The short trip back to the prison was tensed and charged. Within the ranks of the assembled KG soldiers not a single soul uttered a word once they were airborne. Perhaps they were tired, worn down, weary even, who knows. Or maybe they secretly shared the same sentiment: delivering the new prisoner to the Baron was a mistake of the highest order.
As the airtrain swerved and and rose, the Soldier looked around at the rest of his crew; corrupt men who'd easily accept bribes as well as kill civilians on a mere whim. He found himself experiencing a rare moment of clarity; why did he still hold allegiances to the Guard, forfeit his live for the servitude of a tyrannical villain.
Perhaps it was time he got out, leave this risky business before his head ended up on a platter.
After a while, the airtrain descended and docked at its destination. The bay door whined open, and each of the soldiers got up and departed from the vehicle. 'He' was the last to exit when he saw his commander, Erol, pass by. Immediately, Erol took note of him and made adjustments to his path to offer a passing salute, all smiles and praise.
"Congrats on a job well done, Torn! You keep this up and there'll be a permanent place for you in the Guard!"
Finally, the soldier had a name.
Offering a half salute, Torn relaxed slightly, felt his weary shoulders ease and drop as that despot's diligent eye left the bay, to his relief. He reached up to his head and removed his helmet and mouth mask to reveal an intricate series of grey rectangular tattoos covering his face and ears. These were the trademarks of any recrutes who had joined the Baron's personal police/militia force.
Torn would've liked to sign off right now, call it quits and take the rest of the evening shift off to avoid the storm he could envision brewing in the waning hours of the day. Sadly, as vile as it was, there was still work yet to be done.
Jak attempted to move, maneuver his arm and angle it just so as to shield his eyes from the blinding glare of the various lights focused on him. But he barely managed the act, the familiar sensation of chains once again abasing his wrists filling him with a slight sense of dread. Not enough to shake his composure, mind you, but the fear of remembrance, of wrenching recall, left trembling limbs in its wake.
The tough concrete floor scratched at his numb knees, as he discovered through touch that his legs bowed outwards at either side of him. He wouldn't be getting up again in a hurry, after being left in this awkward position.
Guess the Guards were learning fast.
Memories came in a blur to him, and he couldn't clearly discern how he'd ended up like this. He shut his eyes for a minute, saw the snatchings of a face sporting a mohawkan haircut and a black, tribal styled tattoo.
He awakened again to the world abroad, more clueless than ever. Jak angled his head to one side, allowed his gaze to wonder in the hopes of making a discovery; when he soon spied a balcony far above, occupied solely by that same nameless man, slouched on a throne.
The same man who through means unknown managed to drag him back through time to relive this rancorous nightmare.
Jak made a personal oath to chuck that fool off the highest structure he could find when he had the chance.
Daken sank into the folds of the aristocratic velvet throne. It resembled something from a medieval castle, gilded and forged by the best of hands for the lord of the realm, meant for the powerful , the gerent, the totalitarian and the supreme. Certainly, whoever claimed this seat would experience great euphoria, basking in the respect his power and will would gather.
This imperial seat elicited thoughts of past desires, the vision that later became his mantra backed by a endless need for control. To reign over his own empire.
He briefly tasted the fruits of dominion, once. That lawless island practically fell under his control, a prime convergence point for the world's big bads - illegal item mercents, slave traders, hitmen, drug dealers, name any type of lowly criminal and they're more than likely to have flocked to his kingdom before. Madripoor, the vilest cesspit on Earth.
His reign wasn't eternal, however. Like all great kingdoms, his was destined for misfortune when he foolishly contemplated expanding his reach, took on a task only to be bested in his own field by the better player. He challenged someone who played the same cards, a mirror imagine except with decades of experience at this age old gig on his side.
He came against someone of equal measure to himself...and lost.
The little boy who felt so invincible, so untouchable as to later toy with the heroes of his world and not dare to envision some kind of reprisal. He had unintentionally been the harbinger of his own personal ruin.
This further retention of former failures cast him into ill-humours. In silent annoyance, he curled his fingers into tightly balled fists on the plush arm rests, felt the flesh at the back of his hands tighten, threatening to bleed with 'their' release - six bone claws, housed within his arms three a piece. A gift from 'dad.'
The name stung like fire on his tongue.
How can anyone consider that hypocrite to be a father?
Disgusted, Daken's only regret was that he didn't entrap his father like this sooner, otherwise he would've killed him himself.
Suddenly, a noise emanated from his left; a door swung open and Erol appeared, hands clasped behind his back, standing to attention.
"It would be wise to move," he recommended. Daken frowned, but gathered himself up off the throne, and retired to the wall of the balcony.
The Baron entered on cue, and rightfully claimed the throne for himself, with Erol flanking him. Ignoring present company, Daken leaned on the barrier, gazed over the edge, all in time to witness Logan being manhandled by a small battery of heavily arm Guards.
As they neared the large floor up ahead, one of them shoved his father the last couple of feet. Logan stumbled, but soon recovered his balance. He turned to glower menacingly at the Baron's troopers.
No longer did hints of confusion linger in his onyxy glare. Only anger remained.
Daken smiled. Nastily. Like a child might do when they know they've done wrong. And boy was 'Daddy' sure to scold him for this.
Back up top, he heard the Baron shift in his seat, lean over the side to jab a finger into the darkness behind him. At once, a pair of KG troops appeared, pushing a small hover cache containing various haphazard weapons and mysterious devices. Turning back around, he straightened his back, squared shoulders, causing Daken to wonder if this correction to posterior was out of pride or secured by the knowledge of having a fair amount of repressive firepower so near at hand.
"Vile degenerates!" Commenced the Baron, hands appraising the ceiling. "If you've been smart enough to figure it out yet, you are going to fight each other for your own miserable lives. Win, and your life will be spared. But loose..." The Baron gently pulled a thumb in a horizontal line across his neck, illustrating his morbid words. "...Well, you do the math."
He immediately paused, and relaxed back into his seat. Sensing that all was about to get underway, Daken faced front for the final time, settling into a comfortable leaning position, brimming with expectation.
Let's see how you'll fare against someone of your own league.
Logan climbed the few steps that lead to the open floor listening to the Baron's fruitless address. Amusingly, in an incovenial way, it appeared he wasn't alone in thinking light of it, as both boy and mutant didn't wish to tolerate his blabbering.
He didn't need to be told what the score was, for it was already abundantly clear. Treading the spartan ground slowly, he made a quick pass with his eyes of the interior; Guards were posted at frequent points surrounding the elevated platform, ruling out all attempts of escape. That left himself and his fellow imprisoned, a youth roughly the same height as himself. Years his senior and yet carried some disturbingly similar baggage to himself.
Poor boy. Hate t' think what madness was done to 'im.
Distantly, he heard the Baron fall into silence, followed by a short whine of something mechanical, and the next thing he realised was his hands were free. Alleviated of imprisonment, for the time being, Logan stretched his arms, flexed his joints and shook the stiffness from his muscles and shoulders.
He heard the sound of more chains clattering to ground, and saw the person he was meant to fight take similar stock of his personal being.
How ridiculous this all seemed to the mutant, to fight for the sake of fighting. Admittedly, Logan enjoyed a good scrap himself at times, but never like this. Not under these forceful circumstances.
He kept staring at Jak until their gazes crossover, and Logan saw a kind of world weariness hollowed deep in the glassy hues of the battered warrior.
"Come on, ladies, I don't have all day!" A voice from above. The Baron.
But neither Jak nor Logan moved. Logan reasoned, much to his relief, that the man must've been of a similar mind, who also was hesitant to fight, especially for such a ruthless tyrant.
That's good. But how long would it last for?
Logan didn't know this man from Adam, never seen anyone else with such long, pointed ears until he wound up in this strange place.
In fact, now that he gave it thought, everyone he'd seen in this place had similar, elfin-esque ears. Except Daken.
Daken. His only son. Every bit the person he strived not to be, or at last tried to convince himself otherwise.
But how different were they, really? How can any killer deny the gallons of blood on his hands?
Slowly, Logan was getting comfortable with the idea that, thought originally borne of his son's endless plots to cause him great despair, perhaps at the end of it all, this is where he belonged. In a dingy, cruel prison, locked away for the more evils than heroics he carried out over the course of a century.
As he humiliatingly began to accept his fate, that's when it happened.
A small sphere, no larger than a tennis ball bounced and rolled around the space between the both of them. A mechanism clicked, and a vaporous mist poured out of the device, condensing into a thick fog that sent Logan into a coughing fit. Whatever substance the gaseous vapour was comprised of, it burnt his throat like a mild acid.
It worked a number on the mutant, whereas for the other guy...Well...
That's when everything went to hell.
Daken remained slouched over the railing after lobbing the dark eco device over the side. Both the Baron and his lessers reacted in alarm, but quietened down again when they realised what he was actually doing. Now with all pairs of eyes centred on the squirming figure in the dispersing fog, the fight could well and truly get underway.
A content smile graced Daken's face as he stood witness to the blonde prisoner make the transition from man to monster.
Increasing slightly in mass, he noticed Jak's posture crumble and double over, slightly tanned, caucasian skin faded to a inhuman, ghostly-white. Terrifyingly long, jet black claws emerged initially with a frightful slowness, then a shocking snap, as sharp as butcher's knives. An incomprehensible whine left an unhinged jaw, agape in reeling ache. Teeth sharpened to ghastly fangs, matted hair, flickering eyebrows and goatee all suffering a severe colour desaturation, fading to a monotonous dark grey.
All that was Jak the boy, the hero, the renegade, temporarily faded to smouldering ambers, replaced by a terrifying, uncontrollable force, one that was wrathful and brimmed with instilled ferocity. Who hungered to slash and hack blindly, a maelstrom of trouble.
In his eyes this boy-turned-beast entranced Daken, whom considered him the ideal portrait of an animal, removed from the limitations of human reasoning. As wild in appearance as intent. What a kick he got out of having Daddy contest against this creature, a discreet representation of the same impulses that Logan grappled daily with, only his problem was marginally less...visual.
The product of a man with a singular vision, who much to his own amusement currently sat shellshocked by the sight he had just saw in person for the first time.
To have in possession such a powerful house must've been an extreme rarity. To forge a more potent engine of destruction from the ashes of the former, and to substitute their sheepish will, with, say, his own...
No force on this Earth or the next would be capable of stopping him.
Marvelling at his own ideals, Daken fell into expectant silence when he saw the monster take a swipe at his father, and draw first blood.
Stung like salt on a wound, the scent of a freshly cut onion to the eye. It was only the first move and already Logan was hurting, badly marked straight across the kisser, five neat rows of cuts marring his weather battered features. Blood seeped from the thin, but deep, wounds.
He thanked the gods for his healing factor, subtly kicking in to repair the damage done.
At once, Logan engaged the monster on his own terms, ignoring the throbbing pain that was close to blinding him. His silvery foe responded wildly, violently lashing out and slashing in all directions. Closely watching his movements, the mutant unsheathed his own claws and moved to intercept one of the dangerous strikes, catching the gaps between the monster's fingers inside of his claws.
The animalistic Jak tried to push forward, win the exchange to do further damage. Except Logan resisted, standing like a rock, then ducked and swept a leg beneath the monster's feet, knocking him off balance enough for Logan to attempt to jostle him to the floor.
Pinning him there, this ghastly shadow of a former self, the mutant pointed his claws at the writhing, lively creature. Adopting a listless mask, Logan corrected his aim, then plunged his claws into Jak's left side, going deep enough to emerge out the other side to touch the floor, stopping only when his knuckles touched flesh.
Jolting upwards, Jak spat up blood, eyes slamming shut in an attempt to cope with the shocking pain. Perhaps he hadn't abandoned all sense of feelings after all.
To Logan's surprise, through damage had clearly been done, the creature still bent his legs and delivered a powerful rolling kick to the mutant's gut, driving him away. Able to stand, Jak moved with the speed of a skilled predator to exploit an opening in Logan's defense as he stumbled away.
Jak came upon him sooner than expected, right fist clenched and bristling with power. He punched Logan in the chest, just under the rib cage, causing a wide shockwave to radiate outwards from the point of contact.
A way's off, he heard stray shouts and gasps, indicating that their zealous audience was just as shocked by the performance. Intimidated and fearful.
Their trepidations briefly crossed his mind, as he hurtled headlong into a wall. The surrounding Guards scattered at once, in either direction as debris rained down and covered the floor.
Breathing heavily, shoulders raising and lowering, Jak pressed a hand to the gaping wound at his side, his menacing stare never wavering from the neat hole in the wall, and the figure stirring beyond.
Struck down, but far from out. Though after being flung through a wall, this slight oversight for Logan wasn't enough to keep a good dog down, as he gradually eased himself out of the wreckage of the construction, covered in dust, battered, bruised and bleeding from a dozen wounds.
Temper starting to flare, he had managed to keep a cool head up until the present time. But for how much longer he could maintain that calm demeanour, not give into his primal urges, to give into the feral berserker dominating his heart, rendering flesh from bone and fracturing limbs.
A rumble left Logan's throat that he didn't recognise as his own. Indistinctively issuing a bold challenge, to which his silvery foe took acute heed of, and responded in kind.
Jak's eyes flashed, and, for the first time they held faint traces of...something vaguely human.
How ironic it must've seemed; the beast taking a step toward regaining what was left of his humanity, whilst the man forfeited it in an act of pure anger and slackening restraint.
Though still akin to the stuff of nightmares, Jak's momentarily pleading eyes broadcasted a simple message.
Aghast by this, the grating request proved enough to snap Logan out of his trance-like state, unsure what to do.
Sadly his hand was to be forced when Jak gave another one of those inhuman howls, flexed all of his fingers as that strange, purple lightning from before coiled around each digit, snaking up his arms and lancing lethality into the air. In his bunched palms, that sinister energy gathered, condensing into a tight glob of fizzing energy. Pressing his position, Jak curled his clawed hands around this mass of explosive energy, readying to strike.
It was now or never.
Swallowing his hesitation, Logan similarly stepped ahead, then broke into a fast sprint. He stopped abruptly in front of the snarling monster, saw up close the anguish that plagued his menacing features, and, out of empathy, Logan diverted his mournful look elsewhere as he delivered the finishing blow.
He felt the creature stiffen, and knew that his claws had caused mortal damage, further confirmed by the visual slouch and ultimate doubling over of Jak's body as it dropped like a bag of bricks to the floor.
Mentally kicking himself for carrying out the act, Logan had actually hesitated at the wrong time, so instead of euthanising the suffering youth, he botched the job, leaving him barely living, but much better off than the definitive alternative.
His opponent officially neutralised, from far off he heard the Baron lead his peers in a rousing round of applause, praising his ill deserved victory for their entertainment, exceedingly satisfied with how well he preformed. Great.
As all the towering room cracked a wicked smile, Logan himself was miles away, gradually piecing together the sad truth that his fate had been sealed.
And boy did the future look bleak.