Daxter was running…running…running…
His little feet carried him swiftly across the dry, rocky ground, flinging dust and dirt behind him every which way. He was breathing hard and fast and his chest was beginning to ache more and more with each step. The large open wound across his side stung painfully and he could feel tears welling up in his eyes, but he did his best to push them back and ignore the pain he felt, even from within. He needed to hurry, for he didn't know whether or not he was too late, and hoped to the Precursors that he wasn't.
He leapt over the fallen body of a Metal Head, landing in a large puddle of its purple blood on the other side. After a disgusted "Ew" he dashed forward, wiping a drop of blood off of his goggles that he had over his eyes. There were bits and pieces of metal and flesh everywhere, trees had been blown into splinters and entire boulders had been shattered from the recent battle that had taken place. Only one thing was on his mind right now, and he wasn't going to let it go until his very own eyes could confirm what he refused to believe.
How could you be so stupid! Idiot! No! It's alright… it's alright… Come on, Dax! There's no way a little blast like that could hurt –
Daxter tripped over a small pebble and fell face first into a patch of green grass, his feet flying upward. Daxter growled, slowly lifting his head up and sliding his goggles up to the top of his head. He quickly got to his feet and searched the ground for the culprit, spotting it quickly behind him and kicked it away as hard as he could, baring his teeth and swearing at the inanimate rock.
It's a curse, isn't it?
He lurched forward, grasping his wound again from a sudden surge of pain, and tried to push it out of his mind. A cracking noise suddenly came from behind him and he whipped around, looking toward the cliffs and past a still smoking crater in the once grassy floor. In an instant he found what he was searching for.
He dashed forward, heading around the outside of the crater as the smoke made the crater seem unsafe to tread upon. He ran past a fallen blue armored Haven City soldier and more bodies of Metal Heads, keeping his eyes toward the cliff. He waved back and forth through large chunks of rock and debris and reached his best friend, but then he skidded to a halt. His eyes widened as they fell upon Jak, who had half of his body hanging over the edge of the damaged cliff. Daxter's breathing quickened and he rushed toward him again. He threw Jak's red scarf to the side, slid the Seal of Mar that hung around his neck over and then kneeled down by one of Jak's outstretched arms. Daxter shook Jak's arm gently, his furry ears folding down.
"Jak…Jak!" He cried, his voice shaking a little. "Come on, buddy! Wake up!"
Jak's head lay on its side, his eyes were shut and his body was rather still. His bright blonde hair was a mess, covered with dirt and untidy and his favorite headgear was cracked and damaged. A thick trail of blood flowed down from his forehead, down to his green goatee and to the ground. Thick gashes littered his right shoulder and arm, cutting through his long blue sleeve and looked a lot like teeth marks. The orange precursor armor he received long ago shone in the darkening light of the sky, though even his armor was damaged and had pieces missing. His mouth hung slightly open, accompanied with its own trickle of blood. Daxter looked at his hand, hoping that it would move to give him a sign, but it was motionless. Daxter grabbed it and shook it repeatedly.
"Come on, Jak! It's me, Daxter! Wake up, buddy! Dammit, WAKE UP!"
He continuously shook his hand, but it remained limp in his own pair. He dropped his hand and went to his head and started shaking it, pinching his face, pulled on his long ear, anything to get him to open those eyes. Daxter felt his throat start to tighten as he looked at his friend, seemingly lifeless. A thought replayed itself over and over in his head, but he pushed it away even though his eyes were telling him so. He suddenly felt weak and he fell backward onto his rear, and then he buried his face in his hands.
"This isn't happening…" He muttered. "This is a just a nightmare… We're all in the Naughty Ottsel and I just got drunk and…"
Daxter stopped himself. No. The truth was lying right next to him, clear as day and as real as it possibly could be. His body trembled and his throat tightened further, choking him. He lowered his hands and looked upward toward the darkening sky, which was depressing and blood red in color. Even the Green Sun seemed to be darker than it usually was, giving off less light though still somehow wonderful in its glow. It was almost maddening with the way it shone. How was it that it continued to shine like that, when the world below was so dark?
His thoughts suddenly broke when he felt movement beside him that was followed by a low moan. He snapped his gaze back down to his friend. Jak's hand moved and clenched into a fist and his eyes opened, revealing heavily dilated pupils that quickly shrunk to normal size. He began to breathe heavily and blinked several times, and then coughed. Daxter's eyes widened and he immediately moved to the side of Jak's head.
"Jak!" He exclaimed, lifting his head up. "You're alive!"
Jak's eyes wondered before they finally landed on the ottsel. He blinked a few more times before his own eyes widened. He then let out a long, ragged breath.
"…Dax…?" He muttered weakly.
"Yeah…it's me." Daxter said, smiling slightly.
Jak stared at him with a blank look and Daxter's smile quickly faded. The ottsel suddenly raised a hand and swung it down, smacking the back of Jak's head. The blonde yelped, lifting a hand and rubbing the spot that was struck. Daxter clenched his fists and teeth, seething with anger and embarrassment and shaking uncontrollably.
"What…was that for?" Jak moaned.
"Don't you EVER pull that crap on me again!" Daxter shouted. "You nearly made me lose my fur with that fake death act! If you weren't in such bad shape I'd be smacking the crap outta you right now! Do you have the smallest idea of what you just put me through right now?! You friggin'…GOD!!!"
Daxter huffed, kicking another stray stone on the ground before he collapsed to the ground, throwing his fists down as his left eye started to twitch slightly. He glared at Jak, whose eyes drifted away from him almost as if he was ashamed.
"You know…sometimes I really, really, really hate you…" Daxter grunted. "And this is one of them."
"I'm…sorry…" Jak said softly.
Daxter's eyes narrowed, and suddenly the rage he felt seconds ago vanished within an instant. The look in Jak's eyes reflected within his heart and his breathing slowed down. He looked to the side and sighed heavily before he turned back to him.
"Ah…don't sweat it…" He said, trying to sound cheerful and forgiving. "It's not like I can stay mad at you forever, you big lug."
Daxter then stood back up and grabbed Jak's arm. Jak's eyes watched him as he then started to pull on his arm with all his strength.
"What are you…?" Jak asked.
"We gotta…ugh…pull you up from this…heeeee…cliff!"
Jak's body didn't move, but the small ottsel continued to pull, baring his teeth and shutting his eyes tight. His feet started to slip on the rocky ground, but he didn't give up. He then bent forward, clutching his wound again. Jak's eyes widened.
"…You're hurt…" He muttered weakly.
Daxter quickly stood up straight, releasing his side and baring a wide smile.
"Ah, it's…it's nothing. Just a scratch! I'm too tough for those freaks, remember?"
Jak glared at him, his eyes reading him like a book and wanting to hear the answer to the question he didn't have to ask. Daxter frowned.
"Alright, alright… I ran into some of the small fry Metal Heads on the way over here. But I took 'em out! I'm fine! Relax!"
He then lifted his hand and suddenly felt disgusted at the amount of blood he had on his hand. Daxter shook it off, wiping his hand on his dark blue pants muttering "Geez, it'll take forever to get this off…" He then grabbed Jak's arm and resumed his pulling, feeling the glare he was getting from him.
"Will you stop looking at me like that?!" He blurted out.
Jak continued to stare at him. Daxter sighed and yanked on Jak's arm.
"Geez…why do you – hungh! – have to be so – grr – goddamned heavy! Whoa!"
Daxter suddenly lost his grip, his arms flew upward and he fell flat on his back. Jak watched him silently as he growled furiously, baring his teeth again and picking himself back up. He dusted his arms and pants off before turning to Jak, breathing heavily.
"Come on, Jak! Help me out here!"
Jak said nothing, but instead tried to pull himself forward with only his arms, but he was so weak, so frail that he hardly moved an inch.
"My legs…" He said, still trying to pull himself forward. "I can't move them…"
Daxter looked toward his broken limbs, though they were still hanging over the side of the cliff. He thought about trying to pull them up instead, but that would mean he would have to hang over the edge like Jak was now, and that was something he really didn't want to do. That, and given his recent "success" at trying to pull him up wasn't exactly a boost in confidence. He played the few options he had in his head when one idea struck.
"Jak…please tell me you still have some health packs on you, or at least some light eco stuff left…"
Jak suddenly growled and shifted on the ground.
"Don't you think…I would have used some by now if I did?"
"Hey, I'm just trying to help you out here! Don't get all pissy at me!"
"You could've fired off to the side…or in front of me…but you fired the turret at me…"
"Well, what the hell was I supposed to do?! Those bastards completely surrounded you!"
"Fire at my head instead of my feet!"
"Fine! Next time I will!"
Daxter's eyes then widened as the words he just said echoed in his mind. Jak shut his eyes tightly and turned his head toward the ground, the pain in his face becoming more apparent. He grunted, "dammit" several times and tried to pull himself forward again but without any luck. Daxter then leapt in front him, placing his hands on top of his blonde head and felt warm liquid beneath his mane of hair. He quickly retracted his hands and gazed at them, seeing that they were now covered with his and Jak's blood.
"Jak…stop…" He said with a very different tone than a few seconds ago, wiping his hands on his pants again. "You're wasting your strength…"
Jak turned his head toward him, though he continued to struggle forward. "Well…I'm sure as hell…not staying here. And I was being sarcastic…you know."
Daxter frowned. "I know you were…"
"Your aiming with that turret was pretty good, at least. You took out the freaks…but you still hit me…"
Daxter's face burned under his fur, but not from anger.
"That really – ugh – hurt you know…"
"…I'm sorry, Jak…" Daxter said, barely over a whisper.
Jak's lips curled into what could barely be described as a smile. "Don't sweat it… After all, it's not like…I haven't done the same to you before…"
Within an instant, a very distant memory flashed before Daxter's eyes. Cold, metallic walls, the echo of footsteps within the huge dark rooms, the damp smell of pain and suffering, dark eco and death; he knew it all too well. Jak was standing before him, but it wasn't Jak…or at least it didn't look like him. Piercing ebony eyes, bluish-pale skin, sharp horns parting way-too-white hair and the stench and crackle of dark eco stood before him where his friend was a mere moment ago, steadily advancing upon the ottsel, with a rather hungry look in his eyes…
There was suddenly a loud crack from the ground beneath them and it collapsed slightly, making Daxter fall over again and Jak gripped the floor with what little strength he had left as his head bounced off the hard rock. Daxter scrambled to his feet, fear alit in his eyes.
"That didn't feel good…" He said, shaking slightly. "I...think we're okay for now though. Hmm, let's see…"
Daxter gazed at the ground and started hopping up and down repeatedly. Jak watched with a concerned and angry look, hoping that he wasn't trying to do what he thought.
"Dax…what are you doing?"
The ottsel stopped pounding his feet into the ground and glanced at Jak, smiling. "Eh, just checking."
Jak glared at him.
"Had you for a moment there, didn't I?" Daxter said, his smile stretching wider.
Jak grunted something inaudible and started clawing at the rocky surface again. Daxter watched silently, and a terrible and sad feeling started to creep and twist up from his stomach and into his heart and he started to feel rather sick. He watched the way Jak struggled to keep himself from slipping and how he was trying so hard to get back onto solid ground. But what stabbed at his insides the most was that he knew he couldn't help him. He wasn't big enough, strong enough or anything enough and all he could do was watch, and he felt it killing him inside. Jak suddenly collapsed, letting out a long breath that blew dust away from his face and Daxter's eyes widened. He looked into Jak's blue eyes and could see something start to fade from within, like a flickering light that was about to shut off permanently. He immediately felt worried and tried to think of something that he could say, anything that could keep that light burning even a small amount.
"Yeah, good idea Jak." Daxter suddenly piped up and sat down on Jak right forearm. "We should rest for a little."
Daxter leaned back on Jak's arm with his free arm, still clutching at his stinging injury with the other. He raised his head upward toward the darkening blue night sky, spotting a few stars and the Green Sun.
"It's been one helluva day, huh?"
Jak stayed silent and breathed steadily, but his eyes met Daxter's and he caught a glimmer of agreement in them.
"What are we even doing out here, anyways?" Daxter continued, gazing out at the broken land around them and trying to fill the void of silence that permeated from it. "One moment we're chillin' with Keira and Tess at the Naughty Ottsel, and then the green goblin with wooden horns barges in and starts blabbering about Metal Heads causing a ruckus in the Mountain Temple. He goes on and on about random Precursor crap and that we 'have to protect the temple' and 'keep them from getting any artifacts and eco' and whatever else he can pull out of his smelly old man sleeves. He says that the city's running out of eco again, but really, when's the last time Vin said anything about that?"
"He said that he sensed eco vents hidden here…" Jak muttered slowly, wincing at every breath he took. "Torn said – ugh – that his scouts had spotted some Metal Heads opening a blue eco vent in the Temple…and I know I can sense lots of eco nearby…somewhere…"
"Yeah well, we've been here all day and all over the damn place and we haven't seen so much as a blue spark, just the local welcoming party."
Jak grunted, shifting the arm Daxter sat on. The ottsel sat up and took a seat on his left arm in front of Jak's face.
"We haven't been everywhere yet…" Jak said reassuringly.
Daxter clicked his tongue. "Yeah, just from the city to half way toward the Wasteland. True, we haven't looked there yet, but Torn and Samos said we didn't have to go there…"
Jak groaned loudly, though it was difficult to tell whether it was from his wounds or from Daxter's obvious sarcasm.
"Look, I'm always up for some Metal Head ass kicking." Daxter sighed. "But let's face it, Jak…they sent us on a fool's errand. They just got paranoid since Metal Heads hadn't been seen here in over a year, and they knew we were the only guys bone-headed enough to check it out."
"At least…they gave us some support this time." Jak said, trying to sound positive but failing horribly.
"Pff, yeah, and they were a great help…" Daxter retorted, eying the fallen form of a blue-armored soldier not too far away. "I swear, when we both get back to the city, I'm going to give that overdue sage a taste of Orange Lightning…" Daxter raised his fists and starting punching the air, only to yelp and clutch his side after three or four punches. "Ow…and while I'm at it I'll give Tattoo Ripendale – ah! – a piece too."
Jak frowned and glared at Daxter while raising a green eyebrow.
Daxter blinked and stared at Jak as the realization of his last sentence sunk in.
"What? I can't have awesome lines all the time, you know." He said in his defense.
"Whatever you say…" Jak sighed heavily.
All fell quiet again, with the only sounds coming from Jak's slow breathing, the nocturnal wildlife and the wind that whistled in the surrounding trees. Daxter looked off toward the Temple, barely making out its silhouette from the distance and the night's darkness. His eyes narrowed when they caught the turret that Haven City soldiers had brought and that he used and he felt an uncomfortable knot form quickly in his gut.
"Sure is beautiful tonight…" Jak said softly in an almost soothing way.
Daxter turned back toward his friend, lifting his furry ears in confusion. Jak had turned his head slightly upward and his eyes were looking into the sky, the soft glow from above reflecting in the blue.
"Uh, Jak? Did you just say the word, 'beautiful'?" Daxter asked.
Jak's eyes fell back down to the ottsel. "…Yeah?"
"In all the years we've known each other I've never heard you say 'beautiful'."
"…Maybe not to you." Jak said simply.
"What do you mean?" Daxter said, surprised. He placed a small hand on his fuzzy chest. "You know I'm the most beautiful ottsel you've ever laid eyes on, and the best looking guy in the history of the universe!"
"Yeah, you're right. You're the most beautiful ottsel I've ever seen…" Jak muttered as the slightest hint of a smile tugged on his lips. "…Next to Tess."
"What the – Hey! That better not have been serious!" Daxter exclaimed, placing his hands on his hips. "Whoa, you find out something new every day! Geez, Jak…if I had known you had a thing for short and fuzzy animals I would've hooked you up with the Sculptor's muse way back when, you freakin' weirdo."
Jak suddenly let out a laugh, shutting his eyes as a large grin escaped from his mouth. It was quite uplifting to hear and Daxter began to laugh with him, feeling a warm fire course in his heart and a weight lift from his small shoulders. His wound stung again, but he didn't care, as seeing the blonde laugh again felt like it purged all negative thought in his mind and filled him with happiness. Often he would surprise himself when he found some way to lighten the mood and brighten another's smile, despite the current situation at hand. It was always one of his favorite characteristics about himself, and he knew that it was one of Jak's favorite things as well.
Their laughter slowly faded, but not their smiles. They stared at one another for some time before they both gazed upward at the night sky. Numerous stars were sparkling in the cloudless sky and the Green Sun hovered on the horizon with the full moon high above. A breeze blew again, shifting the trees and bringing a pleasant sensation through Daxter's fur.
"You know, nights like these always remind me of our old place." Daxter said thoughtfully. "Back in Sandover? I remember how you, me, Keira and Loghead used to chill at Sentinel Beach, by that waterfall. We'd just lie down and look at the stars, chat about random stuff and listen to Samos tell stories about the Precursors and whatnot."
"Yeah…I remember…" Jak said softly with a hint of strain. "It feels like it was so long ago, back when things were simpler…"
"Uh-huh. The only things we had to worry about then were training and not getting caught by our neighbors after pulling pranks on them that my brilliant mind devised."
"With my help…" Jak added.
Daxter grinned. "Yeah…we would steal fish from that smelly fisherman, mess with the bird lady's little squawkers, dig up caches of precursor orbs, hurl wumpbee nests at the mayor… Ah, good times…."
"Those things hurt like hell, though…"
"Yeah, but that one time was your own fault. For some reason you thought getting yourself into a giant nest on your ninth birthday was a grand idea. I warned you, but nooooooooo, you didn't listen! It took me and Keira forever to get all those stingers out of ya, and not even green eco could get rid of all those bumps you had!"
"Yeah, but…don't forget that time I pulled you out of that hole before it blew sky high on Geyser Rock."
"Hey, there were some precursor orbs down there! I was broke and needed some to bribe the Sculptor into letting me borrow his hammer for a while."
"And what were you going to do with that?"
"Eh, I don't remember. It was probably to nail some of Keira's underwear to Samos' poor choice of headwear or something while he slept."
Jak raised an eyebrow.
"What?" Daxter said. "It seemed funny to me at the time."
Daxter sighed and leaned back on Jak's arm, staring out toward the lighted Haven City in the distance, seemingly undisturbed.
"This world is a helluva lot different, though. There's almost too much to do. For a while we couldn't go anywhere without someone or something wanting a piece of us. At least things are quieter than they have been for the last few years."
"No kidding…" Jak agreed. "But it's been an awesome ride, huh?"
"Heh heh, you can say that again!"
Jak and Daxter smiled at each other. Jak gazed up at the sky again, his blue eyes emitting a faint glow. Daxter continued to stare at him as various thoughts of the past began to fill his mind. From the moment that Daxter fell into that pool of dark eco, he knew that his and Jak's lives would never be the same. Jak had done much on the false hope that they would be able to change him back and even more so when he was faced with a choice between saving the world and gaining his old form back. Jak was always there to help him feel better about his fate, just as he was always there to encourage him whenever that one foe he seemingly couldn't defeat appeared.
Since then they had gone on numerous adventures, saved countless lives, made many friends and allies as well as enemies, had many emotional breakdowns, cracked many jokes, endured pain and suffering both physically and mentally, argued about random and inane things, and all the while they were in on it all together. He still greatly missed the bright and sunny days they had back in the distant past and had wished repeatedly that things would someday return to how they were then. Sometimes he wondered if things really would have been better if they had never opened that rift gate, but the one thing that made him thankful that they did was that he and Jak were now closer than they ever had been back in Sandover, and he was sure Jak felt the same way.
The calm air surrounding them suddenly shattered with a deafening crack. Daxter fell backward and Jak slid downward off the edge of the cliff as the chunk of land sunk further than it had before. Jak quickly reached out and grabbed the edge of the rock that had risen up. Daxter leaped back up to his feet and could feel them slowly sliding downward. He grabbed Jak's wrist.
"Jak!" Daxter exclaimed. "Hang on buddy!"
Jak glanced behind him, seeing the great height he was hanging over. He looked back at Daxter, who looked back with scared eyes.
"Come on, Jak!" He shouted, his voice cracking and shaking. "Pull!"
Jak attempted to heave himself up as Daxter kept a firm grip on his wrist. Their eyes locked together, both with the same fear alit clear as day behind them. But with every pull, the rock beneath them cracked and crumbled louder and the further they slipped down. Daxter's face twisted as he held, hoping that the Precursors would grant them the strength they needed to escape this deadly predicament. He closed his eyes, hoping, praying even, that some kind of miracle would occur, even though he didn't believe in such things.
He opened his eyes again to see Jak looking down below for several moments. He then turned back to Daxter and stared into his dark blue eyes, but this time there was a light burning behind them like a raging inferno. A look of determination spread across his face, but along with that light Daxter could see something else with it that looked much like regret and sadness. He then knew what Jak was thinking.
"No way, Jak!" Daxter cried. He could feel his eyes start to burn now. "I'm NOT leaving you here! I WON'T!"
With his free arm, Jak reached back toward one of his pant pockets and dug inside. He pulled out a red object that Daxter recognized as another Seal of Mar with a thin chain attached identical to the one Jak was currently wearing. He then raised it toward Daxter, who looked at him with eyes that could possibly bulge right out of his skull.
"Jak, what are you –"
"Take it, Dax…" He said with abnormal calmness.
"What?! But isn't that…?"
"This one's mine…" Jak said, pushing the Seal in his hand closer toward Daxter. "The one I'm wearing was Damas' Seal… Take it…"
"N – no, Jak…I – I can't…I won't…"
"DAXTER!" Jak growled, making Daxter nearly lose his grip on Jak's wrist. "Listen to me… You have to get back to the city. Tell Torn and the others what happened here… Tell them that there are great amounts of eco here that they can use… Tell them…tell them that we failed…"
"No, Jak! If you're going down I'm coming with you!"
"Stop it, Daxter! Just stop –"
Another loud crack sounded and the rock dropped a few more inches, making Daxter's heart leap into his throat. Jak regained his grip and lifted himself closer to the ottsel with the last of his strength.
"Daxter…take it and get out of here! There's no time for you to argue with me! Be strong, like you've always been. You have to live! For me!"
Another deafening crack sounded beneath them.
"Jak…I can't…I can't…" Daxter whimpered, shutting his eyes tightly as he felt the burning in his eyes strengthen, bringing with it a choking sensation in his throat. When he opened his eyes again they met Jak's. The light in his eyes was now as bright as he had ever seen it, filling the darkness of his mind and heart with reassuring warmth and comfort. They stared deep into each other's eyes, striking the bond that they had always had with one another. Jak's eyes then narrowed, sending an unforgiving shock throughout Daxter's entire being.
"I love you, Daxter." He said softly.
Jak then shoved Daxter backward as one final crack sounded. The rock crumbled and slid down in large clusters of earth, plummeting far below along with Jak. Daxter stumbled onto his feet, holding the Seal of Mar in his hand. He then scurried to the edge and stared down, watching everything fall. And then he screamed.
Jak was falling…falling…falling…
The air howled all around him and the large chunks of rock spun as he fell, but he couldn't hear it. All he could hear was Daxter's scream, and somehow it was still loud in his mind despite the rapidly growing distance between him and the ottsel. It tore at his heart, but at the same time was comforting in the knowledge that he was still up there and that he had saved him from his fate.
Jak blinked as a strange phenomenon began to occur in his mind. Torn and Ashelin were standing before him, smiling brightly and thanking him for everything he had done to help them. It brought an incredible warm feeling in his chest that pushed out the cold he had grown accustomed to during the entirety of his life. It was nice to know that his efforts and mere presence were appreciated, regardless of all the mischief and darkness that always followed in his wake.
"The city needs you… I…need you…" Ashelin said softly and apologetically.
"You the man, Jak!" Torn exclaimed. "You are the man!"
Jak blinked again. Sig stood proud before him, clad in his Metal Head armor and standing his Peace Maker upright on his right.
"Now you boys are true Wastelanders!" Sig said happily.
Jak felt the presence of another and realized that an arm lay over his back with a hand on his right shoulder. He gazed to his left, feeling his heart leap when his eyes met with Damas' own, though somehow they appeared to be sad.
"You make me proud, Jak." Damas whispered, the sadness growing.
Jak shut his eyes tightly, pushing away the-all-too familiar stinging in them and opened them again. He was standing on the white sands of a beach, gazing out toward the sparkling blue ocean as the sun began to set over the horizon. He smiled, and then looked to his left and right to see Samos and Keira standing beside him.
"Jak my boy, the future awaits!" Samos told him, raising his staff toward the sunset.
Jak smiled at the green sage on his left, but then he felt a finger tap his right shoulder and he looked at Keira, who had a blush overlapping her pretty smile.
"We'll talk about nice later…" She cooed softly, making his heart flutter slightly.
Jak felt something soft and furry brush his left shoulder and neck and looked over to see a strangely concerned and furious Daxter, staring and pointing at something ahead of them.
"After him, Jak!" He shouted. "No one hurts my best friend and gets away with it!" Daxter's face then relaxed and he turned to him, smiling. "Don't thank me. I'm just doing this because you wouldn't last a second without me! Oh yeah! Life is good."
Jak couldn't hold it in anymore. The tears that had backed up behind his eyes were released, flying away from him and toward the beautiful night sky and joining the stars. He felt himself breaking down, but everything that had been held within felt like it was leaving him with those tears and it felt wonderful to not be ashamed of it all for once. Jak then smiled, feeling the comforting presence of his loved ones all around him, holding him tightly, assuring him that it would all be okay in the end no matter what.
If only…he could have seen them just one last –
It rang in his ears, struck his heart cold and echoed in his mind over and over and over again. Daxter stood there, staring down at the large cloud of dust that had exploded far, far below. His mind was blank, his body was frozen, his mouth hung open, and his eyes were wide.
And he felt incredibly sick.
His head swayed back and forth and he fell backward, just barely catching himself with his shivering arms. He started to crawl backward, wanting to be as far away from the cliff as possible. He held his hand on his chest, whimpering and feeling his heart beat like a Lurker drum and his wound stung with each sharp breath. He wanted to collapse where he was and never get up again, but his mind refused to let him commit to such an action. And one thought started to press into his memory through the pain in his heart.
He thought that he was dead before…
Daxter quickly sat up, becoming more alert as he felt the light of hope surge through him.
Could he…? He had to… and he needed to see for himself. He had to see if by some miracle that he was still alive, waiting for him to come to his aid…
Daxter scrambled back to the edge of the cliff and carefully looked down, quickly spotting the cloud of earth that still lingered in the air.
How the precursors was he going to get down there?
He scanned the cliff walls to the left and right. It all appeared to be incredibly steep, so much so that he doubted that he would be able to get down easily, even with his light and nimble figure. However, toward the right he noticed the rock walls were more rigid and somewhat less steep, but no less dangerous. He rose up, quickly deciding with firm resolve that he would have to take that chance. He slipped the chain of the Seal of Mar over his neck and ran over the edge where the rocky slope was, turning his back to the edge and eased himself over, keeping a firm grip on the rocks with his hands and feet. Slowly but cautiously, he navigated his way down the several hundred foot cliff.
After what felt like over an hour, Daxter's feet finally touched the rocky floor at the bottom. He let go of the cliff wall, stumbling slightly from the fatigue that he had accumulated from the climb. It was hard to see anything very clearly from the night's darkness, but the full moon above provided him with the light he needed to search the area. He scanned the area with his eyes, looking for a blonde head amidst the thick bushes and vegetation that was present.
However, he didn't see his friend. Instead, he saw a large portion of the ground ahead that had seemingly caved in where he had estimated where Jak had fallen. He felt himself hesitate as he was about to run over and investigate. He gripped the Seal around his neck, feeling how cold its surface was and it didn't comfort him in the slightest. He suddenly shook his head and took several deep breaths; he had to know for sure. He regained himself and dashed over on all fours to the caved in ground, halting just at its edge. His eyes widened in surprise and wonder as he stared down into what looked like an open room below with soft light flashing multiple colors inside. But then he felt his heart plummet into his stomach as that strange light in combination with the moonlight was bright enough to reveal the form of a figure lying below atop chunks of earth. Daxter stood up straight, his face twisting.
He had to see for himself…
He took a deep breath, trying to suppress the terrible thoughts plaguing his head. He gazed back down into the lighted cave below, noticing that it didn't seem to be too deep of a plunge, about two dozen feet or so. He had survived greater falls before, including a few in which he landed face first. He took another breath, and then leaped into the pit. He landed roughly on the side of a small boulder, sending painful shocks up his legs, but he ignored them. He looked up to see a body lying on the very top of the pile of rock he stood upon, lit by the glow of the moonlight. He then scrambled up to the top of the pile, until he came upon Jak's arm.
Jak was lying there, crumpled up between a few smaller chunks of rock. The rock beneath him was covered with a liquid crimson, and a few chunks were lying on top of his chest and legs. Daxter swallowed hard, and shakily climbed on top of Jak's chest, pushing off the rocks. His eyes swept over Jak's form, waiting for the sound of his breath and the rise and fall of his chest but one wouldn't come. He then gazed at Jak's lopsided face, seeing a bright smile upon it. Daxter moved closer to his head and lifted a pair of trembling hands, slowly placing them on his cheeks and turned Jak's head toward him.
His smile remained etched into his heroic mug, but the light that always lit it, even during the darkest of times, was gone. All that was left was that brilliant smile, and the cold air of death that surrounded him like a shroud.
Daxter slumped backward, feeling the black claw of emotion grip his insides and strike them cold. He raised his head, and his eyes caught the glow of what appeared to be a fountain and immediately he realized what it was. His eyes were alit with amazement as he stared at the open blue eco vent a dozen feet away, but then he gazed around the cave to see a second sparking blue eco vent to his left, as well as a fiery red eco vent several feet next to it. He then looked to his right, spotting the brilliant glow of a yellow eco vent as the wondrous energy was flowing upward, licking the ceiling of the cave.
Well, how about that…
He turned back to Jak, and within seconds he felt the fur on his face become soaked from the streams that were flowing from his eyes. He stared at the young boy who he used to chase seagulls at the beach with, stared at the young hero who shed blood, sweat and tears to change him back, stared at the brooding rebel who was twisted by the harsh world around him, stared at the disturbed warrior who questioned his very purpose, and stared at the scarred friend who had grown tired of protecting the world only to watch it fall back into despair. He felt ashamed, he felt angry, he felt pain like he had never felt before, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore, except for one thing…
He was now alone…forever.
He tilted his head back, staring into the night sky through the giant hole in the ceiling. He stared at the full moon and the stars surrounding it that shined ever brighter, marveling at its wonderful glow, and cursed it, furious at its peaceful nature when the world below had never felt more terrible.
"It sure is beautiful tonight…" His voice cracked.
Daxter scooted himself to the center of Jak's chest and slowly lied down, pressing his head close to where his heart should be beating. He hoped that somehow the beating of his own would ignite his best friend's, but now he knew that such a thought was utterly foolish. He pulled the Seal of Mar from underneath him and held it tight in his hand as his tears continued to flow freely, choking on his life-giving breath.
"I love you too, Jak…"