Chapter 7 Trapped-

Slowly the world came back to me. The smell of the dust that covered the floor first hit me, smothering me. Coughing I slowly attempted to get out of the filth but my body ached and I barely stirred. Still lying face down on the floor I almost had forgotten where I was, that is until the overwhelming smell of the burning candles knocked what had happened last night back into my head. Lifting my head up slowly I tried to open my eyes but even the slightest light sent pain shooting though my eyes and my head. Lying back down on the floor I curled my arms around my head burying myself from the light. Groaning from the other side of the room I could still smell the booze on his breathe as he woke,

"Dammit Jak… I wanted to wake up between two boobs not wrapped up in some ol' tattered clothe… dammit!"

Grumbling Daxter stumbled over to me only to stop short in front of me. Waiting for another bitchy response I only became nervous when Daxter failed to respond. Looking up with caution I could see the puzzled look on his face wasn't just from his hang over. His mouth hung open and at first I thought that it might have been from the amount of blood that covered my clothes from the bar but when he made eye contact I knew something was wrong. It didn't take more than a split second for him to quickly look away. He turned away speaking carefully, trying not to make direct eye contact again,

"Jak… shit shit shit… Jak talk to be buddy… please not this again."

Grumbling I shook my head, trying to reach out to him only to see him shutter away from my attempt. That's when I saw it. The dead grey skin, deadly black claws covered in dried blood. Carefully I sat up balancing my unsteady body. Taking a deep breath I slowly touched my teeth with my tongue, there the sharp edge of my fangs caught my tongue. Gasping I quietly murmured,

"Shit no… fuck no… Dax this… this can't be happening…"

Shaking my head I threw my hands on my head, and found the most disgusting feature of the monster. The long curved horns parted between my hair, blood caked around the base of each. I could feel the matted hair that clumped together from dried blood trail off down my face and neck. Covered in blood, overwhelmed, and now the monster I feared the most… it was all too much. Screaming at the top of my lungs I couldn't stand the fear, the anger and the disgust any longer. The scream didn't even sound humanly possible, a monstrous groan behind the scream turned to a roar as I threw my fists to the floor.

"JAK, shut up! JAK stop screaming! Hang Over Jak, Hang Over!"

Tears poured down my face as the horror of what I had truly become washed over the little hope that I had left. My fists were driven into the wood as I drove my face into them nearly crashing my head into the splintered wood. Gasping for air between my sobs folded my legs under me, resting on my knees hunching my back as I hid my disgusting face. Clenching my teeth I tried my best to gather myself… but I just couldn't. The sense of being trapped… see it wasn't the feeling of not getting out but the overwhelming sense of never going back. I wasn't mad at the fact that I was this disgusting thing, but that maybe it wasn't what the Baron had done, maybe this thing was here all along. This thing… the beast that I now am… it was simply me all the time. Shaking my head I couldn't allow myself to settle on that as the truth, Praxis was going to pay with his life for what he had done to me no matter what form I was in. Slowly I collected my breathing back to normal as Daxter now silently tried to approach.

"J… Jak? Are, are you alright buddy? Jak… please tell me what the hell is going on? Jak… Jak!"

As Daxter tried to gently touch my shoulder I quickly, almost too quickly stood. Jumping back Dax cursed at me gasping in surprise.

"Holy Shit Jak!"

Turning my back from him I looked back at the silent idol groaning,

"Dax… sorry Dax…."

Looking down at my hands I curled and uncurled my fingers simply trying to figure out a way to close my hands and not slice them open. Frustrated I grumbled rubbing my face and hair until I grasped onto the horns. Leaning my head back I sighed groaning,

"Shit Dax… what the fuck am I going to do?"

Daxter shook his head as I turned to glance at him. Closing my eyes I paced slowly around the room until Daxter bounded toward me,

"JAK! We're forgetting about Keira! She stopped you from turning before, I'm sure she could help you again!"

"Dax… I don't… I don't think she wants to see me… like this."

"But Jak…."

Cutting him off short I threw my finger toward him baring my teeth as I yelled,

"She doesn't want anything to do with me Daxter so just fuckin' leave it alone!"

Falling back my claw just inches from his face he pleaded,

"Alright buddy… shit just calm down… come on Jak I'm…. I'm sorry!"

Shaking my head I turned sighing,

"Fuck, don't be sorry… I'm sorry Daxter… I can't hold back the anger like this."

Falling into a squat I looked Daxter in the eyes, though he couldn't look back at me, I ignored it,

"I can't go back there after what I did Dax… what she thinks…"

"She… Jak… she was only scared…. It… she didn't mean it."

Sighing I stood carefully watching myself for the slightest change, the small hope that this might go away. Walking slowly to the idol I touched the cool metal under my fingers. Daxter slowly crawled up from behind me but still keeping is distance whispered,

"You know I can go and talk to her, besides that crazy Erro…."

Screeching my nails across the statue I shook in anger,

"Don't talk about that fucker… don't even say his name. Do you understand…?"

Grabbing his aching head he nodded,

"Ya ya I got you Jak, please… enough with the noises…"

Sighing I took one last look at the dead eyes of the statue. The stillness of it was so strange seeing it so alive just some sort hours ago. Turing toward the door I outfitted myself with my goggles and the torn blanket covering my face while my hoodie took care of the rest. Shoving my hands in my pockets I took a quick look down before opening the door and stepping outside. Snow had just began to fall once again, the cold chill of the winter snapped at my skin as I walked. It was strange feeling so strong and in control for once. I had only felt this level of control just as the transformation began but now, it was like I was quite literally trapped between bodies. With Daxter on my shoulder he dug into my neck looking to hid from the wind, muffled he said,

"Jak… I… I really wish I could have done something, do something to help. I…"

Sighing he gave up on his spiel and lowered his head into my clothing once again. It was quiet.

Shuffling through the snow, never making a move to draw attention… I felt almost normal. The people around me just passed me off as another slum resident; dirty, hungry and cold we all matched. In reality I was burning under the skin, close to sweating. Daxter was purring under my collar, happy that for once he was warm. And at that exact moment I felt that I had finally helped Daxter out, made his life easier rather than the constant reminder of the hell we were in. But it was almost ironic that the monster that I had been forced to become, the last thing I would have ever though, had made me feel more normal than ever. Closing in on the stadium I stopped. The water fountains had frozen over, the smallest of water that had escaped the winter chill still managed to repeat its cycle but the rest stood still. The winters back at… well, here buried under the filth that now cover it, were like this. The water was quiet, the only sounds came from the small crunch of ice, the moving water that still thrived underneath. The silent that grew from the cover of snow was calming, soothing and almost felt as if it was guarding you. But… what it had become, the silence was dead, the crunch of the ice was painful, just another reminder of the bitter cold. Pulling my hood further to cover my face I watched my breath escape into the chilled air. Licking my parched lips, the freezing wind there to freeze them I shook my head and continued. Daxter began to grumble and groan but slowly I turned his attention to what I had caught. There Keira stood at the edge of the stadium with the man I had grown to hate, the man I wanted dead. Her deep consuming eyes and bright smile was an all too hard reminder of home, the times that she would smile at me. As I turned away, Daxter fell silent finally letting me walk away from what I knew was gone, but the smile on her face… I didn't want to hurt her any longer, it was over.

The heart of the city was covered in a thick smog, the snow and chill almost all wiped out with the over commotion of moving bodies and steam bellowing up from the high stacks above us. As more and more people began to crowd the eyes that followed stared, watched me as I shuffled my feet. As my pulse began to rise I could feel the monster waking, but still shackled from the now prison we both shared. The bodies soon became just another object, the life force that the monster craved just below the skin. My breathing now staggered Daxter caught on,

"Jak…. Jak, hey buddy, you don't look so good."

Trying to hide the urge I chuckled,

"Shucks Dax, did the horns and teeth give it away. Come on Dax, I feel like shit all the time."

"Then we got to do something! Do you remember anything that Keira did, that she might have done?"

"Ya, but let's just say that you're not going to like it…"

Daxter sat back on my shoulder rocking his tail back and forth, a frown on his face.

"And what might this be Jak?"

"Look, I saw her inject me with dark eco, I don't know what else it might have had in it or what but as far as I know it was mostly dark eco. And the only son of a bitch I know to have some…"

"Jak! Do you really expect that to be a really, oh I don't know, good idea! I don't mean to break it to you but his palace is in the freakin' AIR Jak!"

Jabbing his finger at the looming palace, shrouded in fog and snow it hung above everything else. Shaking my head I protested,

"Dax, Praxis needs to die. I need to kill him, and maybe just maybe even find some kind of cure!"

"Jak…"

"I need this, I don't want to be stuck, as long as I can somehow push it down, lock it away I'll be satisfied."

Falling quiet with a groan he knew I wouldn't budge from my decision. Looking back at the palace high above I pulled my hood further over my face and continued my way to my revenge.

Making my way to a pillar I stopped short counting out the guards waiting in front. Daxter was cursing and ranting over my shoulder warning me of the new guards that exited from the elevator, the guards coming around the corner… everything. Finally growling deep in my chest I quieted him as I readied myself for a fight. The elevator was the only way up from the outside unless you walked in the front doors. Being a wanted felon I didn't see walking through the front doors a possibility so the pillars and their entryways the last chance I had. The only problem is that the guards are positioned at these spots to stop exactly what I plan on. Focusing on just the guards I shrugged off my cover concentrated on the thin line between myself and the beast. Grunting the most beastly parts of me covered the last bit of humanity I had left and I gave in. Slashing and gutting the men was quick and simple and the blood lust finally being satisfied I couldn't help but feel a pressure lift from my chest as I murdered the men. Standing, hands and chest covered in blood I stood catching my breath as the last witnesses fled. Dripping down the claws I tried to gather myself the best I could before continuing on. Stumbling into the elevator door I slammed the top button and slid to the floor still gasping for air. Leaning my horns back I pinned my head back resting it the best I could as watched the floors pass by, getting closer and closer to the top. Turning to Dax who sat beside me I could see the horror on his face. Blood has splashed onto his face, the tip of his tail covered. I tried to apologize but I knew that it would only be a lie. I wanted them dead, I wanted them all dead. Dax, he didn't want me to but to me, it seemed to be the last thing I had and was hanging on to. As the doors finally swung open the freezing cold rushed in, flooding over Daxter and me. Standing Daxter scurried up my side and perched himself on my shoulder,

"Jak, promise me you won't fall."

I couldn't help but to smile as I walked down the thick wire leading to Praxis. Carefully I made my way across, the crossing was quiet and the jumps easy to traverse. Everything seemed easy enough. Finally on the solid ground of the tower I could feel the monster calling for blood. The monster fed off of my hatred for Praxis and I gave into it just as it wanted. Finally something we both agreed on. Just ahead of us the ceiling of the main palace was just below us. The glass felt secure enough and Daxter and I peered inside focusing on Praxis. A deep growl surged from my chest as I could hear him speak to someone. Waiting for the conversation to grow the snow soon turned to a thunder storm whirling around Daxter and I. The rain pelted us as the two finally got close enough to where I could make out what they were saying.

"Praxis… you must listen to me, it will work."

"I don't want any more stupid excuses, no more dead bodies, and no more shit! I want him dead, and I thought that you had the capability but I'm finding myself second guessing myself."

"You know I was close, that rat slithered back into his shithole just before we could grab him…"

"DAMN IT ERROL!..."

Cutting myself off of all other senses I focused in on Errol as he walked from behind a support pillar. Another deep growl grew in my chest as I honed in again to the conversation,

"… your bullshit of a cover story is the last thing I need to hear! If it wasn't for that damn mechanic girl you could have had him! I want you to cut off this, connection, with her and get your head on straight!"

Clenching my teeth I could feel the pain of seeing the smile on Keira's face slowly seep into my mind. The bastard was only using her to get to me, that son of a bitch. Close to slamming my fist on the glass Dax caught me shaking his head.

"I need you to take care of him, if anything bring him in. That little rat bastard needs to die under my sword, you understand?"

A smile grew on my face when Errol scowled and turned away. Praxis returned back to his high throne as the storm grew. And with an unexpected flash my shadow was cast practically at Praxis' feet, his head turned and sword drawn he screamed,

"Get HIM!"

Before turning I smashed the glass with as much force as I could. And with a quick tug Daxter was on my shoulder with half of the glass ceiling caving in. Racing alongside the singles I found my way to a balcony and there caught my breath. With a shout into my ear Daxter proclaimed,

"WOO! I never thought coming up here would make me feel any better but seeing that glass shatter on that fat ass Praxis! WOO! I wish I could see his face right about now!"

Almost on cue a huge machine came crashing out besides us, an all too familiar voice thundered out of the metal.

"Jak my Boy! How good to see my little monster is still alive and well! At least now I can smash you and put an end to all of this."

"Fuck you Praxis! Get your ass out of that damn machine and fight me ya pussy! You were to much of a pussy to kill me when you had the chance, what makes you think you have a chance now!"

"Jak, I made you into what you are. You don't think that I forgot all about you now did you? You belong to me, dead or alive I will get what I want!"

As the monster of a machine swooped in toward me I could make out the sick red eye of Praxis as I roared over the thunder he only smiled.

"You're disgusting, just look at you. There's hardly anything left of you, you're a monster!"

Glancing back at Dax he didn't have enough time before I grabbed him and tossed him aside. He took the hint and with a quick, don't get killed look, he scurried off. With Baron drifting closer and closer to me I took my shot reaching out grabbing one of the mechanical arms. Pulling as hard as I could I whipped Baron over my head and into the palace wall. Rubble crumbled as Baron struggled to free and taking the opportunity I reached back and tried my best to shoot my gun. Fumbling with rifle and my claws I was barely able to get off a shot or two before Baron's many arms slashed at me tossing me to the ground and gun from my hands. Grumbling and battered Baron finally pushed free from the palace and took a charge at me. The machine lumbered toward me but with a swift dodge and jump Baron nearly hit the ground again. Daxter saw his change to scoop up my rifle and fired off a few shots while Baron roared at me, his voice projecting through speakers, broken and shorting out.

"Damn you…. piece… shit!"

A smile grew across my face and as Baron wobbled and tried to steady the machine a searing pain hit my stomach with force. Screaming in pain I grabbed my stomach stumbling to the ground as the heat burned at my guts. Baron saw this and took advantage of this without hesitation. Driving straight into me he pinned me against the ground knocking the wind from my chest. Choking now I spattered blood against his glass case. The smile and red glow of his eye angered both the monster and me as I struggled against Baron. My roar wiped the look from his face, it frightened me even, the beast was furious and now more awake than ever. Focusing on the inner workings of the machine I dove my hands into the cords and wires and let the beast take over. The eerie glow of the dark eco shocking the machine and the rain showed the fear that emanated off of Barons face. Pulling the beast back I gasped and struggled against it as the stunned machine fell back and shook. Gasping and holding my chest Baron's machine sparking and sputtering suddenly began to catch fire in some places. Knowing that it wouldn't be long till it blew I scrambled to Daxter diving over him. The explosion sent metal shooting every direction, glass windows shattering from the explosion rained down on us. I waited for the last desperate cry of Baron Praxis as the fire burned him alive, but it never came. Peeking over my shoulder a small vessel shot out of the debris. Standing I watched as the sparking the metal cocoon spat while escaping,

"This isn't the last of me JAK, I will get you!"

Daxter fell from my side with a victorious shout and smile on his face he cursed at Baron,

"YA you better run! Me and my buddy here will kick your ass any day Praxis! Don't think that I'll hold back next time you big bitch! AHaha!"

A smile held on his face as I smiled back but as he continued to parade around my legs gave way, and with my eyes going blurry I groaned. Shaking on my side I gaged on the blood that erupted from my mouth as pain shot down my body. Gasping for air I tried my best to reach around at the site of the pain as Daxter rushed toward me. Blood began to pool around me as Daxter looked me over. A few gun wounds, scraps and cuts came to mind first but this pain, this was too big to be only that. With a gasp Daxter found the problem,

"Shit Jak, this isn't good…"

Reaching around to my back I felt out what felt like a huge piece of shrapnel embedded in my back. Still coughing up blood I rolled to my stomach as Daxter did his best to pull it from my back. Screaming the pulls tore out skin and as more and more blood pooled around me I didn't think I could stand. Daxter pleaded,

"Oh shit Jak, come on… Jak please not now. We did it, don't die now. I think I hear an elevator, don't give up yet. Come on Jak… stand up."

Doing my best to stand I hobbled, crawled and stumbled to the elevator before collapsing inside bleeding out. As Daxter tried his best to keep my eyes open they continued to blur, and fade as blood rushed from my face. The elevator shuttered and stopped, both knowing that we hadn't reached the bottom I still stumbled out. I didn't bother to look at where we were, and didn't care as long as no damn guard came running around the corner. Daxter fell quiet at my side as I closed my eyes pinning myself against a group of barrels. Not being able to hold on any longer I let myself slid and with a thud the world went black.

Waking I could tell I had only fallen unconscious for a few minutes at most as Daxter sat shaking me,

"Come on big guy, don't give up now!"

Rolling on my side I could feel the thick steal was gone from my back. Standing I fumbled, dizzy still from the loss of blood but at least I was standing. Touching one of the many barrels that filled the small dark room I felt a small twinge of static. Standing back from the barrel Daxter gave me a strange look,

"Um… what the hell was that? Did you do that?"

Shaking my head I ignored it passing it off but when I continued to the next the jolt I had felt before jumped from the barrel to me. The glow of purple arched from the bolt as it reached me, and at that moment Daxter and I both knew what I was. Uncertain that I might have been right I stepped back and ripped the lid of the barrel clean off. Inside the sickening glow of the purple eco jumped from side to side as I opened it. Just before I could throw on the lid the dark eco jumped from the barrel back to me as the bolt had but now the whole liquid acted like a whole. Crawling up my arm it soon spread to the rest of my body, engulfing me. Instantly I was thrown to the ground my screams muffled from Daxter's hands as he tried his best to hush me. But as I sat still I could feel a weight lift, a cover drawn away. And with a deep inhaling I felt the beast seep back into its slumber, finally leaving me to some state or normalcy. Daxter glanced back down at me after patrolling the area and gasped,

"JAK! You're back! Jak you're normal again!"

Hushing Daxter I scooped him up into my arms and without any time to think or even question what had happened I hurried to a window close by. Below me I could hear the guards talking, their red armor visible through the floor but taking no more time in my escape I climbed through the window on my way back outside. The drop from the window and the slick now melting snow slipped from under my feet. The fall was short but enough to send Daxter and me tumbling into the nearby street. Still having the gaping wound on my back I groaned as the gash stretched and tore. Grumbling I scooped Daxter again taking no time to worry about myself and simply get out of there. The guards had heard the fall and were already making their way around to where I was. Doing my best not to leave a bloody trail I dove into the freezing cold water and swam as far as I could through channels and small drains. Daxter the whole time was complaining as always raving on about how I'm sure he would have at least tried to avoid the near freezing water. With a few rough looks and slaps to the back of the head he finally gave up and perched as high on my back and shoulders as he could to keep dry. Knowing the only place that would now welcome me, have a warm bed and food I did my best to get there as quickly as I could. The attach on the palace had sent the guards into an attach frenzy. I could hear the guards angrily yelling, beating people to give them any information on me. Their description may have been something of a long shot but I knew that from I had recently been doing people would know if the guards were looking for a tall man with blond hair with a large orange rat on his shoulder, didn't have to guess who they were talking about. Reaching the doorway I touched the thick metal door and could hear the metal insides churning and turning unlocking it slowly. Huddling to against the door I tapped on the wall doing my best to stay out view. Once inside I jumped in quickly shutting the door behind me. As the last of the door began to shut I almost had second thoughts as to if I was safer out there or stuck in here with the raving Torn.