Chapter IIX: The Calm Before the Storm

LES: Roses are red, Violets are blue; this chapter's really cool, and it's for you!

Muse: You're a freak.

LES: What? Hey! Since when did I have a Muse?

Muse: Didn't you write in your other story, 'You guys are my muses.'

LES: Yes, but…

Muse: When you get a muse, you get a Muse.

LES: Okay…

Muse: Besides, I'm a cute little fur ball! Why wouldn't you want to have a muse? It's the beginning of LES's Muse's Reign of Terror!

LES: God help me! By the way, from this day forward, everything will be in third person (Author's POV). I happen to write better that way.

(Haven City)

Torn, Sig, and Daxter had barely passed the City gates when they received a transmission from the Palace. "Commander Torn Rafael and Sig are to report to Her Majesty, Queen Keira Mar, immediately."

Torn, Sig, and Daxter didn't need the summons; they were headed for the Palace anyway. They got to the Palace and went straight to the Throne Room, where Keira was waiting for them. Keira stood up from her husband's, Jak's, Throne.

"Where's Saphira?" Keira demanded.

"How's Jak?" The trio asked at the same time as Keira. There was a pause.

"Sorry," Torn said. "You first."

"Where's Saphira?" Keira repeated.

"Well, we got to Spargus and received a kind enough welcome once they found out who Saphira was. We met their King a man named Falkor. He told us of a group of traders that seem to come from Precursa. We waited a day there. Saphira made contact with the traders, but they apparently refused to give her a ride. That night, the traders left and your daughter left. She left this behind…" Torn handed the note that Saphira had written to Keira and she glanced over it.

"What does she mean, 'I'll succeed where our ancestor failed'?" Keira asked, looking up from the note.

"I don't know." Torn said. "She must be talking about Mar, though. He's her most famous ancestor."

"I'll try to relay her message to her father." Keira said, her green eyes filling with sadness.

"What do you mean, 'I'll try'?" Daxter asked. "What's wrong with Jak?"

"He's not doing very good." Keira said. "He's in pain most of the time, and the other times… I don't know…"

"He's fluxuating." Everyone turned around, Samos was walking in. "His body is rejecting the Dark Eco in his system, so his body is trying to… relieve itself."

"What do you mean by 'relieve itself'?" Torn asked.

"I mean his body is trying to get rid of the Dark Eco the normal way… by transforming into his Darker Self every few hours… if only for a few seconds. But, he can't seem to get rid of the Dark Eco. The manifestations are doing more harm then good. It's the second stage of Eco Poisoning. He'll be fine one moment, and slashing the next. We've had to restrain him forcefully… several times…"

"He's broken out of several sets of chains…" Keira had a single tear running down her cheek. "No one can approach him without the fear of getting torn apart."

"However, this stage will end soon and he'll be safe for human contact… sort of…" Samos said, but before people could inquire are the 'sort of,' Sig spoke.

"What about Gol and Maia?"

"They've organized a Metal-Head army. Ten thousand strong." Keira said. Sig, Torn, and Daxter all gasped at the same time. "And Jak's been unable to organize our defenses… considering the state he's in. I've tried, but I don't understand war. Torn, Sig… Daxter, you are the only ones left with an understanding of war and Metal-Heads, will you lead us?"

"What about Ashelin?" Torn asked.

"She's busy with other stuff." Keira said shortly.

Torn, Sig, and Daxter looked at each other. "We'd be proud to defend this City." They said as one.

"Then, on behalf of my husband, I put this City's defenses in our hands." Keira said. "Protect us well."

"May we see Jak?" Daxter asked.

"Yes… as long as you don't get within arms reach." Keira said as she turned and began to lead the way down the hall. She stopped before Jak's door and placed her long ear against the door, listening for the violent howls that signaled that it was unsafe, there wasn't a sound. She slowly opened the door. "Stay close to the walls, just in case." She advised Torn, Sig, and Daxter as they walked in.

The trio gasped. The once noble man was now reduced to a pale, sweating, trembling figure that was chained to his bed. Jak was in a pained sleep, his body convulsed as yet another wave of pain assaulted his weak and tired body. His breath came in short, ragged gasps.

"Who'd a thunk it?" Sig asked sadly. "That Cherry would ever be reduced to this?"

"I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope that Jak pulls though. Things would be a lot less complicated without him." Torn laughed, an once-in-a-lifetime event. "Life would be… less fun."

"Jak is going to pull though!" Daxter said stubbornly, though he wasn't so sure. "He is!"

"We should start organizing Haven's defenses." Sig paused, thinking. "How are we going to repel an army ten thousand strong?"

"I don't know, but we'd better come up with a plan… fast." Torn said. He, Sig, and Daxter left the room and left the sleeping, very sick man.

(Metal-Head Nest)

Gol and Maia stood around a large Eco ball floating in mid-air. The surface of the ball could show the viewer anything they wanted, sort of like a crystal ball.

"Jak's sick?" Gol snorted in annoyance. "Eco Poisoning? What a pity… I wanted to be the one to kill him."

"They are afraid of the Metal-Head army we've raised." Maia pointed out, and then she spat. "Dumb brutes! Once they've served their purpose, can I dispose of them?"

"Of coarse." Gol said, smiling with pointed fangs at his sister. "You can have that blasted mechanic, Keira, and their daughter too."

Maia laughed. "I can almost see the look on Jak's face when I snap their necks before his eyes!"

Gol smiled at the image of Jak's horror at the death of everything he loves. "And, once you go that, I'll find some way to… put him out of his misery."

Maia's tail practically knotted itself in happiness. "And, once Jak is out of the way, we'll be free to continue our noble work with the Dark Eco!"

Gol nodded, "The world will be reshaped to our liking, and we will be the rulers! And then… everyone will see the beauty of Dark Eco!"

"They haven't got an organized defense yet." Maia said. "I know you gave them a week, but why not attack them now while they are weak?"

"What is the fun of fighting a weak opponent?" Gol asked. "No, we'll give them a week, as promised… the Calm Before the Storm. And then, we'll attack and get our revenge that we have waited five-hundred years for!"

"I love it when you talk that way!" Maia said with happiness.

"Might as well get our army ready." Gol said. With that, Gol and Maia turned and left the room.

(Haven City, Palace)

"Didn't the old system have wall-mounted cannons?" Torn asked, shifting though the late Baron Praxis' notes on the defense system with the help of Sig and one of the Krimzon Guard Captains.

"Yeah." Captain Gotan, for that was his name, snorted, holding up a piece of paper. "But the dear Baron had them disconnected. Used to much Eco."

"Damn you, Praxis!" Torn spat at that late Baron. "You've made my job a lot harder!"

"By the looks of this, the late Baron was depending too much on the Krimzon Guard to protect him." Sig snorted. "Like they were any help when, back in the old day, Cherry could take on dozens at one time without breaking a sweat." Sig suddenly gave Captain Gotan a look and added. "No offence."

"None taken." Captain Gotan said. "I agree with you. The late Baron shouldn't have depended on us so much. Long ago, when I was still a recruit, the Baron was still in power. He made it sound like he had back-up plans… we all believed him…"

"He did have back-up plans." Torn said. "Only one plan." He held up some documents. "The Dark Warrior Program." Torn quickly looked though the documents, disgust etched on his face as he read what the late Baron and Erol did to all those poor souls, including Jak. "Simple enough, really. Find Channelers, give them the ability to channel Dark Eco, then set his Dark Army upon the Metal-Heads." Torn paused, thinking.

Sig saw the look on his face and misinterpreted it. "Jak wouldn't be very happy if we had to resort to the Dark Warrior Program."

"I know, I wasn't thinking that." Torn said. "If I suggested the we start another Dark Warrior program to Jak, he'd probably put me in it just for suggesting it." Torn sighed, looking down at the papers. "Well, it looks like the wall-mounted cannons are our best hope. Get a techie reconnecting them…"

"But, the Eco supply…" Captain Gotan said, trying to remind Torn that the City was low on Eco.

"I don't care about the Eco supply!" Torn roared. "If we don't repel this assault, there won't be a City left to use it!"

LES: I actually have nothing to say…

Muse: I do! You suck!

LES: Hey! You're supposed to be my inspiration!

Muse: I am. I'm telling you that you suck, and now I'm 'inspiring' you to write better!

LES: Great, I get stuck with a Muse who has an attitude…