Jak And Daxter Fan Fiction ❯ Strange Existence ❯ Four: Learning ( Chapter 4 )
Disclaimer: Jak is owned by Naughty Dog. Please oh please don’t think I’m lying.
Jak5: Strange Existence
Once the talking started, Sunni was much more of a bundle of energy. She was all over everyone, looking over shoulders, jumping from person to person, asking questions nonstop. They even started taking her out, offering no explanations to anyone who asked about her tail. They visited particular places in the city just to let her look around more, even took her to Spargus.
And in Spargus, they learned, she recognized the desert layout. Without waiting for anyone, she sprinted off, making Jak, Keira and Daxter chase after her. No one else Pecker opted to come along, and Pecker was more amazed at how easily Sunni ate up the terrain.
Though they all knew just how nimble and quick she was, nobody expected her to have such ease moving about an area she didn’t know. Nothing seemed to slow her down, not dips, humps, twists, turns, buildings, or even people. She climb up and around things, launched herself from whatever she could, surprisingly a woman as she leapt from a rock to her shoulder to the ground again without missing a beat.
“Was that an ottsel?” the woman asked as they started to run by.
“Yes,” Daxter answered, for simplicity’s sake.
After a few minutes of this chase, Keira had enough and reclined by the coast. Jak had already opted to use the jet board, Daxter remaining on foot since it was much easier to follow Sunni’s lopes this way. Even so, it didn’t take too much longer and Daxter joined Keira at about the same time Pecker found them again. Seeing the rest of them having given up made Jak stop, though granted he still wanted to watch over her.
This was more true when she disappeared from sight, only to come sprinting back -- now chased by Kleiver, who apparently couldn’t believe he’d seen her again.
She dashed behind Jak, then climbed up his back, glaring over his shoulder at Kleiver as the bigger man waddled towards them. With laughs that shook every inch of the man (a disgusting sight), Kleiver was instantly all insults.
“What’s this, she’s your new pet?” he said to Jak.
Jak set his jaw. “Maybe. Are you regretting handing her over?”
“Nah, she’s a wee bit too small for me,” Kleiver replied with a grin.
Jak wasn’t sure what the man meant at that, but chose not to try and figure it out. “You’re not going to start saying how we can’t come here with Sunni, are you?”
“What’s that?” Kleiver asked, raising his brows. “Ye gave her a name?”
“Yes,” Keira answered, standing beside Jak.
“And don’t you forget it!” Daxter added, standing on Keira’s shoulder since Jak’s were occupied.
Pecker remained where he was, oddly silent, though he did seem interested.
Kleiver chuckled. “Come and go as ye like,” he said carelessly. “Just make sure to keep ‘er on a leash.”
“Hey!” Daxter snapped. “Why don’t you go blow yourself!”
“Blow yourself!” Sunni echoed, her voice high. Obviously, she remembered Kleiver -- and didn’t like him.
And instead of berating Sunni for her choice of what to repeat, or Daxter for saying it first, Keira threw in an insult of her own.
“And while you’re at it, choke on it,” she sneered.
Kleiver was apparently very amused by this, laughing heartily as he left. A few moments later, when he was out of sight, the moment shattered.
Snatching Sunni off Jak, Keira scolded her for what she said. At the same time, Jak was doing the same to Daxter, though he supposed everyone was to blame for Sunni’s bad mouth. To everyone’s surprise, that was when Pecker chose to start laughing, as though he’d seen the funniest things in years just then.
“What’s so funny?” Keira, Jak and Daxter all said in unison, turning glares on Pecker.
“That was!” Pecker answered, still amused. “You should have seen the picture the four of you made. And then telling Kleiver off like that -- it was positively genius!”
Jak had to think about that. Trying to envision it, he put he and Keira side by side, Sunni on his back, Daxter on Keira’s shoulder, the four of them facing off against Kleiver fearlessly. And just imagining the words that came from the latter three was shocking enough, let alone that they’d come from innocent Sunni and Keira.
“Ah, we coulda done better,” Daxter spat. Glaring up at Jak, he added, “You could’ve said something, too!”
Jak shrugged. “I thought you three had it covered.”
Keira bit her lip. “In my defense, I didn’t plan on saying anything of the sort.”
“You’re forgiven,” he told her.
“Whipped,” Daxter whispered to Jak.
Rather than reply, Jak shoved him aside. Getting up from where he’d eaten it, the smaller one was all fight, fists raised and asking for a battle.
Then, very abruptly, Sunni grabbed Daxter and hugged him tight.
Other than turning a bit blue from the strength of the hug, Daxter looked appeased. Though he still said, “Hey, what’d I do to deserve a hug?”
Sunni replied simply, “You’re nice.”
Keira gave them both a soft look, even added a long “aww” -- though Jak couldn’t tell if it was intentional or not.
That was when Daxter decided to put up a front, pushing Sunni from him and brushing off his fur. “So,” he tried, salvaging his pride, “you don’t like that guy?” he asked Sunni.
She frowned. “He was mean.”
“How so?” Keira said, turning Sunni to face her.
“He didn’t let me go,” Sunni told her.
Jak thought about that. “Then, you tried to run away?”
“He’s very big,” she said matter-of-factly. Then she seemed to think about it, adding, “I guess he was trying to be nice. But he was still mean about it.” She made a face.
From the sounds of it, she’d obviously tried to get away from Kleiver at some point, and given how incredibly difficult it was to keep ahold of her when she wanted to be elsewhere, he guessed Kleiver had a lot of trouble keeping her with him. Likely, the bigger man had to hold her still some way or another to keep her from fleeing. To someone like Sunni, who was very simple-minded when they’d first gotten her, it was probably terrifying to her.
And all the concern Jak felt about the way she’d retold the events faded. For a moment he was thinking of going after Kleiver and beating the man, and now he was surprised at where that urge had come from. Surely he couldn’t be this attached already, this protective over her?
At second thought, that had to be it. Neither he nor Daxter mentioned visiting the Precursor Temple or what was said there, keeping the information to themselves. Like the way they were with Tess and Keira respectively, they were both wrapped around Sunni’s little finger, he was sure. When she asked for help, someone always came. All of her questions were answered promptly and to whatever degree she needed. Not even Torn could keep her at arm’s length for long, always giving into her affections eventually.
All this knowledge proved it: Jak was definitely protective over her. Maybe as something like a little sister, he thought. It was easy to think that way, too, given she was about the same size as an eight-year-old despite being eleven.
That got him thinking something no one had brought up before, and he voiced it. “Hey, when do you suppose her birthday is?”
He received three very confused expressions, followed by Sunni looking curiously from person to person.
“I never thought about it,” Keira answered, seeming startled.
“Did the DNA test say anything about that?” Daxter asked.
“I don’t know, Ashelin had the results,” Jak said.
“Why not make it the day she showed up?” Pecker threw in.
Surprisingly, it was good idea. “That would work,” Keira agreed.
Daxter glanced at Pecker, then at Keira. “So, that’s what we’re going with?”
“Good idea, Pecker,” Jak said to the bird.
“What’s a birthday?” Sunni asked.
- - - - -
Around dusk, Daxter had another brilliant idea that he seemed to be full of lately. He suggested that since they were already in the desert, why not look into where Sunni had been found? Jak was already planning to go into the nighttime wasteland and have a look around, given it’d been so long since the last time he saw the desert at night. He figured it would be a good idea to scout around and see what the nightlife was like these days.
“That would mean,” he told Daxter, “finding Kleiver. He’s the only one who knows where she was living.”
Daxter huffed. “Or I could bite my own tail. We just told him off, now we’re gonna ask for help?” he snapped.
“First, it was you who told him off,” Jak clarified, “and second, this was your idea.”
Daxter’s expression clearly said “fuck.”
Jak chuckled at him. “Don’t look like you’re the one who’s going to have to deal with him, Dax.”
“Wait, you’re really gonna ask?” Daxter asked now, surprised.
Jak gave him an odd look. “You were expecting me not to?”
Daxter opened his mouth, then shut it. “Okay, you have a point.”
Hardly believing he was actually going to do this, he sought out Kleiver. He ran into Sig along the way, but they were both busy, so they didn’t have time to talk. Sig just shook his head about Kleiver’s whereabouts, saying he didn’t know anything about a kid Kleiver found.
Then, not so surprisingly, Jak spotted him -- not that he was hard to miss -- at the entrance, looking over the vehicles Jak had become familiar with.
He didn’t want to have to do this, yet still, he did want to know more about Sunni. Steeling his nerve, he approached Kleiver and announced himself.
Kleiver’s expression upon seeing them earlier was mild compared to the look he gave them now. “What’s this now?” he asked. “Seeing you once a day is more than enough, now ye find me twice?”
“I don’t want to be here any more than you want me here,” Jak bit out, “but I have a question for you.”
“I don’t like little boys,” Kleiver answered sarcastically.
Biting back a groan, he tried to ignore that comment. “I want to know where you found Sunni.”
“Oh, so that’s it,” Kleiver laughed. “Ah, but that doesn’t sound anything like a question.”
Jak set his jaw. He wasn’t about to give in to that.
“Bah, if it’ll be the end of ye,” Kleiver started, “I’ll tell ye. Ye know where we round up them lizards?”
“About five minutes’ drive east of there,” Kleiver told him, “on this Dune Buggy.” He patted the one. “Ye can’t really miss it. There’s a spring of water, about six cactus, and a mound of boulders.”
“I’ll find it,” Jak said, deciding to end the conversation now. Checking the pouch on his hip yielded a palm-light, which he’d been hoping to remember bringing. He was probably going to need it -- along with his gun on his back, jet board and Daxter.
As soon as they were out of the doors, Daxter yelled obscenities to Kleiver. A few decidedly vile words later, and he huffed again. “Precursors, I hate him.”
“Everyone hates him,” Jak agreed. “Now sit down right, you know how bumpy it gets out here.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Daxter sighed, returning to the correct position. Not a second too soon, either, given they hit a rock about then that sent two wheels in the air.
“Jaaaaaaaak!” Daxter yelled. “Geez, why’d do you that?!” he snapped once they were on four wheels again.
“Quit yelling,” Jak told him. “You know I don’t hit these things on purpose.”
“We really need to have roads built out here,” Daxter said.
“Yeah, that’ll happen.”
Finding the lizard pen, he made a sharp turn towards east and floored it. With the sun now almost entirely gone, he flipped a switch that turned on the headlights. Keeping their eyes open for the points Kleiver told them about, both he and Daxter expected something a bit harder to find than the mountainside in the distance.
“That’s the ‘mound of boulders?’” Daxter asked flatly.
“It’s a lot smaller to someone like Kleiver,” Jak laughed. “I guess that’s it. We’ll check it out anyway.”
When they reached it, they found several cacti and a spring, like Kleiver described. Parking the vehicle and climbing out, they both looked around, keeping the headlights on as a source of light. Heading east, though only for a short while, had only helped the sun set faster.
Pulling the palm light from his pouch, he used it to help him see better. After a few minutes of searching while yielded nothing like a home, burrow or den, Jak was ready to give up. He was considering getting back in the buggy and heading back when Daxter got his attention.
“Lemme see that light,” Daxter called, catching it when Jak tossed it to him. Aiming it upwards, he shined the light on the rock face. “Is it just me, or does that look like a cave to you?”
Coming over, Jak followed the beam of light. About twenty feet or so up, shadowed despite the light, appeared to be a cave. “It does,” he agreed.
Handing the light back, Daxter started climbing up the rocks. “I’ll check it out.”
“Without the light?” Jak asked.
“I can’t climb up while holding it,” Daxter told him. “Toss it up when I reach the cave. Or,” he added, annoyed, “shine it on the cave so I know where I’m going!”
With a laugh, Jak shined it up, though it took him a second to find the cave. Then Daxter peeked inside. Seeing only his tail wiggling about, Jak was a bit amused, though also a bit worried as Daxter spent more and more time looking inside. Then at last he popped his head back at and called down, “Jak, you have to see this.”
Apparently, something interesting was in there. Not sure what to expect, he tossed the light up to Daxter and started climbing, though with considerable more difficulty. At last reaching the cave, he found that the entrance was much smaller than he’d assumed -- the perfect size for an ottsel.
“I don’t think I can fit in there,” Jak told him.
“You can fit your head in, can’t you?” Daxter returned, diving in.
Okay, maybe it was a bit bigger than he could see in this light, but he’d rather not go exploring a dark hole after sunset. After a few moments in which he considered which option to take, he looked inside, figuring he just might be able to squeeze in there -- if there were a good reason to. And he could see light in there, but it didn’t look quite like the palm light. . .
“Dax?” he called.
“You have to come down here.”
He raised a brow. “Why, what’s down there?”
“Besides a plenty big cave, you mean? Come see. Don’t worry, there’s a lot of room once you’re inside.”
He sighed. “Okay, I’m taking your word for it. This had better not be a trick.”
Daxter was right, he learned soon enough. Going in feet first, he could fit, and with room to spare. However, Daxter hadn’t warned him about the ten foot drop following. Landing hard, he was fully prepared to make some threats about fur coats, but the words died before he could pick them out.
All around him, he could see Eco, some glowing bright, others dim. Red and Yellow Eco seemed to be drawn to one side of the cave, with Blue and Green on the other. To his surprise, there was also Light Eco, amidst the Blue and Green. Even as he had to marvel at how they glowed, he wondered how this cave hadn’t been found before. There didn’t even seem to be life down here, not a single plant.
“That would explain it,” he said to himself when he turned to see the rest of the cave. On the opposite side of the hole was Dark Eco -- toxic to everything. Except himself, of course, but he was a special case.
“Would explain what?” Daxter asked.
“There’s Dark Eco over here,” Jak answered him. “So of course life would stay away.”
“But there’s Light Eco on this side,” Daxter argued.
“Yeah, I know.” He was puzzled about this; all six known types of Eco, in the same cave. He wondered how long it’s existed here. With Dark Eco staving off life, it could have been for a great long time.
He glanced over at Daxter, who was now shining the light on a bit of Red Eco -- on the wrong side of the cave. Only it wasn’t glowing? “What is it?”
Daxter stepped closer to it, so Jak followed. And upon better inspection, it was a pile of clothing. Which, he noted, was stained with a lot of blood. The dirt around had dried puddles of it, too. Like something had come in here and died. . .
“Do you think Sunni came here?” he wondered aloud. It would explain the clothes, and her scar.
“Well,” Daxter started, picking up one of the bits of cloth, “if this isn’t a little girl’s shirt. . .”
“Let me see the light,” Jak said now, reaching out for it. Shining the light all around, he took a better look at the whole of the cave. It was no higher at any point, it seemed, than the entrance. But it was certainly deep, sloping downwards. He took a few steps closer to the end of the cave, towards the collection of Light Eco.
“Whoa, did you see that?” Daxter asked, coming up beside him.
“Shine the light over there again,” Daxter pointed at the Light Eco.
Doing so, he saw what Daxter had -- the Light Eco glowed brighter, and it seemed to have nothing to do with reflections. “It’s responding?” he voiced his thoughts.
“This is amazing!” Daxter yelled suddenly, throwing his arms in the air. “This place is -- it’s one of a kind!”
“So is that,” Jak said almost to himself. In Daxter’s flailing, his hand still holding the blood-stained shirt had gotten closer to the Light Eco, and he could swear the blood had lightened in a way that had nothing to do with the light itself.
Daxter seemed to notice it at about the same time. And then, without conversing, it seemed they had the same idea. Daxter lifted the shirt higher, towards the Light Eco. Then, very abruptly, the Eco seemed to get a bit brighter, then shot towards the shirt and disappeared into the bloodstain.
Daxter dropped the shirt.
Recovering a piece of his stunned mind, Jak tried to make sense of it. “Well, there’ve been Eco-sensitive people before. I mean, look at me.”
“Yeah, but Sunni ain’t a human,” Daxter argued.
They were thinking the same thing again, Jak could tell. Sunni was definitely becoming more interesting with everything they found out, because everything they found out only spawned more questions. If nothing else, she was certainly the most unique person in existence. Now the question remained if they should tell everyone what they found, or simply return with the bloody clothes.