Disclaimer: Not mine. The end. The lyrics quoted at the end are from The Boondocks theme.
An extension of a cut sequence in Jak II. Somehow I feel that Torn went out of character, but I'm not sure where or exactly how. And why can't I write Jak when he's not being a jerk that needs to be knocked upside the head?
The title is the Latin root of this word.
Comments are always welcome.
By, Nicole Silverwolf
"I lost five of my men this week alone."
"Well maybe your men should take better care of themselves."
That was it.
This kid, as useful as he was, had just gotten on his last nerve. He'd chew him out for thirty minutes, wring his neck just for the hell of it, and then throw him out. Permanently. The Underground didn't need people who couldn't look beyond the tip of their own nose.
He could see the orange creature on the table looking at the same time a little horrified and a lot nervous. Hands out in an obvious pleading/placating gesture, Daxter knew that Jak didn't really mean it. Mostly. Maybe.
Torn was tired of his attitude though. He hated teenagers; hated ones with attitudes even more.
But he could tell that Jak wasn't particularly phased by yelling. Hadn't been the other times he'd done something incredibly brash and endangering to the entirety of the Underground. That stunt with the Baron's Palace a week and a half ago stood out as a prime example.
Jak turned, eyes coolly collected and apathetic to offer a deal anyways. The expression didn't suit him, and Torn got the impression that the boy wasn't completely used to acting like a mercenary.
"Never one to think of a higher cause eh Jak. That's fine. I'll take your help anyway I can get it." The best he could do for the moment was give them the worst mission he could come up with. He set the details out and explained the parameters. Jak was serious as he took the information in, glancing carefully at the schematics of the Hellcat and the map of where they most often patrolled.
"When you're done, get your asses back here double time. You're coming with me on a separate mission after that. Don't be later than tomorrow morning and don't back out. Got it?"
Jak was obviously annoyed at being told what to do, and it showed in everything from his posture to the tint of his eyes. He didn't respond; but didn't object either. Daxter leapt to his friend's outstretched shoulder, and shouted something about getting all the crappy missions yet again. Before he had the time to draw out a weapon and give a warning shot over the ottsel's head, Jak was heading away.
The two disappeared out the door and Torn glared at them until the thick concrete had ground closed.
If Ashelin were here, Torn had the uncomfortable feeling she'd point out how like Jak he'd been at age seventeen.
The morning in Haven City dawned gray, damp, hazy and miserable. The Demolition Duo hadn't been able to complete their latest mission until the wee hours of pre-dawn and there hadn't been time to sleep.
Daxter was wearily curled on Jak's shoulder, half asleep and quiet. He'd been shouting about Torn and the ridiculousness of them as errand boys, hours earlier. But holding and shooting the morph gun for so long had taken its toll. The gun had a kickback that Jak could feel in his chest, and he was groggily amazed that Daxter'd been able to hold onto it at all. Testament to his best friend's tenacity despite his size.
Jak was tempted to simply screw Torn over and head for somewhere they could get some sleep; but there was that new mission. And as much as he didn't like the man, or care about a mission, he wanted to feel the perverse satisfaction that came from showing him up. Torn probably didn't think he'd be there.
Torn wasn't at headquarters yet, for which Jak was grateful. Though it did get him to wondering what the beds were for if the commander didn't sleep there.
In silence and with perfect understanding Jak slumped onto a cot not bothering to remove armor or even shoes. The morph gun clumsily clattered to the floor and Daxter slipped down into Jak. Turned on his side, Jak curled around his smaller best friend, and they slipped almost instantly into sleep.
Even twenty minutes would be enough to get them back up to speed.
They got just under fifteen.
Torn wasn't dressed in his usual getup. He slipped down the stairs in the most civilian clothes he owned--neutral and dark. There wasn't much he could do to hide his tattooes, or his hair so he didn't try. A hat dangled from calloused hands, but he was hoping to not have to use it.
He wasn't surprised to see those two in the hideout. It meant that the mission was done. Jak wouldn't be back unless that was the case.
Obvious as well from their exhausted heap in the bed, that it hadn't been the walk in the park they were used to. Good.
"Up you two. Now," he bit out.
They both shot up obediently, but Torn didn't feel the satisfaction he initially expected in knowing they were still tired. Both of them were too on edge. Half reaching for the gun on the floor, Jak was completely backed into the corner of the bed in a defensive stance. Daxter's ears laid slicked back against his head and he looked far too much like a feral animal for Torn's taste.
They'd woken up to horrors before. Woken up cornered before.
Kids that young shouldn't.
After a second used to regain their surroundings it wasn't surprising to hear Daxter start complaining.
"It's too damn early to see your face Commander sand-paper. Come back...let me think...never."
"What's with the getup? I thought we were going on a mission." Jak could tell Torn had concealed at least a knife on him, but not much else. Couldn't be hunting Metal Heads then. And the clothes weren't really made for trekking anywhere.
"We are Jak," the commander's tone suggesting that he was enjoying this on some level. " Just not the kind you're thinking about. Any chance you've got something else to wear?"
Neither ottsel or companion even dignified that with an answer. Torn knew they didn't have more than the stuff on their backs.
With a shake of the head, he replied testily. "Forget I asked. Let's get moving."
When Jak went to relieve a driver of his two seated vehicle, Torn made a curt motion to leave it.
"So where we goin'? You gonna kick some butt or are me and Jak gonna have to protect your ass? Cuz you know, we never see you leave this place which probably means that you've gone all lazy and flabby, and completely unable to deal with high pressure situations and the like."
Jak smirked at Daxter's comment, just as Torn's sharp eyes pinned them both.
"I don't go out because the Baron and the Guard know exactly who I am. If they capture me, it'd be a threat to the entire Underground. Unlike you two, I won't take a risk like that. And as for lazy."
The knife was out and Daxter on the end of its less desirable feature in under two seconds. Jak hadn't even had time to touch his morph gun before a second knife was at his throat as well. Nothing needed to be said after such a display as he sheathed both weapons effortlessly.
"Don't start something with the KG Jak. Today is not the day to piss me off or make us late."
The rest of the trip passed in silence, except for Daxter making faces and relatively rude gestures at Torn's back.
Jak didn't remember spending much time in this part of the city. Torn lead them down alleys and around shortcuts he'd never seen before in an attempt to keep them off of main streets. It was obvious that the Commander knew the city well. Whether that was because he'd spent so much time in front of a map or on the streets they couldn't tell.
Finally, all three slipped inside a nondescript building, one that didn't have an immediate feel of "store" or "housing" to it.
The older man had gone increasingly quiet and more somber as they walked. The stare pinned on them as they entered promised something worse than hell if they didn't behave. Before they could retort or descend into another argument, Jak became very aware that there were other people in the dingy room.
It wasn't a large gathering, but the air was heavy with something. He couldn't immediately identify it. Daxter slid his ears forward curiously but flattened them back against his head in the next instant. Sharp blue ottsel eyes had picked out what this was before even Jak could.
A funeral service was one of the last places they'd expected to be brought.
Torn had moved away, quietly taking a seat at the back of the room. Jak rushed to comply, feeling exposed and suddenly out of his element. He sat down as a tall, thin man stood to begin talking.
What was said was unimportant in some sense. Jak didn't know this man, had never even met him in his relatively short time of freedom within Haven City. But this man had been alive. He had a girlfriend. Parents too. Had been a member of the Underground.
Torn sat very still beside him, listening stiffly to the words. 'Does he go to these a lot?' Jak wondered.
There was no mention of his activities for the Underground, except to say that he gave his life for a bigger and greater cause. And that it hadn't been in vain. Mostly though they talked about a person. Who went to school, found a job, started to raise a family.
Who'd wanted to see the ocean, and never got to.
Jak could feel Daxter's heavy swallow on his shoulder. He mirrored it, even as he shrank in on himself a little. Yeah people died in wars. He'd seen dead people in prison. Came very close to being one of those people. But somehow this was a bit different. The aftermath, he'd never considered in any detail. Had his life been different, could he have ended up here? Could Daxter have?
He swallowed again around a sudden dry mouth and tried to focus on what was being said. It was hard, as his mind drifted uncomfortably to the what if's.
Torn did attend these services, more often than he would have liked. There were another two he'd have to attend tomorrow. They weren't as emotionally jarring as they'd once been. When he'd just taken control of the Guard, he'd had to attend funerals often. Crying family members, grieving parents, and the finality of it all had drained him. Back then they'd had a staff psychiatrist who recommended he be put on leave at one point.
He'd learned how to put the distance between himself and what was happening, forced himself to, in order to avoid the recommendation.
At times it made him seem apathetic. Balance had eventually come for that too. Now he knew what to say, how to thank parents for letting their children be commanded under himself. Tell wives and significant others how invaluable their contribution to the struggling movement was. To apologize for not keeping them alive even when there was nothing he could have done. And to truly mean it.
It was obvious to him that Jak had not developed such skills despite all his bravado. The young man was plainly guilty, uncomfortable and somber. Only proved that the mercenary persona he was playing at, didn't jive completely with who he was. Or who he'd been before finding himself at the Underground's doorstep.
Daxter was silent, ears back and down, eyes on the floor. Occasionally he'd glance at his friend, but it was clear that he was also considering something more serious than Torn might have imagined the ottsel thinking.
The service was less than an hour, and when all present had said their piece, the group began to disperse.
Torn broke off from the two, moving towards a young woman who was clearly a wife now that they got a chance to see her from the front. She recognized the commander, and they spoke together for a few moments out of earshot.
Jak and Daxter stood quietly at the edge of the room. No one approached them and they didn't try to step forward to speak to anyone. After a few minutes, Torn nodded sadly to the woman and returned to the two young men.
"Let's go," Torn said and it wasn't as harsh as his usual commands. They followed him out without a word, and the street sounds were jarringly loud compared to the hush inside.
Perhaps this hadn't been his most thought through plan Torn considered as they started the longer trudge back across town. The Underground needed Jak; no matter what he felt about the kid. Jak was allowed his opinions--as obnoxious as they could be at times--because he could do what others couldn't. Torn was actually becoming increasingly certain that Jak might end up being the defining factor that helped them win the war.
But those were his soldiers that Jak had belittled and those men and women had deserved better than that.
He couldn't explain why it was so crucial that the kid not lose his humanity. Jak was a decent kid, so was Daxter even if he was annoying beyond all reason. Torn could remember the very first mission he'd sent them on, and the risky venture he'd taken to travel out to see if the greenies (the name for all new recruits) could actually accomplish it. Remembered the comic way in which they'd tried to hold it together as they brought down the entirety of that brick citadel (how they'd accomplished that Torn was sure not even the Demolition Duo knew). Saw the bright, clear expression on their faces in a moment of unguarded friendship.
Bad shit had happened to both of them, that was for sure, but bad shit had happened to a lot of people. Uniquely, the two of them had come out fighting from it. Stronger for having survived it in every sense of that word.
It was just as much his job to preserve that as it was to bring down the Baron.
Though he'd kill himself before he'd let them find out.
The two men and ottsel strode around another corner, and into the dead end alleyway that was headquarters to their movement.
He almost didn't hear it. Obviously Jak didn't particularly feel like talking.
"Sorry. That comment...earlier...was out of line."
Torn didn't deny it. Nor did he praise it. Jak was right, and surprisingly more mature for admitting it.
He did turn slate colored eyes on the pair. There was something undefinable in their stance and eyes that spoke of an earned respect and maturity that hadn't been there before.
The Shadow was more than likely waiting for morning reports, and he wanted to try and get in contact with Ashelin as soon as possible. The war against the Baron waited for no one, not even fallen soldiers. He needed to get back to work.
"Get your scrawny asses out of here. Eat or sleep or go do whatever it is you two do when you're not causing trouble for the Baron. I don't have another mission for you right now." With a dismissive sweep of his hand he waved them off.
There was little bite to his words and he could feel the two of them smirk without having to look.
Daxter was the first to make a comment, but Jak's demeanor said that they were both right with themselves. Something about the way they relaxed made Torn comfortably sure they were going to be alright.
Torn rolled his eyes before leaving them to their own devices. Both were making to "borrow" a vehicle anyways and he didn't want to know for what or why. The edge of a song reached his ears from a passing zoomer, stereo jacked loud and bass thumping through his feet. He wasn't much for coincidences but the words fit and there was a brief wonder if fate was more real than he gave it credit for.
'The story that just begun
The promise of what's to come
And I'm a remain a soldier 'til the war is won'
A sickening crunch indicative of a vital zoomer part being compromised told him that something was being stolen. Followed by a shout from a woman and man about 'some punk just stole our zoomer!' The frustrated grimace on his face was hidden by the doorway as he moved down the stairs.
Sooo...comments, criticisms, flames, praise...anything you'd like to throw at me? Please do so now.
Thanks for reading.