Disclaimer: Not mine. The end.
Nike is Greek for victory. Anyways, a missing scene in game two, because while Jak might have grown up a lot, he acts remarkably like a fifteen year old at times. Funny how that seems to always end up being at most inopportune moments in the story. Like right before incredibly important race qualifiers.
Also trying to iron out the plot point wrinkle about not meeting Erol on the track until Class One.
Comments are always welcome.
By, Nicole Silverwolf
"Have you ever noticed? Anybody going slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac."
- George Carlin
"The Jak I knew wouldn't be working for Krew. People say you...change...when you get angry."
Keira didn't have the right to say that. She didn't know anything about what the last two years had been like and certainly didn't know him if that was the way she felt. He hadn't thought Keira was one to listen to and believe rumors. Obviously, she'd changed in those two years as well. And maybe it hadn't been for the better he thought spitefully.
He didn't like working for Krew, but Torn had put it best when he said that the ends justified the means. Besides, it wouldn't be forever. Once he'd gotten the Baron, he'd expose Krew for the crime lord he was and everything would be fine.
And if she'd really cared; why hadn't she just asked him? That stung the most. Because if she wasn't scared of him, she would have just asked. And he would have told her the truth.
And maybe everything would have been alright.
Stalking around the corner and taking the steps of the stadium two at a time, he tried his best to avoid starting something with the Krimson Guard. But boy was it a tempting idea. No one would miss a half dozen guard or so. And he could work out all that frustrated adrenaline that always showed up when someone brought up the change.
He liked Keira. REALLY liked her. Had since back in Sandover. But he never knew what to do around girls, owning up to the fact that she had been the only girl remotely close to their age, and one of the few women in total he'd encountered back during that time. And now that he could talk, it was just another level of complication he had to worry about. Everything felt awkward and he was pretty sure that if he messed up somehow, she'd never talk to him again.
Like that conversation about three minutes ago, which now stood out as a prime example of what not to do. Even if she had started it. Sorta.
With Daxter, he'd never needed words. Still didn't use them much with his best friend since forever. Daxter just...got it.
Why couldn't girls be easier to deal with?
"Attention. The Class Two qualifying finals will begin in one minute. All racers to position. Clear track."
The monotone, but definitely feminine voice blared over the loudspeakers; certainly carrying far enough to be heard halfway across the city. No wonder racing was this city's top sport; you couldn't avoid knowing about it even if you wanted to.
"Great," was the frustrated growl that managed to slip past his lips. Of all the times to storm off, he had to pick now. Maybe he did need to think about curbing his temper a bit.
He tried to speed back towards the start gate where zoomer drivers suited up and in. There wasn't anyone else to race for the team, and this was the best chance he'd have to get close to the Baron. He'd heard that the reward for Class One final winners wasn't necessarily a personal tour, but rather a highly prized access card. And he was letting it slip through his fingers.
And to top it all off, this was the last of the qualifying heats. Since only the winner proceeded to the next class, he'd had eight other chances to qualify, which had been superseded by missions for Torn and Krew, quests for artifacts from Onin and the like.
Daxter wasn't on his shoulder and he didn't realize it, but he had a tendency to overcompensate for his lack of presence. The off balance tilt slowed him as he skidded around the last corner and out onto the launch pad inside the gatehouse.
Keira's racer was gone.
In fact, there wasn't a single racer in the pit, and over the cheering roar of the crowd in the stands he could hear the humming whine of the race counter sounding off.
A few of the team mechanics were leaning over the edges and shouting encouragements down at the track. One guy even had a large yakkow bell he was ringing as hard as he could, part of some odd tradition he'd heard about during the last race.
'Shit.' Jak realized. He was way too late. Keira must have withdrawn from the race. Or she'd been disqualified for not having a driver.
Either way he'd just messed up his chance of getting at the Baron the easy way and had probably damaged Keira's reputation as a Zoomer mechanic and Race Team Coordinator. He was pretty sure that would actually push her over the edge more than the almost argument they'd had. If there was one thing that he and Daxter had learned early on, it was that you didn't mess with Keira or her zoomers if you wanted to stay on her good side.
The course was a relatively straightforward one. A few hairy spots but nothing he couldn't have handled as long as he ran a clean race. That second turn though was a bit rough; it would definitely require keeping low early in the turn to avoid bottoming out. Might not even need that many boosts.
The pack was already off, and aside from a typical bunching and jockeying for the third through fifth places the rest were all evenly positioned.
Jak watched for a second, but the reality was that watching wasn't as fun as doing and the chances of running into a ticked off Keira were way too high for his liking. He'd better just get going and see if Torn or Krew or Brutter had anything for him to do. One of them would eventually lead him to the Baron. Eventually. First however, he needed to track Daxter down, who'd be pissed if left behind.
Turning and heading out, he didn't expect to hear his name being called.
He certainly didn't expect to see Sig sitting in the stands. The Wastelander was gesturing for him to come up and join him and after a moment's hesitation, he yanked himself up over the lip of the pit into the stands. Sitting almost gingerly down, he nodded gamely at the taller, more imposing and older man. He liked Sig. A lot.
There was something about his attitude that felt good to be around. The Wastelander was honest, skilled, able to hold his own in a fight, and unafraid of him. Most importantly, he didn't assume. He treated him like Daxter did, or maybe more like what he thought an older brother might act like.
It was always clear that the Wastelander liked being around him, as opposed to fearing or tolerating his presence. And since he didn't assume, he wasn't in the habit of comparing the Jak of now to the Jak of two years ago.
"Heya kid, why aren't you down on the track? Big news when you took the Class Three trophy on your first run out. Woulda thought you'd be racing for the same team."
"Long story," he muttered in a tone that clearly stated not to push and quickly changed the subject. "I didn't know you were into racing. You're not here to do something for Krew are you?"
It was possible Krew was trying to throw the race; Jak wouldn't put it past him.
Wasn't fair or right, but he guessed it didn't matter now that he was out of the race anyways.
"No. My sister and me though, back when we were kids, used to sneak down here all the time to watch the races," he smirked.
"You've got a family?" Jak asked, curiosity piqued. Something that didn't seem to fit with the dangerous body guard.
"An older sister, two parents and more aunts, uncles and cousins than I can keep track of. They're living out where we both were raised."
Jak didn't answer at that, drawn back to the track as lap one was completed.
The eighth seed was already DQ, having crashed on turn five. But the other seven were still in the running and it looked like the sixth racer was beginning to creep up. He obviously had been all over the place on the first lap to be so far back in the pack, but he was making up for it in the second. Tight turns, started well before actually getting to said turn, and he was barely bottoming out at all.
There was something weird in that, though he couldn't put his finger on it.
Seven, and the eighth had been disqualified.
All eight positions...filled.
Someone was driving for Keira's team!
His eyes shot to the video monitors and tried to simultaneously figure out where on the track the racers were, who the hell was racing on such short notice, and where they were in the pack.
Late into the last turn, the camera bots shot out of their buoys and began to track each racer. Made for good television for one, and added a little bit of suspense knowing that the people risking their neck on the course were indeed real men.
Jak wasn't sure what seat he would have placed at; wasn't usually concerned with that kind of crap because he could still outrace all of them, even from the worst positions. He almost wished he had paid attention now, because there was no way to figure out which racer belonged to Keira before the cameras decided to focus on it.
The cameras tracked to each racer, and he didn't recognize the first zoomer almost instantly. As the realtime editors in the booth let the camera shot track, Sig had to wonder at Jak's sudden interest. He certainly hadn't seemed so invested in the race a few seconds ago.
Two more racers were featured, and though Jak didn't speak, his expressive face mirrored his emotions. No wonder Daxter seemed to know everything before Jak said it. No wonder too that they were best friends. There was some sort of unspoken communication that went out with them both and it was weird to think it, but they balanced each other out.
Sig liked that. It was good for Jak to have someone like that in this place. Certainly in their line of work it helped keep your head on straight.
And before his thoughts could drift towards his real home, an odd thought interceded.
It was quiet.
As in chatter free quiet.
In fact, where was that noisy little hellcat? Jak never went anywhere willingly without him.
Was that what was going on with the kid's weird behavior?
He scrutinized the compact little fighter from his non-mecheco eye. Was surprised as the kid shot out of his seat, hands gripped on the bar in front of them, and half leaning over into the pit. Sig probably would have grabbed his shirt to keep him from falling if he didn't know that he'd be an arm shorter for having tried.
Sig glanced around, not really having a focus.
Jak didn't even sound like he believed it. "Dax's racing for the team," he said, gesturing with a nod of his head to the screen which showed the tiny ottsel, goggles down and racing on a zoomer that he could barely sit on. It looked like Keira had made some last minute, hasty and patchwork adjustments so that he could drive the machine period.
Sig smiled quietly. Krew's top muscle might have had something to do with why the officials had allowed such an unusual last minute substitution, but the kid didn't need to know that. The pretty little mechanic had simply begged for someone to help the officials to "look" the other way until at least the race started. Sig had been nearby, and Krew sponsored her team no matter her dislike for his employer. However, he hadn't know that the furball was supposed to be the driver .
Daxter was in the fifth position, but if he kept racing so aggressively, he'd overtake the leader in a lap and a half. If he raced clean after that, he'd take first, and the Class Two cup.
Eyes mostly now trained on the race, he caught a glimpse of Jak's face out of the corner of his eye. While he might have been worried for a second or so, it was clear that Jak was somewhere between adrenaline pumped excited, and in awe of what his friend was actually doing.
'Go chilipepper,' Sig silently cheered as Daxter cleared and connected the difficult fifth to sixth turn. He drifted a little high and out on the track but recovered well, taking a risky boost to shoot into fourth and then third.
Jak was nodding approvingly and unconsciously leaning into the turns, biting his lip until the turn was out, keeping an eye on the standings.
"Here they come," Sig mumbled, more to himself than anyone else. The roar of engines grew and whined, and less than three seconds later they shot by, Daxter showily taking first place in front of the prime crowd and unknowingly in front of his best friend.
You wouldn't think someone who'd been through so much crap in their life could smile like that.
A camera was now trained solely on Daxter who knew he had the lead, judging from the wide grin and was gaining extra leeway on it with every second. On radios across the city, and in vid units mounted on walls, the blaring voices of announcers shouted their shock to anyone that could hear.
Jak almost couldn't believe it. He knew Daxter could drive (before he'd been turned into an ottsel he did tricks better than Jak on one of Keira's primitive zoomers), but didn't think he had the instincts for racing. After being turned "small and furry" he'd certainly complained nervously enough from a shoulder and occasionally his back, when they'd been run into or were off balance, and going well above a safe speed. Daxter's calm, confident but only slightly careless driving stance said otherwise.
Though he couldn't hear it, he was sure cocky insults were being thrown at each driver as they were left in the dust.
He spared only a few moments to gratefully thank whoever might be listening. Jak couldn't have ever asked for a better best friend. A grin lit his face a little more.
Before he could sink into the question of why he deserved it, and all the mental crap that could result, the words "last lap" rang out across the stadium from until then silent loudspeakers.
It was solidly Daxter's race now, and even though the second place driver was making a move using every boost and trick he had, it was too late to make much of a difference.
Sig was on his feet, as was most of the stadium, and they could see the two race officiates on either side of the course readying the black and white checkered flags that signified the end of race.
As the whine of engines drew close, the two men began to sweep them in the arching twirling motions that signaled to drivers that the race was over.
In less than twenty seconds, every racer had crossed the line.
Jak didn't cheer along with the crowd, perhaps a holdover from the time where he didn't say almost anything. But it was clear that he was pumped and ecstatic, leaping up to dangerously balance on the railing, in order to see down on the track. Where Daxter was bowing, cheering, and generally celebrating in adrenaline fueled joy.
A very beautiful woman with a body that wasn't possible by most normal standards was crossing the track carrying a trophy that was nearly as big as the ottsel himself. People crowded in, and Jak had to lean a bit further forward to see Daxter as he accepted it.
And a split second before Jak realized he was going to lose his balance and fall very ungracefully down onto the track, his hand caught an outstretched shoulder guard and shifted his center of gravity just enough to keep it from happening. Sig didn't make a big deal out of it, much like Jak never seemed to notice the unconscious shifts he made to keep Daxter from losing his own balance.
"Alright chilipepper!" Sig's voice carried far over all the din, even though there was no way the kid could hear it. He turned, and his voice took on a chiding air, only half kidding.
"Well, go on Jak! Can't believe you're still standing here. He's probably looking for you right now."
That seemed to get a response out of the teen, and he looked sheepishly as if he'd not thought of that until Sig had mentioned it. With a grin and a wave of thanks for the gesture that had led to staying for the race (and maybe for the use of the shoulder guard) he leapt down into the throng of people leaving and disappeared into crowd; heading unerringly towards the garages.
Sig was surprised not to hear any curses about a rude, pushy kid following Jak, indicating that he was either too quick, or was being a bit more careful about how he moved.
The tall Wastelander smiled and tilted his head thoughtfully before making his way out of the Stadium as well. He'd buy both of them a round of drinks the next time they were in at the Hog. Maybe even two just for the sheer silliness of the irony.
Sooo...comments, criticisms, flames, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading.