Chapter 1- Photo Op
Ratchet crept silently through the alien halls of the Tyrannoid base, two Galactic Rangers following him closely as his backup. The bulkhead doors parted at the end of the corridor. A large shimmering green force field cut through the middle of the room, effectively separating Ratchet's squad from their final objective- the leader of the remnants of the Tyrannoid resistance.
Ratchet raised his hand, the rangers fanned out to cover him. He approached the control panel, tapping the controls. The screen flashed ACESS DENIED. Ratchet knew he would have to utilize some drastic measures. Ratchet drew his wrench, jamming it into the computer console. The circuitry crackled and fried, the force field shimmered and died. With the field gone a flurry of plasma suddenly flew towards him. Ratchet leapt towards a supply crate as plasma flew over his head.
"Rangers, take up positions and return fire" No response came. "Rangers!" Ratchet looked over his shoulder to see the Rangers standing at the door.
"Sorry Sarge. We have gotta report for a mandatory group therapy session. But we're sure you can handle yourself. See ya!" The soldiers ran down the hallway, the door closing behind them, leaving Ratchet to fight his enemy single handedly.
Ratchet rose over his crate, blaster raised. He noticed a figure stood atop the pile of crates, their cape fluttering behind them. They hefted a plasma rifle, staring down at him through the scope. The weapons targeting computer beeping gleefully, confirming it had a lock on him. "Ah, so who has the Federation sent to silence me? A commando? I'm flattered"
"What can I say, everyone else was busy" Ratchet leapt from his position, firing his weapon blindly towards his elusive target. The bolts of super heated struck the weapons targeting computer, the soft metal melting away in the bandits arms. In a rage they discarded the crippled weapon to the floor, the metal clanking against the hard surface.
The thief unsheathed their vibrosword from its sheath, taking an offensive stance. Ratchet removed his own blade, mimicking his enemy. The figure launched from the pillar of crates, swinging their sword towards Ratchet. Ratchet raised his weapon, the sound of stressed metal screeching through the room as the weapons made contact. The creature dropped down behind Ratchet. Ratchet swung around, their blades meeting once again. Ratchet leapt over his attacker, the tip of his blade digging into the rubber of the back of his enemies covered neck. He smirked as a sense of pride ran through him; at the tip of his blade was the last leader of the Tyrannoid resistance. The thief swung on their heels, their blade slicing cleanly through Ratchets covered neck. Ratchets helmet clunked to the floor, his life-less body skewered at his enemy's feet. His open wound seeping blood onto the metal floor. The thief sheathed their blood stained weapon, sneering down at the lifeless body of their battered opponent.
"You know Ratchet you should never drop your guard, even when the enemy waits at the end of your weapon" His enemy mocked his broken corpse.
"Simulation Terminated" Called through the room. The dark brown walls of the Tyrannoid Base broke down into the crackling black walls of the Phoenix's VR room.
Ratchet rose from his virtual death, rubbing his neck, ensuring it was still intact. "You know, you didn't have to cut my head off" His opponent lifted they're VR helmet off their head, their dark purple hair fluttering free.
"Yeah, but I did it anyway" Sasha smirked at her humiliated sparring partner. Ratchet simply scrambled to his feet, striding straight past her towards the Locker Room. Sasha sighed as she followed behind him.
Ratchet clicked open the locks of his suit, lifting the torso section over his shoulders, wiping the stray bead of sweat clear from his brow. He placed the armor down on the bench, typing the code into the locker before him. Across the locker room he watched in the mirror as Sasha undid her belt, placing her weapon down on the bench beside her. She stretched her cramped muscles. Sasha stood frozen, her arms high in the air staring blankly into her locker. She looked over her shoulder at Ratchet, watching him stare at the mirror hoping to catch a glimpse of her. "Don't get your hopes up hotshot; I've got clothes under this armor"
She broke the lock on her armored gauntlet, exposing the rubber jumpsuit beneath it. Sasha continued to remove pieces of her armor, she reached into her locker for her brush, combing each loose strand of hair back into place. She sighed as she felt the calming feeling as each stubborn strand was restrained back into place. She looked into her mirror as she watched herself, until she froze.
She strolled across to Ratchets side as he closed his locker; Sasha reached out, jamming it open. She pushed the door open, reaching into the dark confines of the locker. Out of it she pulled out a small photo depicting herself, albeit clothed in nothing but her lingerie to protect her dignity.
"And where may I ask did you get this?" She hissed, waving the photo before his nose.
"Well ur. Last week I was tweaking the Spiderbot to be fitted with a camera, you know for reconnaissance missions. I decided to test it by sending it through the Phoenix's ventilation system and stumbled, by accident, across your room" He twiddled his fingers, guilt ridden.
"So you decided to take pictures of me naked?" Ratchet looked to the ground sheepishly.
Sasha gave him a fiery glare. She looked he photo over, flipping it in her hand. Her face suddenly sharpened, an evil glare growing across her face, until it slowly softened and she placed the picture back in his locker. "Next time just ask. I'm sure I can accommodate" Sasha winked before she walked out of the locker room, swaying her hips as she went.
"Fire!" The assault cannons flared as shells flew over his head, the canisters trailing grey smoke as they shifted towards the Tyrannoid tanks sitting upon the dry sand dunes. The missiles struck their targets, enveloping them in a plume of burning flame.
Ratchet raised his arm; around him squads of rangers broke ranks and ran towards the remainder of the Tyrannoid infantry. The breeze ruffled his fur as he crossed his arms over his armored chest, smirking as he watched the rangers break into teams, targeting each screeching, squealing alien as they ran for their lives, quickly gunned down by the pursuing robots. The last of the slimy aliens fell at robot feet, Ratchet standing atop a ranger tank snickering down at their victory.
A loud beep rattled through the terrain as the dust that flew through the air disintegrated into packets of data. The rangers looked around confused, still not used to the effects of VR training. Ratchet removed his helmet, looking over the droids before him. "Great job guys. Report to Al for a tune up, fix anything that needs fixing and report back here in two hours for the next stage of Advanced training"
They all saluted their sergeant as one, before leaving the VR Room towards the repair bay. Ratchet strolled towards the locker room. He dropped his equipment pack down on the bench, typing the code into his locker. He placed his helmet into his locker. He froze in surprise; his picture of Sasha had been stolen. In its place was a note. He removed the piece of paper; it read
"Ratchet, if you don't want the identity of the photographer of this picture to circulate to the crew, the Galactic President and the several million Galactic Rangers at his disposal, return here at twelve midnight tonight. S."
Ratchet crumpled the note in his gauntleted hand, he knew the culprit. But if he confronted them it would only do more damage to the situation than good, for now he must comply with their demands.