It was never going to be an ordinary day.
Ratchet opened an email with the subject “Invitation to the Commemoration of Magnus’ Four Heroes”; it was marked ‘Urgent’.
Dear Ratchet and Clank,
The pleasure of your company is requested at the Commemoration of Magnus’ Four Heroes, Planet Magnus on the 10th of December. You will be presented with an award for declaration by President Qwark on stage in front of the Magnus population.
You are required to be present for rehearsal and preparation at 3.30pm. The opening ceremony initiates at 4.00pm and finishes at 5.00pm.
If you have any questions or concerns, or if I may be of assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Presidential Assistant for President Qwark
“It’s a bit short-notice isn’t it?” Ratchet scanned the invitation for extra details, “today is the 10th.”
Clank looked up at the computer screen, “it states that it was received on the 3rd of December.”
Ratchet went quiet.
“I do believe you should check your email more often Ratchet,” remarked Clank.
“Scrap any plans for today Clank, we are going back to Magnus,” Ratchet spoke as if what Clank previously said hadn’t affected him at all, “if the Tharpods are celebrating our victory we should definitely go. I want to see how they’ve been holding up since Ephemeris. Though I doubt Nefarious will show.”
“I too am uncertain about Dr Nefarious’ attendance,” Clank uttered, “but right now what is most important is our attendance; the ceremony starts in four hours and we must prepare.”
As it goes, Dr Nefarious too was hesitant as to whether showing up would be the healthiest of options for him. Heaven knows how Qwark got his email but it had disturbed him since the day he received the invitation. His first reaction to the invite was “no, definitely no”. Although for reasons unknown to him Nefarious didn’t delete the email; doing this bothered him and thus began his indecisiveness. 95% of him denied the thought of ever approving the invite, while a small 5% was telling him otherwise. It ever so happens that that mere 5% grew.
“Lawrence, set a course for Planet Magnus.”
His robot butler shot him a dubious gaze.
Nefarious shot him back with a glare of disapproval.
The glare shooting went on until Lawrence asked in a shrewd manner, “and for what reason are you returning to the planet you wanted so hard to forget, sir?”
“I have some unfinished business with the Tharpods I have to deal with,” Nefarious lied, “and you’re having the rest of the day off…”
“Pardon me, sir?” Lawrence queried, “It’s funny, because I thought I heard you say I’m having the rest of the day off.”
“You are! I need to navigate the ship myself. Ever since Ephemeris’ attack the Galactic Defence Force has installed an advanced security system to keep intruders out of Magnus. I’ve studied the code so only I can breach it,” Nefarious lied again, “I don’t need you, so take one of the escape pods and leave the ship.”
The fact that Dr Nefarious didn’t need Lawrence did not offend the butler; only confuse him. This was his first “break” since the two spent what felt like an eternity on the asteroid. Lawrence decided to refrain from asking questions as he didn’t want Nefarious to change his mind.
So after setting the ship’s course for Magnus, Lawrence left Nefarious on his own.
It was just before 3.30 in the afternoon when Ratchet and Clank arrived on Planet Magnus. They had followed a navigation beacon that led to their parking space. The two friends marvelled at the sight before them. It was obvious that Magnus had recovered well after Ephemeris’ raid. A huge building had been erected surrounded by a vacant field; the planet’s environment had also improved from a rocky brown to a lush green.
The duo exited their ship and walked across the green pasture towards the newly built buildings. They observed many numbers of Tharpods rushing to and fro setting up for the ceremony. Not wanting to intrude, Ratchet and Clank decided to wait outside for Qwark.
“I am greatly impressed by the transformation this planet has undergone since Ephemeris’ raid,” Clank remarked while taking in the scenery, “and it has only been three months.”
“I know pal, it’s fantastic,” Ratchet smiled and felt a sense of fulfilment, “It’s funny, because I’m actually glad we got marooned on this planet; if we didn’t, the Tharpods would have been wiped out and we would have never known about the Loki’s plans.”
“That is why I am happy we have decided to suspend our retirement and continue hero work,” Clank looked up at Ratchet and smiled,” besides; it is what brought us together.”
Ratchet beamed down at Clank, because he was right. Suddenly, a humming sound of a ship engine filled Ratchet’s ears.
“Well what do you know?” Ratchet gestured the sky above them.
A small ship that looked strangely familiar soared overhead. It was blue and grey and sported two great turbine engines on either side. Hovering, it slowly landed near Ratchet and Clank’s ship.
“Is that Cronk and Zephyr’s ship?” Clank zoomed in his opticals.
“It’s Cronk and Zephyr’s stolen ship,” Ratchet observed while grinning, “who’d have thought he’d show up?”
Sure enough, it was Dr Nefarious who exited the ship; the sun reflecting off his headgear. He looked around suspiciously as he locked the entry to the ship. Knowing guns would be confiscated, Nefarious kept his arm blades enabled but not showing; in case he ran into any trouble of course. He felt himself wince when his opticals caught the glare of Clank’s shining metal in the distance. He didn’t really want to accompany them, but alas, it was his only direction, so he started ambling to their location.
“This day may get quite interesting Clank,” Ratchet declared as Nefarious was walking slowly towards them.
“Just like all the other days,” Clank replied bluntly.
In a matter of minutes the situation became slightly awkward. Ratchet wasn’t sure how to address Nefarious and even Clank was lost for words. Frowning at them, Nefarious was the first to speak.
“So you’re just going to stare at me? Not even a Oh hi Dr Nefarious, remember how I continuously foil your plans and you hate me so much?” Nefarious put on a fake voice that was supposed to sound like Ratchet.
“Well you didn’t say goodbye to us when you stole our way off Magnus. What was it again? Bon voyage losers?” Ratchet put on a fake Nefarious voice, “and your entrance wasn’t that graceful. I heard that for supervillains, entrance is of most importance.”
Clank giggled. Nefarious shot down Clank with a glare greater than the one blasted at Lawrence.
Nefarious kept his anger inside for as long as he could, “I’m just here to collect my award that I greatly deserve for not strangling Qwark the whole time we spent on Magnus.”
Ratchet gave a look of suspicion, “I highly doubt that. What are you up to this time?”
“Why the cruel assumptions, space rat?”
“Oh I don’t know, your reputation for backstabbing irks me.”
“I assure you; I only backstab arrogant twits!”
“I’ll remember that next time I’m kicking your metal behind!”
“Watch your mouth fuzzface; you’re the last of your kind, remember? And I could make your whole species extinct right here, right now!”
“Fat chance! Give me your best shot!”
Nefarious snarled and stepped forward clenching his fists. “Where’s your pitiful wrench Lombax? Left it on your ship?”
“Just give me a few seconds and it’ll be up your --“
“This is neither the time nor the place for aggressive behaviour!” Clank interrupted, “Both of you please let go of your rivalry and leave your harsh words and snappy comebacks for another time. I do not think the Tharpods would appreciate hostility between the heroes that saved their planet.”
Ratchet broke the short pause that followed, “Clank is right, we need to keep amicable at least while we’re here. Thanks Clank…”
“I do what I have to,” Clank turned to Nefarious, “and you do not want to be arrested, do you? The galactic authorities are in temporary agreement to leave you alone while you are here; unless of course you cause trouble.”
Nefarious narrowed his eyes; he didn’t like being told what to do by a small robot, especially Clank. He agreed nevertheless.
“Ratchet!” A happy squeal came from behind the trio as Ratchet turned to see Susie running towards them. His ears perked right up and he smiled as he knelt down to greet her.
“Susie! It’s so great to see you! How have you been?” Ratchet asked as they collided in a tight hug.
“I’ve been great! Our village has been fully rebuilt and is better than ever,” Susie smiled widely as she broke away from Ratchet to cuddle Clank, “I’m just so happy to see you three again.”
Nefarious knew he was next and flinched as Susie embraced his left leg. After five seconds he nudged her off explaining that love wasn’t exactly his thing. Susie looked as if she was searching for sight of Qwark.
“He hasn’t arrived yet, but I’m sure he’ll be here soon,” Ratchet reassured.
“I have to go back and help the others with setting up now, but I will definitely see you guys later,” Susie smiled so brightly, “I’m just so happy you are all here!”
With a wave Susie scurried off in the direction she came running from. Ratchet felt a strong happiness coming from inside seeing Susie again; she really did remind him of himself when he was young, and seeing her so joyful made him smile. Ratchet was right however as Qwark’s ship came into sight just moments after Susie left them.
Qwark’s ship was enormous, green and had ten separate fighter ships hovering around it serving as protection. It landed adjacent to Ratchet and Nefarious’ ships making them appear miniscule. Suddenly a crowd of at least three hundred news reporters and cameramen came pushing and shoving through the trio to get to Qwark’s ship. The journalists surrounded the ship’s entrance and started talking all at once when Qwark’s shining chin appeared.
“Please everyone; there is enough Qwark to go around!”
It was almost as if Ratchet, Clank and Nefarious face-palmed in unison. They could see masses of camera flashes in the distance from where they stood; it was almost impossible to see Qwark which was unusual.
Hundreds of questions were fired at the now ‘President’ Qwark, but one in particular caught his attention.
A female Cazar spoke clearly with an outstretched arm and tape recorder, “Sir, the people are concerned about your relationship with Dr Nefarious. How are you planning on explaining this issue?”
“…relationship?! Are you proposing that I am a homosexual? Just because I cross dress every once in a while does not make me queer; it’s for stage and drama! I have proof that I am completely straight and thoroughly loving women; just ask the lady at the Metropolis’ own Galaxy café, 24th street. Call her on 5516 7889. I could sue your whole news team for assuming such codswallop. However, for gossip sake on a scale of One to Me I give Nefarious a rating of ‘below average’, regarding a discrete past event concerning Nurse Shannon that was nutritiously enticing on my behalf…”
The Cazar responded the best she could, “No Mr President, I did not ask about your love interest. What I meant to say is that people are concerned about your interactions on Planet Magnus. There is a rumour that you saved Nefarious’ life. Is this true?”
“…are you serious? I put all my energy into speaking about my love interests and it was all for nothing? Who do you think I am? President slash Captain Copernicus Leslie Qwark – winner of a dozen prestigious acting awards, inventor of the crotchitizor and vanquisher of evil, that’s who! Do you expect me to answer that after I poured my heart out? I am fatigued! Where is the food table? I need catering!”
“But Mr President---” The reporter tried to contend with Qwark’s ramblings but to know no avail. The crowd of journalists were scattered by two body guards as they directed Qwark to the private catering table.
“He’s blind to everyone except himself,” Ratchet said sourly in the vicinity of Clank and Nefarious.
“Oh he can see us clearly,” Nefarious gestured the far off catering table. Qwark, with a mouth full of food, was waving ecstatically at the threesome.
Ratchet forced a smile and Nefarious frowned, leaving Clank the only one slowly waving back. Qwark ceased waving as an important looking woman followed by a news reporter and camera man strolled up and shook his hand. He then started showing off his muscles.
“He’s so different when he’s surrounded by cameras and reporters,” Ratchet said observing the far off scene.
“It is a shame he is not so modest and considerate as he claims to be,” Clank responded.
“I love this ‘talking about Qwark behind his back’ thing,” Nefarious turned back to Ratchet, “we should make this a regular thing.”
Ratchet smirked and was about to reply but was cut off by Qwark forcing himself into their conversation.
“Well if it isn’t my loyal sidekick, his trustworthy robot companion and my untrustworthy evil arch-nemesis. How are you all? WAIT! Don’t answer that! Even know I would undoubtedly have preferred to keep the muffin basket all to myself, apparently I signed a contract that states the catering is for all four heroes that saved Magnus. Which, in fact, are you three stooges. Follow me so you don’t get lost…”
Without any of the ‘three stooges’ being able to accept or refuse his proposal, Qwark retreated back to the food table gesturing them to follow.
With sighs from Ratchet and Clank and a growl from Nefarious the three found themselves in the catering area with food and beverage, oh, and Qwark.
“At ease gentlemen,” Qwark slyly told his two body guards and they left the group.
Nefarious heard a whisper from Clank below him.
“I sense you are jealous of Qwark’s body guards and very much want to punch him in the face.”
Nefarious looked down upon the small robot and whispered while grinning, “I admit that more than half of what you sense is correct.”
Whilst Nefarious and Clank conversed discreetly Qwark asked Ratchet if he could be a lamb and get some coffee for him. Of course Ratchet felt the urge to kick him in the shins as that was the main feeling people got while spending time with Qwark, but alas he kindly became a lamb and headed towards the coffee machine. As he returned his attention to the food Qwark felt a disturbance coming from underneath the table.
Lifting up the table cloth revealed Dr Nefarious.
A trade mark giggle erupted from Clank, “I told Nefarious you kept your wallet in your right boot.”
“I thought it could be plausible?” Nefarious stated.
As if he had already forgotten what just happened, Qwark hoisted Nefarious up out from under the table, “Nefarious! My old nemesis! It’s been ages. I haven’t been able to tell you yet but I met some lady robots back at the VIP lounge that I think might be your type.”
The fact that Qwark saved Nefarious’ life and vice versa didn’t cover up the loathing Nefarious felt for Qwark nor the grudge he still held onto; and although they made up at one point Nefarious just couldn’t let go. Despite this, Nefarious felt him and Qwark’s relationship had mended but the slightest.
“I’m not interested Qwark,” Nefarious retorted pushing Qwark out of his personal bubble as he did, “so what lies did you tell the people of Polaris this time? You single-handedly defeated the Grivelnox with a plastic spoon and saved the Tharpods from extinction all by yourself?”
Qwark looked offended.
“I would never express such false teachings to the people that love me most. I tell the truth and only the truth,” Qwark repositioned his tie, “besides…it was a metal fork that I defeated the Grivelnox with - completely different utensil.”
Clank gave a look of disdain. Nefarious did his best to reassure himself that he didn’t just hear what he thought he heard and ambled up to Ratchet who was returning from the coffee machine, balancing a full coffee mug.
“Spit in his coffee, because I can’t.” Nefarious whispered.
Ratchet couldn’t help but crack a toothy grin at the suggestion, but of course he wouldn’t do it. He imagined himself carrying out the deed as he handed the coffee mug to Qwark. He grinned once more.
“So Qwark, when do you initiate the award ceremony?” Ratchet asked as he watched Qwark sip his coffee, “the invitations say four pm and it’s almost four now.”
Qwark instantaneously coughed and spat his coffee back into his mug.
“Squishies are disgusting!” Nefarious remarked relevantly.
“Oh no! How could I have lost track of time? This is so, so bad! Why didn’t my supervisors contact me? My voters, they need me!” Qwark’s words trailed off as he hurriedly left the scene.
Running in the exact opposite direction came Susie.
“Ratchet! The adults are looking for you, Clank and Nefarious. The ceremony is about to start!” Susie bounced holding Ratchet’s hand.
Before they knew it, Ratchet, Clank and Nefarious were in a small room to the side of the stage. An important looking Markazian rushed into the room where the three were escorted to. He sported a striped grey suit and held a clipboard and pen; writing diligently. Along with his actions he spoke fast.
“Oh, Fantastic! Thank Heavens, Thank God, Thank EVERYONE you’re all here! I was going absolutely crazy trying to find you all. I was practically ripping my hair out. Am I thinning? Disregard that question. Now, I just need to give you the run down on a few things since the ceremony will be aired Live across Polaris…”
The threesome glanced at each other.
“…if the ceremony goes as planned, I hope for the sake of my employment, after listening to Mr President’s speech you will enter the stage on command, accept your awards, say your speeches, then---“
“Whoa, wait a sec, what…speech?” Ratchet interrupted.
“You three, along with President Qwark, were supposed to provide a short speech each to read after being presented with your awards.”
There was a pause. Then the important looking Markazian gave them all queer looks then hurried off to attend to more important issues.
“Captain Qwark did not inform us of this,” Clank spoke bluntly.
“I’m starting to regret my being here,” Ratchet said softly.
“Starting? I felt regret the second I stepped back on this backwater planet,” Nefarious retorted back.
Ratchet looked at him with a puzzled expression, “Well then, why did you come? Surely you would have known it would be like this. The people. The paparazzi. Not forgetting Qwark. You even let Susie hug you. Want to give me an explanation?”
“In all honesty, we doubted you would come at all.” Clank spoke up at Nefarious before Ratchet hesitantly shushed him.
Nefarious glared at the Lombax and robot in silence. The glare they sent back intimidated Nefarious; for once he didn’t have a comeback. In actual fact, he didn’t know what to say at all. Why did he agree to contribute to the ceremony? Nefarious loathed the situation he was in; he had to say something. He crossed his arms and hushed his voice.
“Saving Magnus with you three was the first real good thing I’ve ever done, and whilst at the beginning I hated the experience more than anything,” he looked at the two in the corner of his eye, “in the end I felt alright about it…”
Nefarious fell silent due to feeling plain awkward. Clank felt that he had accomplished something big as he was the one who convinced Nefarious to use his intelligence for good to fix Commander Spog. Ratchet felt surprised but tried hard not to show it. Before any of them could respond the frantic Markazian who had visited them earlier rushed over.
“This is your cue,” he said urging them onto the stage.
“…so without further ado,” Qwark announced, “I give you your saviours of Magnus!”
As the three walked onto stage it became apparent that more than the Tharpod community were in the audience. The front row seated leaders and chairmen from numerous planets and galaxies. Just in front of them stood what looked like hundreds of reporters and cameramen. Along with the Tharpods, there were Markazians, Cazars, robots and various other intergalactic species; and the Galactic Defence Force which Nefarious had his eyes on. Ratchet also thought he caught a glimpse of Cronk and Zephyr.
The audience stood up and applauded like crazy while cameras zoomed in on the four heroes. The sound was quite overwhelming and the view was astonishing; it made Ratchet and Clank glad as they smiled at the clapping crowd of people. They lined up facing the audience; Clank, Ratchet, Nefarious then Qwark standing at his podium. Ratchet couldn’t help but notice Nefarious’ nervous, but inconspicuous, fidgeting.
“Too kind, too kind,” Qwark waved, his arrogance showing.
The three grimaced at Qwark’s overbearing pride.
Qwark continued his speech as the clapping subsided, “Ladies, gentlemen and machines, before you stand the team that conquered what was once the great Ephemeris and seized the evil plans of the treacherous Loki. And what a team we made. The four of us worked together despite our differences and combined our unique abilities to make one tasty energy drink. Like fermented fruits in a seductive cocktail mix; Ha-ha, I like to think of myself as the tiny umbrella that adds that essential pizazz…”
Glances of disapproval were shared between the Lombax and robots.
“…Oh but seriously, what an accomplishment. I believe it is in order that my team be rewarded, so now I will present to them special medals of honour.”
The crowd erupted once more when Qwark revealed the four medals each wearing a different colour. He left his podium and strode up in front of Clank holding the blue medal.
He took out a card from his inside his suit and read, “For compassion and courage. Though small, can pack quite a big punch. And while you may be half the size of us, we wouldn’t have made it through without you. To Clank: the heart of our team.”
Clank smiled as Qwark bestowed him the blue medal. Qwark then moved along to Ratchet, taking another card out of his suit.
“For diligence, nobility and exceptional skills in leadership. Ratchet, you have saved this universe time and time again. Your goodness shines through in everything you do. And whilst you wield a tool, you are definitely not one.”
Ratchet rolled his eyes and finished with a smirk as Qwark gave him an orange medal, “Thanks Qwark.”
Qwark then shuffled along to Nefarious who seemed a bit unnerved.
Pulling out another card, Qwark read, “For extraordinary talent in mechanics and reliability. You had the audacity to not do things you didn’t want, but did them against all odds. For saving the President of Polaris, ahem, myself, and willingly aiding in saving Magnus, I give you, Dr Nefarious, this medal to signify your heroism.”
It took Nefarious a few seconds to realise what just happened as Qwark offered him the purple medal; he silently accepted it. Qwark then spun around to face the audience.
“And last, but certainly not least, me, President Copernicus Leslie Qwark, for strength, bravery, and outstanding good looks and charisma!” he exclaimed.
And with that, Qwark lowered the remaining green medal over his head and around his neck. He grinned profoundly as the audience’s uproar grew.
After the audience had calmed, Qwark stepped up to the podium once more, “I would now like to invite my three allies to step up and say a word to the people of Polaris.”
Ratchet, Clank and Nefarious felt a sudden sense of alarm as the three hadn’t prepared a speech of any kind. Clank tugged on Ratchet’s pants in an attempt to encourage him to step up on behalf of them. Ratchet turned from Clank to see Nefarious giving him a reluctant glare. Ratchet sighed and unwillingly walked up to the podium. On his tippy toes he spoke into the microphone.
“Apparently I’m speaking on behalf of my team mates,” Ratchet glared at them in his peripheral vision, “when I say that we are so thrilled to have come back to Magnus and to see its rejuvenation. It’s hard to believe that it has only been three months since the four of us overcame the Loki’s grip on this planet, and it’s a truly amazing feeling to sustain seeing the Magnus community recover better than ever.”
As he was talking, Ratchet caught site of Susie in the audience who was beaming at him. Her cheekbones pressing against her illuminated eyes while the sun set in the horizon. The sight of her being so full of appreciation towards them really touched Ratchet. He beamed back; his heart feeling so full of love towards this planet and the people.
“Being marooned on this planet was worth every minute to save it. So thank you, we truly appreciate out medals, and will cherish the time we spent on Magnus forever more,” and with that Ratchet left the podium and strolled back to his position in the middle of Clank and Nefarious, leaving applause in his trail.
Clank looked up at Ratchet with revere; he cherished Ratchet’s kindheartedness and watched as he glowed with contentment. After another round of clapping, cheering and camera flashes, Qwark concluded the ceremony. The three were exiting the stage when Qwark spoke up and stopped them in their tracks.
“But before you all leave tonight, there’s just one last thing I haven’t presented yet…”
Wonderment filled the audience and the trio.
“…Dr Nefarious,” Qwark said giving the doctor a suave look.
The robot was suddenly motionless as he stared at Qwark with eyebrows raised.
“I have here a contract that we at the board like to call a ‘second chance’ treaty which in depth if signed can, as stated in the title, offer a second chance to the signee who has attained a past criminal record,” Qwark inhaled and continued, “the said person would be free from arrest by galactic authorities, though would have to be on parole and probation for at least six months to a year subsequent to the signing. In short, it gives the afore mentioned criminal a chance to redeem himself and gain trust in society.”
The atmosphere was soundless.
“It’s a very rare document as it is only presented to those who truly deserve it,” Qwark paused, “and apparently the Tharpods think you do.”
If it weren’t for the sound of his metal claws shaking Nefarious would have thought this was not reality. He felt bizarre on the inside. It was almost as if time had stood still and the only thing he could hear was his inner mechanisms humming and beating like a heart.
Qwark offered the folded contract to Nefarious; his muscular arm outstretched. Nefarious saw this in slow motion and tried to bring himself to move. At first it was hard, but after a few seconds he managed to extend a shaky hand and retrieve it.
“As you are, Nefarious, “Qwark winked, “I, and the community, hope you make the right decision.”
The audience slowly ascended into a loud applause with Ratchet and Clank clapping along with them. Still not knowing how to respond, Nefarious gave Qwark a slight nod of approval and followed the others off stage.
The dusk sky was now full of pink and orange clouds stretching across the vast space above. It didn’t take long for the guests to depart the planet; hundreds of ships sailed the coloured clouds leaving the atmosphere. Qwark had already been escorted off the planet, leaving only the trio and the Tharpods left.
“Is it me, or is Qwark’s communication becoming much clearer and more intellectual,” Clank spoke up to Ratchet as they paced the convention building assisting the Tharpods with the clean up where they could.
“He was reading off a speech that his assistant probably wrote up,” Ratchet laughed, “all those big words; he probably didn’t even know what he was saying.”
Nefarious, on the other hand, still remained silent as he stood on the sidelines looking down at the contract from Qwark he held in his hands. It was definitely legit; complete with Qwark’s illegible, blotchy mass of a signature. Nefarious looked up from the paper to see the very Tharpods that believed that he deserved this letter of restitution. All Nefarious had to do was sign on the dotted line, then all his criminal records would be forgotten and he would have a second chance at gaining a new life.
“Hey Nef, if you don’t mind we could really use your help,” Ratchet sung out from across the room while helping a group of Tharpods.
Nefarious, however, ignored him; his mind being too focused on the document. He placed it on a table that was behind him and scanned it one more time. Nefarious couldn’t think of anything that Qwark could do to make up for what he did to him; up until now of course. It bothered him knowing the heroes he tried so hard to annihilate were now considering him an ally; and now Captain Qwark, his arch-nemesis, trusted him. It was like there was no use in scheming anymore; like all its meaning had suddenly disappeared; but the contract he now faced was probably the biggest decision of his life, and he hated this. Putting his hand on his head, he felt the deep crack that Ratchet caused; Nefarious snarled as it brought back hated memories.
“You can’t dwell on the past forever Nefarious,” Ratchet suddenly appeared by Nefarious’ side, “don’t let something as petty as that ruin you.”
“This does not concern you space rat,” Nefarious spat, “I’m not a hero and I’ll never be one.”
Nefarious was afraid of change and Ratchet could clearly see this; who knew that the weakness of your greatest enemy would be something so simple. Ratchet could see Nefarious shaking slightly with anxiety as his eyes were fixated on the printed paper.
In reality, Ratchet didn’t want to reason with Nefarious, but something inside of him urged him to continue, “It won’t make you a hero Nefarious, but it will give you a new direction in life; and being on probation isn’t that bad really.”
“Well then what if I slip up?!” Nefarious swiftly turned to Ratchet raising his voice, “If I make one bad move they’ll know where I am and I’ll be done for!”
Apart from anguish and anger, Ratchet saw fear in Nefarious’ eyes as he glared back. Ratchet knew this was an argument that he couldn’t possibly win.
“Help me out here Clank,” Ratchet spoke as Clank and Susie appeared on the other side of Nefarious.
Clank positively spoke up, “Dr Nefarious, this is a once in a lifetime offer, if you decline this you may never have a chance to start anew again.”
Nefarious gripped the air, he absolutely loathed that his enemies were trying to persuade him, “Everybody on this stupid, miserable excuse for a planet wants me to be something that I’m definitely not! AND I’LL NEVER BE! So I’m not signing this ridiculous contract!”
“Nefarious, please reconsider,” Susie reached out and touched Nefarious’ leg.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” Nefarious shouted down to Susie and wrenched his leg out of her reach.
Susie’s eyes welled up as she stepped back next to Ratchet. Nefarious saw her fear-stricken face and felt a sudden sinking feeling inside of him; a low, mortifying sensation that almost felt numb.
Ratchet saw her face and knelt down putting his arm around her. A tear drop fell to the floor.
“It’s okay,” he assured then slowly stood up to face Nefarious.
“See Ratchet, I can’t be like you,” his vocals cracked as he spoke.
“Well, if that’s what you feel, then,” Ratchet paused, “then I guess it’s true, but I believe you should keep the contract.”
Ratchet gave Nefarious the document.
“Ratchet, there’s no way I’m going to reconsider,” Nefarious handed it back.
“But what if you do,” Ratchet gave it back.
“I won’t, it’s just going to sit around and bother me,” Nefarious raised his voice and pushed it back.
“Good,” Ratchet raised his tone and shoved it into Nefarious, “hopefully being bothered will make you reconsider!”
There was an awkward pause where Nefarious felt too distressed to think of a comeback.
He looked down at Clank who clearly looked worried, then at Susie who was staring at the floor. For reasons not entirely clear to him, her woeful disposition troubled him. He looked back up at Ratchet, who then watched as Nefarious knelt down on the floor next to Susie.
He put his hand on her arm.
“Sorry kid, being a hero just wouldn’t work for me,” Nefarious spoke looking directly at Susie.
“I understand,” she whispered while looking up from the floor, “but I still believe otherwise.”
Nefarious looked into her eyes; they were so round and full of hope. They gazed back into his eyes making him feel insignificant; yet they displayed love, something that he had never felt. The realisation that someone did care for him made him realise that his adventure with Ratchet, Clank and Qwark wasn’t a waste of time, and that becoming a hero for the time being was worth it.
Nefarious reached the same hand he had on her arm around Susie’s back. Ratchet and Clank watched in shock as Nefarious pulled Susie towards his chest, performing a half-hug. He could feel Susie’s heart beat against his chest and just for a second he thought it was his own heart that he used to possess. As he let go Susie smiled at him.
“I hope you enjoyed that, ‘cause you’re never getting another one,” Nefarious smirked and stood up gesturing Ratchet and Clank, “and neither are you two.”
Clank chuckled in his usual way and Ratchet sniggered.
“So how about it, Nef?”
“Alright,” Nefarious gave in, “I’ll keep the contract…”
“I’m glad,” Ratchet smiled.
“As am I,” Clank spoke up in approval.
“Me too,” Susie chimed as she wiped her tears on her arm.
“But it doesn’t mean I’ll sign it,” Nefarious reminded, “so don’t get your hopes up.”
He started walking backwards in the direction of his ship clenching the contract.
“We won’t,” Ratchet guaranteed and made a discreet wave.
Nefarious looked at each of the three, smirked and then walked away.
As soon as Nefarious was out of earshot Clank spoke up, “It would be a real shame if he does not sign that contract; Nefarious has real potential to become something new.”
Ratchet turned to Clank, “Sure, but it’s hard to know with Nefarious. You really think he could redeem himself?”
“If he could change his wicked ways, then yes.”
“I think so too,” Susie said as she observed Nefarious walking in the distance.
Ratchet put a hand on her shoulder and smiled, “It’s getting dark Susie, let’s get you back to your village.”
Susie grasped onto Ratchet and Clank’s hands, “Thank you for coming, today was fantastic!”
“It truly was,” remarked Clank as they led Susie back to her village.
Unfortunately it wasn’t over for Nefarious. As his ship came into sight he noticed two figures standing around it. He snarled as he realised who they were.
It was Cronk and Zephyr, the two old war bots that had aided the foursome through their journey. They were obviously looking to get their ship back which was stolen by Nefarious and Lawrence when they landed it on Magnus.
“And then there were two,” Nefarious peeved.
The two war bots flailed when they heard the familiar voice.
“YOOOU!” Zephyr shouted and pointed in response to Nefarious’ appearance.
“Me!” Nefarious retorted irritably.
Cronk stood in front of Nefarious clenching a combustor, “Hand over our ship Nefarious! Or we’ll be forced to use….force.”
Nefarious frowned not knowing entirely what to do. He knew he could fight his way out of this but didn’t want to risk attracting attention from the nearby galactic authorities guarding Qwark.
“You can’t touch me; I have a contract that offers my right of path on your side of the fence,” Nefarious unfolded the document and hung it in Cronk’s face; he tried so hard to stay calm.
Cronk and Zephyr squinted their opticals at the paper.
“Oh but it happens that you have not signed it as of yet Doctor,” Zephyr stated the obvious, “and the effect of the contract only comes into play when one signs on the dotted line. I know because I studied Law.”
“You didn’t go to Law School you hippie!” Cronk bombed.
“Well at least I didn’t attend Dance Academy like you, you two-faced moon monkey!”
“That was you that danced in ‘Swan Lake!’ You flitted around like an ornamental moron!”
“I do not recall ever dancing in a lake surrounded by swans! YOU have got your wires TWISTED!”
“You’re faulty! You have it all wrong! My word, no wonder we were decommissioned!”
“Me? YOU were the one that had a relationship with that docking ship!”
“You two are the most senile pair of twits I have ever come across,” Nefarious’ voice was now coming from behind them.
The two war bots spun around to find Nefarious standing in their ships’ entrance. He had snuck by them while the two were quarrelling.
“And where do you think you’re going?!” Cronk said shrewdly.
“Far away from you!” Nefarious screeched and with that he shut and locked the ship’s door.
“You idiot! Why didn’t you shoot him?!” Zephyr shrieked.
“Well, I’ve always wanted a reason to say “And where do you think you’re going?!” Am I not allowed to express myself?” Cronk responded with angst.
Nefarious could hear them even when starting up the ship. He looked out the front window to see them yelling and cursing at him. He smiled.
“This is an offence against your own kind!” Zephyr barked.
“I’m merely borrowing it! Get yourself a new ship while you WAIT!” As he lifted off into the air Nefarious watched as Cronk fell to the ground sobbing, “Losers…”
“WHIPPERSNAPPER!” Zephyr waved his fist at the sky.
“Why?! Why would he take Isabella away from me?!” Cronk snivelled at the ground.
“What? Don’t tell me you had a relationship with our ship as well…”
It was definitely not an ordinary day.