine."
Shepard shook his head. "I don't get it either, but the faster we update his translator, the faster we can get our questions answered."
Kaidan nodded and pulled up his omni-tool, chuckling silently to himself. He figured Shepard went to him for the software update because of the commander's technical shortcomings. The Normandy's XO was famous among the crew for his ability to break any omni-tool, GUI interfaces which were actually designed to be unbreakable. No crew member had dared even use an omni-tool near him for a week afterwards.
In a few seconds, Kaidan had pulled the corresponding software and raised up his omni-tool.
Ratchet stared at the orange tool, curious of the holographic interface. Realizing that Kaidan was going to make a wireless transfer using the holo-tool, Ratchet tapped the user interface unit on his suit-chest
Kaidan looked confused when the data started to transfer. Where was Ratchet's omni-tool? Wait, he didn't use an omni-tool? A few seconds later, Ratchet's suit interface beeped, signifying the end of the transfer.
Tentatively, Ratchet said, "Kaidan, Shepard, can you understand me? Is my translator working?"
Shepard grinned. "It works! I can understand you perfectly."
Kaidan too smiled. "That was amazing. What's that button you pressed on your suit? How did your translator manage basic phrases when you've clearly never heard our language before? And where's your omni-tool?"
"At ease, Alenko!" Shepard said jokingly. "I think maybe if we answer the basic questions first, then move on to the hard stuff, things will be a lot less confusing."
Kaidan sheepishly smiled and Ratchet grinned in response. "I'm in agreement with Shepard. I can only handle so many questions at once," Ratchet said, causing Kaidan to laugh at how overly eager he had been. Ratchet was already feeling at ease around these Shepard and Kaidan characters.
"So for formal introductions, now that you can understand us. Officially, I'm Commander Shepard. This is Staff Lieutenant, Kaidan Alenko," Shepard said, gesturing to Kaidan.
Ratchet smiled and nodded to both men. "Commander, Lieutenant." To which a smiling Kaidan casually saluted, "Pleasure."
"He's our combat-tech specialist," Shepard continued, "And the go to guy for your omni-tool patches."
"Yeah, about that," Ratchet interrupted. "Is that holo-device on your wrist an omni-tool?"
Kaidan pulled out his omni-tool, the orange interface coming to life. "Yeah. It's kind of like my personal computer and hacking device all rolled into one. I use it to hack security and generate my tech mines."
"Wait, so that one device can universally interact with any security interface? That's a pretty big security gap, don't you think?"
Kaidan and Shepard blinked. "Well, I'd never thought of it that way, actually…" Kaidan said, thoughtful. "But I noticed that you don't have one. You used your suit somehow. What type of tech are you using?"
"My suit has a Gadgetron Help Desk interface linked into the suit. It handles basic wireless interactions and stuff like my omni-translator. I think you may have asked about it earlier, but I wasn't sure 'cause my translator was still trying to work out your language."
"So you're saying your suit has it's own VI interface? That's amazing! The power consumption to add a VI interface onto a suit would be tremendous! But a VI wouldn't be intelligent enough to regulate power flow…"
Ratchet shot an amused glance to Shepard, who just shrugged. Tech talk was way beyond him.
"You know, you'd like a couple of friends of mine, Clank and Al. They're big tech-heads like you, Kaidan," Ratchet joked.
"Huh, what? Oh, sorry. Yeah, sometimes I just get to thinking. Where's the power source for this Help Desk?" Kaidan asked, more curious than embarrassed.
"It's all right in here," Ratchet said, gesturing to the green interface on his chest.
Kaidan stepped forward, leaning in to get a good look. "You have a power source for a VI that's that small? How?!"
Before Ratchet could reply, the Lombax suddenly sensed a presence behind him, and whirled around, his wrench in his hand in a second, all hints of ease and relaxation gone from his small frame.
All three humans present were surprised at the change. Shepard even more so as he recognized a part of his own battle instinct in Ratchet's sudden ferocity.
"Whoa there!" Shepard said, intervening. "It's alright, Ratchet. This is Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams. She's a friend and in fact, if Kaidan's right, she's the one who carried you in here."
Ratchet glanced around once more, before slowly putting his wrench away. "Er… sorry about that, Chief. I guess I'm still a bit jumpy," Ratchet said, scratching the back of his head sheepishly.
Ashley was surprised first at how short Ratchet was. Shepard and the LT towered over him, and she herself was a good half a head taller than him, and she was of average height for a human. Ratchet didn't seem bothered by the height thing, though.
Ashley was surprised secondly at how personable and relaxed Ratchet was. He was confident, but he wasn't arrogant either, at least, not annoyingly so. Returning Ratchet's smile, Ashley offered her hand. "No problem, Ratchet. I'm the exact same way sometimes."
Ratchet shook Ashley's hand, thinking that if Shepard's species were anything like Kaidan or Ashley, things were going to be alright. "If you're a trigger-happy one-woman army, I think we're going to get along just fine."
Shepard nearly snorted as that was the exact impression he received of the gunnery chief on Eden Prime. Ashley only laughed. "You're alright, kid. You ever been military? You seem like you've seen some action."
"I guess you could say that. I was – I guess I'm still with the Galactic Rangers," Ratchet replied.
"What's your rank?" Ashley asked.
"Funny thing, that. The Rangers actually field promoted me straight to Sergeant. We were fighting some 'Noids."
"Noids?" Shepard asked, interested.
"Yeah, aliens who were working with Dr. Nefarious to take over the galaxy. I stopped them, of course," Ratchet said, indulging in a smug smile.
"Heh, you saved the galaxy?" Kaidan asked.
"Three, actually." It wasn't often that Ratchet could boast about his heroism.
"A kid like you? I highly doubt that," Ashley chuckled slightly.
"Kid?" Ratchet exclaimed with an indignant half-smile, "Just because I'm short?! You don't even know how old I am!" Ashley looked taken aback for a second.
"And exactly how old are you?" Kaidan interjected diplomatically
"Um… 19," Ratchet finally confessed.
"So you're still a short kid!" Ashley pointed out, to which everybody laughed, causing Ratchet to chuckle.
"Hey! I never said I wasn't!" Ratchet protested, jokingly, not truly embarrassed or self-conscious of his height in the slightest, eliciting a few more laughs from the trio.
"So now we know your age. What else should we know about you, Ratchet? Where are you from?" Shepard asked with interest.
"Well, I'm a Lombax, and I'm from Veldin, in the Solana Galaxy–"
"Whoa! Wait a second!" Kaidan interrupted. "You're not kidding when you say you're from another galaxy, are you?" Shepard and Ashley both looked interested and shocked, respectively.
Ratchet gave Kaidan an enquiring look, genuinely confused. "Yeah… You guys don't have intergalactic travel?"
Shepard and Kaidan shared a look. This was huge. Intergalactic travel? Without the mass relays, even interstellar travel would have been near impossible.
"Ratchet, I think you're going to need to speak to the captain about this," Shepard finally said.
Connecting the dots, Ratchet suddenly realized the reason for the shocked reactions. Technology in this galaxy was probably severely behind the galaxies he came from. Ratchet suddenly thought back to how he arrived here. The Zoni had somehow dropped him here in their inter-dimensional jump. Was he in another dimension? Where was Clank?
Everything suddenly slammed into Ratchet like a wall. He had to look for Clank! Snapping his head up, Ratchet suddenly felt a vertigo sensation as his head spun around. "Clank!"
Kaidan and Ashley jumped in surprise when Ratchet suddenly collapsed to the ground. Shepard quickly knelt down and scooped up Ratchet. "Williams, find Dr. Chakwas and bring her to the medbay. Looks like something's happened to our Lombax." Ever the natural leader, Shepard was already thinking ahead. "Kaidan, you better find Anderson and bring him to the medbay as well. I have a feeling that things are going to get very interesting, and he'll want to hear it."
Ratchet sighed as he saw the expectant faces of the five humans. He had just met the captain of the ship, Captain Anderson, and the ship's doctor, Dr. Chakwas. They seemed nice too. He wondered where to start telling them about himself.
"Ok. First, let me tell you guys about me." Nobody dared interrupt Ratchet. They all wanted to hear the Lombax's story.
"In my universe," Ratchet made air quotes, "There are three galaxies that I've explored with my friends. They're called, the Solana galaxy, the Bogon galaxy, and the Polaris galaxy. I was born in Polaris. I'm a Lombax, by the way. A long time ago, in Polaris, a race called the Cragmites tried to take over the entire galaxy. They almost succeeded, but my race, the Lombaxes, raised a rebellion to try and stop them. Lombaxes are naturally gifted with technology, but Cragmites are strong, savage, and violent and extremely skilled in waging war.
"There was a stalemate until the Lombaxes finally designed a weapon they called the Dimensionator. With it, the Lombaxes created a portal into another dimension altogether, and banished the Cragmites there, never to return to Polaris or this dimension. I don't know how the Lombaxes created something like that, and I probably never will, because the Dimensionator was destroyed.
"Sometime before I was born, the Lombaxes found a frozen Cragmite egg. They raised the Cragmite, who later became Percival Tachyon. Tachyon then betrayed the Lombaxes and stole their technology, created a huge army, and tried to wipe out the Lombaxes with it.
"The Lombaxes, overwhelmed by the sudden attacks, used the Dimensionator to find safety in another dimension, hoping that Tachyon wouldn't destroy Polaris if they left it. Unfortunately, Tachyon was something worse than evil. He wanted the Dimensionator for himself, and hunted down the only two Lombaxes who had stayed. The guardian of the Dimensionator, and his son. Me."
Ratchet took a deep breath here, quelling the turbulent storm of emotions rising within him.
"Tachyon killed my father, but not before he hid the Dimensionator and me in safe places. After that, Tachyon crowned himself the emperor of Polaris, and began his conquest, searching for the Dimensionator along the way.
"Meanwhile, my dad sent me to Veldin, in Solana, where I grew up, somewhat embittered and uncaring. That changed though, when I met my best friend, Clank, who crash landed on Veldin after escaping the robot factory where he was created."
Ashley suddenly spoke up, unable to suppress her shocked curiosity. "Your best friend's a robot? A synthetic like the geth?"
Ratchet glanced quizzically at Ashley. "I guess you could call robots synthetic life, but I've never really thought about them like that. Clank's a robot." Ratchet seemed to shrug, not understanding the root of Ashley's concern. "And what's a geth?"
Ashley saw Ratchet's genuine confusion and decided to bite her tongue. She would ask when Ratchet was finished.
"Go on, Ratchet," Shepard said, checking to make sure that Williams was going to be alright.
"Anyways, Clank then persuaded me to join him in stopping this guy named Chairmen Drek. He was a blarg who was using a weapon he called the Deplanetizer to take chunks out of planets and assimilate them into his new planet. He was doing this because the blarg homeworld was being toxified by overpopulation. Unfortunately, this would cause the planets he used to lose mass and be pulled into their star's gravitational pull."
Shepard and Anderson in particular looked alarmed that in Ratchet's universe, there was a weapon capable of destroying whole planets, but remained silent.
"Then, Clank and I traveled to Bogon. There, we helped the tech giant there, Megacorp, deal with a mutation problem they had with an experiment they called, the Protopet. It turned out that a hero I knew from Solana, Captain Qwark, thought that I was taking away his fame or something, and tried to use the Protopet against me.
"Long story short, Clank and I won again, and saved Bogon. Then we went back to Solana, where we learned that another villain, Dr. Nefarious, was trying to turn the galaxy into robots using a weapon he called the Bio-bliterator. Apparently, he hated organics and called them squishies. Weird." Ratchet seemed to lose himself in thoughts before coming back to reality.
"Anyways, we defeated Nefarious. After that Clank and I, along with a tech geek named Al, were kidnapped and forced to compete in a show called DreadZone, which kidnapped galactic heroes and put us in some pretty brutal arena combat situations.
"I survived and Clank and I beat Gleeman Vox, the owner of the show. We managed to save everybody on the station and put Vox out of business.
"Finally, after that, Clank and I were able to relax, but that was when Tachyon attacked us in Solana. Clank and I escaped to Polaris, where I found out about the Lombaxes and what had happened to them. It was then that I realized that I really was the last Lombax.
"Clank and I met up with a Markazian named Talwyn and her two war bots, Cronk and Zephyr. Together, we found the Dimensionator, and battled some pirates and Tachyon. In my final fight with Tachyon, the Dimensionator was broken."
Ratchet purposely left out the part where he had the chance to rejoin the Lombaxes. That wound was still fresh. Healing, but fresh.
"After the battle, Clank and I were with Talwyn at her space station. There, these creatures called the Zoni robo-napped Clank. I chased after them, and I think I was teleported here to your universe somehow. While we were fighting Tachyon, Clank kept seeing the Zoni, and called them inter-dimensional beings who travel through time and space. I'm guessing that when I chased after them, I could have traveled through one of their inter-galactic portals, or maybe even… an inter-dimensional portal."
It took a while for the humans to process what Ratchet had meant, but it suddenly struck them one by one. If Ratchet came here via the Zoni, he had no equipment to take him back to his universe. If so, he was stuck here in the Milky Way. In a sense, he may have truly become the First, Last, and only Lombax in this universe.
For Ratchet's sake, they all wished that Ratchet would be able to find a way home.
In fact, Ratchet's story about his home had been so fantastical, that Shepard, Kaidan, Ashley, Dr. Chakwas, and Anderson could not properly think of any good comment. There were simply too many things to wrap their minds around. They needed time to think.
"What do you think, Shepard?" Captain Anderson asked as soon as the doors of the medbay closed behind the group of five.
Shepard paused a moment, deep in thought. "I don't think he's lying, sir, if that's what you mean. Nobody would be able to come up with a story like that."
Everybody nodded in affirmation. Ratchet's voice also rang with a sincerity that they could all recognize.
"I am inclined to agree with you," Anderson finally said, "But his story… I'm going to need some time to digest it all. I mean, other dimensions?" The Captain seemed to shrug almost. "Dismissed all. Shepard, meet me in my quarters after dropping out of FTL. We need to talk about your report."
Each crew member dispersed slowly, much on their minds. Shepard found a seat at the mess table, shaking his head, mind reeling with the new information that Ratchet had just shared with them. He was the last of his species in his galaxy, and it was possible that he could be an inter-dimensional traveller. He was looking for his friend named Clank, who had been taken by higher-dimensional beings called the Zoni.
The Zoni were still something that Ratchet himself didn't quite understand. And Ratchet's companion was a robot. An AI! And the Lombax had stated it so casually as if it were entirely normal. He had even spoken of Clank as if the robot were a living person. Robots and AI's were clearly viewed differently in Ratchet's universe. Shepard didn't know what to think about that.
On top of that, Ratchet's universe had technology that was centuries, if not millennia ahead of anything being developed now. They had fighters capable of intergalactic travel, and weapons that were capable of opening portals to other dimensions, capable of destroying planets, and capable of converting living biology to mechanical technology. Some of Ratchet's descriptions sounded so fanciful and utterly impossible that Shepard couldn't help but think that the Lombax's universe was a very messed up place.
Ratchet was only 19. But by his accounts, he hadn't been lying when he said he saved three galaxies. At 19! He was still a kid! How could one galaxy, or three, by Ratchet's account, have so many villainous characters willing to destroy so much? How could one teenager be the only thing stopping galactic annihilation? Where were the governments? Where were the militaries? Where was the order? Ratchet's universe sounded utterly barbaric. But right now, Shepard was more concerned about how he would include Ratchet into his report.
How would he even begin to tell the council about this? If they found out about the new technology, they'd have Ratchet's brain dissected for any useful scrap of information. More likely, every species in the galaxy would be vying for Ratchet's technology, although the Lombax didn't seem like the type who needed protecting.
Suddenly, the ship-wide intercom buzzed, Joker's voice ringing out. "Hang onto your hats, ya'll. Exiting Relay Transit in 10 minutes. Estimated ETA at the Citadel is 20 minutes."
The intercom died with a buzz and Shepard sighed. There would be time only for a quick debrief. As cliche as it sounded, Ratchet belonged in a galaxy far far away. In good conscience, Shepard couldn't allow Ratchet to be exploited. Activating his comm unit, Shepard pulled himself up and went over to Anderson's quarters. "Captain. It's Shepard. Permission to enter?"
Ratchet didn't really like it, as he really didn't like being dishonest, but he couldn't argue with Shepard's logic. No matter how nice any government might be, (And Shepard's description about this Council wasn't flattering at all) nobody would pass up the opportunity to exploit the Lombax as a cache of advanced tech.
Ratchet lightly touched his utility belt and the nearly hidden quick-select interface. He had almost told them about his weapons and the nanotechnology behind it. Now would probably not be the best time to talk about weapons like the RYNO, though.
Activating the holo-guise, Ratchet's form was suddenly replaced by a young human dressed smartly in a military uniform. Still short, though. "What do you guys think?"
Kaidan and Ashley, who were looking on, fidgeted uncomfortably. It was disconcerting to see the truth of Ratchet's story in the technology he was using. It wasn't very pleasant to think that there were other galaxies out there with the capabilities of taking over their own.
Dr. Chakwas observed the holo-guise critically. "Why don't you walk for us, Ratchet."
Ratchet complied, but lurched at his first step unexpectedly. "Whoa! The limp from the pirate disguise is still programmed in the holo-guise." Turning of the gadget, Ratchet pulled out his nano-tool and began crossing some wires. After a few seconds he had finished completely reprogramming his holo-guise.
"There!" The disguise activated, Ratchet looked expectantly at Chakwas, Shepard, Kaidan, and Ashley. "What do you think?" The disguised Lombax asked, walking around at a brisk pace.
"Looks good," Shepard commented. "Perfect, even. I can't even tell that you're not a human. It's scary to think about what an assassin could do with this technology."
"Don't worry," Ratchet said, turning off the disguise momentarily. "After I used the holo-guises to infiltrate some bases, security companies wised up and started making holo-guise detection scanners. It only worked for me because the pirates I fooled hadn't started using the scanners yet."
"Yes," Shepard replied, "But we don't have any technology that would be able to keep up with your holo-guise."
"It's a good thing I'm on your side, then," Ratchet said with a grin, activating his gadget. The Lombax couldn't help but notice, though, the involuntary shudder that seemed to grip Ashley. Guess she still didn't really trust him.
The Lombax sighed as he followed Shepard toward the cockpit, aside Kaidan and Ashley. Gaining their trust was going to be very important. One concern loomed foremost in Ratchet's mind though, and that was how he would get back home. To find Clank. I'm coming for you buddy. Don't worry. I'm coming. This was going to be one interesting adventure.
A/N: Whoa! So I did it. I had this idea bouncing around my head after I finished replaying Tools of Destruction. So I wrote it! I really wanted to fuse these two great sci-fi universes and I honestly don't know how far I'll take this, but well, who knows. There aren't nearly enough Ratchet and Clank fics out there, especially crossover fics. I think there's only one crossover with Mass Effect. That being said, though, I'll probably just be writing this for fun. My warning for you reader. Anyways, for those of you who are reading who may have never played a Ratchet and Clank game, on PS2 or PS3, I would recommend you purchase a PS3 for the sole reason of experiencing the Ratchet and Clank series. That's how good I think they are. At least, the ones Insomniac's created. The other series I would say the same of would be Jak and Daxter and Sly Cooper, but that's just my childhood talking.
Now, for those of you reading because of Mass Effect, well, sweet! You should be able to read the plot like a book then, although an e-book would perhaps be more technologically relevant. Review please!