Disclaimer:Jak is owned by Naughty Dog. Please oh please don't think I'm lying.

Jak5: Strange Existence

One: I Found Something

For someone as large as him, Kleiver could walk pretty lightly. Jak had to wonder about that as he noticed the bigger man heading his way. It was odd enough to see Kleiver these days, but even odder was that Kleiver had come to him. That usually meant a challenge of some sort; certainly his track record proved he couldn't win against Jak, so why he came back at all was a mystery.

Especially since Kleiver had sauntered in his and Keira's garage, like the way the owner of the building would. There wasn't a knock, no warning whatsoever. Jak figured now would be a good time to install some kind of security device to blast intruders like Kleiver.

Jak, Daxter, Keira, Ashelin and Tess were here now, Daxter telling Tess lies about adventures, Ashelin and Keira working on one of the gadgets Keira recently put together. Jak was the only one who felt a bit useless, given all he could do at the moment was lounge.

He'd love to have a date with Keira like Daxter and Tess were, but at the moment, Keira was keeping him at arm's length. Being after dark, it was too late to go out in the desert and hunt for artifacts or metalheads, and he didn't feel like sitting alone at his house. Even so, he'd rather be bored at home than here, glaring at Klever.

"Hello, mate," Kleiver greeted roughly.

"Hey," Jak returned, not letting his glare up.

"I found somethin' out in the desert ye might want," he offered.

Jak narrowed his eyes further. "A piece of junk?" he guessed, knowing better than to believe it was a gift.

"Nah," Kleiver laughed. It wasn't until he held out his arms that Jak noticed he'd been holding something, given his girth it was easy to hide even larger items. Now he was holding out -- surprisingly -- a girl by the waist. A naked girl, at that.

Kleiver found a little nude girl in the desert? Everyone was looking now, even as she girl blinked at them confusedly. Jak himself was in the process of standing when something more shocking that seeing a girl in Kleiver's huge hands happened -- it became visible that this girl had a tail.

And by looking at her tail, one by one, they all noted her feet were pointedly like an ottsel's. At first, Jak had taken her for just a little girl, with pink hair and big eyes. But now he didn't have any idea what to think about her. He didn't imagine there could be such a thing as a half-human half-ottsel, yet here was proof, looking him in the eye.

Then Kleiver set her down and she immediately darted under a low table. Her run was like an animal's, on hands and feet, tail bobbing behind her with every lope. She curled up tightly under that table, looking around with frightened eyes.

"Kleiver --" Jak started, unsure what he wanted to say.

"In the desert?" Keira asked, stunned.

Tess hopped off the couch and crouched low to see the girl. "What is she?"

Kleiver chuckled. "I have no idea, But she's yours now."

"Wait -- what?!" Jak snapped, even as Kleiver turned to leave.

He waved behind him, laughing as though he'd just delivered Armageddon to deserving people.

Silence reigned for a long moment before Tess made the first move, getting closer to the girl who was barely bigger than Tess herself.

"Hello," Tess started, waving at her. "You don't need to be afraid."

The girl had eyes on Tess now, one blue and one violet. She didn't say anything, didn't move.

"Keep going, Tess," Keira urged.

Taking the advice, Tess crawled under the table, too, slowly. "See? I'm not going to hurt you." She reached out to touch the girl, and with a flinch, the girl let her. Thinking that it was a good sign, Tess moved another inch closer and started petting the girl's shoulder. "Alright, alright," she chanted in a soothing voice.

Jak threw a glance at Keira, then Ashelin, wondering if either of them had any ideas. He met only two confused expressions. Looking back at what he could see of Tess and the girl, he crouched down to see better.

Tess was still speaking soothingly, and then began asking the girl if she'd come out. Crawling backwards, she tugged the child's arm, and to everyone's surprise, the girl followed. But even out from under the table, she remained curled up, which Jak had a feeling had nothing to do with her being nude. Her eyes didn't show enough intelligence to suggest she would be embarrassed about her appearance.

Then Daxter came up to the two and said, "You got a name?"

Obviously that was not a good move, because the girl's eyes widened and then she sprinted off, this time heading for a car. Jak was actually fairly stunned at how fast she could move, even launching herself off the arm of the couch rather than go around. She darted under the car, and then everyone moved, swooping to circle the vehicle, then they all knelt down to look under the car.

There she was, just as tightly curled up as before, tail around her leg and arm. Tess warned Daxter not to follow, then went under the car to meet the girl.

"What are we gonna do with her?" Keira wondered aloud as Tess tried to calm the girl.

"I don't know," Jak answered.

"We're gonna at least figure out what she is, right?" Daxter asked no one.

"She's a kid," Ashelin shot back. "Just. . .a different kind."

Nobody had anything better to say.

"Tess," Keira started as the blonde began leading the girl again, "bring her to me."

Tess agreed with a nod, moving towards Keira. The girl paused uncertainly a few times along the way, but Tess just kept going back and urging her on. When at last the both of them were out, Keria didn't move but to open her arms for the girl. With questionable looks towards both Tess and Keira, she slowly inched closer to Keira.

Keira smiled at her, touched her cheek, and didn't make any quick movements until she was practically in Keira's lap. Then Keira picked her up, saying, "She's really shaking."

"I bet," Ashelin murmured. "She's also really dirty."

Which she was, skin and hair covered in dirt and grease, her hair especially a mess. With a giggle, Keira stood up. "I'll go give her a bath."

"I'll find her some clothes," Ashelin added, standing.

"I need a bath, too," Tess observed, looking down at herself, nearly as oil-ridden as the girl was.

"I'll join you," Daxter grinned.

Jak sighed. "I'll contact Samos."

An hour later and everyone except Pecker were in the room. The girl was clean, dressed, and even had her hair up in a ponytail, compliments of Keira. Ashelin had not only returned with clothes, but also a very confused Torn, whom she'd tried to describe the girl to. Now they all either stood or sat in view of Keira, who held the girl to her chest, arms and legs wrapped around Keira.

Despite his age and wisdom, Samos actually looked the most perplexed. He started by saying, "It shouldn't be possible to mix human and Precursor blood."

"I think we've all established that," Torn shot back.

It was easy to look and see evidence of both species in the girl. Besides her tail and feet being like an ottsel's, her nose was as well, and her ears were a bit higher on her head. Keira even mentioned that the girl's skin was completely lacking in fur -- except on the back of her ears. Her tail was smooth skin, so were her feet.

"Well, whatever she is," Keira reasoned, "we can't just kick her out or abandon her."

"I think it's a good idea," Torn argued.

"No," Ashelin snapped. "We're not tossing her."

"Then what are we gonna do?" he asked. "We can't keep her."

"She's not some pet," Jak told him. "It's not about 'can't keep her.'"

"Right!" Daxter agreed with a nod.

"Then give her back to Kleiver," Torn suggested.

"Not a chance," Keira said with a shake of her head.

"I agree, he'd just throw her back where he found her," Jak added.

"That's what I'd do," Torn grumbled.

Keira just sighed.

"We're not tossing her," Jak told him more firmly.

"She'll be fine; look, she's an animal!" Torn gestured her. "She can't speak and she's this big already, she doesn't need our help!"

"Regardless!" Samos snapped, banging his staff on the ground for attention. "If there's one thing I've learned, it's that coincidence and chance are rare. There's a mystery here, and if you look at our past together, that's one thing we're excellent at. We will find out what she is, we will find out who she is, and we will find out why she came to us."

Torn gave an audible sigh that said "Kleiver is why she came to us."

"What should we do until then?" Keira asked no one in particular.

"I don't think anyone wants to take her home," Ashelin started.

"We could let her stay here," Jak offered.

"In the garage?" Keira asked sharply, looking at Jak as though he were a monster.

"It's not that bad!" he said quickly, trying to defend himself. "Look, we have a lounge here, a bathroom with a shower, a refrigerator, three couches, more than a few monitors. . . Anyone could live here."

"You have a point," Daxter agreed with a nod.

"But no beds," Keira argued.

"I'll stay with her," Tess put in, coming closer to the girl. "In case she needs anything, you know?"

Daxter actually looked sad. Then he perked up, saying, "Hey, I could stay, too!"

"I don't think so," Tess told him.

"Aww, please?"

"Not a chance," she snapped. "You just want to stay because I'm staying."

"That's not a good reason?"

"You're not staying," she said firmly, yet she still smiled.

He looked put out. "See you tomorrow, then?"

"We'll see everyone tomorrow," Jak answered. "Then again, I'm assuming we all want to know more?"

Torn was the only one who didn't agree verbally or nod, but even he looked curious. Jak took that as an affirmative.

"Then tomorrow," Samos began, "we'll take her to the lab and run tests. Anyone who wants to know results will be there." He didn't ask, he was ordering.

As though that were a clear dismissal, everyone began moving. Torn, Ashelin and Samos all left, though Jak, Daxter, Tess and Keira remained behind. That didn't last too long. After a while, they all ran out of reasons to stay. Jak couldn't say he was staying to be with Keira after she decided she had to go back home, and Daxter left when Tess ordered him to. In the end, Jak himself had only been there about an hour, but in that time, the girl certainly seemed to calm down a lot.

In a way, he kind of wished she hadn't been there, since he'd been originally planning for everyone else to leave so he'd have Keira in the garage, all by herself. It was too bad, but still, he wouldn't have been able to give a reason to Ashelin, Daxter or Tess without giving away what he really wanted anyway.

He walked beside Keira all the same, and like was his habit lately, he touched her the whole way. Her arm, her side, her shoulder, her waist, her hip, her neck; wherever. Every so often she giggled, yet never tried to stop him. He wanted to go with her into her house, but she gave him a regretful look that told him "no." Still, he kissed her good night -- the kind of kiss that said "I promise."

In this case, he was promising "soon." They hadn't spoken the whole way back, and still not a word was said even as she shut her door. For a moment he stood where he was, contemplating following her, but he didn't want to make her mad. So instead, he gave in, heading back to his own home not far away.

Daxter was already there -- Daxter, who was supposedly living with Tess, in the gun range where Tess used to stay briefly and now settled.

"What are you doing here?" Jak asked him, though not with an unwelcome tone. Daxter had been his best friend for years, both in danger and out of it. Anytime Daxter wanted to hang out was fine, as long as it didn't interrupt sleeping -- with or without Keira being present.

"Pouting," Daxter spat. Arms crossed, lounging on Jak's sofa, he certainly looked that way. He was glaring at the monitor, though it wasn't on.

Jak had to chuckle. "Because Tess said 'no?' I feel your pain, buddy," he sighed as he sat down, too.

"Really, you'd think she would be more welcome to the idea," Daxter went on, glare remaining.

"Like she has in the past," Jak added.

"But nooo, that girl shows up and suddenly our night on the town disappears!" he snapped, jumping up at the last word.

With a laugh that was half a sob, Jak fell back. "Same here. Keira and I had plans for tonight."

"She didn't mention anything to Tess," Daxter pointed out. "You know those girls tell each other everything."

"Well," Jak coughed, "it wasn't so much 'we' had something planned," he amended. "But at least I had a surprise in mind."

Daxter laughed in a way that was slightly insane. "Don't we all? Ah well, Tess doesn't know what she's missing!"

"What, Orange Lightning?" Jak mocked, poking Daxter in the side.

"Hey, bub!" Daxter snapped. "I'll have you know that's what Tess cries in the best moments!"

"First," Jak shot back, a little disgusted by the thought in his mind, "I don't wanna even have a hint what you two do, alright? And second, by 'best moments,' you mean two, right?"

Daxter's fur almost turned as red as his hair used to be. "Now looky here Jak, I don't care what you and Keira do, but don't you dare go insulting what I can or cannot do to Tess!"

Jak couldn't stop his snort. "Which one applies here?" he asked.

Daxter growled, then successfully burst into laughter. For a moment Jak had to wonder what was so damn funny, then he figured Daxter had simply lost his mind. It had taken a long time, but it'd finally happened.

Then, very abruptly, the insane laughter stopped, Daxter pointed at him, and said, "Bet you think you're pretty funny, don't ya?"

"Yep," Jak agreed, brushing Daxter's hand aside. "But seriously, I'm sure we're both thinking about that little girl."

Daxter dropped his hand. "And here I thought I was the only one."

"She can't be an Ottsel," Jak started, positive of it.

"I'll say," Daxter agreed with a nod. "But she can't be a human, either."

"And she can't be in between, because that's impossible. Humans and Ottsels can't procreate."

"Not to mention they wouldn't want to," Daxter pointed out. "Is she a new species or something?"

"Or an old one," Jak suggested. "First or last of her kind?"

"First or last known," Daxter stressed. "For all we know, there's a whole country of 'em!"

Jak wanted to laugh at that, since he knew Daxter well enough to know he was throwing in a joke to lighten the mood. Even so, he couldn't help the lack of humor in this situation; there was nothing for him to laugh at. Leaning forward, he propped his elbows on his knees, then rested his chin in his hand. None of this made sense to him, at least not yet.

When he glanced over, he saw Daxter in the exact same position as himself and had to give a laugh then. They were both perplexed, and he imagined so were everybody else. Hopefully tomorrow they'd have answers, because the questions plaguing him wouldn't end until at least one question was answered.

Exactly what was she?