the dreams leave
Jak opened up the blue folder and read through the form filled out by Dr.
Falton during his first physical. There wasn't anything particularly
interesting, but he made note of certain details as he did want to know what
effects the injection of Eco had on his body. The immediate next page had
the same form as Dr. Falton's, except a number of details were different;
the patient's name for instance, which was simply listed as "unknown", as
well as a note that the air intake was higher than is usual. He also found
it interesting that someone else entirely - Erol, usually - signed off with
a final comment at the bottom. In this case, that these were the readings
taken after an injection of green Eco.
He read through the remaining copies of the physicals taken by the medical
students, including the form filled out by Gan Gravis. He noticed that the
patient's name was usually written as "unknown", "patient", "unnamed
patient", or in one case, "anonymous". The various forms were written in a
way that revealed the students' concern for his well-being, as they did not
hesitate to point out when breathing rate, heart rate or blood pressure were
higher or lower than normal. Reading these notes also reminded Jak that the
students carried out a step that Dr. Falton never did: they had pressed the
stethoscope on a number of points on his chest, almost in sequence.
"Take a deep breath, hold it." Jak followed Dr. Gravis' instructions. "Then
let it out. Good. Just breathe normally now." The young doctor listened for
a few more moments, before taking the end of his stethoscope and moving it
from the bottom of Jak's left rib to his right, repeating the same
instructions as before. The medical cell door was sealed shut, some relaxing
music was playing on some speakers placed near the door (today's music was a
selection of melodies played on a flute), Jak himself was restrained in the
same position as always when Dr. Gravis spent time with him: upper bed
raised to have him sitting up, wrists fastened at his sides, straps holding
down his waist and legs. At the moment, his prison shirt was raised up,
exposing his abdomen.
After finishing his chest-listening routine, the young doctor made some
notes. Jak watched him, waiting for the indication that he had finished.
"Why do you do that?"
Dr. Gravis looked up in surprise. "Uh, you mean making notes?"
"I mean when you listen to my ribs. The others in your class did that too,
when you all examined me. But Dr. Falton never did that."
The doctor had been nodding once he understood Jak's question. "You were
talking to him when you first saw him though, didn't you?" The teenager
nodded. "If a patient's talking normally, that's usually a sign that
nothing's wrong with their lungs or their breathing." He rolled down the
prisoner's shirt. "When I first saw you, you were gagged, so I had to listen
to you breathe, make sure nothing was wrong. And as for now, well, you sound
a bit croaky so I just wanted to make sure."
The restrained patient frowned. "This is my normal voice." Although,
inwardly, he was fully aware he sounded a bit deeper than he used to.
Dr. Gravis grinned. "I didn't know that. I wouldn't be a good doctor if I
Jak read further. He was surprised to find various reports written by
doctors ordered to visit him in his cell. He recalled that during the days
of the initial intravenous sessions, he sometimes woke up in his cell
convinced he had missed a day. He was now looking at records that proved he
had. After some of his sessions, it seemed he had become so sick that while
he was able to eat his dinner (or in later cases, after he was force-fed) he
then went to bed and developed a fever, as well as other symptoms, meaning
he never woke up the next day. The accounts of this stated that some
medicine was injected into him, then he was left to sleep off the illness.
The doctor who had visited his cell would come again in the evening and
judge whether the medicine had worked (it always did) and make it clear that
Jak would need the next day free of sessions to fully recover. Dr. Falton
had written just one of these accounts.
He then read through the series of reports that detailed the treatment of
his arm, after his first escape attempt. Those he read through quickly as he
still remembered the key details. He had expected the next set of reports to
be about the repair of his damaged skin and muscle, after being punished for
his second escape attempt. Instead, he found himself reading through a set
of reports detailing treatment he had no memory of. The former prisoner
didn't remember much about the gas chamber, just that he was strapped down
onto the bed, the 'lid' closing around him, then Dark Eco vapours would be
pumped in. He remembered the foul smell and the coughing fits the gas
induced. According to the report, he had inhaled too much of the gas,
meaning his trachea had been badly damaged. The treatment was oxygen
therapy, carried out via tubes through his nose feeding oxygen directly into
his lungs, while the tube inserted in his mouth sprayed the inside of his
throat with a specialised medicine. The reports specified he was not placed
in one of the medical bay's cells during this time, as his condition was
critical, but being a highly dangerous prisoner convinced the doctor to keep
Jak frowned at this remark. Whoever this doctor was, he had clearly believed
whatever he had been told, rather than risk finding out for himself. Who
is this guy anyway? The
signature belonged to K. Parver. I know
that name. Where have I heard it? He continued reading, finding
photos taken of him during the treatment. He was almost completely covered
by a blanket, while his exposed shoulders revealed the prison uniform that
had not been removed; his arms had been placed on top of the blanket, along
with the restraining straps. The bandages he typically wears around his
hands and wrists had been removed so that a few tubes and/or wires could be
attached to the backs of the hands. As described in writing, there were also
tubes inserted into his nose and mouth. There were also a series of shots
taken showing the inside of his throat. When looking for the reason for
these shots, Jak found the written detail that the tube in his mouth was
sometimes removed so a small camera could be sent down for inspection. The
initial shots showed the damage while the succeeding shots showed the
trachea's improved condition. He had to silently admit he found this all
The final comment written regarding this treatment was by Gan Gravis, who
had noted Jak's bandaged hands and feet, so he had confirmed that he had
re-bandaged the sleeping patient's hands when his treatment had been deemed
complete. Jak smiled at the comment in gratitude, noting that he was the
only other doctor, apart from Lev Falton, that referred to him by name in
these reports. The next report was a written assessment by Dr. Parver of a
blood sample he had taken from Jak during this treatment. He had stated this
was done "under orders" and was both concerned and confused by the presence
of Dark Eco in the blood. Jak turned the page and finally found the reports
he had seen years ago, the ones written after his second escape attempt. He
didn't dwell on these for too long and moved on to the reports written
during his following two-week stay in the medical bay. Either Falton or
Gravis wrote these notes, which were very vague and simply stated that Jak
was improving, able to eat again, wounds were healing and he was able to
move. Dr. Gravis had begun his initial report by stating that Dr. Parver had
desired Jak remain sedated, but had compromised that he could keep the
patient restrained instead.
Jak remembered Gan explaining this to him, rather awkwardly, when he had
first introduced himself. The former prisoner then began wondering if Dr.
Parver was the one who had never given his name, the fat doctor, or another
staff member he had never met. He pushed those thoughts aside as he noticed
the few detailed reports, one of a physical examination and the other the
examination of his teeth, both carried out by Dr. Gravis. He was surprised
by the concern shown by Dr. Falton in another short report, in which he had
detailed the changes in Jak's personality between the occasions the two had
seen each other; reading these comments reminded Jak how much his time in
the prison had changed him. It was also a reminder of the mourning he had
gone through at the time; he had been fully aware that never again would he
have been able to use green, blue, red or yellow Eco. Whatever,
I have Light Eco powers now. And I can use the other Eco types with my
gun. He then found another report done of a physical examination,
written by Dr. Gravis, but this time "under orders". This confused him: when
had this happened?
Suddenly, it was all too clear.
Jak lay on his front, restrained on the bed in his private cell in the
medical bay. He was calmly dozing and had allowed his mind to wander. Noises
outside startled him. There were some angry voices involved in some sort of
tense debate. One he recognised was Dr. Falton. He tensed at the other one
he recognised: Baron Praxis.
The cell door burst open and a small troop of Krimzon Guards marched in.
Before he knew it, he had been ripped off the bed, stripped of his uniform
and pinned against the wall. In nothing but his underwear - and his recently
acquired headscarf - he found 4 guards pinning a limb each in a vice-like
grip, a further 3 guards stood near the door. With a grunt, he desperately
tried to pull himself free.
"You will behave, Jak!" Baron
Praxis arrogantly strode into the cell, the anxious Dr. Falton following
behind. Praxis marched right up to Jak, holding up a special taser close to
the youngster's chest. With its activation, a jolt of red Eco-powered
electricity fired up the taser-spikes. Jak shrunk away in panic. The
dictator in front of him grinned smugly. "So you are
able to learn." He lowered his deactivated taser and used his free hand to
inspect the exposed body. Shaking in anger, Jak clamped his jawline firmly
shut and looked away as Praxis' hand roamed all over the body surface, much
like how a sculptor admired the statue he created. "Good..." crooned the
baron. "The doctors in my city do excellent work." He looked up. "Nothing to
The teenager's response was to spit in Praxis' face. In a flash of anger,
the baron punched him across the jaw, slamming the side of his head against
the wall behind him. Jak groaned as he felt the pain spike and settle; he
was certain he saw one of the unmasked guards smirk at him.
"So," announced Baron Praxis as - recomposed - he turned away and began
pacing up and down the cell. "Which one of you will tell me who broke the
The baron paused before turning around to continue his pacing. He gave the
anxious Dr. Falton a very hard look as he paced by. Jak looked directly at
the doctor, meeting his eyes.
"I did," admitted the teenager, convinced he had fallen into some kind of
trap. The smug look he received from Praxis confirmed his worry.
"Letting the dangerous prisoners
under your care roam free again?" Praxis marched right up to the nervous
doctor present. "You are constantly close to the breaking point here,
doctor. The only reason I've let you continue your absurd practices is
simply that no one's ever escaped under your watch. Hm, Jak looks fine. Must
be if he could break the boxing stand like that. What do you recommend? Is
he ready to continue the experiment?"
Dr. Falton's eyes involuntarily widened. "You admit it, baron? You admit to
having Jak be injected with Dark Eco?"
Baron Praxis shrugged. "Why not? He's the first to produce any sort of
result; you must have found the Dark Eco in his blood? Or did he tell you?"
A panicked look was shared between doctor and prisoner. After some coaxing
and questioning, Jak had indeed told Dr. Falton what procedures had been
carried out on him.
"His body is still recovering from the trauma, I must insist he not undergo
any more procedures until further notice."
The baron looked at the present doctor blankly. "Alright. You know best."
His tone of voice betrayed his belief of the exact opposite. He faced the
four Krimzon Guards holding Jak. "You know where to take him."
Immediately, Jak was pulled away from the wall and carried face down out of
the medical bay. He never bothered resisting or struggling out of the hold:
the position he was in was far too awkward, not to mention embarrassing.
After an unknown time, he found himself in the same examination lab and in
the same position as during the initial weeks of his incarceration. Exactly
as when the medical students had carried out their physical examinations on
him, he was once again strapped down to the bed in nothing but his underwear
(along with a head scarf that kept his long hair away from his face), with
his gag also fastened to the bed he lay on. Some of the Krimzon Guards
smirked at him, making him uncomfortable. They quickly left and Baron
Praxis, followed by Erol and Dr. Gravis, entered.
Nervously, Dr. Gravis carried out a physical examination under the strict
orders and gazes of his superiors. It progressed as normal, until the young
doctor had to step away in order to retrieve the equipment necessary for
taking a blood sample. At that moment, Baron Praxis stepped up to the bed
and stared down at the helpless Jak. The teenager balled his fists in
"I do believe Jak has certain assets he no longer has any use for." The
restrained teenager was alarmed to feel his underwear being pulled down,
exposing his crotch.
"You could be right, Baron Praxis," chimed in Erol's voice. "Whatever
creature DW104 could become, he should certainly not be given the
opportunity to breed." Jak's breathing and heart rate increased
"Dr. Gravis?" inquired the baron, "would you know the best technique for
removing these?" He grabbed Jak's exposed testicles.
Said baron jumped back as Jak lurched against the restraints, screaming in
rage and wrestling his way out of the bed. He did not care that the struggle
against his restraints was futile, he continued to scream and spasm in rage.
Panic set in as he realised his gagged mouth prevented needed oxygen from
filling his lungs, his clear nose was not enough. This panic increased his
rage and frustration at his situation - at being trapped.
Jak frowned in thought. He recalled that the gag had been removed soon after
so that an oxygen mask could be placed over his mouth; this was done so he
could take deep breaths and calm down. Dr. Gravis had restored his dignity
in that moment. He turned the page in that folder to find himself looking at
the final report. A doctor he didn't know had been sent to his cell to treat
a "self-inflicted injury to the prisoner's right hand". Jak smirked; he knew
exactly what he had done to cause that. The report concluded that there had
been no damage to the bones or muscles in the hand, so a bandage had been
applied to help the gashes heal. Jak had been kept asleep the entire time
and left in the cell.
He closed the folder and placed it back onto the coffee table, sighing as he
did so. He checked the time. The former prisoner then felt he needed a
drink. He stood up and made his way to the kitchen, inwardly debating
whether he should make himself some tea, pour out some juice, or treat
himself to a beer. I'm stalling.
Once he got himself a glass, he decided that water would be the best bet and
ran the tap. I don't have to read it.
The glass full, he drank the refreshing water. I
was just an experiment to them, I won't like anything I read in that
thing. He stared at the now half-full glass, unsure of what to do
or what he wanted. They'll ask me
questions. I have to read everything so I'll know what they ask. He
slowly finished his glass and, resolutely, marched back to the sofa.
Jak took a breath and fought the urge to clamp his hands around his knees.
Said hands gingerly lifted the red folder; he opened it before he had the
chance to decide against doing so. He stared at the first page, which
contained the photo of his younger self and had PRISONER NUMBER DW104
stamped at the top. There wasn't anything interesting to read so he turned
the page. The first report was by Erol.
'It is my honour and privilege to record
that I have been chosen by Baron Praxis to
direct the Dark Warrior Program for test subject 104. In order to test his
Eco-channelling abilities, I had arranged for this year's set of final
year medical students to examine him after injecting him with Eco. He
absorbed the material with little difficulty and the effects on his body
are interesting. Overall, the signs for success this time around seem
encouraging but I remain tentative this early in the program.'
Jak swallowed and kept his jaw locked. He reminded himself that Erol
would continue to call him "test subject" in the remaining records. He and
the scientists did often talk around him as if he were not there, after all.
Erol finished his initial report by detailing what procedure would be
carried out on "the test subject", describing the equipment and stating how
much liquid Dark Eco would be injected into him. The next series of reports
were all written by various lab technicians, the names of which he did not
recognise; each report was written for that day's session and simply
detailed the procedure carried out, how much Dark Eco was injected and any
noticeable side effects. There were usually very minute side effects and
Jak's tendency to vomit after the injection was always noted. Jak himself
wasted little time with these reports as they were pretty much the same.
Until Erol's next sets of reports, which described Jak's hunger strike and
Praxis' order to have him force-fed.
Jak skipped the next block of reports written by lab technicians and found
Erol's next one, which detailed his first escape attempt. 'Once
the test subject attempted to utilise red Eco, his personality completely
changed. It caused him grievous harm and encouraged him to demonstrate
great anger. Such behaviour has not been seen in this subject until today.
I am unsure whether this is an effect of the Dark Eco or not, as I am
aware that the material typically encouraged the display of unsavoury
characteristics in a person.' The remainder of his report
confirmed that Jak had been sent to the medical bay and concluded with his
decision to hold a review with his staff. The very next report was a summary
of this review. 'The staff in attendance
confirmed that the severity of the vomiting had lessened in the days
before the test subject attempted escape. Considering the physical harm
caused by his attempt to utilise red Eco, it is apparent that his body has
been properly conditioned to only accept Dark Eco.' Later in the
report, he wrote: 'Technician Harlem
suggested that a possible reason for the intravenous Dark Eco injections
providing no or few physical reactions could
be that, in liquid form, the concentration and viscosity is too high,
meaning the substance remains in the blood and is not disseminated
throughout the other tissues and organs. The ultimate result is that the
majority of the material simply passes through the body, with little of it
being used.' The report concluded with the agreement that a gas
chamber be constructed, as Erol had observed Jak attempting to use red Eco
in its vaporous form. The intravenous injections would continue until it was
complete, just to clarify whether the substance really did pass through
Jak's system before being absorbed. In the present, an irritated Jak
wondered why they had never bothered asking him
how he channelled the Eco.
Once again, the next few reports were written by lab technicians describing
the relevant session of Dark Eco injections. The difference between this
series of reports and the previous was that the later sessions included an
initial dialysis, in order to have Jak's urine sample for study. Seamlessly,
the reports transitioned to describing the inhalation treatment via the gas
chamber, explaining what ratio of Dark Eco to oxygen was used. The
observation was also made of two key reactions: that "the test subject" was
always coughing within minutes of inhalation and his muscle mass tended to
increase by the end of the session. Never
knew that one. After about four reports of the inhalation
procedure, Erol wrote another; this time comparing the results of the two
different procedures. 'The analysis of
the daily urine samples proved Harlem's hypothesis to be correct:
providing the Dark Eco to the test subject in liquid form results in it
simply passing through the system. This is a profound discovery,
considering the previous test subjects always succumbed to serious
symptoms through this treatment. If possible, an investigation needs to be
done of subject 104's physiology, to discover how the physiology of an Eco
channeller differs from that of a normal person's.' Another week's
worth of reports followed, noting the increase in Dark Eco volume that Jak
was inhaling. Then Erol submitted another report:
'A serious attack was carried out by the
Metal Heads yesterday. My men were able to defeat them, but only narrowly.
The public are unaware, however, maintaining the numbers of Krimzon Guards
is proving to be a challenge. I agreed with Baron Praxis that the
investigation of the test subject's physiology cannot be prioritised, we
require firm results as soon as is possible. I explained the current
procedure being used and the baron demanded we greatly increase the amount
of Dark Eco used. This will have
to be closely monitored. While this procedure has resulted in the test
subject requiring no rest days, his coughing is a concern.'
Nice to know he cared! thought Jak sarcastically. He flicked
through the next set of reports, not seeing anything remarkable, before
finding Erol's next set of comments. 'This
current procedure is proving promising. The test subject has responded to
the increase in Dark Eco and continues his high attendance. However, he is
now coughing at all hours of the day, even night. Those that patrol the
cells confirmed they could hear him coughing, so I spent some time
checking the footage from the hidden camera-'
Jak slammed the folder against his lap in alarm. He carefully re-read
the sentence to make sure it was not a delusion. '-placed
in his cell.' In alarm, he went through everything he used to do in
that cell. He knew the food hatch could have easily been used as a spy-hole,
but it had always been locked from the outside. Out of all the private
activities carried out, there was one he hoped no one had noticed. 'It
is possible that this is a choice guided by his adolescence, but I feel it
should not be ruled out as a sign. The frequency of both his daily
exercises and masturbation performances have increased.' With an
angry scream, he stood up and launched the folder across the room.
Said folder slapped against the wall opposite and flopped to the floor. Jak
felt his anger instantly deflate. He only felt defeated. What's
the use? He's dead already. Not like anyone else saw it. His
sadness was replaced by awkwardness. I
hope no one else saw it. As he picked up the thrown yet undamaged
folder, he contemplated ripping out the report entirely, perhaps blocking
that sentence. He eventually decided to leave it alone, as Yerran and Pern
had not asked him anything too personal so he believed he could trust them
to be discreet. He was also doubly thankful he had never said Keira's name
while in the prison. Turning back to the particular report, he noticed the
archivist's note at the very bottom: 'THE
MOB THAT INVADED THESE OFFICES AFTER PRAXIS' OVERTHROW AND MURDER DELETED
ALL THE VIDEO FILES THEY COULD FIND. THE VIDEO FILES REFERRED TO IN THIS
REPORT CANNOT BE LOCATED. SHOULD THIS REPORT BE CLAIMED BY THE FORMER
PRISONER OR THEIR KIN, THEY WILL BE CONTACTED AS SOON AS THESE FILES ARE
DISCOVERED.' Jak made a mental note to reward these archivists in
some way, while also praying the videos concerning him
were forever lost.
He flicked through the next set of session reports, finding the one that
reported Jak being sent to the medical bay for treatment after he had "lost
consciousness during a coughing fit"; flecks of blood had also been found on
the bed. Erol wrote a report confirming Jak was being treated and also
stated the estimated recovery time, as advised by Dr. Parver. Erol went on
to write that as the inhalation procedure had "an unacceptable side effect",
the already-built injection machine would have to be utilised. The reason
they had avoided using it until this point was that it had only been used on
one other test subject, who shortly after the procedure had died from severe
burns. Jak felt himself physically freeze. He was unsure what to do with the
realisation that he had been very close to death, simply because someone
else had considered the situation a calculated risk. He flicked through the
reports filled in regarding the sessions with the Eco Injector, finding the
report Erol had filled in after his second escape attempt. There was nothing
in it Jak didn't know already. What surprised him was that Baron Praxis
wrote a report.
'The hatred in Jak's eyes as I glowered at
him, I wish I could see that in every warrior I have. I'm certain he will
be the first successful subject in the Dark Warrior Program, his anger can
then be fostered and encouraged, let loose on those Metal Heads. I
remember learning that Dark Eco brings out the worst traits in a person. I
should research this a little more. If the only way of producing a true
Dark Warrior is to have him angry, truly angry, so be it. I will have him
hate me so much he will have no choice but to become the Warrior, to get
any chance of merely touching me.'
About a week later, Erol wrote a new report saying that in the
meeting between him and Praxis, research carried out had concluded that Dark
Eco was more potent when a user exercised a more selfish, instinctive
character trait. To this end, "the test subject" would need to be tortured.
Jak felt himself grow even colder, icier even, as he read the calculated
notes of Erol, explaining which methods of torture he had chosen and what
effects they will have. 'The aim is to
have the subject feel as little in control as possible. Sensory
deprivation, carried out without warning and without a planned length of
time, will encourage this confusion.' Other notes talked about
other tortures necessary to make Jak feel as if he were trapped with Praxis.
The "simplest torture" would be to broadcast propaganda during those moments
"the subject would prefer to sleep".
I got angry at Praxis because I chose to
be. Jak tried very hard to convince himself of this, but he was
growing doubtful. He grew even more doubtful when he read through Erol's
account of Jak's physical, and Praxis' gleeful account of how angry he had
made the young prisoner by insinuating his imminent emasculation. 'Like
any young man, he is protective of his genitalia. It didn't take much to
put him in a rage. Increasing his anger will not be difficult. Shocking
him before taking him out of his cell should add to it, making my Krimzon
Guards feel safer at the same time. That should shut them up.'
The next series of reports did not follow the pattern of the previous sets.
There were session reports, describing the use of the Eco Injector and
checking Jak for results, but these were no longer regular. He could never
predict the amount of reports between them describing observations made of
Jak during whatever round of torture they put him through. There were rare
occasions when he would be taken from his cell during the night and
restrained against a wall in a chamber flooded with light, where he would be
kept during the next 6 hours, with no food or water and the only sound being
a recording of Praxis' voice. I thought
those were dreams. He had always been anaesthetised after such
treatment, as recorded in the notes. Then there was the sensory deprivation.
Jak read the meticulous details explaining what tubes had been inserted into
him, allowing him to remain under water for days. He remembered all too
vividly the uncomfortable tubes shoved down his nose, the force-feeding tube
in his mouth, the mask that covered his eyes, strangers stripping him naked
as if his clothes were a nuisance; he distinctly remembered how weak he
always felt after being pulled out of the water tank. It was specified that
to make sure the prisoner never climbed out of the tank, the wrists and
ankles were secured to flexible rods.
He then remembered the sensation of feeling weightless and unfocussed.
Alarmed, he noticed that whoever had observed him in the sensory deprivation
tank had taken photos of the helpless prisoner. In stunned fascination, Jak
stared at the images of himself taken in the UV light. One showed him
leaning his body very far to the right, while his neck arched backwards as
far as possible. Another showed him attempting to curl up. Jak blinked away
the tears he formed in his eyes. They soon became tears of anger as he read
the observer's cold comments: 'The
prisoner has had 3 nightmares so far. He thrashed around a lot and tried
to scream against the tube in his mouth.' They knew!
He gripped the folder and gritted his teeth as it fully dawned on him that
everyone had been fully aware of his suffering, but did nothing. Angrily, he
flicked through the folder, looking for all the notes on his time in the
sensory deprivation tank. He noticed that the shortest time he had been kept
in there was one day, with the longest being twelve.
Unwillingly, he relived those moments in the utter dark and complete
silence. He remembered struggling to escape a vivid nightmare, only to wake
up to darkness, silence, his scream strangled by the tube in his throat and
the supporting gag in his mouth. With his heart racing, he had grasped for
more air but those tubes in his nose were never enough; he had also panicked
at the thought they would fall out or dislodge, meaning he would be helpless
against the water that would fill his nose. This never happened. He
remembered his stomach rumbling and having no idea when the thick fluid
would inevitably enter his throat, always filling his stomach too heavily,
too fast, remorseless. Hunger. He suddenly questioned whether his scheduled
meal times in the cell had ever been ignored. He flicked through the pages
'Today I ordered the staff to cancel test
subject 104's lunch.' As written by Erol.
'I watched his activities, they were most fascinating. At first the
subject had attempted to ignore the problem, distracting himself with
exercise. He then relied on self restraint, willing to wait until the next
mealtime. Roughly one hour before his supper was delivered, he was
shouting obscenities at the door.' He remembered Praxis or Erol in
attendance when he was being filled with Eco by the Injector; at certain
times, they were the only people in attendance and Erol had been the
operator of the machine. They would sometimes suggest his next meal would
never be delivered. He also remembered sometimes waking up from a nightmare
to find himself restrained on the Injector bed. The machine would then be
activated soon after.
He found Erol's report of one particular day. 'First
thing this morning, subject 104 was brought out of the sensory deprivation
tank. As with the other occasions this has happened, his initial reaction
was of delirium and fatigue, after the compulsive shivering.' Jak
remembered that as well; every time he had been brought out of the tank, he
had felt the warm water being pulled away. He had always felt too weak to
resist the staff members who had removed the life support equipment from
him; when he had been unmasked, he was always initially blind (despite the
light level in the chamber being very low) and when the breathing tubes had
been pulled out of him, he had always taken shallow breaths as he had needed
to readjust to breathing naturally. 'He
had been fed before his removal from the tank, so he was immediately
brought to the Eco Injector for today's session. He was brought back to
the cell after the session had ended.' Erol then wrote a few notes
about the Eco Injection session of that day. 'I
have also checked the footage of the hidden camera in order to corroborate
what the Krimzon Guards reported, so what I am writing is honestly
accurate. Roughly one hour after returning him to his cell, the guards
heard a scream and a smash.'
The guards had tossed him half-heartedly against the bed, which he
currently leaned against, as he had no energy to rise from his kneeling
position. Weakened and shaking, he was desperate to bring his body under
control, willing it to halt its spasms. His head lay against the bed, his
mouth hanging open and slack. After a while, he realised he was calm; he was
breathing normally, the pain was no longer there, the muscles relaxed. He
still felt weak. Jak slowly raised his head to check the time on the monitor
in his cell. It wasn't a long wait until lunch. In the meantime, he felt
desperate to clean his teeth. He shifted his slack hands so that they lay
flat against the bed, allowing him to push himself up. Moving his legs to
stand from his kneeling position felt like a colossal challenge, but once he
was up, he panted and refused to bend his shaky knees. He carefully stepped
over to the sink; he proceeded to brush his teeth as if it were an ordinary
day. He realised he also needed to shave, to drink from the water flask,
comb his hair, take a toilet trip and wrap his bare wrists and feet in new
Brushing his teeth alone seemed to give him enough energy to do all those
things, but at an easy pace. He was determined to nap after his lunch.
Concentrating, he began applying the last set of bandages on his left wrist.
One of Praxis' many propaganda broadcasts began. "Citizens of Haven City!"
What little of a good mood Jak had, had completely evaporated in that
instant. He reminded himself of all the ways he had sworn he would torture
Praxis. As he wrapped his wrist, his dark, angry thoughts wondered if it
would be possible to destroy the monitor. The very possibility of destroying
it delighted his dark self, to the point of giddiness. "With the Metal Heads
soon vanquished, I will usher in the next great golden age of our famed
city! Where everyone can be truly happy, living free." He sneered. He was
convinced that statement was a terrible joke. He finished his wrapping.
He stood up slowly, jaw set, focussed on Praxis' image on the screen. He
stalked the device, creeping towards it, his anger growing all the time,
becoming a roar in his mind, growing ever louder and more deafening,
stampeding his awareness. Praxis grinned. Jak aimed.
'His hand had smashed straight through the
screen and had pulled out some
of the wires. The guards that had rushed in were taken aback by his
altered appearance.' Jak remembered feeling so triumphantly
dominant when the guards had stepped back from him. 'Having
checked the footage, I can confirm that his eyes had blackened, with his
hair and skin gaining a lighter pallor.' He now knew why the
guards had been so afraid. He remembered that they had stunned him with
their tasers as he had tried to attack them. The shock was of so much
voltage that he had been knocked unconscious, waking up to find bandages
covering most of his right hand. He also remembered that the damaged monitor
had been completely replaced by a steel sheet, fastened into place. As he
had relied on that monitor to tell him the date and time, he had lost the
means of keeping track.
'The subject will no longer be aware of
the time, providing us the opportunity to increase his levels of
delirium.' The next series of reports highlighted what Jak had
long suspected: for the final few weeks of his incarceration, he had barely
been in his cell. One week observed him being placed in a sensory
deprivation tank, then being taken straight to the Eco Injector, before
spending a few hours in the brightly lit chamber, then going back to the
sensory deprivation tank at the end of the day; for seven days straight this
cycle had been repeated. The components of his treatment were randomised; at
one point he had been sent back to the gas chamber, just to "test the impact
on his mental stress levels". No matter what situation Jak was put in, the
observations written always focused on one thing: his emotions. One
observation made was that Jak had become used to the pain he had experienced
under the Eco Injector, for the volume of his screams had decreased. Another
noted observation was that "the test subject" had been prone to crying while
in the water tank; in the last few weeks, this had occurred less frequently.
Erol wrote about the footage taken of Jak whenever he had slept in his cell:
his nightmares had increased in frequency, as well as his temper tantrums.
Jak had also become more resistant to his fortnightly shower, partly because
the intended purpose of the shower room was also as a torture device
(spraying the victim in either ice-cold or burning-hot water), which had
finally been implemented on Jak in those final weeks.
He read through these reports, faster and faster, horrified at the record of
his own mental degradation. 'Today's
session with the Eco Injector had been attended by Baron Praxis. After the
treatment, the test subject had been foaming at the mouth.' He was
shaking so much he could barely grip the pages to flick them. 'As
soon as he was lowered into the tank, his heartbeat shot up.' Part
of him was reliving the nightmares that plagued him to this day. 'Even
though he had been brought back to his cell earlier than usual, the test
subject remained agitated and could never get to sleep.' 'We
considered subjecting DW104 to sleep deprivation sessions again, but he
seems to have developed a form of insomnia.' 'The insomnia has passed, but
there remains the difficulty of the test subject displaying the reaction
necessary.' 'There was no transformation, but his tantrum did damage the
cell, few physical consequences were found.' 'The increase in the volume
of Dark Eco injected has caused the subject to faint at the end of each
He stared at the folder. He had run out of pages. He carefully read through
the last report, which was Erol writing his disappointment in the lack of
concrete results after nearly two years. He stared again, trying to
comprehend why the reports simply stopped.
They hated that I escaped.
Jak sat back against the sofa, exhausted, shocked and mind reeling.
by Ruth Hüneke 2013
Naughty Dog and Sony