Jak And Daxter Fan Fiction ❯ Strange Existence ❯ Five: Her Past ( Chapter 5 )
Disclaimer: Jak is owned by Naughty Dog. Please oh please don’t think I’m lying.
Jak5: Strange Existence
Five: Her Past
Upon returning to Spargus, Jak and Daxter learned that Keira had gotten tired of waiting for them. She, Sunni and Pecker had all gone back to Haven. Sunni’s clothes were now packed into Jak’s pouch, since he hadn’t taken a backpack with him. Hopping aboard the transit, they were both silent, having decided that they shouldn’t involve the Eco Cave in today’s explanation.
The clothes were enough, he supposed. And damn but they were small. They would be able to fit Tess, making Jak seriously wonder about Sunni’s size. Not to mention they were the type of clothes you put together quickly and haphazardly, meaning she had to have been extremely poor. He couldn’t imagine such a young child making clothes herself, so that left the options of having family who made them for her, or she found or stole them.
The slash on the back of the shirt kept him worried throughout the trip, almost more so than the blood and how the Eco reacted to it. He had only seen Sunni’s back partially, saw only a fraction of the scar, but now he had proof of just how bad the wound had been. If the shirt’s condition was any indication, then it was the type that should have killed a child. How she survived he could only imagine being because of the Light and Green Eco in the cave.
She had probably gone there with the animal instinct of finding a secluded place to die, he realized. And with that thought came a rush of anger at who or whatever inflicted that wound upon her. Now he had questions that needed answers, regardless of Sunni’s willingness. Everyone had been kind and patient with her, from the very beginning. Nobody bothered asking her questions directly, not about her past or even her thoughts.
That had to change. Now that she was speaking fairly easily, he had a chance to get those answers he was seeking. Precursors willing, she would be able to remember.
The two of them found Sunni quickly, knowing she’d be with Keira in the garage. Since she had an official room here now, this was where she spent most of her time. Keira, too, since the garage was her “base.”
“Welcome back,” Keira said to them as they entered, though her tone was a bit unhappy.
“Yeah,” Jak sighed, knowing he was in trouble already. Even so, that wasn’t why he was here. Going over to where Sunni sat beside Keira, he picked her up and walked across the room to the sofa. Setting her down there, he sat beside her, Daxter taking up a post on her other side. They had Keira’s attention now, just as much as they had Sunni’s.
Pulling out her clothes, he held them out and started. “Are these yours, Sunni?”
She stared at them, wide-eyed. Reaching out, she took them, laying them on her lap. Touching the shirt’s stain particularly, he took that as a “yes.”
“Are they?” Daxter prodded, though infinitely more gently than he generally spoke.
Sunni’s jaw clenched, but she nodded. “I think so. Yes.”
“This tear,” Jak said now, pointing it out. “It goes along with your scar, doesn’t it?”
Keira was with them now, looking over the back of the sofa.
Sunni gave another nod. But as she didn’t answer this time, Jak went on.
“I want you to tell me how it happened.”
She frowned. Shaking her head, it was as though she had forgotten how to speak all over again.
“Sunni, please,” Keira said softly. “We want to know more about you. I’ve told you this before.”
When she didn’t make a move nor a sound, Daxter cuddled up to her. Like some kind of stuffed animal, she hugged him, and it seemed to work in comforting her. It was reminiscent of earlier today, only now, Sunni was close to tears and everyone had a solemn expression.
With another prod from Keira, she started telling the story. She didn’t have a grasp of time, but it was a while before Kleiver had found her, she said.
“I was alone for a long time. It was hard. I saw a big, big flying ship in the wasteland on day. There were things moving around inside, so I went to look. Everything there had a forehead that glowed. I thought they would be nice to me, so I went to see them.”
Mentally, Jak flinched. She was talking about metalheads, and thinking they were friends.
“They didn’t. . .like me very much. They had big sticks they kept swinging at me, so I ran away. One of them. . .” She paused there, shaking her head again.
“Sunni, this is important to us,” Keira started, touching her shoulder. “Was it that one who gave you the scar?”
She mumbled something, but with a low voice like that, nobody understood her.
“What did you say?” Jak asked, hoping he didn’t sound pushy.
She looked up then, sharply. “I said I don’t wanna talk about it anymore!” she shrieked. Letting go of Daxter, she dashed away from them. At first Jak wasn’t too worried, thinking she’d head to her room -- but she headed for the door. Getting up, all three chased after her, much like how they’d done this morning.
And somehow, she disappeared completely. For a moment, standing just outside the door, all three looked everywhere to spot her, but she wasn’t in sight.
“Did she just. . ?” Daxter started.
“Disappear,” Jak finished.
“Oh, no,” Keira said, clearly the most worried.
“She’ll come back,” Jak promised her.
She shook her head. “I know she can find her way back, but what’s to keep her from getting in trouble along the way?”
“Well,” Daxter offered, “look at quick she is. If none of us can keep up with her, how could anyone else?”
Though she just shook her head again, Jak could tell she was trying to believe it. “I’ll go looking for her,” he told Keira.
She glanced up with a kind of thankful smile now. She didn’t say anything, but she did kiss him sweetly before turning around and going back inside. He was happy about the kiss, yet at the same time, he was starting to really understand just how much Keira loved having Sunni around.
Kind of like a mother.
He gave himself a mental slap for that, instead choosing to look down at where Daxter stood, apparently deep in thought. “So, do we split up?” he suggested.
From the grin he was greeted with, Daxter had been thinking something along those lines. “I’m a better climber,” Daxter started, “so I’ll look around from above.”
“Like I can’t get higher on my jet board?” Jak asked, giving Daxter a skeptical look.
“See ya, bud,” Daxter answered, loping off.
Jak took one more glance around, trying to think where Sunni would go. Somewhere familiar, he decided. Somewhere that probably had someone she knew, someplace that would offer her comfort. All signs pointed directly to her room, but he also knew that right now, that would be her second choice, rather than first.
Making her go. . .where?
Besides the garage, the only other place she knew well was the new command center, not far from where the Baron’s tower had once stood. They had taken Sunni there many times, by foot and by vehicle -- so she had to know the way.
Flipping out the jet board he kept with him almost all the time, he hopped on it and headed that way. Thinking of Sunni led his thoughts to some of the time he’d spent with her alone, which he knew everyone had at some point. And he found himself smiling about it, too; he’d taken Sunni on the jet board with him more than once before. She absolutely loved it.
And oddly enough, she always chose a place either clinging to him somehow or on the board itself, around his feet, that never took up Daxter’s spot. Out of challenge itself, via Daxter’s ideas, Jak had even managed several tricks with Sunni there. She had a habit of finding some part of him to hold onto -- usually his leg -- that didn’t impede the trick nor threaten any part of him with searing pain. It was odd to think of, but still rather impressive.
Now he thought that perhaps he could convince her to come back with him if he offered her a trip on the jet board. That is, once he found her.
Lucky for him, most people recognized him coming, more so when he was on the jet board. They skirted out of his way, though granted he still had to launch over some slower citizens. Every so often he got a shaking fist or savage word in his direction, but more people looked amused than disgruntled.
When he reached the command center, he still had to pull out a card to gain access to the door. Although by now he was good enough at it that he didn’t need to get off the jet board to do it, given the card scanner was at the bottom of the stairs and the doors were at the top. A swipe opened the door, then he was gliding up the stairs and through the door. He kept this up down the hall, at last hopping off the jet board and putting it away before he collided with the second set of doors.
Entering, he saw that Ashelin and Torn were both here, talking to each other from opposite sides of a circular map -- a replica of the one in the previous command center. Ashelin was standing, and greeted Jak with a wave. Torn, on the other hand, was sitting in a chair, and chose only to lift his hand in a half-wave. The chair he was sitting in, Jak noted, seemed to have a tail.
He pointed at it. “Sunni?” he asked.
Torn gave a snort. “Is there a reason she ran all the way here?”
“I’m more interested in how she got in without a card,” Jak answered.
“Through the vents,” Ashelin told him. “As for her being here. . ?”
“Good question,” he said to himself. Louder, he started, “I guess she wanted to be somewhere else.”
Torn definitely looked uncomfortable, Jak noted. But of course, he was sharing his seat with a curled up girl, stuck between him and the back of the chair. Jak wondered how she’d not only managed to squeeze in there, yet also didn’t cause Torn to simply relinquish his seat.
Maybe he had much more of a soft spot for Sunni than everyone assumed. Or maybe he wasn’t bothered enough by her presence to move. Either way, he got up now, picking up Sunni and setting her on the floor before taking his chair back. Sunni gave him a hurt look that would have melted chocolate, except that Torn was made of tougher stuff.
Coming a bit closer, Jak knelt and opened his arms. “C’mon, Sunni,” he ordered.
Looking his way, she screwed up her face and stuck out her tongue.
Exasperated, he dropped his arms. “Sunni,” he said again, with more warning in his tone.
She glared at him in a way that said “no.”
Well, he supposed, she did have reason to not want to return. Pulling out his jet board again, he held it up so she could see it. “If you come back, we can play on the jet board.”
Her eyes lit up for a second, and for that second, he thought he had her. And then she narrowed her eyes again. Cursing mentally, he just about threw the jet board at her, since it was the thing in his hands at the moment.
“Sunni,” he said louder than before, “you know you can’t stay here all night.”
“I’ll come back when I’m ready,” she snapped back.
A small amount of rage bubbled under his skin, making him narrow his eyes. “How about you’ll come back now.”
She sneered. “No way!”
He blew out a sigh, though it was more like a huff. “Why’d you come here anyway?”
“I don’t wanna talk about it anymore,” she said smartly, like he should’ve figured it out by now.
“Okay, but why did you come here?” he repeated. “Why go to Torn?”
“Torn never makes me talk,” she answered, looking at Jak like he was slow.
He glanced up at Torn, who -- despite talking to Ashelin -- had his eyes on Sunni at the moment. Okay, Jak could see that. It was true that Torn had never tried to get Sunni talking in the past, yet everyone else asks her questions.
“Sunni,” Ashelin said now, getting her attention. “Why don’t you go back? There’s nothing for you to play with here.”
Sunni frowned at her. “I don’t play all the time.”
“Alright,” Torn told her, “then why don’t help us plan a strategy to fortify the outer defenses without having to deplete the inner forces?”
She looked confused. Then she gave Torn a glare that looked out of place on her face. She replied, “Why don’t you go blow yourself?”
Eyes went wide all around, and Jak decided that now would be a great time to take her away before she got into more trouble. With her attention stuck to Torn, it was easy to sneak up and snatch her, holding her close so she couldn’t get away.
“Did she just tell me to blow myself?!” Torn snapped, disbelief written on his face.
“Where did she learn that?” Ashelin asked, totally dumbfounded.
“Daxter,” Jak answered. “And I thought,” he said to Sunni directly, “that Keira told you not to say it again?”
Sunni was wriggling, trying to get free, and now looked put out. “But it worked before, right? That big man left.”
“Big man?” Ashelin echoed.
“Kleiver,” Jak said to her. “We visited Spargus earlier. And, well, had a conversation with Kleiver.”
“And Daxter told him to blow himself?” Torn finished.
“Then Keira told him to choke on it,” Jak agreed, smiling with satisfaction.
Ashelin’s brows went up. “Keira told him that?”
“It was great,” Jak grinned. Clearing his throat, he gave Sunni a deep frown. “Until Sunni decided not to listen.”
“You’re the one who wanted to know about my past,” Sunni shot back.
“You remember something?” Ashelin asked her.
Sunni immediately skirted the question by hiding her face in Jak’s shirt.
“Nothing she likes retelling,” Jak said to Ashelin. “Uh, forget we were here?”
“Bye,” Torn told him.
Rolling his eyes, Jak turned to leave, picking up his jet board as he went. Ashelin said goodbye a bit friendlier, and then he had a complacent Sunni holding onto him as he hopped back on the jet board. Her giggles rang out with every trick he did, from simple to complicated. Perhaps it was her animal side, but she loved athletics so much that he couldn’t imagine her ever gaining the slightest bit of fat.
He took the long way back, just to make sure Sunni had no complaints by the time he made it to the garage. She pouted heavily when he put the board away, but otherwise didn’t fight him. She was on his shoulders when he went inside, reminding him of Daxter a bit too much. She only stayed there a moment, however, when she saw Keira and abandoned him for her.
And Keira hugged her like Sunni was her own daughter. For a moment Jak stood off to the side, a little uncomfortable with Keira’s show of affection towards a child not her own. He pushed those thoughts out of his mind, though, replacing them with the questions he’d had to forget about in order to search for Sunni in the first place. She definitely remembered something, the problem was knowing just how much.
It wasn’t hard for him to believe that Sunni’s memories only went back three years; everything about her seemed to prove that point. It even added up with Samos’ mention that the desert only knew of Sunni starting three years ago. It could be that, because of her looks, she was abandoned after birth.
Which Keira would argue with, of course. He knew her well enough to know that Keira would protest that way of thinking, likely because she would imagine Sunni being unbearably cute as a baby. Even so, Jak himself was well aware just how untrusting and prejudiced people could be, having had it pointed at himself numerous times. Despite proving himself over and over, and having peak control of himself, there were still people who hated him for the sake of hating him.
It wasn’t hard for him to imagine Sunni having gone through that. But that was just a theory on his part; only Sunni could answer the questions of her own past. If she couldn’t remember, then he figured they’d just have to try and help her to whatever extent she wanted aid. Maybe when she was a bit older, it would come back to her, or if he took her back to that Eco cave. . .
But of course, Keira would protest to that, as well. Nobody wanted to keep Sunni around and unharmed more than Keira did. It was why Jak vowed to never tell Keira about what the Precursors suggested, regarding discovering Sunni’s heritage. Perhaps, he thought now, they would just have to wait for Sunni to find the answers herself.
It seemed the most effective course, as well as the least harmful. With that in mind, he decided he wouldn’t press the issue again, unless he absolutely had to. He didn’t want to lose Sunni any more than Keira did.