A/N: Ever notice how Torn's always giving Jak and Daxter missions throughout Jak II and Jak 3, but we've never seen him do anything? (Daxter's even pointed it out, but Torn seemed to ignore it.) Well!
I think the Tattooed Wonder deserves him own story, also giving reason as to why he's never really seen out there fightning. Sure, Jak can take care of himself in battle -because he can never die!- but I'm sure Torn could hold his own. He just...doesn't.
This is a look in Torn's psyche, and you could say it takes place before, during, and after Jak II all the way to the end of Jak 3. If you want you can also set it before the beginning of Jak X, while they're re-building Haven or something.
This story has no real relevance to the storyline of the games, even if a few of the actual events are mentioned. This came from my weird imagination, so I decided to write it out, and this is what I got.
It's supposed to feel jumpy at some points, kind of like you're reading a journal as Torn documents a memory.
Torn's not a coward. He has his reasons.
The rat thinks it's funny. He also claimed to be annoyed. He says I'm a coward, because they've never seen me in the middle of a fight, and both are beginning to doubt that I was ever actually a Commander in the Krimzon Guard. I overhead him saying that I was probably a new recruit, and was kicked out because I couldn't do anything. He says I only formed the Underground out of spite.
I was in the Krimzon Guard for nearly a decade, and there was a reason I was a Commander. I was pretty damn good at what I did. Back before the coup Praxis liked what I did, said I might as well have had his position due to the way I could handle my soldiers.
He wasn't serious, of course, and he made sure I knew it.
Did I enjoy what I did?
In a way, yes. I could fend off Metalheads and other invaders that appeared once in a blue moon, and I'll honest, it felt good. I could keep the city safe. People knew who I was! Yes, it did make me uncomfortable at times to have everyone in the street know my name and point, but it didn't matter.
I had done something. I saved peoples' lives, and I felt like a hero.
I should have known it wouldn't have lasted, but I was too stupid to accept that.
I was also in charge of patrolling Old Haven –now Dead Town- back when it was still alive and Praxis hadn't gone mad. In reality it had been a pretty decent place. There was view of the ocean almost anywhere you went, and the people were…happy. A far cry from what they would be in a few years.
The Shadow lived out there, in that now dilapidated hut. He had a name, but he never told anyone, and we just accepted it as some mild-mannered case of paranoia. People used to think that shrubs would start growing out of his ears the way his hut was practically filled to the brim with plants. No one was all that surprised when he was seen standing on his front porch with wood strapped to his feet and a log sitting on his head a few days later.
The man was green, too. We figured it was because of his plants. I would say no one cared enough to find out the truth, but that would have been a lie. We did care, but back then, privacy was allowed in Haven. We used to take it for granted. Now it's a virtue many lack.
Once on my patrol of the rather serene and peaceful part of the village I met this kid who wouldn't stop following me around. He couldn't have been any older than twelve and it was annoying me.
Back then, I wasn't annoyed very easily. And that was saying something.
I attempted to lose him the crowd that was forming front of some stand that was performing an act, but the little twerp was persistent! I'm sure I could have walked straight off a pier and he would have followed me. Hell, he probably would have walked right into the Metalhead nest if he saw me do it.
I turned around to ask him what he wanted and why was he following me, of all people, but he beat me to the punch.
He asked what my name was and if I was in the Guard. I answered to both which to seemed to please him. As much as I try not to now, if I look back and find this young boy in the recesses of my mind, all I see is a younger version of Jak, too damn eager for his own good.
He said he wanted to be in the Guard too. Said he couldn't wait to enlist when he turned eighteen. I asked him how old he was. He was fourteen, going to be fifteen the next month.
I nodded, told him to think about his other options. But I'll be damned if he didn't get all stubborn and tell me no, he was going to be in the Guard, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop him.
His mother probably could have, but I had a strange feeling she was encouraging his dream.
I could say I stood there until the sun went down to convince him not to pursue his delusional fantasy, but that would be a lie. Instead I walked away and continued my patrol.
He followed me for weeks after that.
What the hell was I supposed to do? Turn around and slug him, tell him to stop following me dammit and go home? No, instead I did what I could to ignore him and continued walking.
Then he asked me to come to his house for his birthday. The way he said it, that too earnest look on his face, all I could do was sigh exasperatedly and cave. I said I'd stop by for a few minutes and then be on my way.
He didn't seem to agree with that. I was nearly dragged back to his house, him rambling about how 'cool' it would be to have not just a Krimzon Guard at his house for his birthday, but that Commander himself there. I kept wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.
Old Haven was a nice place, yes, but it did have certain parts of it that resembled the slums financially, and this was where the boy was taking me. I tried to ignore the gasps and murmurs that came from people sitting on the sides of the street, the boy wearing an all-too proud look on his face.
He would have made a good Guard now that I think about it. But something tells me he couldn't have handled the past two wars here in Haven. When Old Haven was still alive, the Guard didn't need to worry about much.
His mother was surprised, to say the least. I thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head when she saw her son walk in with a KG in tow. She stared at me for a minute before she started spewing apologies, assuming that her son had gotten himself in to trouble and promising that it would never happen again.
The boy was letting out dramatic sighs and trying to explain to his mother that no, he wasn't in trouble, and that I was only there for his birthday. I couldn't help but crack a smile, which seemed to confuse her.
After I told her the truth she finally believed her son, turning pink and apologizing again, causing the boy and I had to exchange a look. I would have told him my mother would have been the same way, but she would have rather laughed it off and thought nothing of it.
I was confused myself when the mother turned to her son sharply and asked if he had taken his medicine that day. Look, maybe I had fun picking at the kid and some of the other Guards –Ashelin too, but that was between us-, but that seemed to be a little harsh, I thought. Suggesting that the kid had lost it, bringing a KG back to their house... well then. It wasn't like I was standing right there or anything.
But no, the boy shook his head slowly in defeat a few moments later, which seemed to both anger and worry his mother. She told him he had to take it, especially if he wanted to see his next birthday.
I later found out in a discussion with his father that the boy was sick. He had been for years, and even with the medication and treatment he was getting, they were only prolonging the inevitable. The mother got enraged at this, claiming that her son would live, he was a fighter, and if we didn't have enough faith in him then that was our problem. She got up and left the room to check on the now sleeping boy, but we all knew that what his father said was true.
The mother had been encouraging his dream, but only because he had nothing left.
It didn't exactly change the way I saw the boy, really, even if it did deal a blow to his desire to become a KG.
I wanted to apologize to him, even if everything was beyond my control. I think he knew it too.
He said it wasn't my fault, and I didn't need to offer any apologies. He said he got that enough from his family and random strangers. He stopped walking, making me turn around. On his face was a look of steely determination etched on his young face -just like Jak's. He made a promise to me right then and there.
Even if he couldn't become a Guard and died before he was old enough to, he was going to save someone's life, even if he had to risk his own.
I'd never heard anyone say it the way he did. A few other soldiers would joke about giving their life or a limb for when they were starving, but no one I'd ever met before seemed so willing to die for someone else.
Until I met Jak, but that was years after I got to know this kid.
I didn't know what else to do other than nod. I said we needed more people like him in the world a few moments later, and he seemed to agree.
The last time I saw him he'd barely been seventeen for little more than a month.
Praxis had finally gotten enough supporters and staged a coup against the rightful ruler of Haven. Surprisingly, Praxis had planned his attack well in accordance to the Metalhead attack on Old Haven. Most of the true governor's supporters in the KG were sent out to oppose the assault while the ruler's wife was killed and he was exiled to the Wasteland. Their child had disappeared, and no one knew where he was.
My regiment didn't find out the truth until we'd lost the battle and were forced to retreat to the new barrier. Praxis had sent us to our deaths, not thinking we'd survive the assault. He didn't realize that most of the KG under his control weren't so willing to let their men die, even if they supported different leaders. Back then we didn't let our men die for no good reason.
I remember the attack in flashes, like going through a flip book and watching the stick figure jump into the air or spin in circles.
People were screaming, their voices mixing with the cries of Metalheads. I was barking orders, but now I don't even remember what they were. Ashelin was there, I know that much. The plan we had began to fail after a while. We went from organized soldiers to terrified civilians in an instant. Shoot, run, scream, shoot, run some more, look for any citizens still breathing.
It was getting dark by the time the transporters arrived, and people began crowding to them like kangarats to dropped food. The men shoved outside the city with me were herding as many as they could into the lifts, exceeding the maximum capacity and comfort level of many. But that didn't matter. As long as they were on a transport, they were going to live.
A woman knelt on the ground beside me sobbing, holding a wailing baby in her arms, grabbing at my leg, begging, please take her baby, protect her baby, please, anything. I got her onto the next transport, but never heard what she said to me, other than her thanking me for saving her son.
That's all it took for it to click. Despite the yells I got from the Captain I took off in the opposite direction, heading right for the area the Metalheads were currently harassing. I'd never run so damn hard in my entire life. There was a family I knew in the dying part of the city. I woman I'd met. I'd sworn to protect her son.
I turned that last corner and froze. Normally the view from where I was standing was, well, beautiful for lack of a better word. You could see where the ocean met the horizon, watch as the sky went from blue to purple, to indigo.
All I saw was red.
This ungodly beast was blocking my path to the house I'd been visiting for years, bright red splattered across its grotesque face and body. All I had was a gun running low on ammo and the determined will not to die.
If it had gotten to the family before I'd even had a chance I was going to blow this thing's brains all over the place. I was going to kill it regardless, but it would have been more of a mercy killing. If it had killed the people I'd come to befriend its death would be slow and painful.
The roar it let out was enough to make the bravest man's blood run cold. It's four pupil-less gold eyes felt like they were staring right through me. Fear crept from the pit of my stomach all the way to the back of my neck and down my spine. All could do was stand, paralyzed, watching this monster loom before me, swaying from side-to-side, making me dizzy.
I heard someone call my name.
Had it been able to, it would have been smirking.
My name was said louder this time.
The animal crouched, its eyes narrowing.
I didn't even hear my name when it was shouted again.
I was on my back, and I thought I was dead. They say your life flashes before your eyes before you die. All I saw the dark sky above me. I saw Ashelin's face with a pained expression, asking me please, Torn, get up, I need you to get up.
Bullets were being fired.
I saw red.
Then I heard him screaming.
I shot up, finding the teenager lying on the ground by my feet. I'm still not sure what propelled me to do so, but I knelt on the ground, holding his head in my hands, telling him to hang on just a little while longer, I could get help. I could help him; he was going to be alright.
He shook his head. The Metalhead lay a few feet away. Two more bullets were issued into his skull from Ashelin's gun.
No, he said. He was starting to cry. I shook. I'd broken my promise to his mother. I'd said I would protect him, instead I let him die. Ashelin was kneeling on the ground next to me. In a rare act that not many had ever seen from her she took his hand. He said he was ready to die.
My head was shaking; Ashelin's eyes were filled with tears.
Truthfully, there was nothing Ashelin or I could have done. By the time we'd have gotten him to a transport he would already be dead. All he asked was that we stay with him until it happened.
It was my fault that he died.
He said it wasn't true. He'd been the one to shove me out of the Metalhead's path. He said he decided to let its claws tear him apart, rather than me. He didn't let me say anything. He claimed he would have died soon anyway. He had been slowly dying on the inside for years. He'd stopped taken medication a few weeks ago. He said it was less painful than prolonging it.
I told you.
He said these three words with a shaky smile, and I smirked. He had kept his promise to himself. I still feel horribly guilty that I had to be the one he gave his life for.
I apologized to him. What else could I have said? He was too damn stubborn. Then he started to cry. It hurts, he said. He looked up at the sky, and the three of us were trapped in our own tiny bubble. The screaming became a dull hum. He smiled, and said he was ready to see his parents. Ashelin's shoulders were also shaking as she reached over and closed his eyes.
I sat there with her for a few moments, propping his lifeless body in my arms. I failed. I felt one of her arms wrapped around my shoulders, one hand still holding onto the boy's cold one.
Two of my troops had to drag me away from his body. Ashelin was covering her mouth with her hand. She'd met the boy a year or two before. She knew I was friends with him, almost like his mentor. I couldn't say or do anything as I watched him disappear from my view.
I quit the Guard the night after.
Praxis didn't seem to be all that bothered.
I'm supposed to be one of the good guys, the one that does the right thing. The line between right and wrong is supposed to be clear. But for me, back then, it wasn't. A mad man was threatening the city, and I had to stop him.
I formed the Underground to stop him and found a fairly sizable bounty on my head.
I was seen as a traitor among my own people.
The name Haven City is a lie. Haven is supposed to mean peace, serenity, a place where you can go to feel safe. There are supposed to be no problems, no fighting, and no war. Haven City was no where near safe.
People continued living as if nothing was going on outside the walls. That sickened me. A kid had given his life for mine, and no one was bothered by it. A grown man had cried over his daughter's body. That didn't mean anything to these people.
I began to wonder why I was even trying to save them from Praxis.
I thought I had finally accepted the boy's death, but then Jak broke out of prison and found his way to my doorstep. I didn't see the angry coldness in his eyes at first. I saw that little boy who used to follow me around.
The first 'mission' I'd given him was supposed to be a joke. I told him to take his pet out to Dead Town and take down the Baron's banner. I didn't think they'd actually do it.
If I can help it, I don't go into Dead Town. Watching them take down the banner was one of the first times I'd been back out there since the new barrier was put up. But instead he jumped down with the banner in his hands and a smug and proud look on his face. I saw the boy again, and all I could was stare.
I passed it of as shock that he'd actually gone up to the tower and retrieved it. A man of my word, I told them they were in, and then I hightailed it outta there like a bat out of hell.
Sometimes he gets pissed if I don't look at him when I'm talking to him or vice versa. I still get an occasional pang of guilt when I do.
Both of them get annoyed when I give them 'easy' missions, or refuse to let them back out into the streets to fight again after coming back beaten and bruised. The rat thinks I don't care about the people in the Underground because I'm never out there fighting with them. I just can't do it, but I'll put up with their stubborn attitude if it means they'll live.
When Jak was banished I felt like I'd failed again. I told myself I wouldn't let this kid die, and yet there I was, watching as they handcuffed him and loaded him on a transport like he was nothing. If he died out there, it was my fault. But it was Jak, so I knew that he would refuse to go down without a fight.
His little girlfriend wasn't overly enthused about his banishment either. She wanted to do something, help the war effort, fix zoomers, work on weapons, anything. We were being attacked by Metalheads and KG Deathbots, and all she wanted to fight. She was still just a kid, and I couldn't put her life on the line.
I can't stand anyone willing to sacrifice something for me anymore. I can't take it.
They diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, deciding that I was no longer functioning at the same level I had been since the boy's death. Of course I wasn't! I had watched him die! He died in my damn arms! It was my fault!
Some other members of the Underground/Freedom League sometimes wonder why I'm not out there fighting with them. I can't take it most of the time.
No, a small band of Deathbots and Metalheads I can handle. It's when I'm out there fighting with my own men, thinking that someone's going to get hurt and die, I freeze. I see that little kid who was barely ten years younger than me and freeze. These people were my responsiblity.
He would have been twenty a few days ago.
I can take care of myself in a fight, and I will fight if I have to, but sometimes that single memory is too hard to ignore. I can hear him asking me to save him, and I know I can't.
I think Jak knows something is up; Daxter's too easily-sidetracked to notice. Jak's still perturbed that I'm not on the frontlines with him sometimes, but I have a feeling that he doesn't mind all the time. He can handle himself in a fight. They want to know why I'm not out there with them. But I'm not going to tell them anything.
They think I'm a coward.
Ashelin's the only who knows why I won't go directly into battle.
I can't watch that boy die again.
A/N: That least line is supposed to be either 'I can't watch that boy die again' or 'I can't fail again'. You can pick whichever one you see fit.
...And now we know why Torn is always sending Jak and Daxter on missions rather than being the one to go directly into battle. (Okay, not really.)
Not that I think he wouldn't of course, because I get the feeling that Torn's not just going to sit back and let his friends risk their lives all day every day for him.
Despite what happens in the game.
Because really Torn? Why do you keep sending me on missions where missiles are targeted on me? Why don't you direct the blast bot to the headquarters?! Just press the button and they'll all blow up! Um, 'end rant'?
And yeah, I realize that the boy had no name. I didn't know what to call him, so he was just 'the boy', just lil Jak was 'the kid'. You can call him whatever you want to.
Eh, I debated Jak and Daxter finding out about this at the end of the one-shot from either Torn or Ashelin, but I like this ending better...
About Torn in Jak X: Um, well, this story doesn't exactly pertain to what happens/happened in Kras City, because there Torn was racing and therefore not exactly in battle, even if there were weapons being used by everyone. Besides, he was more protected there because he was encased by the body of a car.
Oh, and the poison. Well, he was risking his life for his friends too, so...
I don't know.
But thanks for stopping by.