Disclaimer I do not own nor did I create Jak II, its characters, plots, locations, etc. It all belongs to Naughty Dog and Sony Computer Entertainment America.

A/N: There is mention of "a green energy shield over the city." This is my own take on Vin's "shields" that he always talked about (see end A/N if you're still not convinced). As Sig says, just roll with it.


Chapter 1

"Come on, Jak," Daxter said as he jumped from his usual perch on Jak's shoulder and ran over to the balloon. "We're gonna miss our flight!"

Jak nodded slowly and took one last look around the Metal Head nest where he had just defeated Kor and witnessed his younger self depart for the past, along with "the light." He was still trying to wrap his mind around the idea that he had just saved himself so that he could save himself again in the future, which was his now his past of about five minutes ago... Jak vigorously shook his head.

No use thinking about it, he thought with a sigh. Instead, he looked around the room at all the friends who had helped him get this far. He saw Daxter, his best friend turned ottsel, arms crossed and paw tapping impatiently where he stood on the raft of the Lurker balloon. Next to him stood Keira, arms also crossed over her chest as she stared vacantly at the fresh ruins of the Rift Ring. He was willing to bet that the mechanic was pondering some way to rebuild the ring again.

Jak smiled privately to himself as he followed her gaze to the demolished ring. Samos stood nearby, also studying the remains. He suddenly wondered how they felt, knowing that their only way back home to Sandover was now destroyed, just so that his younger self could follow in his footsteps through time...

Especially Keira, Jak thought, suddenly downcast as he looked back at her. She was chewing on her bottom lip slightly– a nervous habit she'd had since they were kids. He knew that she had wanted so badly to go back home that she had constructed the Rift Rider to begin with. He wondered suddenly if she blamed him for her present banishment.

Before he could think anymore about it, Jak gave a sudden start as he noticed Brutter the Lurker hauling the decapitated Metal Head leader's head onboard the balloon raft.

"Whoa whoa whoa!" Daxter cried out, wildly gesticulating toward the head. "What do you think you're doing with that? I never want to see another Metal Head for as long as I live!"

"Brutter thought it would make good trophy, no?" the Lurker panted as he tossed the head toward raft. "Not every day you bag Metal Header leader!"

The head landed right in front of Daxter, who yelped and scurried up Keira's back to hide in her hair.

"Eek! Daxter!" Keira cringed as Daxter clawed his way up. "You have longer nails than me!"

Daxter had curled himself around her neck like a fur stole when Jak smiled and walked up to literally pull his best friend out of Keira's hair.

"It's okay, Dax," Jak said with a wink at Keira as he set Daxter back on his shoulder. "Not everyone looks as good in fur as we do..."

"We?" Daxter scoffed. "At least you aren't coveredin it! And I ain't your accessory, Ms. Jak!"

"Now, now, children..." Samos warned as he carefully side-stepped Kor's head, not wanting to get any closer to it than Daxter did. "Let's just concentrate on getting home."

"Yes, we must be going now, no?" Brutter tugged on a rope that attached the raft to the ground. "Gas in balloon no can last forever!"

Jak looked up to see the balloon looking slightly saggy as it bobbed in the air. Unlike a hot air balloon, Lurker balloons were filled with blue eco gas that eventually escaped over time. Brutter could only land the balloon one more time by releasing the gas before it wouldn't rise anymore.

As the raft slowly floated higher into the air, Jak and Daxter peered over the edge to see the Metal Head nest disappear beneath them. They could still see swarms of Metal Heads and could hear their feral screams as the confused monsters attacked each other in panic over the death of their leader.

"Think they'll just finish each other off?" Daxter asked as he warily watched the commotion below them. Jak shook his head grimly.

"Don't count on it. Who knows what they've already done to the city..."

Keira looked worried. "When we left, the shield dome was down and people were being overrun by those monsters. What if there isn't a city left to go back to?"

"Don't worry, my dear," Samos said in a soothing voice. "No doubt they'll retreat when they learn of the death of their master. And the shield may be back on-line by now..."

"If shield be back on," Brutter chimed in. "We all be in big trouble, no? Lurker Balloon no can travel through 'green lights,' and we is losing air time," he said, motioning to the balloon above them. It was true, they were beginning to lose altitude.

"It's Kor's big fat head!" Daxter glared accusingly at the oozing head. "Let's throw him overboard!"

Brutter gasped and stood protectively in front of the head.

"No no! Big monument in Lurker history! Is present for friend Jak!"

"Quiet, you two," Jak snapped as he was starting to get irritated at the banter around him. While he struggled to maintain a determined outlook, internally his anxiety rose. His gaze was fixed on the city as they approached. Even from this distance, they could hear screaming and gunshots. The fighting had not yet ended.

Everyone aboard the raft seemed tense. Daxter glared at Brutter silently from his perch on Jak's shoulder, who was standing in a corner grasping one of the ropes for balance. Jak looked over toward where Keira stood, arms wrapped tightly around herself as she stood in the middle of the raft with her father and chewing on her lip harder than ever. Brutter was holding on to a rope at the head of the raft, pulling it in an attempt to steer the balloon toward the darkened city.

"I don't see the energy shield yet, do you Jak?" Daxter asked, clutching his friend's shoulder a little tighter.

"That last transmission we got from Vin..." Samos began quietly. "It didn't sound good. The shield dome could be down for a long time."

"Ashelin and Torn should be working to get the city's defenses back," Jak said as he pulled out his communicator. "Maybe they know what's going on."

Jak turned on the communicator to static. He paged Ashelin and waited for a response. At first, there was only more static, but soon they could make out the sounds of gunfire coming over the radio waves.

"Ashelin?" Jak asked. "You there?"

More static, and then a sudden explosion. They all looked up to see a small ball of fire rise into the sky over the distant city.

"Dammit, Jak!" Ashelin's irritated voice finally shouted through the radio. "This is not the best time!"

"Ashelin!" Jak growled as he walked across the raft to the edge that was approaching the city. "We need to know if the shield dome is coming back on-line! Do you read me?"

There were more gunshots, and a curse from Ashelin.

"How the hell am I supposed to know!" she yelled finally, accompanied with a few more shots from her pistol. "I sent a team to the power plant over an hour ago! If it were coming back on-line, it would have happened by now!"

They were creeping nearer and nearer to the city, and they could still see no sign of the glowing green shield that usually arced over the city's sky. If it came back on-line while they tried to pass through it, they could be cut in half.

"Listen," Ashelin continued. "You shouldn't try to get back into the city right now anyway. I just got a transmission from Torn who's holding on to the perimeter walls, and he said the Metal Heads were barricading the doors from the outside."

Everyone moved to look over the edge of the raft at the city's foundation and saw the writhing masses of Metal Heads beating relentlessly against the heavy doors, preventing anyone from entering or exiting.

"I guess that cuts off entrance from the ground level," Samos sighed.

"I still say we should dump Kor's head on 'em," Daxter muttered.

"This city is a Mar-damned death trap," Ashelin went on. "Just get the hell out while you can."

"Not a chance," Jak grit his teeth as they were less than 100 yards from the perimeter. "We're coming in– over and out."

"Jak," Keira said shakily. "Are you sure this is the right thing to do? I mean, going back in there..."

"There's nothing else we can do, Keir," Jak said, gesturing to the balloon above them. "This balloon is going down one way or the other."

"Yeah," Daxter piped up. "Either we head into the city full of Metal Heads, or hang out here with all the Metal Heads! It's your choice, sister!"

Keira cast a scathing glance at the ottsel, but before she could open her mouth to reply, Brutter interrupted her.

"Look! Look!" he shouted gleefully. "Balloon almost over city! Here we come, Metal Headers!"

Everyone held their breath as the balloon passed silently over the barricade. The anguished screams of the frustrated Metal Heads filled the air as they desperately tried to claw up the concrete walls to reach the balloon.

"Nyah nyah!" Daxter called out, leaning off of Jak's shoulder as he stuck his tongue out at the monsters.

"Easy, Dax– we're not out of the woods yet," Jak reprimanded as he pulled Daxter back by his tail. There were still hoovering in the shield zone.

"Okay, Brutter, take us down as fast as possible."

Keira visibly shuddered as they neared the battles waging on the ground floor. Suddenly, Jak's communicator lit up.

"Jak!" called Ashelin's voice. "Jak, do you read me?"

Jak quickly pressed the call button. "I'm here. What's going on down there?"

"I just got a call from my team at the power plant. They finally managed to get the grids on-line. The shield should be activating any minute now."

"WHAAT!" Daxter yelled, grabbing the communicator from Jak. "Listen, lady. Do you have any idea where we are right now! Tell 'em to KEEP IT OFF!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" Ashelin snapped at the ottsel. "I thought you just told me to turn it on! Where the hell are you?"

Before they could answer, a crackle of electricity flashed through the air. Keira's terrified eyes locked on to Jak's.

"Brutter!" Jak shouted. "Get us the hell do–"

But before Brutter could comply, a flash of green streaked over the skyline.

"Get down!"

Jak lunged forward, knocking Keira over the edge of the raft as the shield sliced through the air above their heads. The force field split through the balloon and ripped the raft in half. Everyone screamed as they were thrown in the impact and plummeted toward the city.

A/N: I just wanted to clarify the shield thing again before I get any reviews about how wrong I am. I just thought that those "shield walls" that Vin was always ranting about would make sense if it were a dome protecting the city from the airborne Metal Heads. The dome could be so high up that from the ground level in the city, you could look up and not see the green glow. Don't ask me how it rains in there– maybe the city has its own climate control.