A/N: No, Jak does not know who "Mar" is yet, because this story takes place at the end of the second game. All he's doing is teasing Keira about her "language."

Chapter 5

After the Metal Head ambush, Jak had insisted upon complete silence, and Keira had been able to comply with little difficulty. Still shaken from the incident, she followed so closely behind Jak that when he stopped to investigate a storm grate, she bumped into his back.

"Omph, sorry," Keira muttered right behind his ear. Jak glanced quickly back at her before kneeling to inspect the grate.

"I'm pretty sure we're on the other side of the blockade by now," Jak said in a low voice. "This storm drain leads right up into the streets. We can take the maintenance ladder up to the first level."

"Are you sure we can fit in there?" Keira asked, eyeing the narrow pipe warily. Jak just shook the grate, testing its strength.

"Hey Keira, think your 'mechanic's hands' can work their magic on these screws?" Jak asked as he stood up and turned to her with a wry smile. She bit her bottom lip as she bent down to study the metal grating that caught debris after heavy rainfalls in Haven City.

"Nope, I'd need a tool of some kind– a screwdriver at least. My nails aren't that strong."

"Okay then, stand back."

Keira quickly stood up and moved behind Jak as he drew the Morph Gun, toggling it to a purple ammunition that Keira didn't remember having seen before. Before she could ask him what it was, Jak had pressed and held the trigger, and a bolt of electricity built up at the end of the gun. Releasing the trigger caused the bolt of energy to rupture from the end of the gun and fly erratically toward the storm drain, exploding on impact.

Keira cringed behind Jak as the dust cleared. He walked up to the jagged remains of the grate and kicked them aside, clearing a hole for them to pass through to the pipe leading up to the street. Jak looked back at her with a grin as he shouldered his gun.

"Ladies first!" he said, gesturing dramatically toward the tiny tunnel. Keira smiled sarcastically before walking past him and standing in front of the rickety ladder that led up the drainpipe.

"Aren't you coming?" she called back to Jak, who was standing with his gun drawn and his back to her.

"Yep, just covering your escape," he called over his shoulder. "Just wait for me before you climb out all the way, okay?"

Keira only shook her head at Jak's insistence on playing the hero as she grasped the ladder rungs and began to climb. Unlike a manhole, the storm drain was uncovered where it opened into the gutter of the street. Keira tried not to think of what may have washed over these ladder rungs that she was clinging to as she worked her way up to the faint light above her.

She was about three quarters of the way up when she felt the ladder shake a little at the bottom. She paused to look down and see Jak's greenish-blonde head working up the ladder behind her. Grinning, she picked up the pace and reached the top in no time. As ordered, Keira stopped before climbing all the way out of the drain. She peered over the edge at the street and the city outside. This part of the city seemed much quieter than where they had fallen into the slums, with the sound of running water instead of burning fires. She didn't see as many signs of wreckage (or Metal Heads, for that matter).

"Okay, Keira," she heard Jak call right below her. She glanced down to see him stopped at her feet, looking up at her. "Hold still, I'm going to climb out first."

"What?" Keira asked, perplexed. "I'm already at the top, just let me–"

"No," Jak said firmly as he started climbing again, his hands grasping the rung right at her knees as he began to climb over her. "I need to make sure the coast is clear."

"Whatever, Jak," Keira mumbled as she tried to flatten herself to the ladder. She blushed as Jak fumbled for footing right on top of her, breathing onto the back of her neck before finally pulling himself up and over.

He was careful to not kick her in the face as he heaved himself out of the drain and onto the street, immediately drawing his gun and surveying the area. They had come much farther than he had expected, now on the other side of the city in the mall district. Jak began to recall racing the sociopath Erol through the water canals here, but he only frowned as he pushed the memory to the back of his mind and knelt down to pull Keira out of the drain.

She slid out easily and finally allowed herself to shudder after crawling through the slick sewer pipe. Jak grinned broadly as she reminded him of Daxter, shaking water and whatever else out of his fur after his own ventures into the sewer.

"Mar forbid I ever get another whiff of those sewers again..." Keira trailed off threateningly. Jak just shook his head and smiled at her crookedly.

"Since when do you swear, Miss Manners?" he winked at her as he cocked the Morph Gun and started to walk down the street. Keira finished brushing herself off before running after him and taking up her place immediately behind him.

"Since I had to live in this Mar-forsaken place," she retorted huffily. "From the moment I woke up here after lying unconscious in Haven Forest for who knows how long, I had to fight to just fit in. Picking up the lingo was part of the deal."

Jak had never considered what the others' experiences had been after their crash landing in the future. He had just assumed that they were nowhere near as bad as his own. Jak quickly stole a glance at Keira out of the corner of his eye to see her frowning slightly, as if visiting old memories of these past two years. She visibly shook herself and trotted to catch up to him.

"How's your ankle holding up?" Jak changed the subject as he shifted his gun and kept his eyes on the streets.

"I've come this far on it, I guess it's fine," she said, trying to sound nonchalant.

"Yeah right," Jak dismissed her attempt to brush him off as he glanced down at her injured foot. "We need to stop soon, anyway. There's not much use trying to find the others wandering around in the dark."

"I could have told you that when you decided to leave the Hide Out," Keira grumbled as she pushed up the long sleeves of the ragged sweatshirt again. Jak just rolled his eyes and started off down the street.

"That was different. Now we're farther away from the walls, and there's less chance of attack this deep into the city."

Keira decided against pointing out that they hadn't seen a Metal Head in the city yet, except when he had dragged her down into the sewers. She just sighed and hurried to catch up to him, but stumbled as she nearly rolled over her injured ankle. She fell to the street with a soft cry of surprise, and Jak spun around with his gun aimed over her head. When he saw that she had just fallen (and was not attacked by Metal Heads, as he had feared), he cursed at himself and ran over to help her up.

"I'm okay..." she started, lightly pushing off his support as she picked herself up. Instead of standing up, however, she sat back and leaned on the heels of her hands, looking up at Jak as he kneeled in front of her.

"This place is so quiet..." she said after a minute. Jak looked around them at all the empty shops and vacant streets. It was true that this inner section of the city seemed less war-torn, but it was only less by comparison. There was less blood and less glass, but the signs of attack were still apparent. Jak remembered hijacking a zoomer in this area on his race to the Metal Head nest. He knew that he had probably stranded the owner to die at the claws of a Metal Head, but in that moment, the only thing that seemed to matter was the defeat of the leader.

Looking around now, Jak suddenly felt guilty about what was left behind in the wake of his victory, and even more about what had not. There were no people. After all the curses and time spent threading his way through the masses of citizens on missions for Torn or Krew or some other boss, Jak would now have almost welcomed even a Krimzon Guard on high alert after being smacked in the head with a zoomer instead of all this dead silence.

The Krimzon Guard... Jak suddenly thought to himself. Where are they? Surely not everyone has been killed... There must be fighting still going on somewhere...

"Um, hello, Jak?" Keira said uncertainly again, waving her hands in front of Jak's vacant expression. Jak shook himself out of his musings and looked at her.

"What is it?"

"You just sort of spaced off there..." Keira said, looking at him sideways. "You okay?"

"Yeah," he said as he stood and grabbed her hands to pull her up. He noticed that she was balancing most of her weight on her right foot, while her injured left foot gingerly brushed the ground. Keira saw his concerned look and she forced herself to press her left foot more firmly to the ground while suppressing a wince. Jak decided to humor her and change the subject.

"Isn't the stadium somewhere around here?" he asked, staring around the area again. Keira nodded toward a left turn in the road ahead.

"Yeah, it should be right up ahead, actually"

The sound of crumbling concrete interrupted her, and Jak quickly stepped in front of her with his gun aimed at the direction of the sound. Keira didn't dare breathe as Jak crept toward the turn in the road and jumped out from the corner with his gun ready to fire.

"Yeeahh!!" cried a strange voice. Jak ducked and rolled, and Keira screamed as she watched a large shadow leap at him.

"Jak!" she cried out, too late.

"Brutter?" Jak asked, standing up and lowering his gun.

Keira ran closer to the confrontation and identified the large shadow to be none other than Brutter the Lurker. I'm never going to get used to Lurkers being friendly, Keira sighed to herself as Brutter picked himself off the ground and ran to shake Jak's hand.

"Friends!" the excited Lurker cried as he grabbed Jak's whole arm and shook him so thoroughly that his head bobbed. "Brutter has been searching all over city to find you! Brutter is so happy..."

"Uh, that's great, Brutter," Jak said uneasily as he attempted to pull his arm out of Brutter's enthusiastic grasp. "Have you found the others? What about Daxter and Samos?"

"You two is only friends that Brutter find so far," Brutter said sadly. "After balloon accident, Brutter find himself alone and scared. Look for friends as fast as possible."

"Thank you, Brutter," Keira said warmly, trying to cheer up the Lurker. Keira tried not to flinch as he bared his fangs in a happy smile.

"Brutter no find the little orangy and greeny friends," the Lurker offered. "But he find some others with funny faces..."

"What are you talking about, Brutter?" Jak narrowed his eyes, trying to decipher Brutter's broken language. "You found some other survivors?"

"Yes!" he nodded eagerly. "And they is helping Brutter! 'Find Jak,' they say, and they go out to search too..."

"Someone is looking for us," Jak looked gravely at Keira, who noted the omnious tone in his voice. "Where are they?"

"Brutter left them at the stadium up ahead," the Lurker gestured from the direction he had pounced from. "Jak and Keir-ria should go there and talk to new friends."

"We will, Brutter," Jak said, cocking his gun. "Do you know their names?"

But Brutter was already bounding away in the direction opposite the stadium. "No worry!" he called back at Keira and Jak. "Just look for funny faces! They know who you is!"

"Wait, Brutter!" Keira called to him. "Aren't you coming with us?"

"No, Brutter must find other little friends!" his voice quickly fading into the distance. "Little greeny and orangey is counting on Brutter!

Brutter was gone as quickly as he had come, leaving the confused Keira and Jak in his wake.

"Do you think we should follow him?" Keira asked after a moment as she turned to look at Jak. "I mean, if he's looking for Daddy and Daxter, we should definitely help..."

"Wherever Dax and your dad are, I doubt they would benefit much from us running around blindly in the dark," Jak shrugged. "Right now, I want to head to the stadium. Funny faces... You think he meant KG tattoos?"

"You mean like Ashelin and Torn?" Keira filled in distastefully. She guessed that she was okay with Torn, since she had supported the Underground all along, but she was less than thrilled with the prospect of meeting up with the butch female Krimzon Guard commander. Jak noticed Keira's apparent reluctance to team up with Ashelin, but he decided to ignore it for the sake of survival.

"In any case, we should check it out. If it is Ashelin and Torn, then we could use all the help we can get." Jak started walking toward the stadium.

Keira just shook her head and tried to keep the hobble out of her step as she followed Jak. It seemed that this was only the beginning of their adventure.

A/N: Le sigh, this story is complete. As Keira indicates, the next adventure begins and you know the rest. I really liked this snippet, so let me know what you think.



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.