OF SLUGS AND SALVATION
Previously: Line in the Sand
Themesong: Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons
AN: Warning – HUGE RAGING SPOILERS for all three Bioshock games.
Know the big problem with lying on the ocean floor for years… once you get used to the crushing agony of the hunger? Oh god… the hunger. I was sustained, if you can call it that, by the cold, feeding me power enough to continue existing… but it did nothing to ease the desire to eat, even as it kept me from wasting away. Passive abilities still functioned, even for Devil Fruit Eaters. Brook the skeleton didn’t just die when he was underwater. Luffy didn’t stop stretching when he was underwater, as long as someone else did the pulling… and I didn’t stop sucking in the benthic chill that powered my most central defensive ability.
No, the most pressing problem wasn’t the agony, nor the immobility, nor the titanic weight of all that water, nor the darkness. It wasn’t even the boredom. I had centuries of stored media inside my memory palace… no. it was the loneliness.
I began to have conversations with passing fish… well, imagining having conversations. I couldn’t actually talk to them… or talk… or move. All I could do was… lay there, slowly being covered in sand and detritus and small ocean lifeforms that didn’t mind the cold.
And relentlessly, some part of my mind was counting down the seconds until the jump ended… and doing a piss poor job of it because I was going pretty much starkers with pain and isolation by the end of that period.
I wasn’t so much able to see the Pillars rise around me as feel it. I felt the lethargy and limpness leave my limbs and I ripped free of the seabed with a roar as my powers came flooding back into me. I lunged for the pillar marked “Move on!” with all my considerable might and hammered my fist into hard enough to shatter… my fist. I was in such exquisite agony that I didn’t even notice. Every part of my body sang with pain and my nervous system was on fire with it. You think the pain of missing a meal or two or three is bad… I’d missed thousands. Thousands.
I coughed, spat out a mouthful of muck, swallowed the rest of the muck in my throat, and gasped out, “Send me to…” I wanted to say the pantry… but instead did the sane thing “Medbay… and lock everyone flesh out of it.” I collapsed as I fell through the portal and crawled to the medpod. “VIvian… I need IV fluids, nutrients… and a constant feed of painkillers and liquid calories.”
In the next 20 days, I barely moved from the bed. Parts of my body had actively crystallized… my flesh and blood body… I’d been using my bodymod body for that jump and it had what can only be described as cysts of crystal metastable ice… everywhere. My entire gut bacteria… all the bacteria in my body in fact, had died. I couldn’t even eat food because I had nothing left with which to digest it. The medbay had to ween me back onto food even as it removed the strange growths and essentially rebuilt me all over again. I only needed one form that was pure ice, thank you. It was 22 days before I could even bring myself to see people, and I knew I looked horrible. Metavore was a wonderful perk… but it required having enough calories to work… I’d had none. No CHONFOOD for Metavore to synthesize into needed nutrients.
But I was on the mend, slowly. Well, okay, extremely rapidly… but I was like a vampire who’d been sealed in a sarcophagus for a century… I needed to feed. And my companions were just thrilled I wasn’t, you know… dead. They’d scoured the world for me, for some sign I was still alive… but they’d assumed that, if I was underwater, I was dead.
They’d begun to resign themselves to the idea that they might be trapped in One Piece, or at least one faction had. The others assumed that once the jump ended as normal they’d be going back to… wherever it was you went when the chain ended.
Enel had, apparently, decided to establish a religion dedicated to me, and didn’t that sound scary. I was going to miss the psycho bastard. I’d meant to invite him along… but then I’d gone for a swim and plans had changed. I’d have to go back to One Piece some day with some serious tech and do some social reconstruct… but for the time being, I was sick and tired of the ocean.
Finally, after six days of solid gorging on solid food… and ice cream, cheesecake, milkshakes, and every other megadose of calories I could cram into my maw, I wandered into the Arcade Chamber… pushing a fully loaded cart in front of me. It had an entire roast ham, a giant pot of beef and bean stew, enough tuna-noodle-casserole to choke a rhino, and 18 pounds of fudge. I called it afternoon tea.
With Mensarius looking faintly ill as I gorged myself, I thought to the room ~Sock it to me.~ Then shuddered as the word “BIOSHOCK!” appeared on the surround screen. A screen crawl in that distinctive font rolled up underneath it, telling me all about a setting I already knew waay too well.
“Welcome to Rapture, a Metropolis built on the bottom of the Atlantic! Founded by the Objectivist Billionaire, Andrew Ryan, Rapture is a city built with the greatest and the brightest in mind, a city where the artist would not need to fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small.
However, all is not perfect in this new eden. The nature of Objectivism has its downside in that it leaves the poor to their misery, and the psychologist and collectivist Sofia Lamb is beginning to stir up the lower classes against Ryan. On top of this, the Head of Fontaine Futuristics, Frank Fontaine, is up to something big, and his company’s discovery of the evolutionary miracle that is ‘Adam’ will probably play a large part in what’s to come. Your knowledge, skills, and powers might be enough to save this city from its downward spiral, but they might not be as reliable as you might think, for the events of the Future are not set in stone.
~Ah, Rapture, the Objectivist Paradise… soon to become the Anarchist Hell. Note to self, murder Fontaine… Lamb too, probably.~ I considered as I snarfed down my repast, glorying in the feel of food, the taste, the smell. I hadn’t had my mouth empty enough to talk since arriving in medbay, though originally it had been a feeding tube, but once I’d been on solid food it had been nothing but. I hadn’t slept in days. ~Talk to Ryan and educate him that a free market relies on people having funds to spend and having an unhappy permanent underclass is counterproductive, stirring up discontent. Reward innovation, but provide people something to believe in and work for, or they’ll turn to religion and anger every damned time. Mostly, just try and keep the city from imploding…~ I was considering things mostly at random, plans flickering across my conciousness. I wanted to save Rapture for a number of reasons. Part of me just wanted to see if it could be done, but the majority wanted to save Rapture because there were families down there, families with a lot of kids… and, from the fact you see exactly none of them in the game besides the Little Sisters… give you one guess as to what a bunch of insane psychopathic murderers did to the kids. I shuddered at the thought. ~When does this start?~
The screen flickered, neither gentleman speaking. The text said ‘Your Adventure Begins on New Year’s Day, 1953.’ I consulted my memory… that was five years before the beginning of the end, and about 5.5 years before Jack would arrive… if I didn’t disrupt that. ~Hell Elisabeth shouldn’t be here either… that’s worrying though… okay… can’t make assumptions. 5 years to get things running smoothly. I can do this. As the tagline says ‘The events of the Future are not set in stone.’ right?~ Neither Benefactor moved.
I flipped through the screens with my mind as I tucked into the fudge. I’d fallen out of the habit of talking to people… I’d have to remember how to do that. I handed some fudge to Soul of Ice who was seated next to me on a high stool, kicking her legs and making sure I didn’t lock her out again. She’d spent the last three weeks telling me all about the boringness of being stuck in the Arcade with these two bozos. Victoria just sulked as she had since I returned. Apparently she was feeling like pinnochio, like she wasn’t a real person since she had technological origins. The fact that Soul had been likewise banished didn’t make her feel any better. I sighed around some ham… oooo… haaaam… I love you haaam. Never leave me again. Where was I?
Oh… yeah… Starting location… did anyone ever pay for that? Why would anyone care where they start enough to squander points on it? And in Rapture? Seriously, all the 8 options could be accessed without more than a short bathysphere, monorail, or tram ride. They’re not even locked down at this time. Oh… it’s not even a pay to choose, it’s just Choose or Roll… well, that’s a bit better. At least that makes sense. I just click random and don’t bother checking the result.
The next section was, as usual, the ‘Background’ section, this time entitled ‘Origin’… ‘Along with your new age and choice of gender, you may choose a new identity. This is more than some paperwork or a disguise however, as you gain all the memories your persona has.’ the screen said. ‘You will still need to find a job, however.’
Well, well, well. That was interesting. For the first time, it specifically said that the persona I gained would conflict with my underlying personality. That was new. ~Well then… I guess I shall be taking drop-In… huh… no drop in… Businessman, Soldier, Specialist, Laborer. Businessman is… let’s see… half politician half desk jockey… specialist is science, art, medicine, musician… soldier is… well.. Duh… Oh… Laborer is the drop-in… no memories other than your own. Missed that… comes with poor living conditions, poor pay. Okay, well then. Let’s go with that. Bonus, it’s free. Huh. they are so often… If I was structuring this, I think I’d charge Jumpers to stay themselves. Guess that’s why I’m the Jumper and not the Banker, right?~
That got a chuckle from the Banker, and a glower from Mensarius.
~Let’s see. Laborers get Endurance for Free, that’s a self explanatory boost to, duh, endurance. They gain a discount on “Advanced Processing” which is the ability to process things on the fly… which I guess is nice, but I have a quantum computer for a brain… at least when computers are a thing that exists… Still… I’ll think about it… and “Willpower”… “Easily shrug off almost all pain and urges, whatever they may be.” Paaain baaad… Okay… that’s worth [300/700/1000].~
I read through the other perk-trees… Specialists got training in a craft, genius in a field of study, and a creativity boost. Meh. Businessmen got accounting (ewwww), business savvy (le sigh), and charisma… ahaahah… that’s cute… not a bad choice, and the price wasn’t bad… but Charisma lets you persuade people to agree with your opinions… Tongue of the Shepherd from Mass Effect allows me to talk people into killing themselves… and I’ve got another half dozen high power charisma, leadership, and social engineering perks to back it up. Soldier… got a bunch of Plasmids and Tonics… ~Can’t I just hunt these down and buy them or steal them… they’re commercially available in the city…?~ I asked the room at large, even as I thought ~Plus, they’re hideously unsafe to use, mutating the body and corrupting the mind of those who used them.~
There was even a warning label that said “BEFORE YOU CHOOSE THIS OPTION, BE AWARE THAT ADAM, THANKS TO THE SAME PROPERTIES THAT GIVE IT ITS POWER, ALSO CAUSES A VARIETY OF MUTATIONS, RANGING FROM DEFORMITY TO CANCER. IT CAN ALSO CAUSE SCHIZOPHRENIA, AS IT STORES THE MEMORIES OF ALL IT HAS PASSED THROUGH. FURTHERMORE, ADAM IS ADDICTIVE AND IF YOU DON’T SPLICE REGULARLY, YOUR BODY WILL BEGIN TO SHUT DOWN. THE MORE YOU SPLICE, HOWEVER, THE MORE ADAM YOU WILL NEED TO PUT INTO YOUR BODY TO KEEP IT GOING.”
“Jesus, fucking, Thor,” I muttered aloud. “Why would anyone sane put this shit into their body actively knowing that. This is even more fucked up than Devil Fruit. SJ no want.”
“Oh. You’ll want them. I promise you that,” Mensarius sneered.
“Why?” I narrowed my eyes in suspicion. I’d hoped I’d heard the last of Mensarius… but apparently he was here for good, his unsanctioned presence still there on my couch, mocking the Banker at every turn. An option was flashing on the screen “Friends in Wet Places”. I blinked at that, then sighed and tapped the flashing Question Mark beneath it with my mind.
“It’s no fun if you just brutalize everyone and bend them to your will. No God Mode for you. But, if you take this option, you can import up to 8 of your companions to Rapture.”
“You’re tempting me, trying to corrupt the paradigm. What do you get out of this.”
“Amusement. And screwing with him.”
“I’m sure. But I’m not certain that letting you use me to screw with my benefactor is a great idea.”
The Banker chuckled “No. Feel free. He might be an arse of cosmic proportions… but he’s right. Go ahead. But you can’t leave the city. No running to the surface and leaving Rapture to itself.”
“I’m not sure you two agreeing on anything is at all safe for me, or the cosmos… when you say the city, can I go outside into the water?”
“Aha… sure. If you can conquer your fear of the water,” Mensarius sneered.
“What fear of the water? I wasn’t afraid of the water last time. Just because I spent a few months lying at the bottom of the ocean unable to move doesn’t mean I’m scared of the water.” I snarled.
“Naw… I think you’re scarred… Psychologically. It’s got to leave a mark,” the odious worm in the sleazy suit said.
I leaned back, grabbed some tuna-mac, and chewed it slowly, then shook my head. “I don’t think so.”
“Oh, no… I insist. Why don’t you take Hydrophobia?” The Banker said, trying to sound reasonable. “I’ll give you 200 CP if you do.”
“Hydrobia is rabies. You want me to take a highly contagious and extremely lethal disease?”
“What’s the fear of water then,” Mensarius asked?
“If you mean the fear of being in water, you mean Aquaphobia or, since this is the ocean, Thalassophobia.”
“Okay, yes. That,” he waved his hand and the text on the screen changed.
“Aquaphobia… in a city at the bottom of the ocean.” My voice was as full of scorn as my stomach was of ham and fudge.
“It’s usually quite dry.” The CP man assured me. “Don’t worry, you won’t be afraid of drinking water… just of drowning.”
“I have willpower up the wazzoo.”
“Won’t help,” Mensarius snarked.
“Ah… nerfing my willpower for your chuckles.”
“Not nerfing… just ruling that it doesn’t apply to stop you from experiencing the fear.” The Banker assured me. “You can still use it to keep from reacting to the fear.”
“So my experiencing near constant terror and unease will make you happy?”
“If it throws you off your game, influences your behavior, yes.”
I ground my teeth, then growled, “Fine. So, how many CP do my companions get if I agree to stay in the city and not go ‘God Mode’?”
The two entities glanced at it each other, then the screen flashed, and Mensarius was holding out a laser pointer as the screen displayed three options. Level 1 was the most minor, taking away all my spiritual powers, meaning I’d have to be corporeal and couldn’t speak the truth and have it automatically be believed. It would also strip me of my bending abilities and my magic, as well as my third eye. It got my companions 200 CP and a free origin. Level 2 was the middle ground. It took away all my super human abilities, including my psychic powers besides my Astral Layers and Mental Palace since I couldn’t use those against others. It got my companions 400 CP. Level 3 locked my warehouse and space dock away but got my friends 600 CP. I wasn’t certain what I’d do with a spaceship in Rapture since I couldn’t go anywhere…
Could I handle the darkness and psychological horror of life in Rapture without going mad… could I risk a chance to save the city under the sea simply because I wanted my friends and family to benefit? I had the screen show me the others in the main room, looking worried, but giving me space as usual. Zane looked up at the point of projection, as if sensing my presence and my question, then shook his head.
He was, of course, right. Mensarius was playing me, playing on my love of my companions and my love of challenge. Not this time. Screw him and screw his games. Nothing in the world of Bioshock was worth risking the innocents of the city.
“Bite me, you bastards… both of you. The prize here is, maybe, the powers of the Plasmids and Tonics… and those can be had for a price other than CP. Fine, I’ll take your Aquaphobia… fear only has power if I let it. And I’ll bring my companions through the traditional way, and we’ll drag the city into righteousness. And if I want to take the kids and others to the surface to save them, that’s what I’ll do. So take your offer and shove it very much.”
“Spoilsport,” grumped the Banker.
“Coward,” sneered Mensarius.
“Do I look like I’m a 13 year old boy? Or are you going to tell me that any Plasmids or Tonics won’t work after the jump if I don’t buy them with CP? Because Jeremiah Fuck-You-Kindly Fink is not smarter than me. If he could invent Vigors that Suchong hadn’t, I can do it too, and do it better. You two chuckle fucks wanna reconsider letting me get my hands on the technology?”
They didn’t respond.
“And I know you dipshits well enough to already guess that after the end of the ten years are up the side effects of Adam are going to be revoked anyway, right?”
“She knows you too well.” Mensarius mocked.
“We have a working relationship,” the Banker replied dryly.
“Yes. You’re a bastard, and Mensarius is a bigger bastard.” I snarked.
“Yesss… let your anger-”
“Shut up you.” I pointed a finger at Mensarius’s image, freezing it solid. The Banker laughed. “And you… If I buy these horrible mutations in a bottle… are they in any way better than the storebought versions I can get from a Gatherer’s Garden ?”
“Wow. you sound certain. In what way?”
“You get automatic upgrades when those upgrades are invented over the course of the decade.”
“Soo… if I shoot Suchong and Fontaine on day one? They don’t upgrade?”
“Yes. If you kill the source of the creation of Plasmid or Tonic before they exist, you can’t buy them in the Garden.”
“What if I invent them myself?”
“Look, instead of giving me a bullshit choice of plasmids to buy… which, at a glance, doesn’t even include all those available in the game… why not sell me the science of it. Can I be a genius of making the damned things? That’s the same 600 as buying the largest Adam Pack, right? A pack that doesn’t even include all the ones on offer in the jump.”
“Well… I… Sure.”
“Excellent. Then I’ll take that Drawback I see over there that makes all the mutations significantly increased in severity and frequency, while making all my plasmids and tonics more powerful. I’ll just not splice at all. Free points and all the plasmids and tonics I make will be more powerful.”
“It’s called ‘Adaptation’, Mensarius growled. ‘And that’s not the intent of the Drawback!”
“Hey, you people worded it that way… Mutations are of significantly increased severity and frequency. On the upside, all your plasmids and tonics are more powerful.” I read off the screen.
“So you’re willing to say that your plasmids and tonics are more mutative, but more powerful?”
“Yes. That’s a fair trade. Nothing says I have to give them out to anyone. Free points.”
Word to the wise… never assume you’re getting something over on the omnipotent. Very much don’t rub it in. Of course, I’d just done it to not one but two and the rat bastards screwed me. Twice. But I’ll get to that later.
I had 1400 points with the enforced drawback and the apparently cheesed drawback. Willpower and Savant Genius had cost me 900, and I added Advanced Processing (faster processing speed) for  and Intuition (Ideas come more easily and more often) for another . Which left me with 50.
I skipped the tonics and plasmids, going right to items. As a Laborer, I got a Welding Torch and a Wrench free. There were no companion import options… the game is very solo and isolating… and its first sequel sucks… but hopefully I’d be able to head both them off.
“Wow… what a bunch of junk. Can I spend my last 50 on getting a seaslug?”
“What, as a pet? You can just grab one from the sea floor or one of the labs.”
“Yes. A CP backed Adam Seaslug pet. That means it’ll be immortal without us having to whip up some immortality potion for it.”
“Yeah, sure. Go for it.”
And there I made a second itty bitty mistake that was going to come back to bite me. Very very soon. In the meantime, I decided the grotesque thing would be called “Freelancer” for a reason I wasn’t sure I understood myself. Somehow it seemed right… Sluggy the Freelancer. Huh. Probably an in-joke of some kind. I’d worry about it after eating another dozen or so meals in the next few days.
Something was very… very wrong. The table was absolutely the wrong height. It was much too tall. Everything was much too tall… and there was fading laughter behind me.
“Ah. There is girl. Hello?” said Dr. Suchong. I jerked, looking up at the man. He was a giant… no… wait… I looked at my hands. They were tiny… and greyish. Oooo… for the sake of fuck… I was a Little SISTER! Ho… I’d spun the wheel of aging right before I’d entered the jump… it had numbers 1 through 8 on it and a +21 in the center. It had landed on 7… I should be 28.
I froze the doctor in slow time and walked back into the warehouse through the metal stanchion of the table, growling, “What the fuuuck?”
“You asked for a Slug,” came the Banker’s reply. I glared, then glanced at the wheel of time… in tiny letters beneath the +21 someone had etched “seasons”. So I was 7 years old… 28 seasons. “Youuuuu bastard. I got points back for this shit in Railgun.”
“You were stuck as a little girl then. Now you just have to grow up a bit.”
“A bit? Little Sisters become Big Sisters… Big Sisters are fucking huuuge. And unbalanced as hell.”
“So are some of your mature female forms.”
“Yes? Which I seem to be having trouble shifting into. Any idea why?”
“Well, if you shifted, where would Freelancer go?”
“I hate you so much right now… How am I supposed to freaking get anyone to listen to me as a Little Sister?”
“Not my problem.”
“You’re lucky I need you or I’d be stabbing you many many times right now.”
“Speaking of which, you should check your sword.”
With a sick feeling of dread, I summoned Soul of Ice to me… and flinched. She was transformed as well… locked into the form of a Little Sister’s Adam Harvesting needle.
“Ha… ha… ha… these things don’t even exist yet. The Little Sisters won’t be used in this way until the civil war begins. Are there even Little Sisters yet? I mean, the first Plasmids came out… what… in June, 1952? They’re barely a year and a half old? Adam can’t be in short supply already.”
“A bit before that, but you were the first…”
“To survive the process.”
“I hate you.”
“You wanted to be a Savant Genius and have a slug. Oh. You’re not allowed to kill anything unless you use that… or plasmids. Mensarius was right. You want to save lives… save them all.”
“That’s it. Stabbing time.”
It was childish… but I was a little upset. Unfortunately, the hologram of the Banker was immune to damage, so I had to settle for screaming in inchoate rage for a while instead. Wow… childish temper tantrums… that felt surprisingly good. I took a few deep breaths and walked back out of the warehouse.
I looked at the good Dr. Sure, sure… he was an amoral jagoff… but he was a product of his times, a survivor of the Japanese invasion of China (though he was Korean), and being amoral made him practically saintly by comparison to some of the scum in Rapture. He could be invaluable… as a puppet. I also needed Fontaine to survive for a while as well… though I had to get close to him… where were my agents?
Leaving Suchong still slowed to the point where blinking would take him well over an hour, I contacted Ahab and Joy. “Are you two free to join me?” Joy wasn’t. She was in Minerva’s Den, apparently having appeared in Reed Wahl’s outer office, awaiting an interview. I told her to get the job, as he was one of the people we needed to keep an eye on, and Minerva’s Den was crucial to controlling the city… and I had absolutely no illusions that I was going to have to do exactly that if I was going to save Rapture from itself.
Ahab looked down at me when he came through the new Warehouse Portal. “Well… that’s not creepy. What the hell is wrong with your skin?”
“I’m a little sister,” I said, cringing a little at the very slight lisp my developing palate was causing.
He chuckled. “I can see that. What does being someone’s sister have to do with anything?”
“Shit… that’s right.” I palmed my forehead in the time honored ‘doh!’ motion. “I didn’t give you guys the lowdown on this Verse. You might want to grab a seat, this might take a while.”
He did, and I studied his outfit. He was dressed in simple garb, but held himself like a soldier; a little stiff, with shadows under the eyes. Of course, this was Ahab, veteran of a frankly silly number of wars, but he hadn’t been in the body long enough for his over-arching mannerisms to counter the body’s native inclinations. This body, the local incarnation of Ahab Bahs, or whatever his name was, had been a soldier. Then again, this was 1953… the likelihood of any adult male being a soldier was fairly high… and higher than at any other time in human history.
“Welcome to Rapture. We’re at the bottom of the Ocean,” I began. “But seriously. There is a Man, a City, a Lighthouse. Those are constants. So, it seems, is chaos. This isn’t just one world. It’s a nearly infinite number of parallel worlds. We’re in a very specific one of those parallels, the one where, in just under 5 years, a young woman named Elizabeth will arrive… through a rip in spacetime called a Tear. She will come here because this is the only parallel to which a man named Zachary Hale Comstock has come, also through such a Tear.”
“Okaay. I don’t know how you know all that… but what was that about a Man and a City? Is the Man this Comstock?”
“Heh. Maybe yes, maybe no. But he’s not the Man for Rapture.” I sighed. “I’ll start at the beginning. First, I love this setting… as a setting. There were three incredible games… even if the second disappointed me in several ways, any objective analysis of it would say it was great, if judged on its own merits. That it wasn’t, quite, a worthy successor to the first was unfortunate, but the gameplay itself was actually an improvement, though more on rails with less exploration and more combat. The third game struck a nice balance between the two elements, and was also flawed, but that’s not going to help us. It does however explain why, of all the settings we’ve been to, I’ve got such encyclopedic memory of this place. I’ve played all three games, the first and third multiple times. I’ve trolled the wiki and read analysis pieces. I’ve watched playthroughs and watched interviews. I loved these games. And I haaaate the events that happened with a purple passion.”
“Oh, dear. Zombies?”
“Yeah… kinda. It’s complex. First thing’s first. This city was founded by a Russian-born American Industrialist named Andrew Ryan… Andrei Rayanovsky… born near Minsk in 1911. Jewish. His family fled Soviet Russia in 1919, but the horrors of the Russian Revolution formed the core of Andrew’s world view… in exactly the same way they did for Ayn Rand, of whom he is a genderswapped Expy. In fact, he is essentially a fusion of Rand herself and the deuteragonists of Atlas Shrugged, Hank Rearden and John Galt. Ryan, a largely selfmade man, built a vast fortune in pre-depression america, but following the creation of the New-Deal, he became disillusioned by what he viewed as the rise of Socialism and Collectivism in the US, seeing people who didn’t deserve it, who he called ‘Parasites’, being supported by the work of others.
He is, at his core, a horrible person. As an example, he owned some woodlands that the government attempted to nationalize as parkland. He burned it to the ground rather than hand it over. After the destruction of Hiroshima, he’d had enough. Science and hard work had, in his eyes, become perverted into a weapon by which the Parasites could destroy anything they could not seize by force of arms.
To escape that world, he decided to build Rapture, a city where, in his own words “the artist would not fear the censor, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality, where the great would not be constrained by the small”… and where there would be “No Gods or Kings, Only Man”… yes, I know.” I saw Ahab’s smirk at the mention of the name of my most useful ability. “Rapture was built, at the cost of Ryan’s entire fortune, at a secret location deep in the North Atlantic. He was 35 when the city became habitable and he filled it with the best and the brightest… and for a time it was everything he dreamed it would be. Free and prosperous, innovative beyond belief, and secure from the chaos of the surface world. All that will begin to fail over the next few years.”
“Why? This ADAM stuff?” he pulled a bottle of Teleportation out of his valise, looking it over. “Doesn’t look like much.”
“Did you read the warning?”
“Oh. Yeah. I guess. Seemed interesting nonetheless. The badstuff will wear off in a decade, right?” He had a point, so I nodded.
“Okay, yes. As close as I can peg it, about three, three-and-a-half years ago, a scientist named Brigid Tenenbaum made a discovery that would change everything. Brigid is survivor of Auschwitz, also from the Minsk area, also Jewish, though of German descent, high functioning Autist… brilliant mind. I look forward to meeting her, and, if I can convince her to come along I will. She came to Rapture in 1946, right around the time the first phase of construction was complete, and at some point after that discovered the restorative properties of a certain sea slug native to these waters.
The story goes that a smuggler of her acquaintance, one with crippled hands, had seen his hands restored to full functionality after being bitten by said slug. Intrigued, Dr. Tenenbaum… whose title is completely honorific… extracted a substance from the slugs that could heal damaged cells, even going so far as to resurrect dead ones. She dubbed it ADAM and realized that it could allow others to manipulate their own DNA… to, in the vernacular, ‘Splice’.
After being turned away by all the reputable research facilities, she got funding from one Frank Fontaine, owner of Fontaine Fisheries, and together with him, they created Plasmids, which grant the splicer what can only be described as superpowers, and Gene Tonics, which grant the splicer passive abilities such as damage resistance, greater analytic powers, clearer thought, and more. They also set out to mass-produce the ADAM needed to market these things to the people, but ran into some trouble as the slugs didn’t produce enough ADAM naturally to make that a possibility.
So, being the unethical folks they are, they turned to implanting the slugs into human hosts… and discovered that the only hosts capable of producing sufficient amounts were,” I guestured to my body, “little girls… subsequently dubbed ‘Little Sisters’. According to Suchong’s memories,” I pointed to the statue-like figure looming over the room like a scarecrow, “I was implanted with this thing 17 months ago and am an orphan. Right now, all the Little Sisters are Orphans… but that will change as demand for ADAM grows… because, as Dr. T will discover soon enough, ADAM is extremely addictive and must be taken regularly to avoid the rather severe side-effects of withdrawal. And, unfortunately, like most addictive substances, the need increases as you continue splicing, as do the mutative side effects. It causes deterioration of both physical and mental capacities.”
“And they kept selling it anyway?” Ahab looked aghast.
“Awww… is the big bad super spy amazed by the depths of human amorality? Tenenbaum didn’t care, at least at first, and Fontaine is a sociopath who eventually went full psycho. He’s the primary antagonist of the first game and the major driving force of the rebellion that brings Rapture down from the inside. He wants absolute control over the city.”
“I assume he’s our first target?”
“He is, but not to kill. I want to use him and his smuggling operation to save the city, and I have no qualms about forcing him to dance to my tune. I need him to put pressure on Ryan, so that I can push Ryan into implementing constructive change. I have to show him that Objectivism and Collectivism need to be balanced in order for a society to function. Enlightened Self Interest should do the trick, as long as I can keep his own personal neurosis from getting out of hand.”
“You think you can do it?”
“Eh. If I can’t, we all swim. Well, okay, I don’t. I have a massive fear of the water at the moment.”
“Uh… we’re under water.”
“Oh. I know. Trust me, I know. Freaking Banker.”
“Okay, so… what does Elizabeth and Comstock have to do with all this?”
“Right, so, I said there was a Man and a City… well… there are actually two Men, two cities.”
“Columbia. Just as Rapture is beneath the waves, Columbia is above the clouds. It’s a flying city. With it’s own Fontaine… Fink. It’s own Suchong and Tenenbaum… the Luteces… it’s own Atlas… he’s a local revolutionary leader who’s more than he seems. Daisy Fitzroy is his counterpart. His more than he seems is that he’s actually Fontaine in disguise. Her more than she seems is that she seems ruthless but is actually a martyr.
The theme of Bioshock is Self-Determination. The choice to be good or bad, the choice to save or destroy. The Arc Words are ‘A Man Chooses’ and ‘Would You Kindly’… though the second hides the illusion of choice, though we the player do not know it. In a few years time, Ryan’s mistress will become pregnant and, spoiler time, dun dun dun… Tenenbaum and Fontaine will acquire the fetus and use MAAAAD science to accelerate and condition the resulting young man into a weapon against his father. They’ll implant two commands into his consciousness. WYK makes him do whatever is asked of him, tested by forcing him to kill his puppy.”
I kicked the immobile Suchong for that one, then continued. “And Code Yellow, which is a self-termination command.”
“Those don’t work!” Ahab sputtered.
“Normally, no. This one causes the victim’s heart to eventually stop beating. It’s not a sucide command, so much as a fuck up your autonomic system so bad your conscious mind can’t save you from yourself.”
“So… why do you want to save any of these people? Ryan’s the worst kind of industrialist and a self-centered egotist from what it sounds like?”
I nodded. “You forgot raging hypocrite, power-mad, and tyrannical. His horrible managment allows the rise of Fontaine and the creation of an underclass leads to the rise of Atlas’s rebellion. His growing police-state tactics destroy his city. And his total immorality just makes everything so much worse.”
“Lovely. Suchong is a monster, Tenenbaum sounds worse, and this Fontaine character sounds like he should be shot on sight. I don’t know about Comstock or Elizabeth… are they okay?”
“Comstock, who will be calling himself Booker DeWitt, is a mass murderer, war criminal, massive racist, and religious fanatic… also, he’s mean to kids.”
“She murdered her own father.”
“Eh. I think you said that last to shock me. Did he deserve it?”
“Hah. Yes and no. First off, Elizabeth is Comstock’s daughter… and also Booker’s daughter, since before Comstock was Comstock, he was Booker and she was Anna. And before you go thinking… whatever, it’s sooo much more complicated than that.”
“Would I understand if you explained slowly, using small words?” my senior wetworks agent asked (Joy is my senior information agent), sounding extra snarky.
“I… am not sure. It has to do with Quantum Time and the Many Worlds theory.”
“Oh. Uh… I’ll try and follow along then,” he said, suddenly serious.
“Booker DeWitt was a US cavalry man at the battle of Wounded Knee, where he slaughtered a great many Native Americans, all to prove to the men of his regiment that he wasn’t actually part Indian himself. Of course, he was, and it didn’t work, as his compatriots took to calling him “The White Injun” because of it, though they did see him as a heroic figure.
However, Booker was filled will a sense of shame and regret over his actions and sought redemption. He attended a river baptism, common in the preindustrial US and there he either did or did not accept baptism and absolution.”
“Did or Did not? How can someone do both?”
“Quantum Time. Many Worlds. But this choice was important enough that it caused a major vergence in probability. The two Bookers emerged from that event, each in his own timeline. In the one where Booker went into the water, Zachary Hale Comstock emerged. Washed of all his sins, he went on to become a monster. In the one where Booker rejected absolution, he went on to become a drunk, a gambler, and a loser.”
“And he’s the hero?”
“Booker? He’s a tragic figure, and a giant fuck up… and things only get worse… but let me go back to Comstock. Comstock, now deeply religious, became highly influential in the US Government, and went on to found an ultra-nationalist party called ‘The Founders’, who would in turn, thanks to the help of Rosalind Lutece, a brilliant scientist, create the flying city of Columbia. Comstock, now known as Father Comstock, was convinced that the US was ‘The New Eden’ and that the Founding Fathers were prophets of ‘God’s Great Plan’… a plan in which the White man was the only race that deserved true freedom and that all other races were unworthy and lesser, including the Irish.
He too became disillusioned with the US, though it wasn’t a bomb this time but Abraham Lincoln, who he called ‘The Great Apostate’ and who Comstock blamed for bringing war and death to ‘Eden’. He began to distance Columbia from the rest of the US.
In the early 1890’s Lutece, whose Lutece Field and Lutece Particle allowed Columbia to float through the sky, succeeded in creating the first Tears between realities. She made contact with a male version of herself, Robert, who was doing the same experiment and invited him into her universe… though she needed increased funding to make the transferal a reality.”
“She took the news to Comstock, didn’t she?”
“Indeedy. Right you are. He used the Tears to peer into other realities, believing they could give him insight into the future. With the additional funding, the two Luteces were united in the same reality, and Comstock became “The Prophet”, guiding his people with visions that helped protect them from their enemies. He also shared the technology of the Tears with the industrialist and inventor ‘Jeremiah Fink’, who would peer into Columbia and steal Suchong’s Plasmid research to make Vigors… though I’ve no idea where he got the ADAM for it, the lore just says he sent people to the Atlantic to find the slugs… but there are no Little Sisters in Columbia. Vigors are just like Plasmids, except taken orally, instead of injected. There were also oral Plasmids, but that requires greater amounts of ADAM… and so injection Vigors were later invented.”
“So both cities had a jackass in charge, a lunatic scientist or two, and an industrialist peddling mutation and madness in a bottle?”
“Yup… but Comstock wasn’t an isolationist like Ryan. Columbia was a global symbol of american ideology and was sent all around the world on a goodwill tour. Which ended in disaster, of course. They were in… over Beijing in 1901,” Ahab tilted his head, then his eyes opened wide as he remembered the Boxer Rebellion. “Yeah… Comstock opened fire on the Chinese populace. No one had realized that Columbia was a giant flying warship… but the secret was out. The US Government disavowed Columbia and Comstock and tried to recall him to stand trial. Instead, he and the city seceded and disappeared.”
“Groovy. Where does Annabeth enter this?”
“Well, Comstock’s visions had shown him that Columbia would only prosper as long as his bloodline ruled the roost, as it were. No problem there, he thought, I’ll just knock up my good lady wife… except that his overuse of the Tears had not only aged him rapidly, it had rendered him sterile.”
“Ah… so he kidnapped the daughter of his other self? This Booker?”
“Kidnapped… yes… and no. He saw that Booker, who’s wife, Annabelle, had died in childbirth, had succumbed to drink and had massive gambling debts. He sent the Luteces with a message “Bring us the Girl, Wipe away the Debt”.”
“Those sound like Arc Words.”
“Very astute. Yes. They are. Booker sold Anna… and then realized what he’d done and tried to take her back at the last possible second. This produced two different reactions.”
“I’m getting a headache.”
“Yeah… well, hold on… it’s going to get worse. See, in almost all the timelines, the Tear closed on part of Anna’s body. In all but one, it was her pinky, cutting off the tip of it and allowing Anna, now renamed Elizabeth, to create Tears of her own.”
“And in that last one?”
“It cut off her head.”
“No. it killed her very very dead. But that Comstock was horrified and ran away, becoming Booker DeWitt of Rapture and trying to hide from his past. That was 1893, but all the other Bookers and Comstocks though weren’t done with each other. Years later, in 1912, the Luteces, having been murdered by Fink (on Comstock’s orders), back in 1909, contacted at least 41 Bookers to bring him to Columbia… though, and here’s where things get really headache inducing… passing through a Tear into another universe fucks up your memories, because you’re not native to that universe and your memories are all wrong. So these Bookers forgot about Anna, though each of them had carved the initials AD onto the backs of their hands, and did remember the Arc Words. So they went looking for Elizabeth, not knowing she was Anna.”
“My head… paaain. How did they do all this despite being murdered?”
“Yuh. I know. I know… and the answer is they’d been scattered across time and space, ghosts in the cosmic cogs. Roslind was fine as long as she could stay with Robert, but he wanted to fix Columbia, so they did what they did and the rest is quantum history.”
“Okay, faaast forwarding. Bookers come to Columbia, most of them get killed, one of the eventually finds and rescues Elizabeth from a giant-angel shaped tower where she’s been imprisoned and experimented on for years. He also rescues her from her giant flying protector, Song-Bird… and yes, he’s based on the same tech as the Big Daddies who built Rapture and who will eventually serve as protectors to Little Sisters. She in turn revives him each time he’s injured or killed by manipulating Tears to get supplies… or even new Bookers.”
“I’m just going to curl up in a corner and cry now… please, continue.”
“Booker and Elizabeth eventually make it to Comstock… having passed through several parallel worlds where Columbia is in varying stages of meltdown into open rebellion… Eventually Elizabeth and Booker are separated and Elizabeth’s final action is to send Booker forward into the future where she has been brainwashed by Comstock into becoming his successor and is now, in 1984, bombing the city of New York, drowning in flames the mountains of man. That future Elizabeth sends Booker back to rescue her younger self… and then Booker murders Comstock by smashing his head into a Baptismal Font… and remembers everything.”
“This is going to get worse, isn’t it?”
“Yes. Now that the duo is free of Columbia, and the device blocking most of Elizabeth’s powers, called the Siphon, is destroyed, she transports them both to Rapture. She reveals that she now can see into infinite worlds, percieve all alternate realities at once… and that Comstock isn’t truely dead, because in countless other worlds he’s still alive.”
“I think I’m going to throw up.” I looked at him… he was visibly shaking and his nose was bleeding. That shouldn’t be happening, I thought. Part of me wanted to stop, but I had to see how far this could go. I had to know just how serious the issue was, and was reasonable certain that Ahab would be fine… if nothing else, I could get him into the Medbay. Was he having this problem because this body of his had native memories?
“Hold fast. Just listen. This is important. Elizabeth guides Booker through a series of lighthouses, both the Columbia one and the Rapture one. One has an elevator that goes down, the other a cannon that launches you skyward, but they’re both the entrypoint to their respective city. She explains everything and Booker blames Comstock for everything and says that they need to go back and smother Comstock in the crib. She agrees, and takes him to the moment Comstock was born. Everything is finally revealed and Booker understands that he is Comstock.
He accepts baptism this time, and many Elizabeths from an increasing number of realities appear and hold him under, drowning, one by one, all possible Comstocks… besides the one where Anna was dead and thus could not appear to drown her own Comstock. Thus, one by one, those Elizabeths too disappear as Quantum Time collapses.”
“Oh… god… wh… what’s happening?” Ahab asked, looking confused now, dazed.
I pressed on, rushing a bit. “But Booker still lived, and Anna still lived, because there was no Comstock to interrupt their existence… and one Comstock and one Elizabeth still existed as well, though each from their own timeline. A Comstock with no Elizabeth to kill him and an Elizabeth who had been set free by the only Booker to accept baptism… and they both end up here… and, unless something happens, they’ll both die here and seal off that timeline forever… and doom Rapture in the process.”
The only response was Ahab being violently ill.
“And I’m going to change all that.” The world rippled, shuddered, and, for some reason, the chair Ahab was sitting in wasn’t there any more. “That was odd.” I commented as he fell to the floor, blinking.
“Uh… what the hell just happened?”
“I think… tell me, do you remember any of your past in this world?”
“N… yes… several… there… there… too many memories… there was a city called Columbia and no World Wars… and there wasn’t and there were two… how?”
“Ah. Gotcha. Anyway. Quantum Time… I’m betting that only I and Elizabeth can cope with it… maybe the others from the Warehouse who haven’t been infected by this world’s timelines. Now… unless you’ve got other questions… let’s go save a city.”
Ahab looked like he had many, but also like he realized that asking them might make him unwell again. And I’d come to realize that the universe was going to actively resist my attempts to change things. Well, fuuuck you, Mr. Universe!
Using Suchong as my “adult protector”, I got him to take me round to call on Tenenbaum and used her to get me see Fontaine and Ryan. They were all the elites of the city, and I manipulated them all. Sander Cohen, Ryan’s chief Propagandist and Fort Frolic’s Artist in Chief, I convinced to avoid Splicing on the grounds that it would impair his artistic genius. Fontaine I twisted into a parody of himself, forcing him to actually act like the charitable figure his public face would have made him be. Ahab became Atlas, a secret figure who pushed for peaceful protest and nonviolent confrontations with the authorities. Joy became Wahl’s second, and when he suffered an accident, she replaced him as Charles Milton Porter’s second.
Porter, originally doomed to become the Big Daddy known as Subject Sigma, was a brilliant computer engineer, with, as most in Rapture’s high command, a tragic past. He was also stalwart enough to resist splicing, seeing it for the danger it represented and smart enough not to fall for Sophia Lamb’s, Rapture’s resident Psychotherapist-in-chief, mumbo-jumbo as he called it.
Lamb, in turn, was fated to become the primary antagonist of Bioshock 2, having been driven a bit mad by the loss of her position and daughter. So to head that off, I arranged for Stanley ‘I am a rat bastard and should be drowned’ Poole, the incredibly weasel-like (and not in a good way) reporter for the Rapture Tribune who would eventually offer proof to Ryan that Lamb should be suppressed (and eventually imprisoned), to attack Augustus Sinclair when the latter offered him a bribe to do exactly that.
Poole, claiming he’d done so out of journalistic integrity, published a scathing report on Sinclair Solution’s various nefarious deeds and, unsurprisingly, found himself accidentally trampled to death by a berserk Rosie. Still, Sinclair’s downfall took out a chunk of Fontaine and Ryan’s public approval.
Fontaine found himself lynched by the poor people he’d manipulated. Suchong ended up locked up in Persephone (Rapture’s Prison). Ryan was facing massed protests against his manipulations. And that’s when I appeared in his office. The year was 1955, it was Chanukah (and the mutations were becoming more severe than I’d expected them to be… and oh god did I hate the windows of Rapture… uuuuugh…) and Jack was just now a fetus still in his momma’s tummy.
“Hello Andrew,” I said, cloaking myself in shadow since I couldn’t shapeshift and I was still barely shy of 10. My voice was modulated… not that I really needed that, because I controlled everything that Ryan was hearing and seeing. Right at that moment he was seeing Fontaine, rope still around his broken neck, talking to him. Telling him to expect three ghosts before dawn.
Yes. Yes. I went there. Because I could. The three Ghosts of Chanukah. I’d checked and Ryan hadn’t read it. He’d never been one for fiction… well, non-russian fiction. I showed him the past, a past he’d been miserable in, oppressed and beaten down. I showed him the present, in which so many, many of the people in the glorious city he’d built, were oppressed and beaten down just as he was… and I showed him a future in which his own son beat him to death with a golf club. A future in which the howling insane masses tore the last of his shining city to ruins and it drowned in the uncaring sea.
“And I should care about these Parasites why?” he’d sneered, his tiny little mustache crinkling in fury.
“Because poor people can’t buy your goods. Because sick people can’t work in your factories. Because angry people make more angry people. Collectivism is crap. Don’t do it because it’s the moral thing. Don’t do it because it’s the just thing… do it because it’s good for your bottom line. Fontaine controlled the masses by smuggling booze and bibles. Lamb controlls the masses by appealling to their pain and suffering. You want to make a better society… it has to actually be better!”
“So I should throw away all I hold dear? Let the weak and the godly control what I do?”
“You’re not a God, Andrei Rayanovsky. You’re a Man. surrounded by men. Without a sense of community, a shared vision of the future, all you make is people who care about themselves. They don’t care about your city, your vision, your future… they only care about themselves. That’s why Atlas is winning. That’s why Suchong is insane. That’s why Tenenbaum is wracked with guilt over the little girls she’s mutilated and turned into monsters. That’s why your own son will kill you if you do not change things.”
“Never! I will never give in to the Communists!”
“Do you know what the greatest threat to Capitalism is?”
“No. Communism is a doomed snake eating its own tail. No, little man… Capitalism is the greatest threat to Capitalism.”
“Remember Standard Oil? It was a Monopoly. It crushed all competition, because it was too big to go against. Remember Herst? He bought up all the papers, controlled information. Got Hemp made illegal because it threatened his lumbermills. Capitalism in its purest form stifles competition. It serves no one but the corporations. Turns all the rest of us into slaves. Your Great Chain will strangle Rapture if you can’t keep it straight. A chain is not self supporting. It must be supported from both sides, or it drags in the dirt. Your Capitalism supports it on one side… but Socialism… not the Socialism of Marx, but actual socialism… taking care of each other, making sure that everyone has enough to make ends meet… has a safety net so that sickness or accident doesn’t make them unable to work… that will maintain a society. People will work to get ahead if they believe the situation is fair and just. People don’t turn to drugs and god and booze when they aren’t in despair.”
I admit, I pushed him. I didn’t just use the passion of the truth… I pushed on the crazy man’s mind. I forced the choice to make him. It wouldn’t be enough right off the bat… he was still Andrew Ryan after all… but I had several years more to push him along.
And, as it turns out… I needed it. Things were still getting worse… not because of Atlas and Lamb and Fontaine… no, because the people were going crazier faster than they should have. ADAM Sickness was getting out of hand before its time. It took me far too long to work out what had happened.
“BANKER!” I roared.
“Yes, my dear?”
“Don’t you try and come off innocent at me. You’ve done something to the setting!”
“Well, No. You did it. The drawback clearly states ‘Mutations are of significantly increased severity and frequency.’ It does not say that that applies only to you!”
I opened my mouth, then shut it again. Fuck. He was right. Damn it… waaait.
“But my Plasmids and Tonics… the ones I create as well as those I use… those are more powerful than they otherwise would be, yes?”
“That was the deal.”
It took me 6 months, bringing the date to New Year’s Day 1956, but just in time for the new year, Serenity labs released the Serenity Tonic, guaranteed to cut your ADAM need and ease your episodes by 60%! It did three things. The first was that it actively installed an ADAM secreting organ into the human body. It wasn’t much, but it meant the Splicer’s body wouldn’t be experiencing crash cycles. It was a maintenance dose. The second thing it did was scrub the body of the trace residue of ADAM use that caused flare ups in the first place, as well as requiring ever increasing dosages. And the third thing it did was, well, act like a cannabinoid. Instead of making Splicers more and more irate… it changed the way their neurochemistry acted so that they tended to be calmer, more mellow… and just have a nice sit down until the world stopped spinning.
It wasn’t perfect by a long chalk, but I figured it would extend things, give me time to work on a second iteration… and to work out a way to make a more stable form of ADAM that wouldn’t record memories. I was also having to spend more time in the Medbay as I aged and the exposure I was getting to other people’s memories, tonics, and plasmids through the ADAM Soul of Ice was recycling… it was literally the only way I could take samples… freaking Banker… was… err… I was beginning to worry about my own sanity as my own body began to become progressively less and less able to produce ADAM. Growing up sucks… especially when you’re going through massively enhanced puberty. Tenenbaum was working on her curative for Little Sisters, but it wasn’t ready yet and wouldn’t be until 1960… at which point I’d be 14.
That said, I was waiting for October 8th, 1958. Assuming all went as it should, that was the day Elizabeth Prime would enter Rapture through the Silver Fin Restaurant and seek out Booker DeComstock. They had a date with destiny… and I was going to be hijacking that soo damned quick it was going to make everyone’s head spin.
I couldn’t know what EPrime had seen through the Tear before she came through, so I couldn’t have anything waiting for her. Instead, I was just outside, having made sure all possible exits besides the front door were sealed and warded. The moment she emerged, I smothered her free will with a blast of Telepathic mojo and walked her right into a waiting cryostasis tube. “And Stay There!” I snapped, then told Ahab “Get Comstock. We’re sealing this hole up right.” He went into a tube as well.
The next few years were a battle, but not an open one. I had to keep pushing Ryan… “Would you kindly consider institution industrial safety standards and consumer goods protections?”, “Would you kindly stop threatening to turn off the air to various parts of the city?”, “Would you kindly stop antagonizing Porter?”, “Would you kindly sign this pardon for Suchong so he can get back to work?”… that kind of thing. I also had to work feverishly hard to keep my Serenity Tonics and Serenity Labs’ other products “Mutease Plasmid, for treating spontaneous mutations in others”, “Regenerax Tonic, for regrowing body parts”, and others designed to lessen the effects of Splicing… and yes… fighting Splicing with Splicing was questionable, but it was a case of Genie out of the bottle.
I also put a stabilized and weakened version of the Super Soldier Serum out there, as “Captain Amazing Tonic”. It was designed to make people more their idealized selves. “Be the Best You that You can Be!” Yes. I was making tons of money, but I was rolling it all back into social programs and education, medicine, and the like. I paid my workers well… so well that my competition had to pay their own workers a similar amount… which meant finding ways to be more efficient… and paying their management less… but then again, Management are almost completely useless, so fuck’m. Talk about Parasites.
I also convinced Ryan that he should marry Jolene and raise the kid instead of continuing to be a billionaire playboy. Legacy, it’s all about Legacy. After all, if the kid respects you, loves you, maybe he won’t put a club through your skull, right Andy? What a jagoff. “A Man Chooses!” yeah, that will overcome post hypnotic suggestion… well, to be fair, it might have in an actual adult… but in a kid with almost no real memories or personality? Not likely.
And I helped Tenenbaum cure the other little sisters… and even treat the other surviving first wave Big Sisters. And once we’d managed all that, I offered her a way out of Rapture, a way to get away from Ryan and his now slightly less twisted vision. I hadn’t made Rapture a Paradise… that would take a miracle and longer than ten years… but I had stabilized it… a bit… if you squinted.
Regardless, 1963 could not come soon enough. When it did come, I very carefully extracted Freelancer the Slug from my insides and put him, squirming and wriggling, on the Banker’s desk… he oozed a bit in the transfer from my insides to his new tank. “I got you a pet.” I snarked, unkinking my left arm that had grown extra long and scaly at about the 9 year mark.
“Is this new person a companion or another passenger?”
“She hasn’t decided yet. Are we going to Infinite Now?”
“Can’t? Why Can’t?”
“It’s chronologically before Bioshock… we have to take the long way round.”
“THE LONG WAY… you’re just yanking my chain, aren’t you?”
“You’ll never know.”
“Would you kindly sit and spin?” I snapped, then strode out of the room as he called, “Hey! You can’t leave this thing on my desk! It’s gross! I think it’s staring at me! SJ? SJ! Come back here and move this slug! SJ!!!!!”
It was a petty victory… but one I’d earned.
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