the dreams leave
walked into the courtyard. The empty temple fascinated
him. It was so empty, but he could imagine an ancient
people wondering through its roofless halls. He could see
the fountain where they would gather and chat. He could
even imagine people writing on parchments or playing music
on various stone structures resembling seats or benches.
Everything was so grey, but was full of life once upon a
time. The columns stood proud, even after all this time.
He stared up at where the roof should be, staring at the
blue sky, with wisps of cloud streaking along it.
"So you've found your peace?" inquired a familiar voice
languidly. He looked to his right, finding his Light self
leaning against a column. Light Jak's pure white eyes
stared past him, apparently more interested in the empty
fountain behind him.
Jak shrugged. "You always know how to find it. The best
person to ask is you."
"So you still rely on me for your inner peace? Unwise."
He frowned at the ethereal version of himself. "Why? I
thought that's what you're here for?"
Light Jak still had not moved. "My natural state is
peaceful. Anger comes to you naturally, without his help.
Do you have any peace in you? I'm unsure. You doubt it as
well." A distant cry for help floated through the air. He
turned his head, focused on some distance away. "He's
helpless and needs rescuing."
Under the influence of a rush of panic, took out his jet
board and sped out of the temple. He rushed through an
empty city, twisting this way and that, until he reached a
town square flooded in sunlight. He could see a hunched
over figure, beating someone else. He recognised the white
He hopped off the jet board and fired his blaster. "Leave
him alone!" Dark Jak hunched over some more to absorb the
shock of the hits. He turned around, grinning his sharp
teeth at Jak. The blonde only got angrier. "Just get
lost!" He fired several more times, forcing Dark Jak to
dodge several shots and growl in frustration. Soon, the
dark form fled the scene, flexing his invincible claws at
Jak one last time for good measure.
Jak rushed over to the victim. He saw his fifteen-year-old
self; his hospital gown wore patches of dirt on certain
parts, a lot of the bandages were falling off, there was a
dark bruise appearing on his face, accompanied by
drizzling blood. His younger self seemed very weak and
pitiful, his eyes were barely open.
The older self quickly knelt down, checking his younger,
sick self for any harmful damage. "Hey, look at me." He
curved his hand round his head, cradling the younger's
head into a position easier for his sick self to see him.
"Did he hurt you too bad? Come on, say you're okay." The
boy's eyes flickered open, focussing on the older self
that had rescued him. Jak noticed another bruise forming
at the corner of his mouth.
"Hurts," mumbled the younger self weakly.
The stronger one looked to his side, staring at the prison
door hanging wide open. "Dammit! This is why I kept you in
there! I told you it was too dangerous out here. How did
you get that door open anyway?" A dazed stare was all he
got in response. He let out a frustrated breath, changing
positions so he could pick up his smaller self.
This action set off sudden convulsions. Jak truly had no
idea whether his younger self was coughing or crying. He
stayed still until he finished. The boy stilled, before
bringing a hand across himself to grab onto Jak's chest
armour. He looked up pleadingly. "Please...don't put me
back in there. I like it here, in the sun. I'll get
better, and I'll live...you'll see."
Jak felt his heart break. He suddenly felt himself
overcome with remorse for all those times he had placed
his sick self back in his cell. He had made himself ignore
those cries and pleas because he was certain
the action had been the best to do. And yet, the young one
always tried to get out. This time he had succeeded. So
now, Jak decided to have some faith in the smaller one. He
picked him up and walked forward.
He found himself in a desert oasis, but instead of water,
he stared at a lake of pure, bright Light Eco. He looked
down...and unexpectedly found the boy unconscious. It was
also the first time he had ever seen the youngster at
peace. Jak stepped into the lake. It was very shallow
where he stood, so he carefully placed his young self in
the lake and kept his arm behind the boy's back, keeping
him seated. The feel of Light Eco surrounding him seemed
enough to stir the boy. Jak ran his hand through the Light
Eco, spreading it on the boy's face. He watched, amazed,
as the wounds vanished at his touch. He continued this
treatment, until every blemish and wound on his face and
neck had completely disappeared. This restored enough of
the boy's energy so that his eyes flickered open, staring
at Jak in a daze, but expressing relief and gratefulness
at this treatment. The older, stronger self continued his
treatment of the younger, noticing how the Eco was making
the bandages disappear, revealing perfect skin underneath.
He had just realised that even the hospital gown was gone,
when the boy suddenly sat up and batted his arms away. Jak
distanced himself, watching his younger self rubbing Light
Eco all over him like an assertive teenager in a bath. He
was no longer so sick, his energy was back. The younger
one stopped, then stretched his arms, cracked his
knuckles, rolled his head. He looked behind Jak and
Jak whipped around, seeing Dark Jak growl and sneer his
way to the edge of the oasis. "You stay away," he warned,
taking out his weapon.
His Dark self laughed. "I get much closer than this on
"It's funny that he only noticed this now." The quizzical
yet calm voice made Jak look to his left, finding Light
Jak hovering in the air, his ribbon-like wings flowing
"It's funny that you never react,"
retorted Jak snappily.
"He's not the
problem!" He was confused by this voice. He turned around,
staring at his young self standing up in the lake, fully
clothed in the outfit he had worn the day he had left
Sandover Village. The boy seemed to be at his full
strength and looked quite angry.
"It's me, is that it?"
The boy clenched his fists. "You ignored me! You ignored
me this whole time!"
This claim baffled Jak. "You never said anything."
This made the boy angrier, pushing Jak in his wrath.
locked me away! You thought I wasn't good enough for you?
And you kept me sick. By all the damage you did."
"Damage? What damage?"
Dark Jak roared out laughing.
Though still angry, tears welled in his younger self's
eyes. "You don't understand. You just don't get it."
"It's possible he never will," observed Light Jak.
Jak whirled around. He didn't hide his frustration. "Then
give me a clue!"
A subtle movement of the black head gave him the
impression Light Jak's eyes were piercing through the core
of his being. "You will never forget."
Jak felt his arm yanked. In a panic, he tried to raise his
arms to fend off the attackers...except there were none.
His beloved looked at him out of concern. "I'm sorry. You
were tossing and turning...I didn't know if you were
having a nightmare, but the dream definitely upset you."
He noticed how dark it was. "It's not sunrise yet?" She
shook her head. He let out a breath, suddenly realising
how much he was trembling.
"Jak..." She gripped his shoulders, before using one hand
to caress his cheek. "Was it a nightmare?" He shook his
"It wasn't the...usual nightmare. It was something else,
but...I dunno. It was like, like...I was learning the
answer that I really didn't like, but I don't know the
Keira scrutinised him for a moment, before jumping out of
bed. She rummaged around for something, before jumping
back into bed and holding it up. "How about, you record
your dream? You just talk, say everything that happened in
it, then you can think about it later."
Jak agreed. She pressed record on the device and he
described the dream. When he was done, he felt ready to go
back to sleep, so they resettled for the night.
The next day, Jak did all he could to convince Keira to
let him stay at home. He was in no mood to go outside, but
on the other hand, she could see he was a lot calmer and
assertive than he had been the previous couple of days. He
had even gotten up that morning with little effort, she
had not needed to enter their bedroom to force him up. She
was satisfied that he could take care of himself without
incident, so she left the apartment that morning, leaving
him in charge. But Jak was not alone that morning, as
Daxter had decided to pay a surprise visit and the pair
chatted idly while playing a favourite card game.
Daxter left before lunch time, as he had business to take
care of at his bar. Jak had a very small lunch. The
apartment was silent and he fiddled with the handheld
recorder. He chewed thoughtfully as he played and replayed
the recording of his stunned voice describing his most
recent dream. This time, he was aware that the dream was
attempting to sort out and organise his thoughts and
feelings, but he had trouble matching his dream to
reality, which image to which feeling. So the boy was his
conscience? If that were the case, then why did Light Jak
tell him he would never forget? And what was it he would
never forget? His gut feeling was that he would never
forget his time in prison. For that matter, Yerran had
never been too clear when she had explained that the aim
of their sessions was to train his mind to live with the
wanted to forget, so desperately, so he had assumed that
he would be able to. He would have to ask her about that.
What truly puzzled him was the boy's accusation that he
had made him sick, kept him sick. How in Mar's name could
he have managed that?
He was shaken out of his musings by the sound of his
communicator trying to get his attention. It was Sig, as
they had agreed to talk that day about his role in the
ratification ceremony. Jak had wanted to announce Ashelin
and Sig as his baroness and baron, respectively, both
rulers of either Haven City or Spargus in his absence.
They figured out the details pretty quickly and then
engaged in some relaxed banter.
At one point, Sig scrutinised him through the communicator
screen. "Ash said you weren't lookin' so hot." The blonde
could only shake his head. "She also said you had a fight.
And wrecked Torn's Firebat."
Jak sighed. "She told you about that, huh?"
"She never said any details. You know, you've never been
this stupid, so what set all this off?"
"Torn...you know, I know I suck at this whole...ruling
thing, but Torn didn't have to rub it in. And I was
"Torn said he was just offerin' advice. He is
a leader with a lot of experience."
"You talked to him too?" Jak suddenly felt very
"Only a little, he's still pissed off about his Firebat to
talk about you too much. What do you think? Was he right?
Will you use some of his tips?"
"I don't know, Sig! I...I just don't care. I just want to
be left alone."
"Left alone? That doesn't sound like the hero I know. You
remember Jak? The kid who tried anything and took down any
The young monarch smiled ruefully. "Yeah, I miss being
"The reason why Damas could lead like he did was because
he had a goal. Same reason you took on those Metal Heads,
Darkmakers... Praxis. You both knew what you wanted and
were determined to do it. You did it because you cared
about others. He did it because of the family legacy. If
you actually read his journal, you'd understand him
Jak felt his insecurity spike. "Sig..."
"You'd even understand yourself." Sig cocked his head
while considering Jak. "He even wrote a list of notes
especially for you. He told you about that, right? I'll
bring over the dynasty log too, a good introduction to
Keira was surprised when she came home that evening. Jak
was very calm, although somber. He was cooking a simple
meal for the pair of them. He didn't say much to her
during the evening, but she found him watching her, mouth
slightly ajar as if to say something. He would then lose
his nerve and look away. He did this quite often.
Sometimes he just looked at her guiltily. When he was not
looking at her, he would gaze in a random direction,
distracted by private thoughts.
When Yerran and Pern arrived, Jak took the offered notes
and read them through. He had hoped that their writings
would provide a clue, giving him a helpful hint for
overcoming his challenge. However, their notes only
observed him, his admission of feeling trapped and
powerless, how shaken and frustrated he had been after
attempting the challenge for the first time. Once finished
with these notes, he asked that they listen to the
recorded account of his dream from the previous night.
Yerran posed the first question after listening to the
recording. "You have listened to this at least once," she
stated. He nodded. "Do you have any conclusions?"
The blonde shrugged. "A few...I still don't understand
most of it. The kid, I guess, is trapped by the memories
of prison time. But then he told me I kept him sick. I
don't get that. I mean, how is that possible? I don't want
to make myself feel so bad and have nightmares."
"Did the boy say anything else? Something to relate to
"Jak mentioned the boy said he'd ignored him," contributed
Yerran's eyes widened slightly, as if she had solved a
puzzle. "The boy said you had ignored him,
while the other two versions of you were nearby," she
He nodded. "Yeah."
"So it is possible you rely too much on the extremes of
your personality in order to make any decisions." ...
Jak fidgeted, uncertain how to answer. "If I listened to
him, then what would I be doing in reality?"
The elder lady shrugged. "It depends on what it is he is
representing. Your conscience. Your past. Your free
spirit. The boy could represent all three or something
He let out a huff. He was learning the hard way that
dreams are not easy to interpret. "There is something else
I wanted to ask, sort of in relation. When I'm cured - I
mean, when I'm not getting nightmares and flashbacks any
more, will I be able to just forget my prison time?"
"Jak, I had explained to you quite clearly that you will
never forget those memories. The trouble is that your mind
focuses on them too much, instead of treating them like
any of your other memories."
"Are you serious?!" He seemed deeply rattled. "I'm
supposed to just think about my time in prison like I'd
think about a funeral or my worst day!?!"
Yerran nodded. "That is exactly how your mind needs to
regard these memories." ...
Jak sat there, head cocked to the side, considering her
"You're not the first person to react with such surprise,"
began the elder. "From your position, you cannot imagine
with the memories."
The young king sighed. "Let's just get this challenge over
Keira sat some distance away, watching tensely as Jak lay
on their bed and Yerran led him into hypnosis. In his
mind, he followed her instructions without hesitation.
Soon, he found himself surrounded by white light. Upon her
final command, the light cleared away and he found himself
restrained, under the Eco Injector. He struggled to calm
himself and control the panic rushing through him. He
tried to think. What options did he have? He had none.
Giving up, he started pulling his arms up, intent on
freeing them from their restraints. But they were
He started thinking about the younger version of himself,
that he saw in his recent dream. He even thought about the
older dream, in which he
was the boy. What was it about this boy? He was weak, had
no strength at all. But
he was patient. Jak lay there, pondering this
realisation. His next question was why the boy was
patient. Was he waiting
to be saved? Such a scenario could not help him
in his current situation. What
about knowing he had no strength? This seemed
closer to the truth. The boy had been so sick, he should
not have been able to move. But he had crawled anyway and
had done so at his own pace. This
still doesn't help me!
Jak pulled at his restraints again. He stared at
the unmoving, deactivated, threatening Eco Injector. He
pulled and wrenched his arms against the restraints again,
hoping they would budge. The restraints refused to move.
He let out a yell, before giving up. What
else can I do? He considered unleashing his
anger, but his anger would be no good without his Dark Eco
powers to accompany it. "Anger
comes to you naturally, without his
He gritted his teeth at the memory;
Light Jak was perfectly correct in his
dream, but it did not seem to refer to
anything. He heard the familiar
He yelled and screamed at the top of his
lungs! He pulled and pulled and pulled!
He could see his Dark self, grinning
with his sharp teeth, playing
tantalisingly with his claws, on the
verge of mocking laughter. "I
get much closer than this on most days!" He
stopped, his heart racing. This is what he always did. It
never worked. He thought about how angry he had looked,
within the dream that he
was the sickly boy. The boy had then turned around saying
Jak had kept him sick. He had always locked him up. But
Jak wanted to leave...this memory... "You
will never forget."
It's true. Yerran says
I'll never forget. I'll always remember. With
this realisation, he gave up. He allowed himself to
completely slacken. He could hear the machine above him
being activated, saw it initialise. He also saw his
younger self crying...and joined him. This
is hopeless. He felt truly miserable, weak,
humiliated, but he just didn't care anymore. He let his
tears fall, waiting for the inevitable pain. He brushed
the tears away with a hand.
With a hand...
He stared at his left hand, hovering in front of his face.
This hand had been restrained! If
it's that easy
then... He gently lifted his other hand, holding
it in front of his face, reaching upward. He stared at his
arms, stretched out in front of him. He felt this was not
real. His restraints are still there, around his ankles.
But his hands were in front of him. He could hear Keira
shouting to sit up. Dazed, he did precisely that, then
blinked as the lighting changed. It was brighter, and the
restraints were no longer around his ankles. He was on his
bed. Keira wrapped her arms around him, tightly. He looked
at her as a thundering elation overwhelmed him. He had to
laugh as she bounced up and down, constantly repeating
"You did it! You did it!"
Jak laughed, truly laughed. His melancholy mood was swept
away, completely forgotten, he just laughed, relieved,
happy, shocked, amazed. Jak held Keira tightly and
"It really is that simple," insisted Jak a little later
that evening. "I just gave in to all the feelings from
back then and realised I'd never forget. I just didn't
care any more."
The four of them had moved to the kitchen, where they were
enjoying mugs of fruit tea. Pern had already written Jak's
explanation but continued to look at him disbelievingly.
"I believe you," grinned Yerran. Addressing her
granddaughter, she explained. "My dear, if the wound in
his mind had been caused by the humiliation and loss of
dignity he had experienced, then losing his
self-consciousness that resulted was the key to his
recovery. He had to allow himself to feel exposed again
and no longer fear such feelings. In other words, he had
to be honest with himself." She beamed at the blonde
proudly, making him produce a shy smile in gratefulness.
Keira lay a hand on top of his. "I know it's still early,
but you're already more relaxed. I'm glad." She smiled
Jak suddenly yawned. "Sorry. I'm just so exhausted."
The elder kept her smile. "You have experienced a lot in
the last week, your mental well-being really does take a
toll on your physical one. We all need to rest. Shall we
return in 1 week?"
The mechanic was surprised by this. "A week? I thought Jak
"If the mind was that
easy to heal, all this stuff woulda been figured out
centuries ago," Pern patronised. At Yerran's look she
rolled her eyes. "Sorry grammy, but I am
trying to make a point!"
The disgruntled elder faced the couple. "Yes, I had
explained to Jak earlier that the trauma from his time in
the prison has had some other consequences, issues that
are a lot more complex but...not endangering I would say."
"How about I visit you where you are?" The young monarch
surprised her with his question. "Well, Daxter told me
this morning that a lot of people feel a little...judged
when they go to your offices? I need help, I'm not ashamed
to show it. People know you're seeing me, so...seeing me
going to you can help boost their confidence. I hope."
"I think it will," encouraged Keira.
Yerran was beaming again. "Alright, you can see me in my
by Ruth Hüneke 2013
Naughty Dog and Sony