At this point a short break in the action was announced. The audience immediately flooded the lobby, gathering in small groups and talking excitedly about the play. Some, the friends of Ratchet and Clank or members of the military, complained about the inaccuracy of play, while others praised the acting and special effects.
The actors, including Qwark, waltzed around the lobby, accepting praise and gifts from their adoring fans. Miss Gears and Captain Qwark, used to the praise, accepted this with grace. The Ratchet actor, clearly new to the scene, seemed not to know what he should do with his newly found fame, just sticking close to the other actors. The Clank actor, meanwhile, took this time to attempt to interview his idol, the real Clank, who was retrieving refreshments for himself and Ratchet. Needless to say, he wasn't exactly interested. And while there were no confirmed sightings of Ratchet, some claimed he had spent the entire break wallowing on the balcony, while others insisted that he had gone up to the roof. In the end nobody really knew, except perhaps for the little robot who averted his eyes and quietly sipped his drink whenever Ratchet's whereabouts were questioned.
The time passed quickly, though, and soon the amphitheater was once again filled to the brim with people chattering excitedly, eagerly awaiting the next act.
"Are you feeling better, Ratchet?"
"Are you sure? If you are not, we can just leave..."
"No, no, I'll be fine. I want to see where this is going."
"...alright. If you are sure."
When the lights finally dimmed again, the crowd fell into a hush. The arena blacked out and the platform illuminated, showing Qwark standing center stage. His voice boomed throughout the large room, echoing around, "And so Clank, our dear, dear friend, was taken into the cosmos by the mysterious Zoni creatures, leaving behind poor Ratchet. His only friend in the universe was gone, his best pal, the one whom he gave up his only chance of ever, ever seeing another Lombax again for, had been taken before his very eyes, leaving him a pitiable, miserable wreck!"
"Ratchet? Remember that one time I told you I would not allow you to maim Captain Qwark?"
"I am seriously reconsidering that decision."
"But!" Here, Qwark paused for effect, "Did our protagonist give in? No! Instead," Qwark backed out of the spotlight, allowing the highlight to go to the Ratchet actor in the background, laboring tirelessly over a piece of paper, "He dedicated himself to finding his lost friend, working tirelessly to piece together what little clues the Zoni had left on history. Finally, after weeks and weeks of studious dedication-"
"Not how it happened."
"-our hero finally found a single lead: a rare and powerful artifact hidden on a backwater island planet far, far away from civilization," The Ratchet actor discreetly pressed a button under the map he was fawning over, resulting in a projected image of the Obsidian Eye, made pretty for the sake of the audience, "The Obsidian Eye... this ancient machine was one of only a few created by the Zoni, granted only to those they felt worthy. According to history there was only one in existence, belonging to the pirate Captain Darkwater. And so, without his normal companion, Ratchet was forced to go on this perilous journey with only a single ally – Miss Talwyn Apogee," The disguised Courtney Gears approached Ratchet's actor from behind, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder, "But alas," The lights dimmed, leaving the stage dark, "An unknown enemy watched from the shadows, waiting for a chance... for vengeance!" The lights flickered like lighting, the sound of thundering echoed through the theater, and the silhouette of two familiar characters could briefly be seen on the walls.
"...okay, they really weren't threatening. At all. I have no idea what Qwark was thinking."
"To be fair, nobody really does."
The scene shifted, showing the two heroes of the story aboard a flying ship, talking somberly about their quest and what it meant. Fortunately this conversation was quickly derailed with an action scene, where an entire crew of pirates ambushed them. The fight scene was actually fairly well composed, moving quickly with both Ratchet and Talwyn fighting incredibly well. The ambush ended in a loss for the heroes, both of them stuffed back to back inside of a cannon. Only then did the familiar silhouettes, Captain Slag's decapitated head and his second-in-command, step forward.
"Well, well, well," Taunted the head, "Look what the Zoni dragged in."
"Captain Slag!" Ratchet snapped, glaring daggers at the two. Talwyn, for her part, remained wordless, but Courtney Gears was a good enough actress to know that she was supposed to do something and took to glaring daggers and growling at the remaining pirates. The fake Lombax practically spat out his words, disgust tangible in his voice, "Sided with Darkwater, eh? Well, make sure-"
Both heroes jumped in surprised when all of the pirates burst into laughter, "You fool!" Slag guffawed, "Darkwater's been dead fer years! Yer more likely to find the Lombaxes in a cereal box than find anything that old buffoon's hidden!"
"Then let. Me. Go," Ratchet punctuated each of his words, anger tangible. The actor overplayed the anger, twisting an unspoken death threat into his words. But instead of taking this seriously, the pirates merely laughed some more.
"Like you'd just let us go," Rusty Pete, Slag's number two, snapped, and then lowered the cannon. Both Ratchet and Talwyn, quickly realizing the danger they were in, started struggling fruitlessly and, several seconds later, the cannon fired, supposedly sending the two heroes flying up into the air. If one had good enough eyesight and payed good enough attention, one might be able to spot the two actors sneaking out of the bottom of the device. As it was, most of the audience was looking upward, attempting to see where the actors had been launched to.
"Really? A cannon? I know Qwark has been bending reality to suit his needs, but honestly, that is the most preposterous thing we have seen yet."
"Eh hehe, yeah...totally ridiculous, huh?"
The scene faded to black, and then a spotlight turned on, shining attention onto an unconscious Ratchet. A ghostly, familiar voice echoed through the theater, "Ratchet... Ratchet..."
"Ugh..." The Lombax awoke slowly, voice gravely as he called out to the voice, "Clank?"
"Ratchet..." A translucent image of Clank appeared before him, "I'm waiting, Ratchet..."
"Not what you said, by the way."
"Yes, because when one hallucinates during a period of extreme emotional distress, the important thing to do is capture the exact dialogue."
"Ratchet!" The spotlight expanded out and revealed a jungle setting. A solid Talwyn replaced Clank, looking concerned, "Are you alright? Man, those pirates!" She stomped and pouted like a child, glaring up at the sky, "When I get my hands on those idiots, I'm going to-"
"I don't need to hear that," Ratchet interrupted, "I'm pretty sure it'll scar my already fragile psyche."
Unlike in reality, a concerned citizen greeted them immediately, laying out all the necessary exposition. The friendships Ratchet had made with those on this planet had been thrown aside, all the problems caused by the pirates thrown under the rug in favor of streamlining the plot. They found the Obsidian Eye rather quickly but, like in reality, the Fulcrum Star necessary for powering it was missing. With only local legends to guide them, Ratchet and Talwyn took to the seas, seeking out the tomb of Captain Darkwater.
And, like in reality, it all went to hell.
Rusty Pete and what remains of Captain Slag had, for some unfathomable reason-
"It makes more sense if you were actually there."
-decided to follow our heroes, and disturbed the body of Captain Darkwater by attaching what remained of Slag to it. The resulting union was... horrifying, to say the least. Instead of the quirky split personality, the union was portrayed as grotesque and horrible, a disgusting combination of two different pirates to create a sort of hybrid personality. The monster took off to conquer the galaxy, taking the treasure (and Talwyn, for some undisclosed reason) with him. Ratchet followed in hot pursuit.
The resulting chase scene was clearly well-put together, with Slagwater and Pete and Talwyn on a (relatively) large ship and Ratchet following them with a much smaller craft. The lights were dimmed and holographic rain fell, increasing the intensity of the scene, especially as the two ships sometimes got close enough to the audience that they could reach out and touch the ships. Of course, none of them did, but it thrilled and enthralled them, especially at the end where the Ratchet actor made a daring leap across the theater, landing on the deck of the other ship.
The resulting battle was intense, wrench versus sword in dire combat to the death. Slagwater was clearly the more experienced, wielding his weapon with grace and poise, but Ratchet's counterpart incorporated a sort of desperation into his fighting, as if he had everything to lose. The fighting ended when a lucky blow of the wrench knocked the head off the twisted hybrid, knocking it down to the stage below. The audience screamed and screeched, clearly excited by this development, while Ratchet freed Talwyn.
"Oh, thank you, my brave hero!" Once again, Qwark's ham made it's way past the editors as Talwyn rushed up to Ratchet and hugged him tightly in a scene of flirty affection that would have made the real Talwyn gag.
"How much you wanna bet Talwyn will rip his arms off?"
"Officially, I condemn you for that comment. Unofficially, I would put my money on Talwyn jamming the script down his throat."
"We have more important things to worry about," The Lombax pushed her off, then fished down below the deck and held the prop representing the Fulcrum Star for the audience to behold. It sparkled with a radiant beauty, and with Talwyn draping herself over his shoulder, it was almost like something out of a bad action movie.
And, with the triumphant music playing in the background, the scene ended.
When the action resumed, Talwyn and Ratchet were standing in front of the Obsidian Eye, Fulcrum Star inserted. A scene projected in front of them, clearly a hologram, of the Zoni surrounding Clank, attempting to speak with him. When they failed to get a response from him they cooed, in their rhyming sort of way, and the form of Doctor Nefarious made his way onto the stage.
"Don't worry, Clank," Sneered the evil robot, "I'll take good care of you..."
"Clank!" Called Ratchet, reaching out for what wasn't there. When the hologram disappeared, he drew his fist into his chest, growling softly, "Don't worry, pal... I'm coming for you."
And with that, he walked into the darkness, Talwyn following.
"And with that, Ratchet set out on the final leg of his journey to find Clank. Unfortunately," The scene shifted, showing Talwyn and Ratchet and Kronk and Zephyr miming out different actions, "Talwyn was forced to go her own way, for she had finally found a lead on her missing father."
"Well, that felt rather... rushed."
"It kinda felt like that in real life, too."
"So, in her place, she sent the strongest, bravest hero in the entire galaxy..." As Talwyn and her robot guardians disappeared, another spotlight lit up, revealing Qwark standing behind Ratchet, "Me."
"And whilst I had previous heroic engagements to withhold, I had promised my dear friend that whenever he should need me, I would be there."
"This I find hard to believe."
"Hey, I'm no fan of Qwark's, but... he really did help quite a bit. Even if I wanted him dead half the time."
"And so we soared off into the sunset, determined not to return until Clank was home, safe and sound. But a nefarious force-"
"-was scheming behind our backs. And for the first time in two years, Clank was waking up..."
The scene opened in the Great Clock. The recreation of the environment Clank had spent so much time in paled in comparison to the real deal. Lush environments and shined gears were replaced with worn, gray metal pistons. It looked more like the insides of an actual clock than the majesty of the real deal. This had been intentional, though; Qwark had taken his art direction in this set completely from Clank, who had done quite a bit of fibbing to keep the people of Polaris from knowing the true nature of the machine. What was the pacemaker of the entire universe had been transformed into a comparatively simple machine designed to correct temporal paradoxes. Of course Qwark, having little idea of the truth, went along with these without question. It was one of two things Clank had openly lied about when it came to this production.
Center stage, supposedly suspended in animation was Clank, hovering above the ground in some sort of containment unit. Slowly he awoke, taking in his surroundings sluggishly before gasping in surprise. The emotions of the moment were monologued to the audience as Clank talked aloud to... himself. It was then that he ran into Nefarious.
For a moment the two robots simply stared at each other, emotions placed at a standstill. Then, all at once, hell broke loose. Nefarious called for his servant bots and Clank ran, racing through the Great Clock. The chase went on for some time, until Clank ran into Sigmund. The red robot was, in this version, much less of a paranoid mess, jumping out of nowhere to save Clank from Nefarious' servants while he stood idly by, mouth agape. Only when the henchmen retreated did he talk.
"My liege," He bowed humbly, "Are you alright?"
"...you over-embellished Sigmund, didn't you?"
"No!...okay, maybe a little."
"I believe so- wait, what did you just call me?"
The Clank on stage looked confused, meeting Sigmund's patient gaze with a curious one. Almost paternally, the other robot smiled and led him through a chamber, "I called you what you are, my liege. A leader to the Zoni, destined from birth for... this!" He gestured all around him, to the entire Great Clock, "This was all created by your father, to protect this reality from the many temporal anomalies that occur all the time. And now," He bowed, holding out a prop staff that looked nothing like the one Clank had used before, "It is all yours, my liege."
Then, quite promptly, Clank fainted.
"I did not faint."
"No, but it makes sense story wise, and gives us a nice spot to transition to... Nefarious?"
When the scene switched, instead of Qwark and Ratchet taking the stage, they had decided to inter cut Nefarious and Lawrence. The two were speaking in solitude.
"This better be important, Lawrence! I've got a twerp to catch!"
"Two things, sir," The butler drawled, "One, we've located the 'Outcast'."
"Shall we send a team to dispose of him?"
"What? Of course!" The robot spat, "Why wouldn't you? Get to it now, you waste of metal!"
"Oh? So I assume you don't want to hear about Ratchet. Very well, I'll be on my way..."
"Wait!" Nefarious actually looked over at him, curious, "What about that flee-ridden mongrel?"
"He's here, sir."
For a moment, the evil doctor looked shocked. Then that shock slowly morphed, until a sinister smirk was stretched out over his face.
"Sir? What do you want to do about Ratchet?"
"Oh, Lawrence, have you no manners? He's a guest! And you, of all people, should know how I treat my guests..."
"Excellent, sir. I'll send a welcoming party for him right away."
"...how is Qwark making all our villains... threatening?"
"Every writer has their strong points. Qwark's, apparently, is villains."
"Will wonders never cease?"
The scenes switched yet again, this time to Ratchet and Qwark flying around the small section of space surrounding the Great Clock. The two were flying in complete silence, which would have told anyone in the audience who actually knew the two how off-base this was. Of course, this was merely a lead up to the inevitable attack by Nefarious' men, who ambushed the ship with no prior warning. A short, pathetically one-sided battle took place before the ship crash landed on what Qwark helpfully labeled 'Torren IV'.
"Huh. Seems like Qwark's skipping some stuff."
"Well, there is less than an hour left to go. I doubt he could successfully tell the whole story in that time."
The two crash landed on a plateau, one not far from the Outcast. A carefully silhouetted figure rose above them, one with large ears and a swaying tail; one holding a familiar double-sided omniwrench. He looked over the two, then picked up Ratchet, walking away and quite obviously leaving Captain Qwark to his fate.
"Ratchet, hehe, it is not... hehe... oh, alright. You can laugh at this one."
When the Lombax awoke, he was alone, inside of a strange room. Clearly confused, he called out, "Qwark? Clank? ...anybody?"
"You are awake."
The Lombax turned, and onto the stage walked Alister Azimuth, whose image was compiled onto a hologuise using the photographs Ratchet had of him. The two Lombaxes locked eyes for the first time, one surprised while the other held a certain amount of suspicion.
"You- you're a-" Ratchet sat up, staring at the elder in surprise.
Alister merely stared, standing stoic, "Lombax. Like you are, my friend," He looked away, "I almost didn't believe it could be true, but you... you look exactly like your father."
"He was a good man," Azimuth looked into a small pocket watch, a poor replica of the real one, "My best friend. And I..." He sighed, "Never mind. What brings you into the far reaches of nowhere, child?"
And so Ratchet explained his quest to find the Zoni. The two traded exposition, with Ratchet telling about Clank and Azimuth telling about the Great Clock. It wasn't long after that the two reached an agreement: in exchange for telling Ratchet the location of another Obsidian Eye and helping him reach it, Ratchet would help Alister finally reach the Great Clock. And with this the two took off, their destination set. Of course, the actual location was not revealed: the location of the Eye all three of the heroes deemed too dangerous to reveal to the public.
"I see you have done a little embellishing of your own."
"Yeah, well... he's already dead. I don't want him remembered as some sort of monster, you know? He's suffered enough."
"...you are far nobler than I, Ratchet."
Inter cut between this scene and their destination was a scene starring Qwark, explaining in typical Qwark fashion how he bravely made his way to a space port, where his ship was taken captive by the Argonians. Apparently, according to the play, Qwark had been taken captive and pit in the arena for daring to attempt to protect a small child. It was self-love at its finest.
"Because that was necessary."
The next scene featured Azimuth and Ratchet fighting their way through the infested caverns that lead to the Obsidian Eye. Ratchet lead the way, keeping the monsters away from Azimuth, who seemed to be lagging behind some.
"You're doing good work here, kid," The older Lombax huffed, "You're old man would've been proud. I wish he was still here to see you."
Ratchet paused. The actor made a good show of looking torn before he finally decided to talk, "About that... I've been meaning to ask... why aren't you with the Lombaxes?"
For a moment, it seemed like Azimuth wouldn't answer the question. But before Ratchet could ask again he sighed, looking away, "I am an Outcast for a reason, child. Our people left me behind because I made the foolish mistake of trusting an inventor with a hunger for power. I thought he was brilliant, and I let my eagerness overcome my common sense... and then he tried to kill us."
"He..." It took Ratchet a few seconds, but he put it together, "You mean Tachyon?"
"Perceival was a brilliant kid," Alister sighed, "I just didn't have the foresight to see that his ambitions weren't as black and white as his designs. If I'd just listened, if I'd just paid a little more attention..."
Alister sighed, leaning up against a wall for support. Ratchet, obviously sympathetic, placed a comforting hand on his back, "Don't blame yourself. You're not psychic or anything, and we can't change the past-"
"Yes, we can," Alister stated, standing straight, "The Great Clock... its power can save the Lombaxes. That's why I need it... and why I need you," He took a deep breath, "Ratchet, I promise you... I will give you your family back. Just lend me your power."
And with that, he charged forward, leaving Ratchet stunned, rubbing the back of his neck in puzzlement, "Yeah... sure..."
"Hindsight really is a bitch, huh?"
"I just... never mind."
When the scene resumed, Ratchet and Alister were working fixing the Obsidian Eye. It was Alister who announced, "The Fulcrum Star's degraded... we don't have a stable connection."
"We have to try anyways," Ratchet responded, then some wires he was playing with sparked, "Okay, that should do it. Get her going!"
The screen sparked to life, and on it appeared Clank, looking just as surprised as the two Lombaxes. Alister mumbled something unintelligible under his breath – no doubt some sort of expression of disbelief – while Ratchet immediately broke into a grin, "Clank!"
"Ratchet? How did you-"
"ALERT," Roared the star's computer, "FULCRUM STAR UNSTABLE. BEGINNING EMERGENCY SHUT-DOWN."
"No time!" The Lombax responded, "Just give me your coordinates."
"I..." There was a sudden crash from Clank's side. All that could be seen on the screen was electricity flying all over, and the telltale sounds of combat. Only a glimpse of Lawrence could be seen before the screen shut off. But it was all Ratchet needed.
"Come on," The Lombax started running back, "The locals said something about Nefarious having a base several light years away. He'll likely take Clank there!"
"Right!" And with that, the two Lombaxes were off again. End scene.
"Hmm, you know what we haven't seen in a while? Qwark being awesome!"
"Ratchet, that is ridiculous. Qwark has pumped this scene up so much. He would not take a break for something so pointless."
When the play resumed, there was Qwark, riding a puppet war grok.
"...I stand corrected."
"People of the Argonian Empire!" The hero called out to the audience, "I, Captain Qwark, ask that you leave such petty hatreds behind you! The galaxy is in peril, all thanks to the dire misdeeds of the notorious Doctor Nefarious! He will surely destroy all you know and cherish! I ask you, is that what you want."
The audience murmured to the negative.
"I said, is THAT what YOU WANT?!"
The pumped crowd, under Qwark's instruction, commandeered the battleship, taking its leaders hostage and allowing Qwark to take control of the ship. With the almighty Captain Qwark at the helm, the battleship sailed off. It's destination: Nefarious.
"Again, totally necessary there, Qwark. How long 'til it's over?"
"Only another half-hour or so. Sigh."
The conflict was set. Nefarious had Clank and the Lombaxes were in hot pursuit. Qwark was out to save the galaxy with an army of Argonians, which probably destroyed what little credibility the play had (even more than the blatant Qwark worship earlier.) Even so, one could hear excited murmurs from the crowd that those more invested would hastily shush. It seemed that almost all were enthusiastic.
"I'm gonna take a guess and say... we storm the place, Nefarious captures us, Qwark comes out of nowhere and saves us, then disappears for plot convenience while we reunite and defeat Nefarious."
"Yes, that sounds about right."
The ship that was probably Aphelion-
"Huh. Just realized he never really addressed Aphelion."
"We probably should not mention this. The last thing we need is for her to eject Qwark out of the roof in the middle of an emergency."
"Pfft... Hey! No hitting!"
-got there first, swooping up to the (amazingly) accurate recreation of Nefarious' Space Station. Dialogue and story took the back-burner as the next few minutes consisted entirely of action sequences as Ratchet and Alister fought past hoards of the madman's robotic minions. An especially observant viewer might also note that while Ratchet's combat style was fast, with long, sweeping movements and quick ducks and dodges, while Alister's attacks were all power, no substance. A more philosophical mind might even construe this scene to be an analysis of Ratchet and Alister's differences. Everyone else would say that they were giving Qwark too much credit.
At long last, the two heroes came to the end of the hallway; the only obstacle between them and Clank was a large locked door. And while Alister presented the calm, logical idea to merely hack into the door's computer and open it, Ratchet was still Ratchet, and Qwark knew him well enough to know that somewhere along the line, a giant missile launcher would have to come into play.
The door opened with a deafening boom, and the audience cheered.
"What? It was just an explosion. We see those on a regular basis."
"Tch, explosions make everything better."
When the dust settled, Alister and Ratchet stood posed, Ratchet aiming his giant gun right at the bad guy while Alister gripped his double-sided wrench firmly in one hand. And on the other side of the door was Nefarious, sitting on a throne with Lawrence to his right and Clank, hovering unconscious in an anti-gravity chamber.
"Why does he have a stupid THRONE?"
"Why did the theater's managers give Qwark's screenplay even the slightest glimpse?"
"Tisk, tisk..." Nefarious chimed, looking less as though someone had blown a hole through his army and more as though a fly was buzzing around his head, "It seems the welcoming committee I sent didn't do a good enough job of greeting you. Lawrence, this catastrophe will be deducted from your pay."
Lawrence sighed, "Of course, sir."
"In the meanwhile..." Nefarious grinned widely and discreetly pressed a button on his throne. Electricity ran through the floor, sending both Lombaxes down with loud gasps of pain. One could hear faint gasps of surprise from the audience. Until...
"Boom!" Into the room stored the ever heroic Qwark, wielding a single blaster and sporting a confident grin, "It's over, Nefarious! My men are destroying your army even as we speak! Surrender now, or things will get," He brought the tip of the blaster to his lips and blew, "hot."
The robotic overlord looked between the two parties, "Or..." he took a quick moment to grab Clank, "I could do... THIS!" And promptly threw him out the window, cackling madly while Ratchet screamed an epic 'no' to end all epic 'no's. Even with how much pain he was in, he dove out the window, reaching for his best friend and grabbing him at the last possible moment, shielding Clank with his body when they finally hit the ground.
"To be fair, anybody could have. Qwark is painfully predictable."
"Clank? Buddy?" Ratchet shook his awake, and the robot's eyes opened. They met Ratchet's, briefly, before the two embraced briefly. It was a sweet, but short, moment, "C'mon," He pulled the robot onto his back, "Let's get moving. We've got to stop Nefarious!"
"Notice how he never states Nefarious' plot. I don't think he even knew what it was."
"How could he not? It is exactly the same as every other plot he has ever had: kill all organics and take over the universe. Not exactly what an intelligent being would call 'complex'."
"Well, it IS Qwark..."
Together again, our heroes rushed through the suddenly collapsing facility, eager to find Nefarious. Never mind that an exact reason is never given for WHY the facility is collapsing: only that it, no doubt, has something to do with Qwark. Despite this, seeing Ratchet and Clank working together again, after all the time they'd spent apart, was probably refreshing for the audience. It certainly was for two certain members.
"Is that what we look like from the civilian perspective? Man, we are awesome!"
"Indeed. I attributed it to our combat spectacle being so strange a phenomenon that people could not help but stare, but perhaps there is a little more to it than that."
"Can't you just admit we make a good pair and be done with it?"
"...we make a good pair."
Nefarious was found at the edge of the space station, almost like he was waiting specifically for them. As they approached him, he started raving and ranting, talking not quite to them, but to the universe in general.
"-no, no! Can't win, not even once! Can't beat Qwark, can't beat Clank, can't even beat that miserable little Lombax! If I can't defeat one stupid little house cat, what hope do I have of actually conquering this universe?"
"Huh. I'm actually a little bit offended. Shouldn't be, this is too stupid to really offend anyone, but I kind of am. Is that weird? That's probably weird."
"Ratchet, I can guarantee you that there is nothing weird about feeling insulted when you've been insulted."
"Well fine!" Nefarious spun around, suddenly toting what looked like several machine guns, "I'll prove it to you! I'll prove it to ALL of you!" With the way he was moving, it almost felt like the Nefarious actor was invoking the audience themselves as he spoke, "I will DESTROY RATCHET AND CLANK! OR I WILL DIE TRYING!"
"Sheesh. Psychopathic nutjob or calculating super genius, Qwark? I don't care that Nefarious was technically both, you clearly don't have the skills to portray both of these traits in the same character, so pick one and develop it, you talentless hack! ...what are you staring at?"
The climatic fight scene was spectacular, but only as much as the Tachyon fight. This probably surprised the audience, who were probably expecting something far more epic for the final fight of the play. Only two among the audience knew what they were saving for the big finale, and neither of them were particularly looking forward to THOSE scenes.
That wasn't to say, however, that the fight was underwhelming. Indeed, Qwark had found a great choreographer; Ratchet's actor was agile and limber, moving at almost all times during the fight as Nefarious shot at him constantly. They danced around each other for a while, each looking for an opening, until it finally ended when Ratchet brought his wrench down on Nefarious' head in what was portrayed as a lucky, borderline accidental strike. The strike knocked him out, and Ratchet and Clank fled on the Aphelion, conveniently coming out of nowhere with Alister to pick them up. The station exploded behind them with Nefarious still inside it, presumably left to die.
The beginning of the next scene had the audience buzzing with excitement. Ratchet and Clank had been reunited; Nefarious was no more. What else did this story have left to tell?
Quite a bit, as it turned out.
When Clank and Ratchet returned to the Great Clock, Clank broke the news to Ratchet; the Great Clock was his destiny, and he could no longer continue traveling with Ratchet. The shock was palpable; unlike their actual adventure, it was never implied that Clank would have to leave Ratchet. Clank explained that he was the son of Orvus, and that as the son of the late caretaker of the Great Clock he had to take up that responsibility. Although shocked and clearly upset, Ratchet responded that he accepted Clank's choice; Clank was his best friend and, if this made him happy, so be it. He'd be okay with it.
"...okay, I dislike this conflict."
"Why? It's not EXACTLY what happened, but it's as close as Qwark can get without both exposing dangerous secrets and extending the play's length by several hours."
"But by cutting out the scenes with both myself and Sigmund, they undercut the importance of the Great Clock and the responsibilities of its caretaker, making it seem like I just decided to leave for the sake of dramatic convenience. It was NOT that simple."
"Wasn't it YOUR executive decision to cut those scenes out?"
"I... I just... it was a lot more difficult a decision than that."
"I know, buddy. I know."
The two shared a hug, much more emotional and urgent than the one at their reunion, and for a moment the audience was murmuring. Was this actually it? This couldn't actually be it. Clank didn't leave Ratchet. What could happen in the next ten minutes to change Clank's mind?
Then Clank's second lie, a lie of omission, came into play.
Alister's reaction to Ratchet's decision was far more intense, "What about the Lombaxes?" he asked.
To which Ratchet more or less replied, "What about them?"
"I've spent my entire life searching for this clock. Searching to use its power to save the Lombaxes! Are you suggesting we just forget about them? About your parents, who DIED to save you and them?"
For a moment, Ratchet contemplated, then replied, "They ARE saved. They're just a little... lost. We can still find them. But we can do it without changing history. Now if you'll excuse me," Ratchet turned his back on Alister, giving Clank a meaningful look, "I'm going to walk my best friend in."
Clank and Ratchet walked down the way, sharing small jabs at each other in a sort of pseudo-normal conversation. All the while Alister yelled after them to stop. No, stop. HE SAID STOP!
With a loud roar, Alister fired a powerful bolt of electricity from his double-sided omniwrench straight at the small Lombax. Clank looked back for just a moment, just a split moment, and immediately dove for his friend, pushing him to the ground. The electricity passed over their heads, not harming anyone.
"Hey... you okay?"
"Yes, yes... I am... fine."
Shock and awe fell over everyone, sans the actor Alister and the real Ratchet and Clank. The heroes actor counterparts, however, were quite startled. But the two of them were heroes, and as heroes, they responded quickly. A small spurt of exposition told the audience that the duo had to beat Azimuth to the Orvus Chamber. And so the race was on, a speedy youngster fighting his way past the mechanisms while chasing after an elder. And at the end, our heroes raced into the chamber...
...shortly after Alister did. The wheels were set in motion. Time would reverse, and the universe would collapse as space struggled to compensate. Only a single duel between the two Lombaxes stood between universal annihilation and salvation. Alister, set in his ways and desperate to save his people, stood at ready, both hands firmly gripping his weapon. Ratchet, unwilling to sacrifice the universe for the Lombaxes, did the same. The two raced at each other, jumping, swinging their weapons and colliding mid-jump.
It was every bit as epic as a finale needed to be.
Power versus speed. Raw strength versus raw agility. Old versus young. The weight of their conflict was told through every swing of their wrenches, through every movement of their bodies. Alister pinned Ratchet at one point; at another, Ratchet sent his mentor flying into a wall. It was combat of epic proportions. And the deciding blow was not a killing one, but one that knocked Alister out of the way, leaving Ratchet to correct his mistake. And then the handle broke.
"No, no!" Out of mostly desperation, Ratchet tried to stick the broken mechanism back in and hope it worked. When it was evident that it didn't, when a cosmic storm brewed above the Lombaxes head, threatening to kill him; only then did Alister realize his folly and pushed Ratchet out of the way. Using his own wrench, he reset the clock.
The cosmic storm stopped.
The chaos stopped.
For a split moment, time itself seemed to stop as Alister fell to the ground. The Lombax soldier died instantaneously. Only then, when all was calm, did Ratchet fall to his knees and mourn.
"...the choreography was good."
"Yeah... they fought well..."
The scene opened as Ratchet was leaving the Orvus Chamber. He said one last goodbye to Clank, his lifelong friend, before leaving, presumably forever. Only then did Sigmund reappear.
"Ah, sire?" The robot asked with a blink, "I have something for you... from your father. I wasn't supposed to give it to you until your training was complete, but, well..."
Clank nodded and accepted the machine. From it, a message played, and the voice of Orvus echoed throughout the chamber:
"Clank, my dear boy... you may not have been aware of it, but I've been watching you. You've done a great job defending the universe. I'm so proud of you... and I will continue to be proud of you..." For a moment, the actor playing Clank looked resigned, until the message continued, "...no matter what you choose."
With widened eyes, as though coming to a sudden revelation, the robot threw down the player and ran. Behind him, still playing, the message continued:
"Your soul was built on the principles I find important: intelligence and kindness, logic and loyalty. But you were not built to be ONLY these things. You have continued to develop and grow, taking these concepts and applying them in spectacular ways. And I know, whether you choose to take on my work, or forge your own path, you will do great good for this Universe. And no matter what you choose, I am proud to call you my son."
And with that last line, the Aphelion's hood closed, just slowly enough so that Clank could squeeze in. The Lombax exchanged a deep, meaningful look with his partner before they took off, the Aphelion leaving the Clock in the center of the Universe and disappearing into the black void surrounding the stage.
"Well, that was... barely accurate."
"Close enough. Hey, that flight still up for grabs?"
"Only for you, Ratchet."
Over the weeks reviews flooded the papers. Results to the spectacular play were mostly mixed: while some praised the emotion of the actors and special effects, others were far more critical of the broken story and cheesy dialogue. Captain Qwark, in his defense, proudly proclaimed that anything that was cut was 'for the safety of the public'. Still, it made some money and was a modest hit among casual fans of theater, so Captain Qwark called it a success.
Two of the plays biggest critics, ironically enough, were the starring duo themselves. While both of them admired the actors attempts to portray them respectfully, it seemed that was where the good things they had to say about the play ended.
Ratchet was quoted as saying this: "Qwark's always been about self-love and self-promotion, and this was no exception, with the added bonus of digging up deeply routed emotional trauma! I admit some parts were funny, but they probably weren't the parts Qwark intended to be funny. Overall, I give the play a 'meh'. If you want action with a decent storyline, go see the Precursor trilogy movies. Now THOSE were entertainment!"
Clank was quoted as saying this: "Well, I suppose the play could have been a lot worse. Looking at it objectively, Qwark did keep his self-obsession to a minimum. However, he misrepresented several parts of our story for plot or character convenience while hitting a little too close to home at other times. I honestly think it's a good allegory for how he sees the world around him."
Talwyn Apogee, who missed Opening Night due to food poisoning, is facing charges for attempting to make Captain Qwark eat his own script. She declined to comment.