The next morning, Jak woke up to an incredibly loud snore of Daxter's. Grabbing the pillow from underneath his head, he pressed it against his ears to try to muffle the snore. For a brief second, the world was quiet again and he began to drift back to sleep. Then a loud rumble pierced through the fluffy pillow. He shot straight up and glared at Daxter, who was sleeping on a pile of pillows Karin's brother had gotten together to serve as Daxter's "bed."
Jak tossed his pillow at Daxter. It made a "floof" sound and covered Daxter, but the most it did was make Daxter mutter and grip the pillow.
Sighing, Jak flopped back (now pillow-less) and stared at the ceiling. This was...extremely different than anything he had experienced. The first thing he thought when he entered this room was how...clean and neat everything was. The bed had a couple of throw pillows arranged neatly on top of the bed sheets. The desk in the corner was bare except for a lamp and an empty fruit bowl. Even the damn fruit bowl had been organized into some sort of art before he and Daxter had devoured the fruit. The bed sheets were so white that he was afraid to touch them. Fortunately, his room had a connected bathroom with a shower that he jumped into immediately. It took him a bit to figure it out (the first time he tried it out, freezing cold water hit his skin and he yelped) but it was definitely worth it. Two years worth of grime went down the drain...with a little help from the soap in the shower. Throwing on the pajamas provided to him, he flopped onto the bed. He sort of sank into the mattress and honestly that was the last thing he remembered.
But as he stared up at the white ceiling, his thoughts drifted to Karin. She didn't exactly lie to him, not telling him who she was. Even though she supposedly kept it a secret from him to protect him, it still hurt... He felt that they were closer than that. His chest tightened and his stomach and the eco churned inside him. He could feel it attempting to rise to the surface, and with it, anger. The change was coming. He could feel it in his bones, his blood, swirling around. His hands clutched the sheets and he grit his teeth. He didn't want to change. Not here, not now while his anger was directed at Karin... He was going to push it back, but he didn't need to. It stopped just short of making him transform and retreated. He let out a slow breath, and as he did so, faint chuckles echoed around his room. He got a flash of the temple and a room with a throne made of purple stone.
Jakkie, Jakkie, Jakkie. Are you always so angry?
He shot straight up, eyes narrowed, and glanced around the room. A loud snore came from Daxter and he turned over in his sleep. Jak let out a quiet snort and laid back down.
"Nice to hear from you again," he said, closing his eyes.
If you want help, you can always ask for it, Jakkie...and you know where to find me.
"...If I come to you, will you tell me how to control it?"
There wasn't an answer.
A soft knock interrupted his thoughts. He got up out of his bed and opened the door. Karin stood there holding a platter of food. A wave of calm washed over him. For a moment all traces of Dark Eco disappeared, and he felt...normal again. But it quickly passed so he turned his attention to the food. A variety of colorful fruits and cups of jams were neatly arranged around slices of bread. Did everything have to be neat?
"Morning. I have brought offerings of peace in the form of food. You hungry?" she asked, holding it out to him.
He grinned and took the tray. "Starving. As much as I enjoyed that fruit bowl, I'm still hungry."
A tiny smile began to spread across her face as she spotted the empty fruit bowl behind him. "Normally, my father would have you eat in the dining room, but...Underground refugees...politics...What can you do?" She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "Anyway...after you eat and get ready, we'll go to the temple. So...see you in a bit?"
"See you in a bit."
"Alright then, enjoy your breakfast!"
He closed the door behind him and saw Daxter grinning at him from his bed. "So, seeing her soon?"
He tossed a piece of fruit at Daxter and muttered, "Shut up and eat your breakfast."
"I'm sorry that we have to go through the back door," said Karin, as she led them to the back of her house. "Again, for political reasons. My father can't be seen outright helping Underground rebels, and he doesn't want to reveal that I'm back." She sighed and ran a hand through her hair. She muttered, more to herself than to him, "He's going to have to do it eventually..." She turned to the two of them and said, "Torn probably won't be expecting my call for a bit, so after we head to the temple, I can show you around the District to make it up to you. Perhaps the Weapons Master might even have a few guns to give us."
An evil looking smile spread across Jak's face. "Let's definitely go there."
It was a long walk across her home's lawn to the main road, but they eventually got to the temple. It stood before them, and the white stone glittered in the morning sun. The four colors within the stone: red, blue, green, and yellow, sparkled in the sunlight.
"Huh, it's much more impressive in the daytime," said Daxter from on Jak's shoulder.
Karin glanced at Daxter, a faint smile on her face, and said, "I think the inside is much more impressive, but you'll have to see it first."
She led them up the stairs, past the pillars holding up the roof and to giant doors made out of redwood. With little effort, she pushed them open and welcomed them in.
As Karin closed the doors, Jak's eyes had to adjust to the suddenly dim lighting. Candles and other offerings were everywhere on the floors and the edges of six of the seven statutes that stood in the temple. In the very front, a Precursor statue greeted them. Unlike the others he had seen, it was quite small. It still was taller than him by a foot, but it did not tower over him and there was no blue light glowing in its eyes.
"A thank-you gift to the people of Haven for helping us build a place when our home was destroyed," said Karin, stopping to look at it. "Well, the more religious ones..." A faint frown crossed her face as she reached out to touch it. She brought her hand away and rubbed her fingers together. "People from Haven are usually the ones who clean this, but I've never felt this much dust on it..." She looked up and over to the other statues and her frown deepened. "Look at that statue over there."
She pointed at a statue, a figure carved out of a purple stone. They stood proudly, one hand on their waist and the other covering a smirk. They stood barefoot, and a robe spilled onto the floor behind them. Their hair spilled over their shoulders and curled around their feet. While the other statues definitely had offering scattered around their feet, this one had three times the amount.
"Look how many people have left offerings for Drextus," she said quietly. "Usually people ask for them to bless marriages or get revenge...So unless there are a lot of people getting married, things have gotten worse for my people..."
She paused as the doors behind them opened, letting sun light into the building. Jak glanced behind him to see who had entered, and out of the corner of his eye, saw Karin do the same. Four monks wearing bronze robes and holding a colored staff entered behind them. There were two women and two men. Jak gave them a curious look. Even though Karin's tattoo on her face was yellow, only one of the monks shared the same color on their face tattoo.
Karin leaned over and whispered, "Those are the Va'ac. Unlike the rest of us, they choose to only have one color of Eco. Besides taking care of the temples and our funerals and our weddings, they also are some of our most powerful warriors."
They stopped in front of them and, to his surprise, all of them dropped to a knee and dipped their heads in a bow.
"We are so glad that you've returned, Heiress," said the woman with the green tattoos, looking back up at Karin. "For a long time, we thought you were lost, but it is heartening to know that our prayers were answered."
Ah, right. Karin was not just a princess, but the also heir to the throne. He glanced over at her, and caught her eye. She had an apologetic look in her eyes as she turned towards the monks.
"Thank you, Va'ac Sasha. It is nice to be back," she said, dipping her head. But the monks still didn't stand up. Instead they all turned their heads towards Jak and dipped their heads in a bow again, meant for him this time. His eyes widened in surprise, and he awkwardly looked down at the people at his feet.
"Young Channeler, we thank you for bringing back our Heiress," said Sasha. "If there is anything we can do for you-"
Daxter's face spread into a smug smile. "Now this is how you treat people!" He turned to Karin and said, "As much as I enjoyed your house, this is really how you should be treating guests in your home. Especially those who rescued-"
Jak shot a death glare at Daxter, cutting him off and cleared this throat. "Look, the only thing I want for you to do is to stand up, please. I'm not that special."
Sasha hesitated before sharing a look with the other Va'ac before slowly standing up. "As you wish."
The woman with the yellow staff said, "I apologize. It's just that...we haven't had any Channelers, true Channelers, like yourself, for a long time. And the fact that you're filled with Dark Eco...it's traditional to show respect to Channelers. I apologize if it makes you uncomfortable, Channeler." She dipped her head.
He grimaced. That was going to get on his nerves. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Karin cover her mouth with her hand. "Just call me Jak. Please."
"As you wish, Jak." They bowed at the waist. Jak let out a sigh and looked over at Karin, an eyebrow raised. She dropped her hand from her mouth and was struggling to keep a smile off her face as she turned towards the Va'ac.
"I'd like to visit the catacombs, please," she said.
"To visit your mother, Heiress?" asked the man holding the blue staff.
Shaking her head, she send a glance over towards Jak and said, "I'd like to have an audience with Lyrax."
All four of the Va'ac shared worried looks and Sasha glanced at Jak. "So would the Channeler -ah, Jak- like to have an audience with Drextus?"
He gave them a curt nod.
The Va'ac nodded. "Follow us then," said the man holding a blue staff. They turned and went past the statues, to stone steps leading down into a corridor lit with torchlight.
"Yeesh, talk about creepy," muttered Daxter as they made their way down the steps. He clung to Jak's shoulder and gave the walls a suspicious glare.
The Va'ac led them down the corridor. It twisted and turned out on itself. As they got further inside the catacombs, names began to start to appear on the walls. There were a few at first, but as they got deeper, they began to cover the walls. They were stacked neatly on top of each other and the same amount of space was between every name. Flowers and other small trinkets were placed at the base of the wall every now and then. He watched Karin trace her fingers over some of the names.
"We're here," said Sasha and stopped in a circular room. There were many corridors that shot off into places unknown, but one was barren of names. She gestured to it, and said, "If you go straight down there, you'll meet them, if they want to see you." The Va'ac stayed put as he and Karin walked towards the corridor. "We'll be here waiting for you." They bowed again and Jak grimaced.
The nameless corridor led into a large fan-shaped room with six corridors. Instead of being lit with torchlight, eco burned in the torches. Two corridors, straight in front of them, had a different glow. One glowed like the sunlight, a little too bright for the darkness of the catacombs. He couldn't look at it directly; it hurt his eyes. The other...the other one was completely black except for a few pinpricks of purple.
Jak looked over at Karin and said, "It's nice how things are color-coded for us."
Karin laughed and began walking towards the corridor of light. "I'll see you in a bit, you two."
Daxter took one look at the corridor of darkness and shook his head. "Oh no. I am NOT going to do anything more with Dark Eco." He jumped off Jak's shoulder and jabbed a finger towards it. "Do you see that? Do you see THAT?!" He crossed his arms and shook his head. "There is no way you are dragging me into there." He marched his way over to Karin and hopped on her shoulder. "I'll take my chances with the nice, bright corridor, thank you very much."
Jak shrugged and said, "Suit yourself." before heading into the corridor.
He crossed the threshold and immediately was swallowed up by the darkness. He followed the purple lights, walking for what seemed like ages, until two regular torches illuminated two doors in front of him. They were a deep, dark purple. They rippled like the ocean on a windy day, and stretched up to the ceiling, continuing on forever and forever and forever and..
That's not normal... He hesitated, but put his hand on whatever material that was. He half expected his hand to sink right through, but it hardened underneath his fingertips. He pushed the doors open and walked in.
The room was lit by torchlight and bare except for a throne made of purple marble at the other end of the room. His footsteps were muffled by the sand floor as he walked to the middle of the room.
The doors slammed shut behind him. For a brief moment, his eyes flicked away as he glanced at the doors. When they returned to the throne, it was no longer empty. A figure sat in the shadows, or rather, the shadows came from them. They moved and the shadows copied their movements. The darkness parted and figure came into view. Jak couldn't quite pin down what they looked like. They were neither male nor female, and their hair didn't exactly stay still. It moved with an invisible current and pieces of it stretched and shrunk seemingly to the whims of its owner. It didn't help that every time he blinked, their face and body changed ever so slightly. Dark Eco pooled on top of their skin, making thorny patterns on pale skin. The purple lines were shifting endlessly, creating entirely new patterns as the seconds passed. The only things that were constant were their eyes, pitch black, like the night sky, and the smile on their face that showed too many teeth.
Pushing themselves off the throne, they threw their arms open and began making their way down towards him.
Jakkie boy, they purred. It is so nice to meet you in person, finally. I've literally been waiting ages to speak with you.
As they got closer, Jak felt a rush of power and anger. He crossed his arms and gave them a steady look. "So, I wasn't going crazy in the Prison then. Nice to know."
Oh...I wouldn't say that...
The anger rose ever so slightly. The Dark Eco twitched in response. "Should I feel flattered or concerned that you've taken an interest in me, Drextus?"
You know, most people when faced with the anthropomorphic personification of Dark Eco would usually speak with a little more respect, said Drextus's voice from behind him. He wheeled around and Drextus was standing there, an amused smile on their face.
The anger and the Dark Eco were bubbling. It would be so easy to change...whispered his mind. Tear them apart... Gripping his sleeves, he said, "You can go to your followers for respect."
Drextus laughed and walked back to the throne. You got guts, Jakkie. Tell me…how are you enjoying your gift? Is it difficult to control your anger? They gestured to his arms and said, Repressing it is doing nothing.
Jak scowled and took a step towards Drextus. His eyes turned a darker shade of blue. "Yeah well, repressing it seems better than tearing apart my friends."
A regretful look spread across their face. Ah. That.
He let out a snort. "That's all you have to say about it?"
Drextus sighed and slumped down on the throne. You are not the first one who I've "gifted." And I have not quite perfected it...
"Gol and Maia right?"
Ah, the Archeron siblings. Drextus closed their eyes and an almost fond look came across their face. The were the first ones I gifted, when I was a bit younger. When I was full of nothing but rage. They certainly were amusing...
"They were a pain in my ass." He probably shouldn't be trying to antagonize a being who considered the Archeron siblings amusing, but he honestly didn't care. "Cut the crap. You said you were going to help if I asked. Well, here I am, asking."
Drextus opened their eyes, looking slightly annoyed that he had interrupted their reminiscing. I never outright said that I would help you.
"It was implied."
The look of annoyance was replaced by one of amusement. I can see why the others like you.
They straightened up in their throne and their face became more serious. The Dark Eco in you will grow until it devours you. Think of it as a bucket that fills up continuously until it overflows, no matter how many times it is emptied. At that point, you will be overwhelmed by your emotions, and be reduced to nothing but a beast ruled by pure instinct. Their face flickered for a brief second, becoming a horned...thing with a savage grin. It's black eyes glinted with delight as it spoke, as if the thought of misery and suffering were the most beautiful things in existence. That thing twisted Gol and Maia. Just as how Karin is doomed to become a empty shell. She'll travel around trying to fill the emptiness, but it'll continue to devour her piece by piece until that will be her only goal.
But that thing was gone as quickly as he had saw it.
Drextus continued as if it never happened. They closed their eyes and let out a sigh. I regret that it had to come to this, that I had to choose you, but you two are our last hope. Our enemies, the Metal Heads and the Baron, need to be stopped. Drextus opened their eyes. Are you ready to learn to control the Dark Eco?
"If I won't become a beast, then bring it on."
A smile spread across Drextus's face. You're going to be very fun to watch, they said, and snapped their fingers.
The eco suddenly rushed up to the surface. Jak doubled over as his muscles began to contract and twitch involuntarily. He caught himself as he fell to the ground and grit his teeth. He could feel himself on the verge of changing into the monster, but something was missing.
First thing is first. Jak glanced up to see Drextus standing up from their throne and making their way towards him.
When you deal with me, you are dealing with many things. Madness. Change. Chaos. Darkness. And most importantly, you are dealing with emotion. In order to change, you will need two things. A good amount of Dark Eco, and a powerful emotion. Anger, hatred, love, joy, sorrow...all of these could act as a trigger for the Dark Eco. You just need to feel it powerfully enough for it to overtake your mind. They crouched down to his level and revealed all their teeth. I find that focusing on revenge is the best way to go.
Revenge, huh? he thought to himself. Well, there were a few people that got his blood pumping at the mere thought of them. Eve, Erol, and of course, Baron Praxis. Pressure built up in his chest as their faces flickered across his mind. Something clicked, and the pressure changed into power. With a roar, his skin paled and his fingernails became talons. For a few seconds, he was on all fours, panting, but he stood up and stretched his neck. Anger burned through his veins, but there was no one to direct it towards. Drextus was there, but instinct told him that attack would be a very bad idea.
However, if you let it take over you completely, you'll be nothing but a mindless monster wanting revenge on the world. They chuckled and stood back up. The world's already had one of those, so take care to know who your enemies are.
Drextus waved their hand and shadow Krimson Guards rose up out of the ground. He roared at them and leaped at one. He threw it to the ground and used his talons to slice through it. Its form shuddered once before falling apart and being absorbed into the sand floor. Once that one had fallen, he moved onto the next one. None of them put up a fight. They stood like statues until his talons ripped through them and they fell to the ground.
When a shadow of a child appeared in front of him, he paused before ignoring it and continuing to tear apart the Guards.
Good, Jak, purred Drextus as he continued to rip them to shreds. He heard their fingers snap, and the shadow people started to take the faces of Erol, Eve, and the Baron. His vision turned red. He moved from one figure to another, but more just rose out of the ground. They were smirking at him, daring him to touch them. Rage built up in his chest and he stopped his rampage to glare at all of them.
Why won't you DIE?!
Instinct took over and he leaped in to the air. Dark Eco pooled around his fist and he slammed it into the ground. Purple lightning struck out from his strike and arced towards anything that was standing. He watched in satisfaction as the figures were sent flying into the walls and became nothing but air. A twisted smile spread across his face. For a brief second, he felt like the world slowed down. And then it faded as the Dark Eco went from a roar to a whisper. He changed back, feeling a bit drained. Rubbing his head, he looked up to see Drextus clapping.
How interesting, said Drextus. I believe you've done enough for now. If you require any more help, I'm sure the Va'ac would be happy to let you back down here. The doors to the catacombs opened behind him. He turned his head just for a brief moment, but when he turned back, the throne was empty.
Karin's feet echoed as she walked down the corridor. She felt quite calm as she progressed towards her goal.
"This is soooo much better than walking down the other one," said Daxter, flopping onto his stomach. He spread out as best as he could on her shoulder. "I could get a tan with how bright these lights are."
Karin chuckled and glanced at the lights. They were bright, but no warmth came from them. She stopped at the end of the hallway and stood in front of two white, wooden doors. They were very plain, including the doorknob. It was black, dull and cold to the touch. She knocked before entering.
The room was empty except for a white throne standing in from of her. She took in a sharp breath as she saw who sat upon it. Lyrax. Deity of Light Eco, rationality, and justice.
Lyrax themselves was neither male or female. Their hair was pulled back into a pony tail and silken robes clothed them. Their face shifted constantly, so they never looked the same way, but there were three constants: glowing white arrow tattoos made from Light Eco, eyes spilling with light, and an emotionless face. They sat on the throne straight-backed, feet planted firmly on the floor.
She bowed her head and said, "Lyrax." Looking up, she saw Lyrax bow their head in return.
Karin. Daxter. It is a pleasure to meet you. Their mouth did not move when they spoke. Their voice echoed in her mind, like the chime of a bell and resonated within her bones. They got up from their chair and made their way over to Karin. You're here to control the Light Eco within you.
"Straight to the point, huh?" said Daxter.
Lyrax tilted their head at him, giving him a cold stare. Daxter shrunk under their gaze and let out a nervous chuckle.
Time is of the essence. The Metal Head threat grows greater. And there is the Baron. Their face hardened. He has meddled in things that are not his. Among other things, he has dared to create the Light and Dark Warrior Projects.
Screams echoed through her mind. Images of her as her lighter self walking through Haven flashed through her mind. Jak walked beside her as his darker self, snarling. Haven was a wreck. Buildings were crumbling, smoke rose from crashed zoomers and a army sat in front of the two of them with their guns trained on them. Blood covered both of them. There was no sign of Daxter.
The images faded and a shiver ran down her spine.
Your eventual fates if you do not learn.
"Do I ah, want to know why I wasnt there?" asked Daxter.
No...you would not.
Karin would defy that fate and protect her people. She would bring down the Baron, and get her mother's sword back.
Karin. There is something else that you need to know. Lyrax turned their gaze on Karin and said, Because the Light Eco within you has permeated every fiber of your being, it would unwise to use the small amount of Yellow Eco that is centered around your eyes. The Light Eco is already in a state of uneasy balance, and they Yellow Eco might destroy that balance altogether.
Her hand shot up and felt underneath her eyes. She felt a lump in her throat and a bitter taste in her mouth. Her first tattoo, Yex's tattoo, was unusable.
When she was younger (and even now, when she was filled with Light Eco), she always had felt more of an affinity for Dark Trinity of Drextus, Yex, and Raxxus rather than the Light Trinity of Lyrax, Garix, and Brix. There was always going to be that underlying respect for her dieties, no matter who they were, but whenever someone would bring up which eco she would choose as her first, she knew it was going to be Yex. Yex was crafty. They were never in the spotlight, and knew when to wait and when to attack. They never missed and most importantly, their emotions were almost always under control. Unlike Raxxus, who's emotions were like a raging inferno, Yex's emotions burned like a lantern, steady and constant. Karin wanted to rule like them and (although it was a bit ridiculous to think so) knowing that the Yellow Eco was inaccessible made her feel that being like Yex was something that would never happen.
Her eyes hardened and she met Lyrax's gaze. Right now, those feelings were impeding her objective. They needed to go. The lump in her throat disappeared and she said, "I'm ready to start training."
They nodded. Very well. Daxter, you may want to move.
Daxter shrugged and hopped off Karin's shoulder. "Knock 'em dead toots!" he said after finding a good spot to watch from.
Yes. Because I can totally do that to a being of incredible power...
Lyrax waited for Daxter to be out of the way before starting. There was a brief pause, and then they blurred and disappeared from view. Karin tensed and looked around. There was a faint breeze that began from behind her and it made her back tingle. Then her back exploded into pain. A burning sensation stretched from her shoulder to her hip. Letting out a gasp, she instinctively dropped to the floor and put her hand on her back. It hurt to touch her back, and it was wet.
I'm bleeding, she realized and slowly stood up. Apprehension flooded her body as she looked around for Lyrax.
To channel Light Eco, you can not let your emotions surface. To use it properly, you must have a clear mind. Focus on what you need to accomplish, and obstacles that may get in your way, then figure out the most efficient way to solve it.
Karin listened, but her mind kept traveling to her wound. It was impossible to clear her mind right now.
In battle, there will be no breaks for you to clear your mind. What is your goal?
"To take down the Baron," she said through clenched teeth.
A noble goal, but wrong. What is your goal right now?
Karin racked her thoughts, trying to think. She wanted the Baron dead. She wanted Eve dead. She wanted...her face flushed at that last one, but there was nothing else that she could think of. Her strength began to wane as she continued to bleed. Her thoughts became hazy and it was difficult to focus. She couldn't die here.
What do you want, Karin?
She felt a surge of Light Eco. She felt jittery, wired, but her mind was slowing coming back from its haze. She didn't want to die.
Something clicked in her mind. She didn't want to die.
I want to SURVIVE.
With that thought, her mind cleared completely. She could feel the eco tugging at her, and she let it swallow her up.
The glowing arrow tattoos appeared on her skin, and her mind was clear. She felt the pain and it hurt, but it was in the way of her goal: survival. She put her hand on top of the wound, ignoring the pain it gave her. She probed it, and knowledge of how the body worked flowed into her mind. It was fixable. She focused on it, and directed most of the Light Eco in her body towards it to heal it. The other small amount she used to speed her through time to ensure that she would be safe as she healed.
It took all of the eco to heal her wound. When she was done, the tattoos disappeared and she sunk to the floor, feeling a bit drained, but also accomplished.
Lyrax stood in front of her and offered her a hand. She took it as they said, Very good, Karin. When you require more help, return and I will give my help to you.
"Thank you," she said. There was a faint cough, and she turned to see Daxter with his arms crossed walking towards her.
"I think a bit of warning before you get sliced open by a deity of light WOULD BE NICE!"
"Sorry...but I had no idea what to expect," she said, kneeling down to his height. "But I'm fine now, see?" She twisted her back towards him. She felt him poking her back, trying to get her to wince, but she felt no pain.
"There's not even a scar...," he said in awe. She turned back around, a grin on her face. Daxter's awestruck face quickly turned into a scowl. "You and Jak are going to be the death of me," he grumbled and hopped onto her shoulder.
Chuckling, she turned to thank Lyrax again, but it was only her and Daxter in the room. The doors to the catacombs opened, signaling their cue to go.
And there is the next chapter. After...a long time...I'm sorry. I'm a slow writer XD
But hey, you got to meet Lyrax and Drextus. Yay!
Anyway, I was wondering if you guys would be interested in reading a prequel about how the Ecolites came to be and the founders of the Ecolites. It would be more of a side project to this story, but I think it would shed more light on the history of the Ecolites and hopefully answer any questions you may have had.
So. Please tell me if you would be interested in the side story in the reviews and thank you for continuing to read it.
Also, I do not own Jak and Daxter, obviously.