The mechanic had told him about the elevator. The elevator leading up into the Baron's palace. It just wasn't working right now on account of being closed off from the eco grid. For anyone else, that might have been a problem. For someone with the right connections, though...
"Vin, buddy!" Jak called, walking onto the center platform of the power station. "I need a favour."
Vin startled. For a moment, Jak was afraid he was going to try to pull a gun again. "I-- I can't help you with your eco bill!"
Right. No shooting. On with the plan. "We need you to switch on the access elevator in one of the palace's support towers." His voice was low.
"Sheesh!" Vin flailed, bringing a hand up to his face. "That's part of the old B-zone power grid. It hasn't worked for years!" He waved his hands around to establish his point.
Oh, please. Jak knew Vin a little better than that. He shrugged his shoulders and turned away. "Well, if it's too hard for you, I understand," he said, considering the architecture of the back of the room. "Power stuff can be tricky."
Vin reacted exactly as expected. "Tricky?! Hmph!" He glared at Jak's back. "I can route the B-zone power conductor with the blah blah blah doohickey thing here button--"
... That's what Jak heard, anyway. Vin shot across the room, muttering nonsense, getting up on places, punching buttons, whatever. The only thing that mattered was that this was going to net Jak exactly what he wanted: an express ticket to the palace to punch a hole in Praxis's face.
"...and presto!" Vin hopped to the floor from the little swooping platform he'd been last seen on. "You got instant lift juice!"
Now that was more like the words Jak liked to hear. "Vin," he said, "You're a genius."
Vin rubbed the back of his head bashfully. "Actually," he said, "Mar was the genius. People said he made all of this stuff long ago. The shield wall system, the eco grid..." He shook his head. "Anyway, the only thing you have left to do is to activate all the old B-zone power boxes in the city."
"That doesn't sound so tough," Daxter said, grinning.
"No, except those power boxes are guarded by motion-sensing turbo cannons!" Vin took a moment to take a breather. "...but if you can blow them up, and activate the power boxes..."
Daxter shook his head a little. Don't do it, Jak. Don't do it.
Jak just grinned.
Getting the power boxes had been easy. And enjoyable. Nothing better than shooting some KG material sky-high. The eco under Jak's skin was thrumming again, anticipation this time, with the promise of a ready target. It was going to be a good night.
And if that meant having to ignore the look on Daxter's face as he rode up the elevator, so be it.
Getting to the palace itself wasn't easy: even from the service tower, it was a long, grueling track of turrets and narrow platforms just to get on close. Jak dedicated himself to it, took everything apart and clung on with both hands.
One last turret to go-- "WATCH IT, JAK!" --and he was there, safely secure on the outer edge of the palace. He scaled up onto the roof. Voices. He followed them down to the skylight.
It was the Baron. He'd recognize that voice everywhere. The eco in his skin tingled.
"...The eco will be transported directly to your nest as promised."
"A DEAL." That voice, on the other hand, wasn't human. Jak frowned. "IS OF NO VALUE IF YOU CAN'T DELIVER. I GROW IMPATIENT WITH YOUR PUNY GESTURES. GIVE ME THE AGREED UPON ECO SOON, OR OUR DEAL IS OFF. AND YOUR PRECIOUS CITY WILL PAY THE PRICE."
A splash of moisture hit Jak square on the back of his neck. It was raining. He wasn't paying any attention, not even when rivulets of water started to run down the window in front of him.
"He's toying with us!"
The second voice out of Jak's nightmares. "Errol," he whispered.
"Let me lead an assault on the Nest before it's too late! I can take it!"
"Patience, Commander," Praxis growled, "No one has ever penetrated the Metal Head Nest. You know that..." His voice had become hushed. "I've seen what comes of such foolish plans..." He trailed some fingers across the metal prosthetic skin on his face. "No, strength is their weakness. We will teach them to eat from our hands, and then..." He pulled away abruptly. "Continue with our plan! Tell Ashelin to up her patrols. I want that tomb found."
Errol backed up a step. "But your daughter has not been... agreeable," he said, and ducked his head.
The Baron growled under his breath. "I'll see to that problem," he said, finally, low, "One way or another..."
Jak's eyes had gone big, and he'd pushed himself a little further along the glass. "...Ashelin is the Baron's daughter," he said, faintly.
"And find that child," the Baron snapped. "If you spent half as much time looking for the little brat as you spent flirting with that mechanic girl, we would have pinned his royal ass to a wall long ago."
Errol bowed again. "...as you wish." He didn't sound too happy.
Jak leaned further...
... and then Daxter took a deep breath and sneezed, spraying mucus through the rain. Below, Errol spun around abruptly.
"WHAT WAS THAT?!"
Shit. Shit shit shit. He grabbed Daxter by the mouth and violently tore him away from the window, muffling him.
He climbed onto his feet and turned, Daxter still in his hands, and began to run. Down the roof on the other side - they didn't have the time to go the other route. They had to find a new one--
"So. We have a rat in the walls."
Jak froze. Turned around. And saw the Baron, safely ensconced in a large metal exoskeleton. Guns blazing. Ready for a fight.
He was going to get one.
"Or a rat and his boy, it seems," the Baron mused, his smile splitting his face. Jak felt the energy roaring underneath his skin, begging to be let out. Anger. "Back for a few more dark eco treatments? Well, allow me to put you both out of your misery!"
The Baron opened fire.
So did Jak.
It ended, as such things did, on a stalemate.
The Baron fled, his machine still smoking, with a promise on his breath that he could just as easily destroy what he'd made-- Jak.
Daxter leaned over Jak's shoulder and called an easy, "Whatever. Bye-bye."
And Jak... Jak was left with that unsatisfied anger in his skin, a crackle of dark eco, and a renewed sense of purpose. He placed his hands on the edge of the roof and stared after the Baron, silently swearing, over and over in his mind, I am going to see you dead before anything else.
Nothing else mattered, much.
When Jak returned to Freedom HQ, everyone was bustling around like something was up. Even the kid was there, cowering in the corner under Kor's watchful eye. It wasn't Kor's eye they were trying to catch, though. It was Torn's. And Torn did not look happy.
"The city's on high alert," Torn snarled, smashing a map with the sheer force of his fist on the table in front of him. "What the hell did you two do?!"
Daxter sprang forward, affecting his best innocent face. "....Uh, nothing! We just... went sightseeing," he tried, beaming. Yes, beaming. "Right, Jak?"
"Really." Torn poked Dax in the stomach. Hard. That got the smile off his face. "Then why are the Krimzon Guard looking for 'a dangerous young man with light hair, a blue tunic, and a rabid orange rat on his shoulder'?"
"Uh," Daxter tried, again, "...could be anyone. Orange is the new black this season."
Whatever. Jak really didn't care. "Look," he said, "We climbed up to the Baron's palace and we... tripped a few alarms."
"Oh, right," Dax said. He leapt to a good hiding spot. "That too."
"I didn't authorize a mission," Torn snapped. Oh, yeah, he was ticked off.
"We kicked the Baron's ass," Jak interjected, rolling his eyes. "Unfortunately, he escaped."
"And," Daxter threw onto the table, "We saw him having a secret meeting with the leader of the Metal Heads!"
"...You saw the Metal Head Leader?" Kor asked, his voice hushed. His eyes were big. Down at his feet, the little boy did roughly the same, except he seemed even more frightened. Yeah, Jak wasn't much of a kid-sitter.
"No, he was on some communicator," Jak said, shaking his head, "But we saw him talking to the Baron. He's bribing the Metal Heads with eco."
"It'll never be enough," Kor said, his brow steepling off into a heavy frown.
They briefed Kor and Torn on the rest of it pretty quickly. That wasn't the important point. It definitely didn't make Torn look any more pleasant, anyway, because the guy seemed to have a massive bone to pick with them right now.
"...There's armies of Metal Heads on the move in the desert right now," Kor said, thoughtfully. "The good Baron must have angered someone."
Yeah, whatever. Jak had a bone to pick, too, and as it stood, that one was all Torn's. "You didn't tell me Ashelin was the Baron's daughter," he snapped. "What's your connection to her?"
"That's none of your business!" Torn yelled, smashing his fist into the table. "Shut up. Since you've stirred up the wumpbee's nest, you and whiskers here get to shuttle a few of our people to their new safehouses. Move all of them without any casualties."
His upper lip curled up. "Don't screw this up, Jak. You've ruined enough already. We can only hope the damage doesn't get worse."
A night of no sleep, and everyone's tempers were up. Just Jak's favorite kind of playing field. He gave Torn a mocking salute with two fingers, turned on his feet, and went for the door.
[[ nfb, nfi, ooc-okay, taken from Jak 2: Renegade. I can't believe I'm almost done with this ]]