Welcome to my new story. This ties in with my previous double-story, Marooned/Haven's Last Mission, and gives an insight into life back in the city after our heroes depart on their fateful journey. This story need not be read after reading the first one I wrote, but I would advise reading it first if you have not already done so, depending on the sort of experience you want with this one. Keira is the main character, and this story will follow her life without Jak and Daxter around, and concern the final days of the war with the mysterious people of Idandi. Here commences the first chapter. Remember, the pictures can be viewed by following the links on my profile page; there is one for each chapter, and it is indicated in the text where it is meant to apply. Please enjoy, and feedback is much appreciated.
As the last units of the squadron disappeared over the mountains, and the mighty hum of their engines faded into silence, the tense life of Haven City continued, but now imbued with a more positive outlook on the future. What the people had seen was an immense display of force, which strengthened their confidence and faith in the Freedom League, the city's fighters who had defended them against an enigmatic foe for nearly a year. It was true that with the long stalemate in the war came a lacking in support for the forces. The people were weary and wanted the war to end, and wondered why it was taking so long. They wanted peace, which was something rarely experienced in Haven's history. The hope of being free from all hostile threats enticed them, and they impatiently headed towards its door, seeking an escape from this world of hate, only to find that the way was always blocked by some other oppressor.
Now Torn had promised them results, and the sight of all of those bombers made those who doubted turn to face the truth. Not only had it been an expression of military prowess, but also a major piece of propaganda to ensure lasting support. Torn had by no means been unaware of the problems within the city walls as well as the ones lying beyond.
Soldiers were moving people out of the courtyard before the Freedom HQ building now, keeping to their orders of protecting the civilians; they never knew when the next attack would come. Torn had left behind a few chosen commanders to manage the soldiers and give the orders while he was gone, and they now stood at the crowd's boundaries ensuring that Torn's big plan was executed properly.
After the crowds had dispersed, one lonely figure remained sitting by the fountain looking at the sky. It was Keira, and she was remembering her last goodbye with Jak and Daxter, her life-long friends. She missed Jak most of all, and wished for more time to be with him. He always promised he'd make time for her, and did his very best to keep them, but his heroic status among the citizens and his constantly required aid for the city often tore them apart at the most inopportune moments. Now she had seen him slip away from her again. In truth, she was getting very bored with him always running off on missions all the time. She wished for the end of the war more than anybody, so that at last he could get more free time for her. How much longer would this have to go on for?
Her thoughts were interrupted as a soldier walked up to her. "Miss, it's time to move on."
His voice drew her reluctantly back to reality. "Coming," she said sadly with her eyes still pointing skywards, and then moved away from the fountain, ushered out of the courtyard by the armoured man behind her.
As she left the area, the soldiers reconstructed the boundary around the HQ building, which had been kept off limits to citizens for their protection and for military business. This one time it had been opened for the farewell speech, which had made the occasion even more prominent. For once, everyone could stand together and feel united in their struggle.
Keira didn't look back though, and kept walking through the emptying streets alone, disappearing around the corner. She was heading southwards, and thoughts of the past began re-emerging in her mind, things she had not dwelled on for what felt like a very long time. She remembered the moment when she finally met Jak for the first time in Haven City, when she threw back the curtains of her racing garage to see him standing there with Daxter. But she had hardly recognised him; he looked so different in his industrial clothing, his face was grievous and tired, and there was a dark and foreboding energy that seemed to emanate from him. Had Daxter not been there with him, she would have thought him a completely different person, and not the sweet young man she had once known. The hardest two years of her life had ended on that day. At last, she had been reunited with those she knew and trusted, and no longer felt isolated in this hostile new world.
Now she remembered her terrifying arrival at Haven City all that time ago. She had fallen through the rift and down from the sky alone, landing just inside the city walls; had she landed just a few metres to the left, she would have been outside the city and separated from safety. From there, having spent a few days getting 'acquainted' with the local Krimzon Guards, she managed to make a living at the stadium, studying and building modified zoomers for the people and the races, the very vehicles that were descended from her own original design. She'd tried to feel at home as much as she could, but it was difficult adjusting to a life so different from the one she used to lead. The mechanical work helped, for it was the only thing that she was familiar with; a passionate escape to keep her spirits up, and she managed to hold it together. Fortunately, business was good, and soon she had made enough money to buy and manage a house for herself nearby. At least she hadn't had to live in the slums; the stadium area was much better kept and reserved for the slightly more wealthy citizens of Haven. But now, that home had been reduced to ruins during Haven's civil war, and lay buried and forgotten in the dust.
She learned to enjoy her time spent there. She had a job, a good income, and a decent home. She even made a few friends too. But she still missed Jak and Daxter and her father, and had spent much of her spare time looking for them, researching the city's history for clues of the fate of their old village by the sea, and constructing the replica rift rider entirely from memory for the eventual journey back to the past. Her work was often interrupted by the always suspicious Krimzon Guards. They made everyone's lives a misery, and she was visited one day by a squad led by Erol, who grew a liking for her. He found out where she lived, and would wait around for her to appear. When he learned of her role at the stadium, he began visiting her more and more frequently, often there to keep her distracted while his men carried out the dirty work, both during the races and when he was on duty as the Krimzon Commander. Erol had wooed her and had gained her trust, and in return she had developed a soft spot for him, showing her appreciation by supporting him in the races, modifying and enhancing his vehicle so that it would out-perform all the others. This was partially responsible for his success on the track. She didn't feel as if there was anything else for her to do. All she was missing from her enjoyable life was a partner, and even once considered settling down with him.
As time went on and Erol became more and more popular as a racer, Keira still did not know his true character and what he was doing to Jak in the fortress prison. She did notice a slight change about him around the time Jak escaped; she couldn't tell exactly what it was, but she could sense something was up. Within just a few days she would learn why.
Keira had then found herself torn between him and her old friend Jak, which would often lead to conflicts in opinions from both men. She could see the tension blazing between them, and could hardly bear to watch their final race together. When she saw Erol crash into the eco barrels, she almost burst into tears. But she now knew what Jak was saying to be true, and could not believe how she could have been so blind. Before she could run to Jak though, he'd already fled the stadium, pursued by every Krimzon Guard in the city. At least she'd have some time to herself to think things through, and by the time she and Jak next met, she was ready to leave everything in Haven City behind and return to the past, choosing to forget any connection she ever shared with Erol.
But then, of course, things got complicated, what with all that time-travel business at the end of the Metal Head Wars. Even after all this time, she still did not fully understand exactly how it all worked out. She didn't think anyone did for that matter. But that was alright; at least everything had sort of gone back to how it should have been.
Her thoughts concluded as she entered the port, standing along the dirty and shattered waterfront. On the other side was a familiar sight, the enormous mechanical Daxter that stood over the front door of his pub, The Naughty Ottsel. Right now she felt it was the only place she could go, feeling a closer connection to her friends there. When she stepped inside, she was greeted by the warm and pleasant atmosphere she had come to know, and immediately felt a little better. The bar was quite busy today; obviously there were a lot of people celebrating the end of the war early. Many didn't even notice her walk in.
Approaching the counter, Keira noticed that it was not Tess standing behind it like usual. Instead the drinks were being served by a girl with long straight black hair, a light complexion, and a sweet and friendly face. She was about the same height as Keira, and possibly around the same age too.
The girl caught sight of Keira approaching, and since there was nobody else ordering drinks right now, turned her full attention to her.
"Hiya," she said cheerfully and invitingly, "Can I get you anything?"
"Just a glass of water please," answered Keira, perching herself on one of the barstools.
"Sure," said the girl, "Coming right up!" She got a glass from under the counter and proceeded to fill it from the tap.
"Who are you anyway?" asked Keira curiously.
"Oh yeah, sorry, I'm Azyma," said the girl, "Tess and I were in the Underground together, and she's asked me to help out here while her Daxter's away."
"Ah right, I'm Keira. I'm a close friend of Jak and Daxter."
Azyma looked immediately very interested as she handed over the glass of water. "Wow. What's it like being friends with the saviours of Haven City?"
"Is that what people are calling them now?" said Keira, laughing quietly and then taking a sip. "Anyway, they're just friends to me. I've known them since I was a child."
"So are you from the past too?" asked Azyma, intrigued.
"Yeah," answered Keira, "I miss our old village sometimes."
"It was nice, huh?" asked Azyma, "Better than my childhood, I suppose. I've lived in the slums my whole life. It feels good to be out of there now and to be working a proper job."
"I used to work as a mechanic in the stadium," said Keira, "Now I help my father in the Freedom League."
Azyma laughed. "Ha! Your life's definitely more interesting than mine!"
"Anyway, where's Tess?" asked Keira, "I want to talk to her."
"Oh, she's in the back room, should be out shortly."
Just as she said that, Tess appeared and jumped onto a stool behind the counter.
"Hi sweetie!" she said, "How are you?"
"Not too bad," said Keira, "A little depressed though."
"Aww, you miss Jak, huh? I know how you feel with Daxter gone too. But I see Azyma's been keeping you company."
Azyma winked and smiled sweetly, and started cleaning some of the used glasses left nearby.
"I just felt like coming here to be with you for a while," explained Keira, "You and I are in the same boat you know, so I thought..."
"Don't worry, I understand," said Tess, "You can have whatever you need, Keira, and don't you worry about paying for that drink."
"Thanks," said Keira, and took another sip. She felt at home here in the bar with the support of Tess, speaking together a little more about their feelings, and finding comfort in one another. Though they'd not really spoken or bonded very much in the past, the separation from a loved one brought them closer together. Azyma kept a curious eye on the exchange, and could read the emotion in their bodies and their language. Though she kept it to herself, she also knew what it was like to be separated from a loved one, and understood it was very difficult indeed. But at least Keira and Tess would be able to see theirs again soon... unlike her.
Keira knew that she'd definitely pay frequent visits to the bar as long as Jak and Daxter were away, seeking whatever comfort she could find from the friends here who supported her. But there was one other whom she could confide in: her father. He'd protected and educated her all of her life, and the respect she held for his wisdom was immense.
"Thanks for the drink, Azyma," she said, setting down the glass, "I've gotta talk to my father now."
"Alright," said Azyma, "It was nice meeting you."
"Don't forget, you're always welcome here," said Tess, "Be strong, sweetie."
"Thanks Tess, you too." Keira left the bar and headed outside, feeling much happier after talking with Tess and her new friend Azyma. But there was nobody in the whole city who could provide better support than her father.
She returned to her home in New Haven, a large multi-storey structure which she shared with her father. He was already inside, meditating in his special plant room. Keira walked right in. She knew that her father hated having his meditations interrupted, but for her he held a special exception.
"Daddy?" she spoke quietly, and Samos opened an eye to see his daughter standing before him.
"My girl!" he said, and snapped out of his trance, "I know what you've come to talk about. Do not stress yourself. Jak will return within the next day."
"It feels like a long time for me," spoke Keira, and sat down next to him.
"You must endure your misfortunes in order to progress in life," said Samos, "That proverb carries more truth than people think. People seek indulgences and avoid hardship, but a life without hardship will only damage the soul. For if we lived a life wherein we experienced no ill fortune at all, our souls would become weak, and even those most trivial of tasks would become a mighty challenge."
Keira listened carefully. She understood what her father meant, but kept quiet and let him speak.
"Jak has never let us down before," continued Samos, "I know he will succeed. The plants tell me that there is much more he has yet to do, but will not reveal any details."
These words boosted Keira's confidence a little. Though she still had no idea how the plants could know such things, despite living in the company of many for a good portion of her life, it made her feel better nonetheless.
"Besides," Samos continued more light-heartedly, "We've seen so little enemy activity these past few days, there can't be much left of them now."
Keira looked her father in the eyes and a sad smile slowly came to her face. "You're right, Daddy. I'm so tired of this war."
"Aren't we all? But we will succeed. I can feel it."
"Thanks for the support, Daddy," said Keira, and she gave her father a big hug.
"That's my girl! Just rest up and take it easy. We've all worked long and hard this past year."
That night, Keira left the curtains in her bedroom open so she could look at the night sky. She eagerly waited to see the headlights of the returning victorious cruisers heading to the Freedom HQ building, and tried all she could to avoid falling asleep.
But her conscience was against her, triggered by the advice of her father to stay calm and rest. She went to sleep without seeing any returning cruisers, but she knew they would arrive soon. Maybe she would wake up the next morning to see a city in celebration, hailing the victorious commanders of the Freedom League for destroying their enemy once and for all. She could only hope.