the dreams leave
Both Jak and Ashelin remained quiet as the council deliberated on the finer
points of the city's constitution. The constitution as it currently stood
had been drafted in a hurry, with the only form of ratification being the
citizens' participation in the initial election process of the candidates.
Count Veger had unfortunately been among those elected over 2 years
previously, apparently having won the support of those ex-Krimzon Guard
members that had feared retaliation, simply for having been part of the
structure that had upheld Baron Praxis' regime. In a few weeks, a referendum
would be held in the city, so that the citizens could vote in favour of
ratifying the treaty. It had been agreed that at least 90% of the electorate
needed to vote in favour of the constitution in order to ratify it, the
other referenda would only need a simple majority of above 51%. The other
specifics dealt with the length of terms of office, how a referendum could
be demanded, the role of the King to officially appoint judges and bestow
titles, as well as open, lead and close a Council Meeting. There was really
nothing in the draft of the revised constitution that the two observing
nobles really disagreed with, so any further debates about the finite and
smaller details did nothing but bored them senseless.
Jak was surprised when one of the councillors addressed him directly. He
recalled her name was Councillor Turza (although he had no idea what her
first name was, as they always addressed each other by their titles). "Your
Highness, we were hoping that you could hold a ceremony once the votes are
counted. It would help raise the morale of the city and the people will be
able to know the names of the two new judges you will appoint."
The King frowned. "Even though I never chose them?"
"You can always acknowledge their election by the Justice Society if you
wish. Perhaps even grant a new barony if you know someone suitable. I think
it might be best the finer details be discussed after the meeting? I've
already been introduced to someone who would make a talented Master of
Jak nodded. "Sure, in my office. Any other points to discuss?" As the answer
was negative, he ended the meeting.
He and Ashelin promptly went to their office, enjoying the brief moment of
privacy as they each served themselves a cup of water. Ashelin joking about
how she would feel bashful when being 'announced' in front of everybody, Jak
retorting he would keep the attendance numbers small. The baroness then
changed the topic.
"So? How did your first visit with Yerran go yesterday?"
The blonde replied with a crooked smile. "We were just talking about our
pasts, getting to know each other, that sort of thing. I can't really say
anything about it." A frown appeared on his features. "Her granddaughter got
"Why did Yerran bring her granddaughter?"
"I let her. Yerran said she's training her granddaughter and she needs to
sit in on some sessions, get experience. Before they went though, I figured
out my sessions are the first set she'll ever watch. You shoulda seen her,
she just kept taking notes in front of me and didn't think I'd ever read
"So...the granddaughter won't be coming again?"
"No she'll come. I never said Pern can't.
Not yet anyway. I remember what it's like to think you know everything, so
"You'll be seeing them again?"
Jak shrugged. "I asked for a session every day. Tonight they'll come later
though. Yerran said most sessions won't be so relaxed, I'll have to
concentrate." He also inwardly thought about her warning that he would be
revealing his innermost thoughts to her. His thoughts were interrupted by
the office door opening and a member of the Freedom League stepping inside.
"Councillor Turza and prospective Master of Ceremonies, Talia, to see you,"
he announced. Once the two women had entered, he promptly left and shut the
Talia was a very young woman, Ashelin's age it seemed, with golden-hazel
hair. She wore a big smile and carried a large electronic tablet. "Oh! My!
Gosh! It is such an honour to be
here, your Highness. I know almost every ceremony carried out in Haven City,
ever, and I have the speeches and costumes to show you in here." She tapped
the back of her tablet excitedly, while Councillor Turza (seeming a little
embarrassed) got her attention and tried to slow her down. Jak and Ashelin
shared a look of alarm.
Despite Talia's over-enthusiasm, as well as any misgivings itt encouraged,
Jak had to secretly admit that she was very good. Within 30 minutes, all the
costumes had been picked, the speeches figured out and the ceremony's
running order decided; amazingly, every decision made was one Jak felt
"OK, so I'll get the speeches typed up and you can customise them a little
before sending them back. Oh! Thank you so much for this chance! I hope I
prove myself so I can, like, be a real
Master of Ceremonies!" The King attempted to keep a polite smile on his
face. "I would love to be the one
organising your wedding."
"WHAT?!?" burst Jak.
In the next few minutes, the four occupants in the room talked over one
another, as Talia rapidly stated her apologies, Jak demanded who had been
talking about a wedding, Ashelin trying to get the other two to leave and
the councillor trying to calm Talia down, as well as explain to Jak the
rumours being spread among the Council Building's bureaucrats. Jak crossly
silenced everyone with a shout and, with a glare at the visiting women,
ordered that no one had the right to gossip about his private life as it was
none of their business.
Councillor Turza silently guided away a very upset Talia.
Keira was preparing some tea in their kitchen while Jak sat on the sofa,
quietly reading the notes Yerran and Pern had taken regarding their first
full session the previous day. Yerran wore her usual perpetual smile and sat
contentedly as Jak read through her notes. Pern was stiff and fidgety,
almost ashamed at being forced to hand over her notes. Their people
preferred using real pens and paper, so it came as no surprise to Jak when
he was handed a folder with his name on, containing sheets inside.
He was surprised by how little Yerran wrote, but he also found her
observations very truthful. Jak has no
misgivings about talking, but while telling his life's adventures, he had
a habit of skipping over important details before finding himself forced
to elaborate on them later when necessary. This suggests it is not normal
for him to talk about himself. He is very accepting of what he would need
to do and explain in our sessions, meaning communication will not be
difficult. He is certain it is his time in prison that has traumatised his
mind, so we will focus there. Should the topic become too distressing for
him, we can further discuss his knowledge of Eco, as it was the topic he
was most at ease talking about.
Pern's notes, however, he could not appreciate. Her notes were very
detailed descriptions of his story (of what he had told her at any rate),
own comments about what he chose to elaborate on or not, as well as - in his
view - arrogant comments about how each event could have impacted him
negatively (no longer being able to channel Eco other than Dark Eco, his
father's death, being expelled from the city, suddenly being made the city's
ruler). Currently working on the
hypothesis that Jak is traumatised by his childhood ending abruptly, mixed
with guilt over mutating his best friend.
He scowled in Pern's direction. "I'm pretty sure your grandmother said
you'll hear everything I say without judgement." He dropped the folder onto
the coffee table. Keira, having put the tea out, sat down on the sofa next
Pern didn't seem to know what to say, so Yerran talked for her. "I had
warned her she should keep all judgement out of her sessions and comments.
Most importantly," she shot a granddaughter a stern look, "she should not
jump to conclusions. You will not be making that mistake again, will you?"
Pern shook her head.
Jak kept a hard look on her as he sipped his tea. He then put his mug down
on the table and considered his next words. "I was captured as soon as I got
here, Daxter only just managed to escape. Baron Praxis had been given some
sort of tip-off that someone who could channel Eco would arrive, so before I
knew it, me and Daxter were surrounded by Krimzon Guards and I got whacked
on the head, knocked out. He ran off, shouting he would find me. Last thing
I remember before I woke up at the back of a van, chained up. It wasn't long
before the doors opened and 4 guards dragged me inside the prison. I was
taken to some office and cuffed to a chair while someone at a computer
filled out some file. He asked me questions, name, birth date, age, that
kinda thing. After that, they uncuffed me from the chair and made me walk to
some storage room, 2 guards gripped my arms, tight, my wrists were chained
Jak was unsure which details to provide and how much of it he should
divulge, but neither practitioner made any indication he was doing anything
wrong. "When we got there, the guards still held me, the other two pointed
their tasers at me, the person in the store room kept pulling clothes out. I
didn't know what he was doing. Then he chucked this outfit at me, saying
it's the smallest. The guards dragged me against a wall, took off the chains
and stepped back, all 4 with their tasers out. I had to change out of my
clothes and into my prison uniform right in front of them, as they watched
me. I could keep my underwear on, but, I still didn't like it. After that
they took me to the prison doctor."
Jak tried to look around him as the guards marched him along the corridor,
two of them gripped his arms as one marched in front and the other behind.
He was surprised when they marched into and stopped in a room that was
painted a calming shade of light blue. The guard in front had moved to the
side, talking to someone inside an office. The office could be seen into
thanks to large windows that followed the folds of the wall that
encapsulated it. He could also see cells, some shut and some with doors
slightly ajar. The cells were in a row, but were built with a space between
them for a window, allowing bright sunlight to shine in. The windows, like
the gaps on the cell doors, were barred, but Jak could also see each cell
had its own barred window providing natural light. He toyed with the idea of
staying here as long as he was stuck in this building, he would not have
He was suddenly yanked into the doctor's office and found himself inside a
typical office, with a desk, 2 chairs, a computer (like the one he had seen
on the desk of the man who had taken his details), many shelves with
folders, documents and books, all tidily organised, and a bed with no pillow
nor duvet, only basic bed linen. He also saw a doctor in the middle of the
office, looking rather put out with his creased eyebrows and his hands on
"I can't do a physical on a new prisoner with all of you crowding my
office," he pointed out, visibly annoyed.
"We're not," said the guard on Jak's left. "Two of us are out there, we're
The guard on Jak's right took his turn to speak. "We're under orders, this
is DW104, we have to treat him as a highly dangerous criminal."
The doctor raised an eyebrow. "A boy?" he stated in a disbelieving tone. The
guards refused to waiver. The doctor sighed. "This office only has one way
in and one way out. You go join your friends in blocking it and I'll tell
you when I'm done, then you can take him to his cell as chained up as you
want." The guards hesitated, then grudgingly let go of Jak. "Take off his
handcuffs," ordered the doctor slowly, as if the larger visitors were truly
Jak found himself unshackled and alone with the doctor, who indicated the
boy should take a seat on the bed. So the youngster happily hopped onto the
bed as the doctor proceeded to fill out a form.
"Prisoner DW104," he muttered. "And what's your real name?"
"And how old are you?"
The doctor smiled. "Nice to meet you, Jak. I'm Dr. Falton. You don't look
like a typical Haven City resident."
"Is that where I am?" Jak's question caught the doctor by surprise. "I'm
from Sandover Village. I came here with my friends through a Rift Gate. We
got separated and I got taken here."
Dr. Falton was wary of the angry, suspicious looks some of the guards
inspected them with. Wordlessly, he grabbed his stethoscope. "Now Jak, I'm
just going to listen to your heartbeat. So sit normally and relax." The
youngster did as he was told as the doctor held back the top's loose opening
and placed the rounded end against his chest. Jak was reminded again that
his prison uniform was slightly too big for him. "Now take a deep breath and
hold." The youngster obeyed. "And breathe out." Again he obeyed. With a nod,
the doctor put the stethoscope onto the table, following that up by
recording details on the form.
"Very good Jak, now I'll just take your blood pressure." Jak watched him as
he wrapped a thick material around his arm, which he then pumped up while
also holding Jak's lower arm in place. After staring at the dial on the
material for a few moments, he went back to his desk to record some more
details on the form. "I'll need to take a blood sample. Do you have a
problem with needles?"
"If it makes you feel better," said Dr. Falton understandingly, as he
removed the material from Jak's arm, "you can lie down as I take the
sample." The youngster considered a moment before lying down and making
himself comfortable on the bed. The doctor moved a chair to the side of the
bed and began to tie a strap around Jak's arm, the same arm and place he
used for the blood pressure test. "When the guards took you," he said
quietly as he placed a grip in Jak's hand for him to hold, "did they say
anything?" He began rubbing some liquid over the vein popping out on the
joint below Jak's bicep. "Like why they were taking you?"
The youngster shook his head. "One of them said they were waiting for me."
A little louder, Dr. Falton ordered: "Keep your arm relaxed, it will make it
less painful when I insert the needle." Jak could see that a small fold-out
table had appeared next to the bed, where a bottle, some cotton and a vial
was kept. This vial was connected to a tube, connected to a needle, which
the doctor was guiding to the vein while holding Jak's arm steady. The
doctor continued talking in a quieter voice. "If you weren't taken because
of a stated reason, because of any crime, then Baron Praxis wants you for
something." The youngster changed the focus of his stare between the doctor
and the heavy-feeling needle sticking into him. He watched the dark liquid
leave his body and fill the vial. "Whatever that something is, it's not
good. I'm often treating the poor people on the receiving end," the doctor
When the vial was full, Dr. Falton slowly pulled out the needle while
pressing the cotton against the site of the injection. Out of nowhere, he
had some sticky paper in his hand, which he placed on Jak's arm where the
needle had previously been.
"Sticky paper?" checked Pern, attempting to hide her laugh behind a
Jak slumped. "It was a band-aid, OK? I didn't know what it was called back
then." Keira was also blushing in both mirth and embarrassment.
"What happened after Dr. Falton was finished with his examination?" asked
He shrugged. "They took me to my cell. Wrists together, 2 guards holding my
"And what was the cell like?"
Jak frowned. "Not bad, I guess. I mean, not like prison cells should be
comfortable or anything, but I didn't think my cell would be as good as it
was. It didn't have a window. It had a bed, with an okay pillow and a
blanket, all in this boring whitey colour but at least it was clean. The bed
itself was built into the floor so it couldn't be moved, same as the toilet
and sink, no shower. There was also a table, made of metal, and a box seat
with a cushion made-in on top. The stuff they gave me was toothbrush,
toothpaste, soap, flannel, towel, toilet paper, bandages and bandage tape, a
plastic comb and a large plastic container of water. Later I'd have that
facial cream and spatula so I could shave. There was also this screen in the
wall, with some protective layer. It always showed something, usually the
date and time, other times Baron Praxis' propaganda, sometimes
Haven City's streets. I'd always stare when those images came on, it made me
want to get out of there. It only ever switched off when the cell light
switched off: at night, so that was when I had to sleep. I spent most of my
time in that cell; I never met any other prisoners and all my meals were on
this tray put through the door hatch."
"You had 3 meals a day?" asked Yerran.
"What kind of food was it?"
"Always simple. The kind of food you cook quickly and isn't the tastiest,
not always. There was usually a soup of some sort. I'd get some fruit for
breakfast, maybe eggs, but that wasn't normal. With my supper I always got a
mug of tea. I never got a choice of what to eat, fair enough I guess, so
sometimes I forced myself to eat food I didn't like. Like butter beans." A
disgusted look morphed his features.
"And how did you get clean? Without a shower available?"
Jak shrugged. "Every day after I woke up, sometimes before the light came
on, sometimes not, I'd dissolve bits of the soap in warm water and fill the
sink. I'd get naked, put my flannel in the water and rub myself down. Then
I'd dunk my hair in the water and comb it out. I never got a hair cut so the
longer it got, the harder it got. Every 2 weeks though, guards took me from
my cell, always 4 of them, and they took me to...a shower room, I guess.
They'd take me to the middle of it, then one of them held my legs while 2
pulled off my top and tied up my arms in these straps. I'd hang like this."
He stretched up his arms in a V position. "Then the guy who held my legs
backed off and the 2 took off my pants and underwear, tying my legs to those
straps. First time that happened I was scared they'd...touch me...down
there." Uncomfortably, he nodded towards his crotch. "They never did though,
ever. One guy would just squeeze this tube of liquid soap on my body and in
my hair, then I'd get sprayed with water for a few minutes. Then the water
stopped and I'd just hang there for a few minutes, before someone finally
pats me down with a towel and then they'd unstrap and dress me, the same way
they put me in. They always put clean clothes on me, I could tell by the way
Yerran raised her eyebrows. "So it's fair to say, living conditions in the
prison were not that harsh." Jak shook his head. "The cell was also clean?"
"Yeah. After every shower I could smell the just-washed smell on the bed and
the floor was always mopped. There'd be fresh water, soap and toilet paper
and anything else I was running low on, too."
"And what did you do to pass the time in your cell?"
"I was either exercising - push-ups and whatnot - singing songs from when I
was a kid or staring up at the ceiling. The first 2 days I was just in my
cell, wasting time and eating food. No one talked to me, except to shout I
had to put the empty tray and water container next to the hatch. No one told
me anything. Day 3, after lunch, guards came in, cuffed me and took me to an
exam room of some sort. They made me lie down on the bed and strapped me
down. They..." He frowned sharply. "They took off my clothes. I wore almost
nothing. They also put this gag into my mouth and strapped it to the
mattress, so I couldn't move my head. There was some sort of scientist guy
in there, I know he wasn't a doctor. He pulled over this pole with a little
I.V. sack hanging off. From this sack was a tube and needle, like how my
blood was taken. I couldn't tell what the green stuff in the sack was, so I
panicked when he tightened my arm and injected the needle. But I could feel
its effects, it was green Eco. I'd never seen liquid green Eco. So the sack
emptied and then the pole went away." A thought occurred to Jak. "Did I tell
you about Erol?"
Pern looked up from her notes. (How was it only now
he had noticed she had been scribbling notes? When did she start doing
that?) She quickly flipped through her notebook. "No, Erol isn't a name you
brought up before."
Jak then clarified that Erol had had a senior position in Baron Praxis'
regime. He went on to explain that it was Erol who had led the group that
had captured him and it was also Erol who had led the mechanised Krimzon
Guards once Praxis' regime collapsed. So Erol was also the one who had been
assisting the 'Dark Makers'. Keira was looking somewhat sheepish at the
memory of Erol, meaning she was then the target of questioning by the
practitioner and her granddaughter, so she had to explain that she had
struck a friendship with Erol due to him being polite to her, helping her
every so often and being a talented racer. When she and Jak had been
reunited, she had been dismayed at Jak's choice of allegiances and his
changed personality, meaning her respect for Erol caused an argument between
them. She had had no idea of Erol's responsibility in the regime's harsh
actions, so she had felt sad and ashamed, once she had found out. Jak and
Keira were then lost in their own world briefly, as Jak assured her she had
nothing to feel sorry about as she could not have known, while Keira felt
she should not have been so distrusting of someone she had known for years,
with Jak's further response being that Erol had received the punishment he
deserved, he and Keira were now together and anything to do with Errol was
no longer a problem.
Yerran politely inquired whether this issue still played any role in their
lives. The couple felt embarrassed at ignoring their visitors and affirmed
this was a matter from the past.
"The reason I brought up Erol," said Jak, "was because he sometimes came
to...wherever I was, checked everything was going okay, then left. Or
sometimes he'd watch, give an order sometimes. Other times he was doing the
torture, looking as if he didn't care. After I had the green Eco injected
into me, he came in with a doctor and a young doctor. He said the young
doctor was going to give me a physical, while the older doctor checked her
work and the scientist guy had to give a signal when everything was
finished. Erol then left. The young doctor said she didn't think I was
dangerous - I found out later that a class of new doctors in training had
been told that they had to do a physical on a highly dangerous prisoner in
order to pass and become real doctors. The young doctor did everything like
Dr. Falton did: she'd tell me what she was about to do and then did it,
making notes on this paper. And yeah, this happened again. Every
afternoon...not every, sometimes nothing happened and I stayed in my cell.
So most afternoons, I'd get taken to that room, strapped down, have liquid
Eco injected into me, sometimes 2 at the same time, and half the injections
were into my legs, then a young doctor came in, did the physical and then
left. None of them were mean to me, but it was still weird. Errol never came
again. Except the last time it happened, that time I got red, blue, yellow
and green Eco injected into me at the same time, 1 needle in each arm and
leg. Errol said something about wanting to see the effects, then he watched
me get a physical, then I was taken to the cell again. I never saw that room
Yerran noticed the time. "It seems we have spent a little longer than
planned. We will come same time tomorrow?" Jak nodded. "Alright, expect us
at the same time. You have done well today."
by Ruth Hüneke 2013
Naughty Dog and Sony