Disclaimer: I do not own Jak II: Renegade in anyway, shape or form. I do own the Jak III and Jak IV series. Please do not take them or copy them without my permission.
A/N: Yes, I know. I promised Jak IV weeks ago… hey caught me a break. My sister bought me Jak 3 on the day I was going to post Act I and that game took up all of my attention. After that I was a little too depressed and up set with Naughty Dog to really do anything serious with Jak IV: Penalties of War. But Naughty Dog and I have made our peace together and I'm ready to update! :D
Alright to anyone who is new to my series: this is based on Jak II and is in no way related to that disappointing, but all together fun, Jak 3. Notice the Roman Numerals? That's how you tell the difference! I would suggest reading Jak III: Secret Origins before trying to tackle this one since it is a direct sequel, but for those of you who are lazy (like me) I'll point out a few facts that you MUST know to understand the series. It'll also be a refresher to the Jak III veterans (I feel special 'cause I have veterans).
One: Keira is Sig's biological daughter and they are both from the Holy City out in the desert
Two: Keira defeated an evil Chaos goddess, Eris, with the help of Jak
Three: Keira is actually a descendent of the Goddess, most powerful of all the immortals
Four: Daxter turned human/elf in Jak III: Secret Origins
Five: Torn married Ashlin, Ashlin was pregnant, Jak married Keira, Tess married Daxter
Six: A mysterious voice keeps reminding Jak of a debt he has not paid
Seven: Sage-Harmona (an ancient city) and the people killed Eris's evil are being reborn by the power of the Goddess
And that's all you really need to know. Of course, there are also some important facts I didn't list that might make the story clearer to you, but for those you'll have to ready Jak III: Secret Origins. And if you do, mind posting a review? I'm a review junkie.
PS: This is a special note to Specter Von Baron. E-mail me! I lost your address and I have some uses for your characters you might like. Of course, I need your permission and I think you ought to know what I plan to do with them, but I can't say it here. It'll give away the story!
Jak IV: Penalties of War
Part One: We Bury the Dead Alive
Act I: United They Stand
"Weird…" he observed, watching as the beasts scurried away from him. They hadn't even put up a fight. There had been no sign of retaliation. They had simply seen him, seen his gun, and headed for the hills.
"Don't tell me you're complaining," a gruff voice returned and he turned to face the redhead on his side.
Blue eyes narrowed. "No. It just isn't like them. One would think they would attack us on sight. It smells funny…"
"Yeah well, I didn't put you in charge of this operation for your sense of smell, Jak," the redhead snapped back. "In fact, I'm not sure why I even put you in charge. A momentary flaw in my thinking. Won't happen again."
Jak Mar snorted humorlessly. "Oh shut up, Torn. You know you need me to handle the Wastelanders. Sig's retired now. Who else are they going to listen to? They don't give a damn about your Krimzon Guard."
"Bastard," Torn, the Krimzon Guard commander, shot back but it was said in an almost friendly manner. Almost. "You've grown too arrogant for your own good, Jak. If you're not careful you're gonna wake up with Metal Head teeth in your back."
"If they keep running like this I won't have to worry about it for too much longer," Jak pointed out, turning his blue gaze upon the sands. The black hides of the Metal Heads rushed towards the sun, deeper into the desert. They had a nest there, Jak was sure, but since they had yet to try anything against Heaven City trying to find it would waste too much time, soldiers, and money. The people of the city weren't welling to pay for Torn's exploits anymore. Now they just wanted to have peace.
Jak couldn't blame them. On a good day he felt like turning to the Krimzon Guard commander and saying good luck. He could stay in the Racing Sector of the city then. With the woman he loved.
But he had made a promise to Torn, a promise to be to the commander of the Wastelanders. He couldn't go back on it. He would command the Wastelanders, under Torn's leadership, until he was old enough to retire.
As Jak mused on this, Torn turned his head and looked over at the Wastelanders that had accompanied them on their latest mission to purge the Metal Heads from their lands. They were a rough bunch, the Wastelanders. But since they had been the only group willing to take the journey outside the protective walls of Heaven City for the longest time it came as no surprise they were rough and battle worn.
They looked up to Jak, thankfully. If they hadn't then Torn didn't know how he would have recruited them. Sig wasn't much help since he had retired from his former job as a top Wastelander. This rowdy group of men had no respect for Torn or the Krimzon Guard and they could barely muster enough politeness for Ashlin, governor of Haven City. If it wasn't for Jak these Wastelanders might have very well tried to usurp Ashlin from her thrown. Hell, maybe they'd all still be under Praxis's iron fist if Jak hadn't walked into their life, angry and out for revenge.
Torn smirked at the notion, his rough face becoming more handsome with every lift of his lips. It still amazed him, to this day, that Jak had such an effect on the city. There was nothing amazing about him—average size, average strength, average intelligence—but there was just something about the blonde man that had you routing for the underdog, had you believing that the damned near impossible was going to happen. Jak did that.
He was a symbol of freedom, whether Jak liked it or not.
"You're smiling, Torn," Jak pointed out without turning his head to look at him. "It's very out of character."
"This from the guy who went from pissed-off asshole to city savior to god-slayer to husband. I don't think you even have a character," Torn retorted and found himself pleased with the glare the former renegade sent him. Jak might have been willing to settle down but he could still be just as easily riled.
"I didn't give myself those names," he snapped.
"Of course you didn't. They wouldn't have mattered if you had," Torn agreed and slapped Jak hard on the back in a half-friendly half-painful manner.
Three years, Jak thought humorlessly, three years since we've gotten back and those names haven't gone away.
He wanted them to. Oh, how he wanted them to! How he wanted them to forget who he was and what he did. He wanted to get on with his life, settle down and start a family. But people were always hounding him, beggaring with one thing or another. Even Torn. Torn had asked him to be the leader of the Wastelander branch of the Krimzon Guard. Torn had asked him because he was Jak defender of Haven City and he couldn't say no.
Jak gave a loud sigh that had Torn raising a questioning eyebrow at him. The younger man shrugged as an answer. "Just tired. We've been at this for about twelve hours now."
"What's a matter, Jak? Miss the action of the younger days? Before the golden peace?" The chuckle Torn gave suggested that, on some level, he did too. "It's better this way, you know. It's a better world for our children."
"Speak for yourself. I don't have any children, Torn," Jak snapped. That was, after all, a tender subject that Torn had learn two years earlier to steer away from.
"Well, hell, who's fault is that? You've been married to Keira for, what, two and a half years? Is it my fault you won't start a family with her?" Normally Torn would've backed down moments before but he was tired off seeing Jak yearning for a family, but never daring to start one.
"If Keira and I did start a family, Torn, then I would never be there for the baby. I'd always be busy with the Wastelanders," Jak protested.
"Take your head out of your ass, Jak," Torn ordered. "The city doesn't need you that much. Take a few years' vacation, put one of the Wastelanders in charge, and start on that damn family. Your whining is really annoying me."
"I. Do. Not. Whine." Glaring at him, Jak jerked his head to one side, grinding his jaw muscles in anger. No one told Jak he whined, no one.
"Jak, Haven doesn't need a defender anymore. We can defend ourselves and besides we have diplomatic ties with the Holy City now. If something happens it won't be just up to you to save us all. Things change, Jak." Torn waved his hand in the air as if the whole conversation was annoying him.
"I guess I do need a vacation…" Jak reasoned with himself, the beginning of a smile working its way across his lips.
"I need the vacation, damnit! A vacation from you. You are the most annoying man I have ever met." Torn rubbed his temples in exasperation.
"I would think this was vacation for you. Isn't Ryu a toddler? I heard somewhere that it was hardest part of raising a child." Jak grinned over at his somewhat friend.
Torn gave a mock shudder. Years ago this friendly joking would have been beyond him, but with peace came a tenderness the gruff former rebellion leader had never shown before. "God, I never thought we'd make it out of the terrible twos. Ryu just wouldn't stop crying. I never cried like that."
Jak chuckled for he too had learned to release the hard-faced coldness of his former self. Like Torn he had begun to open up, tenderized in this time of peace. Finally the warrior was enjoying life.
Ryutaro, the heir to Haven City's throne, had the look of Torn, but a softness neither his mother nor father possessed. Most people—or those who were old enough to remember—chalked it up to Ashlin's grandmother, who had been known as the softest in the Praxis line. Recently turned three Ryu was already talking and walking, scampering after his mother and wanting nothing to do with Metal Heads. They gave him nightmares, he had said quite calmly when Torn had asked the little boy if he thought he would like to be in the Krimzon Guard.
"I don' thin' I would lik it 'ery much, Daddy," little Ryu had said with a quite confident look, trying his best to pronounce the words so his father would understand him. Torn had sighed and looked disappointed.
Jak didn't say it out loud, but he had the feeling Torn would end up being very disappointed in Ryu in terms of his work ethics. Jak could tell the little boy was the kind of person who was serene, calm and easy-going. When he looked into the boy's green eyes—the only facial trait from Ashlin he had received—he had seen a smirk and a sense of wonder that was nothing like his father's strict military mind.
Ryu was going to be a visionary, a softie. And in times of peace they were going to need that soft touch Ryu carried with him. Jak was just barely coming to terms with the fact that the fighting that had shaped him into the man he was today was obsolete. Sometimes it was more then he could bear, to think he was going to be useless in the coming years. But all he had to do was look into Ryu's innocent eyes and know this was how it was supposed to be.
That boy was the first of a new generation. A generation that wouldn't have to fight or know the horrors of war. Ryutaro would be the poet, the writer, the boy who was more concerned with his zoomer rather than where he was going to get his next meal. It was obvious to the plan eye that while Ryu would reach for the stars he would do it in his own way, a way that differed completely from his father's.
Since Jak guessed Torn was still dealing with that he didn't voice his thoughts.
"I'm glad I'm not in Daxter and Tess's place," Torn said on an afterthought. "I mean a hyper two-year old and another on the way. Can you imagine? I can barely handle Ryu and he's an easy going kid. I couldn't imagine spending more then an hour with Lee."
Lee, the first and only son of Daxter and Tess—so far—was as energetic as they came. Where Ryu was laid back and easy-going Lee was always doing something. Whether it was running around the Naughty Ottsel, causing havoc, or trying to jump into the port Lee always had his parents on their toes. And now Tess was expecting another child in six more months.
"Tess and Daxter have enough energy to fill six people," Jak answered. "Some people were meant for big families and those two are definitely one of them."
"And what about you, Jak? You're one of those people who don't have families?"
Jak gave his friend a small smile and walked back towards the walls of Haven City. "We'll see."
"I think you should hit him…" the statement was delivered with such confidence and assurance that anyone with a sane mind and a sure brain would not have thought to question it.
However, Keira Hagai-Mar—though of a sane mind and a sure brain—was currently lost in thought and the voice of her friend, Tess, was lost on her ears. "Hmm…?"
Tess, a pretty blonde bombshell, took a deep drink of her soda, laden with caffeine—something she had began to worship and crave—and sent Keira an annoyed look. "Jak. Hit. Him."
Keira blinked at her in confusion, the dark green of her eyes wide. "And why, pray tell, would I want to do that?"
"Knock some common sense into him. Come on, Keira! You've been married for over two years and not a bundle of joy in sight!" Tess slapped her glass against the hard wood of the table they sat at. It was in the back of the bar, safely tucked away in the corner. It was an easy escape for Tess whenever the crowds at the Naughty Ottsel became too much for her to handle.
In her lap a little boy with bright blonde hair and wide brown eyes squirmed. "Momma, want down!" he cried in displeasure, swinging his chubby toddler arms. He was thin and his chubby cheeks were flushed with frustration at his predicament. The way his face clenched reminded Keira of Daxter whenever he was particularly annoyed with Jak, but his nose crinkled like Tess's.
"Hush, Lee. You slipped the bottles all over the back and now you have to sit out your punishment." When the child reached out for her drink in subtle protest to the treatment, Tess held it at an arm length. "No! No caffeine for you. I can barely handle you now, imagine you on caffeine."
Lee opened his mouth, his eyes watered, and screeched.
Even as Tess pressed her forehead against the wooden table, Keira chuckled and rubbed at a sore spot on her chest. Oh, how she wanted this! How she wanted to have to deal with an energetic child with blonde hair and green eyes.
That was her problem. She was a woman, after all, and so she yearned for children. Little things to cuddle and raise and love. But Jak Mar, her husband of two and a half years, had not spoken a word of children. She knew he was busy with setting up the Wastelander Branch of the Krimzon Guard and his constant hounding by the people of the city, but still she yearned for a family.
The blonde raised her head from the table and caught Keira's wistful look. "You should just tell him you want kids."
Sighing, the woman in question looked away. "I can't. Jak's so… so busy. With Torn and the Krimzon Guard and the Wastelanders. How can I even think about asking for children when he's got so much on his plate already?"
"Fine. But you know your biological clock is ticking," Tess pointed out and gritted her teeth in pain when Lee slapped his particularly bony butt against her knee. "Damnit!"
Lee's eyes widened and he stared up at his mother. "Bad wooooooooord!" he whispered in horror.
"Yes, Mommy did say a bad word, didn't she?" Without hesitation Keira reached over and dragged the little boy into lap. Lee squealed with delight and pressed a noisy kiss to her cheek. Lee was his father's son, after all, and he loved the attention that was bestowed upon him.
"I don't know what I'm thinking. I must be crazy," Tess said at length, eyeing her giggling son. "Lee's barely out of his terrible twos and I'm all ready to have another one. Honestly, Keira, why do I suffer? Daxter gets to go one business trips for the bar and I'm stuck here driving myself insane."
"Love?" Keira suggested cheekily.
"I loathe you," Tess said, but her voice was lost over the sudden coughing fit that overtook Lee.
"Baby?" Keira pressed Lee to her chest in worry and patted his back, harder then normal. Lee gagged for a few more minutes before calming down. However, coughing had taken much out of him and Lee's head dropped to Keira's shoulder.
"He's had the cough for a good three weeks now," Tess explained at Keira's worried look. "The doctors say it has to do with allergy season. Nothing to worry about. He'll be up on his feet in a few minutes."
Before another word could be spoken between the two another female voice, albeit much angrier then Keira or Tess's, shouted, "I told you, leave me alone! I was Krimzon Guard, too! I can handle it!"
"But, ma'am, Commander Torn said—"
"Does it look like I give a damn what the hell Torn said! It's an order, soldier!"
And Ashlin Praxis strode into the room, her little son hitched on her hip. Ryutaro could have been the miniature version of Torn save for softer features unhardened by war. But his eyes, easy-going and innocence, belonged to neither his mother nor his father, though they were the exact same shade as his mother's. But they were all his own.
The red dreadlocks of her hair swung against her shoulders as Ashlin moved over to Keira and Tess. Her pretty face, covered with Krimzon Guard markings, was set in an annoyed scowl that didn't really diminish her features so much as heighten them. Her hips swayed rhythmically as she strode, confidence in every stride. Ashlin Praxis came off as a woman used to getting what she wanted and someone who knew how to get it.
Keira smiled at them both in greeting, "Ashlin. I thought you weren't going to make it." Lee gave a wild squeal of delight and pushed himself from Keira's arms. Ryu did the same thing with his mother.
As the two little boys began to play together, taking turns playing tag in the center of the bar, Ashlin took her seat beside her two friends. "I. Am. Going. To. Kill. Torn." She bit out the words with as much venom as she could muster, which due to her years as a Krimzon Guard office was a lot.
Tess laughed and shook her head in disbelief. "And I thought Daxter was hard to deal with."
Ashlin lowered her head to the hardwood of the table and groaned out loud. "He's so damned protective. We've been at peace for almost three years now but he still insists a Guard follows me everywhere. If he didn't get so jealous I think he'd have a Guard follow me into the goddamn bathroom."
"Well, Ashlin, you are the official governor of Heaven City. Why shouldn't they want to protect you?" Keira questioned, smiling into the annoyed face of her friend. Before, this friendly exchange between the two women would have been inconceivable, but with the years came also a maturity.
The said governor stuck her tongue out at Keira. "Gee, you're so helpful." Frowning she pressed Keira, "How is Jak?"
"Don't you know?" Tess pondered out loud, not really asking Ashlin in particular. "He comes to the palace all the time as Wastelander commander, doesn't he?"
"He's always doing something out in the wasteland with Torn and then he's always busy trying to get home to you," Ashlin paused to incline her head towards Keira, "so I never see him anymore."
"We're doing alright," Keira answered and didn't bother to try to hide the frown that suddenly marred her face. "But I want children, Ashlin, and I don't think Jak's… so willing…"
Ashlin snorted and didn't believe it for a second. "Just tell him, Keira. You're married so family's part of the package."
"Things are just changing so fast, you know? Before we always had worries. War, Metal Heads, then the Holy City, but now there's nothing. Where there were worries there's an emptiness and people are trying to fill it up as best they can," Keira admitted, wrapping her arms around her bare shoulders.
"I know. I've felt it, too. Our generation is one that does not know how to cope with peace. But for our children we're going to try. The scholars are trying to rewrite history to fit the Holy City's description of it, the politicians are trying to set up a new school policy, and the Krimzon Guard are trying to wipe out the remaining Metal Heads. As for me, I've got a family." Ashlin sighed and looked away. "Change is good, but it feels like its moving to fast for people like us, raised in war, to ever truly catch up."
"The world around us is changing, Ashlin. It's not just Haven City. Slowly, but steadily, the world is shifting back to the way it had been. During the Golden Age, when Sage-Harmona flourished." Keira leaned back in her seat, staring up at the ceiling. Light bounced off of them and settled into her eyes.
"Sage-Harmona is coming back," Tess added thoughtfully. "Like the Goddess said the world is being renewed. All those things we missed are coming back and we'll get a chance to create our golden age, without any interference from gods."
"And yet," Keira whispered softly to herself, not allowing her to friend to hear her. "I feel this is not the best thing."
"Sala and I decided to stop our negations for a treaty that would make us allies. She's taken it upon herself to help integrate the reborn people back into their villages and homes. She said that her whole focus has to be on that situation. Many people who died all those years ago are not so willing to believe that everything they have known has changed," Ashlin told Tess and Keira, though she only listened with one ear.
It was so true, Keira knew. She could fill the shifting world beneath her feet. They were standing on the brink of a new age, the Era of Humans. But what would happen to her generation? The generation who knew nothing but war and death? Were they to be left behind, obsolete?
And then there was Sage-Harmona. Though its returning was welcomed among the people of the Holy City, for they remembered the teachings of their origins, Keira was doubtful. Sage-Harmona had been the most powerful city of its time and now it would waken to a world were two cities were more advanced than it. How could it handle that? Would its rulers retaliate or simply be content to fade and let another hold the power? From what she knew of Sage-Harmona it seemed unlikely.
Keira's musings were cut off when Lee rushed up to his mother. "Momma! Sick!" And with that said he promptly threw up over Tess's tight shorts.
In one graceful movement, Tess gathered Lee into her arms as he began to cry in horror. "There, there, baby. Let's go get cleaned up! See you in a bit." She sent her friends a look before gliding across the wooden floor of the bar, rubbing gently at Lee's shaking back.
"Mommy! Thirsty!" Ryu gripped Ashlin's knee in part because he was thirsty and in part because he was scared for his friend.
"Alright, Ryu, let's go get you something to drink," Ashlin scooped Ryu up into her arms and strode across the bar towards the cabinets were the drinks were kept. Tess had replaced a shelf of it with juice for the children.
"I'm going to head over to the Race Garage, start on a new engine I'm designing. Tell Tess I said goodbye." Keira waved her farewell to Ashlin and exited the Naughty Ottsel.
There was a chill in the air and it wrapped itself around her skin. Keira shivered and wished she had worn a jacket like Jak had suggested, but she had been stubborn and refused. After all, she only lived about twenty minutes from the Naughty Ottsel. How cold could she get?
Very, apparently. The air spilling forth from her lips hovered at her nose, mocking her and her vain attempts to remain warm. Growling at it, and herself, Keira pressed onward.
She and Jak lived in a small house just outside of the Race Stadium. Next to the palace it was the most heavily guarded sector since many celebrities chose to make their home there, which was what Jak had become. They managed to gain some privacy, though not much, by being behind the Stadium.
Keira couldn't help but wish she and Jak weren't in the limelight so often. She knew that was part of the reason why Jak didn't want to have children. How could they when being constantly pressed into the spotlight? The press would have a field day if they found out that the child of the city's greatest hero was going to born. They were already pestering both Jak and Keira about possible children.
But she yearned for children. The material part of her had become increasingly strong over the past few years and its yearn for children created an ache deep in her breast. It was all she could to do not scream in agony at what she didn't have and everyone else did.
Maybe she should tell Jak she wanted children. Could he really say no to it? Could he deny her the thing she craved more then anything? Yes, Jak had become a hard warrior, but he wasn't heartless. The last thing he was was heartless.
"I'll let things settle for a little longer," Keira told herself as the large, dome-like Race Stadium came into view. "Then I'll talk to him. Not yet, though, not yet."
Why did she fell like she was running from something?
There were soft confused moans in the group. Moans of people just waking from a frightful dream and not remembering anything before that for a split second. And when they did a dread swallowed them.
One of the people in the group, a woman, raised her dark hair and looked into the blue of the sky. "Where are we? Oh, I feared we are dead! Where are we?"
"You are in the desert," answered another voice, this one calm and controlled and confident. "It has been over a thousand years since the Phoenix."
"It cannot be! It cannot be!" a man cried, jumping to his feet and pointing his finger at the speaker. "You lie! How can we have been asleep for over a thousand years? How can that be?"
"You were not asleep, you were dead. But it was by the sacrifice of the Goddess that you were given another chance to live. Sage-Harmona is being rebuilt as we speak and soon it will thrive as it once had. For now follow me to the Holy City and more shall be explained," the rider spoke, situating herself more firmly on her horse.
"The Holy City?" a woman whispered, pressing her child to her bosom in fright. "Surely that cannot be alive when Sage-Harmona has been destroyed? What strange world do we find ourselves waking into?"
"It shall be explained," the rider whispered in a soothing voice. "But the desert is dangerous. Beasts will attack you if you linger. Follow me and I will try to explain to you what happened after you were killed."
The people of the past saw they had no choice. Truly they didn't. The woman had said if they choose not to follow her then beasts would devour them and they had just been given back their lives and they were not so willing to sacrifice them again.
One by one, in perfect silence, they strode past the rider, faces pointed at the sand. Confusion and fear were written on many, but some had a blank look there for what was truly happening had not registered yet.
Nyx watched each of them with trained blue eyes. She had been born a warrior and the three years had not softened her. She had taken up collecting and reintroducing the people the power of the Goddess brought back to life. In a way, this was a way for her to look back upon her own life before her rebirth. Looking into each dark eye of a revived person reflected her own feelings upon waking up alone and frightened with her tiny sister beside her.
Despite herself, Nyx found herself looking among the group of people. And, not to be surprise, she did not see a flicker of red among them. The people of Sage-Harmona, or even of a village of Sage-Harmona, had all had dark hair and dark eyes and any splash of colour would have been easy to spot.
She sighed deeply and ran a hand through her blonde hair, which was still long and narrow and free. She should not look for him every time she found a new group of people on her patrols. He would not be there. After three years she should know that and have learned to let her fragile hope go.
And yet her heart would not let her. He was the reason she had agreed to help Sala with the integration of these people. If not for him she would have gone to Sage-Harmona and helped in its rebuilding.
"Nikolas," she sighed and then cursed herself. She wasn't sure why she was looking for this man, why her heart insisted that she search for him. Their last meeting had not been on the best of terms and their first meeting would be, without a doubt, awkward. With all that she had to do now was she ready to deal with the mess she and Nikolas had?
They stood glaring at each other over the trembling body of a young boy, no more then eleven. Matching stubbornness reflected in their eyes. Nyx's hands had clenched into fists while Nik simply stared at her, silently burning with rage.
"I can't simply stay behind for one little boy, no matter how much Crea wants me to. I have to find Gaeny. I know something's going to happen if I don't. Something bad. Understand, Nik," Nyx had been gentler then, softer if it was possible, and her voice lacked the military hardness it would years later.
"Can't you understand, Nyx?" Nik shot back, his voice calm but it held an underlying anger. "Every time you look at him don't you see?"
Nyx shook the memory off. It wasn't often she allowed herself to visit such painful memories, but searching for Nik brought it back. With him she had felt an emotion that she had never felt before or would ever feel again. Their last conversation had been bitter and it left her with a sour taste in her mouth.
That was why, she supposed she was searching for Nik. She was trying to understand why she was so angry at him. For when ever her thoughts fell upon the young man she was overtaken with an anger, an anger that wasn't new to her. It was hurt, and betrayal, and trust broken.
He had lied to her, he had lied to her.
"I'll never find him," Nyx told herself, her grip on her reins tightening on their own accord around her bridle. "And it's for the best."
There was a sudden ache in her heart but she didn't bother to rub it. Instead, she clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and sent her horse trotting towards her group. There was no time to think of Nik. She had to help these people come to terms with the fact that they weren't dead, but in the future. That would take up all her priorities. Nik couldn't come first.
But if she did meet him… well, she would face that if it came.
Daxter came home beaten, bloody, and completely happy. It had taken quite a haggle with the Bazaar shop owners, but he had finally convinced them to conduct his newest alcoholic beverage, the Dax Slide! It would be the best drink Haven City had ever tasted. All around the world people would be clamoring for the Dax Slide. Weeping virgins would send him pictures and beg to be his bride, ignoring the fact that he was married and had two kids. And he of course, being the standup guy he was, would gently let them down.
But these thoughts left him as he climbed the stairs to the rooms above the Naughty Ottsel. Though Daxter had become very business minded over the last three years, it had not overcome his joy of being a husband and father.
He slammed the door to the living room loudly, so everyone who was in the house could know he had returned.
An eerie silence filled the air and Daxter smiled at the familiarity of it. In his head he slowly began to count down from five.
There was suddenly a sound of thunder heading right towards him. Predicting what would come next, Daxter opened his arms and waited to be plowed into the floor. Moments later, it happened.
"Daddy!" Lee screeched and curled his small, lithe body against Daxter's much taller one. "Daddy home! Yay, Daddy home! Momma! Momma! Daddy home!" Lee gave a whoop of happiness.
"'Ey, kiddo." Daxter ruffled his son's hair in a fatherly nature.
"Daddy, Momma yelled at me!" Lee pouted at his father, waiting impatiently for him to correct such a wrong.
At the same time Tess walked into the room, looking more then a little miffed. Daxter let out a yelp and jumped to his feet, holding his body in front of Lee's like a shield. "Stand back, Lee! It is the beast come to collect you!"
Tess growled and tossed muddy white shirt at him. "The new shirt I bought for him… ruined! I told him no outside!"
"Aweeeeeeeee!" Daxter looked down at his son, who gave him a sheepish grin. "Sorry, kid, you're on your own for this one. I know very well not to mess around with a woman and her clothing!"
As Daxter backed away from Lee the little boy sat on the floor and sent his mother a pleading look. "Momma, tired. I sorry? Please, carry?" His doe-eyed look was so perfect that even the coldest heart would have melted in front of him. With a sad smile he held up his arms.
With a gentle, loving smile Tess bent down and gathered Lee into her arms. "There, there, baby, let's go to bed. Daxter, there's some dinner on the table. I'll be down in a minute."
Daxter grinned at them both, beyond happiness, and bounded off into the kitchen. A nice rack of ribs waited for him and it wasn't long before his was teeth deep in thick, juicy meat.
Tess came down with a small grin and took a seat beside him. In her hand was a drink filled with too much caffeine to be anywhere near healthy. However, with a child like Lee sometimes the caffeine was necessary.
"He's weird," Daxter decided between a hunk of meat. "He's active then all of sudden he's just… done. Nothing's wrong is there?"
She shook her head. "No, he's just been sick lately, Dax. That's all."
Daxter bent down and kissed her cheek. "Tess… we're happy, aren't we?"
The young blonde woman blinked at him in confusion for a moment before answering, "Yes, Daxter, we're happy. Why wouldn't we be?" She fixed her blue eyes steadily onto his brown ones. "What brought that question on?"
"I look at Jak and I know he's not happy. I mean, yeah he loves Keira and yeah he wants to be married to her, but they're both too afraid to say what they really want. Sometimes I wonder if we're too afraid, too." Daxter seemed to more muse on it than question Tess on it.
"Daxter, all I want is a family and a man I love. You've given me that and more. This is what I want." There was such a confidence in her voice that Daxter could not see it as anything but true.
"I know, that's all I want, too. Guess I'm just getting Jak's grumpiness in me. He's needs to be a dad. He'd make a good dad." Daxter pulled Tess into his lap and kissed her full on the mouth. "All I want is you and Lee, Tess, and this new baby. That's all I need."
"I know, I know. Everything's going to be fine, Daxter."
AN: Okay, so there's Act I. I'm sure some of you can guess by now, but in case you didn't this story is going to be heavy on the angst. I mean, like super angsty. I dun know why, but something told me just to try it this way. I think the title We Bury the Dead Alive should give it away, but for those of us who aren't very hint oriented I spelled it out for you. Actually, though it's the title for part one that old proverb will be a major factor throughout the story.
Act II: Jak and Keira continue to beat around the bush about what they really want while makes a discovery, there is a little bid of blood, we get see how Gareth and Sala are doing, Crea is reintroduced, and the angst begins.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every moment of it