My apologies and gratitude to every single reader (you three know who you are :P) who has stuck by me. This is just an average fic about an idea we all want to see happen.. so I appreciate your patience, bullying, prodding, requests and attention.
Unfortunately, I didn't manage to finish this story by Christmas. On the upside, I do have a good five chapters ready to go, so I'll aim for weekly updates until the end of January and then go for fortnightly updates afterwards. (As you can no doubt tell from the timing, that's when I go back to school.)
Special mention must be made of Kitsuna who can be pinpointed as the reason there are now five chapters ready to go, as opposed to the bits and pieces I had lying around before.
Jeeze, over a year and a half since the last story... I wouldn't blame any of you if you had forgotten all about this..
Oh yes! As my writing style has changed a little, please bear with me. I now have an ugly love affair with hyphens and the POV craziness is calmer.. if not entirely gone..
To Adelita Latigazo, regarding the only thing Jak cared about: I think my problem is that I see Jak and Daxter as so close that they're almost one person at times. :D Plus, it's a proven fact that Dark Jak doesn't munch on ottsels when he goes "grrr".. no matter how badly. No-one else has that distinction though, so in the that classification of 'person', Sig is alone. :D But thanks for catching that!
Nods to Youko Rayah for having one of the longest reviews – I LOVE detailed likes and dislikes, it helps me focus on what I'm doing right and what desperately needs to be done better! I still grin over our misunderstandings of "the C word". I doubt I will ever write about Damas' wife in any great depth.. but you never know when her ghost might show up.
GrammarNazi101, I shall endeavor to restrict my POV changes to separate sections of the chapter. Please feel free to point out when I fail at it.. :D (Because I will.)
RingWorks I hope you enjoy how Damas reacts. Bluumberry I hope you're still reading – here's the part I deprived you of! PrecursorQueen, you honoured me so much when you told me you joined ff.n just to story!alert it. I hope you author!alerted me too so that you get this in your inbox!I can't name many more names without seriously pushing the Author's Notes Limitations, but THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for reviewing if ever you have and I hope that you continue to do so. (Anyone who logs in to do so will always be replied to)
Above all, I hope this sequel is worth the wait. (Bites fingernails)
(Very slight bashing of some characters. No more than was in the final chapter of the last story, but some aspects of them have been written in a slightly bad light.)
"There's more to a person than blood. And I'm not really a person. Not anymore." ~ Jak
"Sig?" He glanced up. The Wastelander on clerk duty today – she'd been injured in a recent skirmish with the Marauders – gestured to him.
It was his turn to see the King.
It was time to take out the seal and explain to his old friend that he had lost his little boy, but still found his son.
He had to tell the King a story and somehow make him believe it, without dragging every person involved in it in for interrogation.
He had to pray that Damas wouldn't react badly, that he'd at least try to accept the reality of his older, warrior son.
For Jak's sake, as well as his Father's… he had to find a way to allow each of them to accept the other.
He nodded and strode towards the lift, peacemaker in hand.
He'd do his best.
Precursors, please let my best be enough.
"Sig." Damas greeted, eyes crinkling in warm welcome. Those same eyes almost immediately flickered past the Wastelander, searching for a shorter blond.
"I was given to understand that Jak would be accompanying you." Damas stated questioningly, eyebrows raising slightly at Sig's wince.
"Yeah, that's my bad." Sig admitted. "He, ah.. heard I was sniffing around about his past."
Damas nodded slowly, eyes flickering to the patch of sun-saturated stone where the boy had been recuperating just yesterday.
"I take it he reacted badly." He observed neutrally.
Sig nodded. "Yeah, but to be honest, he had every right to. His past is.. damn nasty and damn personal. I'm a little surprised he didn't take a swing at me."
The King remained silent, clearly thinking it over.
"I received a message from Seem." He shared at length. "Apparently, the event that repaired the boy's dark eco damage also had some side effects – including increased mental and emotional stability. Perhaps you have that to thank."
Sig nodded. It made sense.
"It's probably best that he's not here, actually." He started cautiously. "In fact, I think you might wanna sit down, Damas."
The use of his first name – permitted, of course, but rare – caught the King's attention. He studied Sig's face, his eyes widening sharply.
"You found... something." The man stumbled over the word, as clearly Sig had not brought his son back. The reasons why he wouldn't have were few and none of them good.
"Yes and no." Sig answered, immediately irritated with himself for giving such an unhelpful answer. "Look, bottom line, he's still alive. That I can promise you."
Damas stared at him, naked hope and unrestrained suspicion of the supposed good news warring for control.
He stepped backwards and sank into his throne.
"Explain." He ordered.
"Ok." Sig murmured, sorting all the facts in his head, working out where the beginning really was in this twisted tale.
"Alright, I'll start by telling you about Jak. The two are very connected And Damas...this is gonna sound like a yarn – or a nightmare – at times. But I swear to you" Sig locked eyes with his liege and oldest friend. "I swear on my honor, every word I tell you is true."
Damas nodded, slowly. Sig drew a deep breath and expelled it sharply.
"Alright. So, Jak. Jak first came to Haven city when he was fifteen, from a little place called Sandover. A real sea-side little village. Now, it ain't on any map, as you know, 'an that's because it was wiped out by Metal Heads.. about five hundred years ago."
Damas frowned sharply. Sig nodded.
"That's right. Our boy Jak is a time traveler. He wasn't alone, neither. Him, his little furball best friend, his girlfriend and the Green Sage were with him."
"Samos?" Damas interrupted. "That hack? He was old even when I was a boy and still hadn't managed to gain any powers."
Sig snorted. "Well, being the leader of the Underground has perks. He ordered Jak to protect him whilst he connected with the planet to gain his powers."
"As I understood it, a Sage was meant to undergo the trials of their position alone, much like the line of Mar." Damas growled. "Hence his failure to obtain any powers thus far."
Sig shrugged. "You'd know better than me, Sire."
Damas glared at nothing for a moment before returning his attention to Sig. "How could Samos be from the past? I grew up knowing that stuffed old stump."
"I'm getting to that." Sig assured. "When they arrived in our time, they were scattered. According to Daxter, he and Jak were attacked moments after landing. He was adamant that Errol knew Jak was coming. I don't know how and neither does Daxter, but considering there was never any record of Jak being processed as a criminal, I'd be inclined to believe him."
Damas nodded. "Errol was too high up in command to be walking the streets without a damned good reason." He mused. "And I don't like what kind of connections he must have had to know... Hmm. Carry on."
"Jak was immediately conscripted into something called the Dark Warrior Program. Torn was a part of it briefly, but it was the final straw and he quit shortly after its conception."
Sig paused, weighing how much he should tell the King. On the one hand, he wanted Damas to know just what his son had been through – what he'd survived. How strong that made him.
But on the other, it was Damas' son. When he knew that, the knowledge just might cause the storm Daxter was so certain was coming.
"It was.. base torture, at its worst." He stated finally. "I saw some records left over. Jak's, as s'matterofact. Damas, they took a kid – not even any face fuzz on him – and drugged him up, tied him down, split him open mind and body and fucked with it all. There were almost sixty subjects in the program and less than a third survived even half as long as Jak did."
Damas' face was blank, jaw set. He didn't look away, nor did he ask for more information.
He understood Sig's position and would take only the information Sig chose to give.
"Jak has.. had.. a talent for using Eco. If he'd been raised in your father's era, he'd have been some kinda sage prodigy. I think that was what enabled him to survive for so long. But the more success they had with Dark Eco doses, the more his other eco affinities burned away."
He paused, remembering that horrifying photo. "Then he.. started to mutate. Not always the way they wanted, though. His fingers growing claws was a happy accident, but they sawed off three sets of horns before resigning themselves to that little addition."
He took a slow, calming breath.
"But they never managed quite what they wanted. Jak could survive the eco they threw at him and he'd have moments of rage or strength, but they never lasted long. He just could not – or would not – make a sustained transformation."
He snorted, half in disbelief and half in admiration.
"And above all, he wasn't obedient. Nothing they did could make him back down. Errol tried.. well, he wrote a lot of enthusiastic reports about it, but even though he could terrify the kid.. he couldn't make him obey."
He cleared his throat.
"So, the DWP was declared a failure. Daxter tells me that Errol was due to execute Jak later that day, had the fuzzball himself not finally managed to locate and help break the kid out."
He frowned slightly. "I'm not sure how much of that last bit is accurate, to be honest. Chillipepper's a bit of a braggart, but.. Jak sure holds him in the highest esteem I've ever seen."
"So Jak and Daxter bust outta the joint. They get two whole streets away before they trip over a little green haired kid with Mar's medallion around his neck."
Damas drew a shocked breath. Clearly, he hadn't been expecting news of his son to be tossed into the story so casually.
"Woah, let me finish." Sig cautioned, as respectfully as he could.
"The kid is being escorted by – and you're not gonna like this – Kor."
"KOR?!" Damas roared. "That filthy Metal Head piece of scum! Kor had my son?!"
"That ain't the least of it." Sig returned grimly. "Samos – leader of the Underground – was the one who ordered it."
"That.. miserable, incompetent-!" Damas leapt from his throne and stalked back and forth, hands fisting over and over, fury twisting his face. Foul, blistering invectives spewed from his mouth with every step.
The last time he'd been this furious was when someone had kidnapped his fouryear old son two years ago.
Sig shifted his posture into one a little less obtrusive.
"Well, at least the kid had Chubby with him. That little monster would have taken a chunk out of Kor if he'd tried anything." He offered carefully.
Damas, no less furious but a little more contained, stalked back to his throne.
"Hmph. I thought the beast had gotten himself lost in the Wasteland." He growled, before sighing slightly. "I'm.. glad he found Mar. I'm glad Mar had something familiar with him, watching over him."
Sig didn't make a sound, but inwardly he was chuckling. Damas, you have no idea...
"Kid sure took a shine to Jak, though." He offered. "Torn told me that whenever they needed the kid moved through the streets, they had to call Jak. The kid'd run off on anyone else sent to escort him – and he was damned good at it too. One time it took the Underground a week before they found him again."
Damas sighed heavily and sat back down. His eyes shone with a mixture of pride and grief.
"But he liked Jak." He repeated softly.
Sig got the feeling that that one piece of information raised Jak in the King's esteem more than any other before it.
"Yeah." Sig murmured. "Dax was tellin' me that he's got a snapshot of the two of them in his bar. Jak conked out in a bunk at the old HQ, with little Mar all curled up on top of him. Kids, you know.. they got better instincts than people, sometimes.
Anyway, Torn told me that they found the kid just wanderin' around. They didn't rescue him. So somehow, the kid escaped from whoever the hell kidnapped him in the first place."
"Kor?" Damas queried, a thread of anger in his voice.
"Hmm. Maybe." Sig said noncommittally. "I haven't been able to find anything more on how it happened."
"So Jak starts makin' a name for himself in the Underground – You've heard my reports. In the meantime, Samos gets it into his head that what they really need to do, is destroy the Metal Head leader. Once that bastard is toast, he figures Praxis will loose most of the power he maintains because of them."
"It sounds almost logical." Damas muttered darkly. "And yet considering that the metal head leader was under his nose the whole damn time, I know I'm not going to like what he decides to do about it."
Sig didn't smile.
"He tried to get Mar to pass through the Tomb. To obtain the Precursor stone."
Damas' only response was the whitening of his knuckles as he gripped the stone armrest of his chair.
"Any idea just how he thought a baby could pass the Trials of Manhood." He snarled.
Sig shook his head wordlessly.
"The doors opened for the kid – proving him to be Mar. But the guardian was quick on the uptake and refused to allow him in. Jak, damned impulsive problem-solver that he is, managed to dive in before the doors could close completely."
"Impulsive, yes. Idiotic, too." Damas muttered. "How did he expect to get out again? The doors wouldn't open for him."
"Well, apparently Samos yelled 'do something, Jak', so Jak did." Sig said carefully. Catching the ugly look that flashed over his liege's face, he hurried on. "An' getting out was kinda a moot point. Praxis had men following the group. They were captured and Praxis himself blasted his way in to steal the stone. Kor got Mar out somehow but Jak had to hotfoot it to evade recapture."
"After which he infiltrated the prison and rescued everyone before 'laying the smackdown' on Praxis on his way out." Damas recited with a small smile. "I remember your rather enthusiastic report."
Sig chuckled. "Yeah, it wasn't every day that a little five-foot-nuthin' trigger-happy rebel went about kicking the crap out of tyrannical rulers. I just wish I could've seen it."
Damas nodded. "But what happened to the stone? And what did Samos want with it in the first place?"
"Well, they both wanted the stone for the same reason – they just had different ideas on how to go about it. The Baron had it rigged up inside a bomb – courtesy of Krew – and I got the impression from Torn that Samos was hoping to tap into the stone's powers now that he was all Saged-up."
Damas glare could have scorched stone.
"He risked my son's life in a fruitless pursuit of power." He said quietly. "If he ever steps foot in the Wasteland, I'll have him in the arena before he can draw breath."
"In his defence.." Sig started cautiously, keeping a weather eye open for any royal fits of rage "Torn seemed certain that the entire plan involving the stone – and Samos' sage awakening – was born from necessity and desperation. They had little hope and almost no workable plan. The Precursor stone was the last ray of light they were clinging to."
Damas snatched up his staff, grip flexing as though he wanted to go hunt down the sage right that second. "In desperation is a man's worth measured." He growled the age-old expression, stalking from one side of the dais to the other in repressed anger. "I suppose I have little right to be surprised. I knew the kind of men I was leaving behind."
He stopped his edgy movements and visibly calmed himself. Eyes still tight with seething emotion, he nevertheless appeared to calm and returned the staff to the wall and himself to his throne.
"Continue, Sig. And please.. do not keep me in suspense. Tell me what happened to Mar."
Sig's eye creased sympathetically and he nodded.
"Kor caught up with the Baron before Jak could. He killed the Baron and his men when he could not find the stone. Jak recovered it from a secondary bomb and brought it to the Metal Head nest... to the site of Mar's ancient weapon."
Damas shook his head. "If my son has only half the foresight that man had, our people will thrive."
Sig continued as if he hadn't been interrupted.
"By this point, Kor's forces had overrun the city, looking for the stone. Jak stormed the nest to find and kill him. When they arrived, however, Kor had the stone – taken from the gun. He also had Mar."
"His intention was to have Mar open the stone so he could consume the energy within." Here, Sig smiled broadly. "The Cherries didn't like that plan, though. Jak opened up a can of Dark Jak whoop-ass on Kor's scaly behind while Daxter got Mar to cover. Jak: 1, Kor: 0."
"And Mar?" Damas prompted.
"Safe and sound." Sig promised. "But, this is the part you're not gonna like. Jak's girlfriend – Samos' future-past daughter, don't ask – is a whiz at mechanics. She managed to re-construct the machine used to bring the lot of them to our time – partly from memory, substitution and parts she had Jak recover for her. The plan was to go back to their own time – it was what she had been working towards for two years."
"But Jak is still here." Damas mused. "Why didn't he go?"
"He did go, in a way." Sig said carefully. "His six year old self went, to be raised our time's Samos. Everyone from the past remained here."
Damas went very still.
"Daxter said it was something to do with paradoxes not collapsin' the universe, or something." Sig continued, hyper-aware of just how badly this could go. "Jak had come here from the past, and so he had to go to the past first, in order to complete-"
"Sig." Damas voice was very, very cold.
"Are you telling me. That my son. Is hundreds of years in the past, with that useless sonofabitch Sage.. and there's nothing I can do to get him back?!"
Sig bit his lip and started thinking about the quickest way to get Jak out of Spargus and Damas' reach. Kras city, maybe.
"I'm sayin', he is back." Sig explained, as gently – but firmly - as he possibly could. "I'm sayin', little Mar grew up safe in sunny, sea-side Sandover. He grew up happy, with his best friend Daxter. I'm sayin', that when he was fifteen, he found a portal back."
Damas swallowed, hard.
"And was immediately re-captured, experimented on and twisted into the killing machine known as Jak." He bit out viciously.
Aw, hell. He thought dourly. This ain't goin' well at all.