BioQuest: Assembly

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Tenenbaum watched as the arguing went on… Booker unable to pick a side, Diane falling to her emotions, Jack fighting for answers, and Elizabeth trying to restore order.

She dropped her cigarette on the floor, crushed it under her shoe. This happened plenty with Fontaine and Suchong, so she’d had practice – and luckily, these people weren’t out for power.

“Blutige hölle,” Tenenbaum muttered, drawing her pistol and aiming for the ceiling. “Listen or I shoot!”

They all turned to her, though only Diane was surprised. The rest knew both that she would not shoot and that this was the fastest method. Why else would she use it?

“For God’s…” Booker came over to her and put his hand on her arm. “Just put that down, we can talk about this.”

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“Now you can.” With that done, Tenenbaum holstered her pistol.

Jack and Diane would not look at one another, so all of them were staring at her and Booker. Elizabeth stood between them both for the second time that hour and raised her hands passively.

“Let’s focus on solutions. We’ll have plenty of time to discuss…” She paused, weighing her words. “The rest. First, Tenenbaum, is there a way to reverse the effects of ADAM in any addicted splicers?”

Tenenbaum frowned, crossing one arm across herself and putting her other hand to her chin. “I hadn’t thought of that. But yes, yes, it could. Painful withdrawal, but quick. Mentally, who knows?”

“You can’t be serious, Elizabeth,” Booker scoffed, shaking his head. “Splicers? We aren’t bringing them down here.”

“They do make up most of Atlas’ numbers. For now,” Jack added. “If we break their addiction, it would at least get them stable. Let them really decide for themselves what they want.”

“Regardless,” Tenenbaum interrupted, “there isn’t enough ADAM in Rapture for both Ryan and… Atlas.” The bitterness in her tone was obvious, but Miss McClintock had enough stress for one day. Telling her now about Fontaine being Atlas would likely prove too much for her. “They will still have withdrawal symptoms, which will absolutely make them insane. We can only win.”

“Precisely,” Elizabeth agreed. “We’re already starting to see it out there. Only a few have lost themselves, but it’s only a matter of time.”

“I will need tools, supplies, chemicals, more staff beyond just Elizabeth in my lab,” Tenenbaum listed, counting them off on her hands. “There’s not enough space here and not enough bullets for us to collect those things to put there.”

Elizabeth ran her fingers over the metal stump of her pinky, thinking. “Suchong’s Clinic is free now, I could step up for that, but the defenses…”

Jack smiled and stood tall, answering, “Booker can help with that! He works with–”

“Jack,” he warned, putting a hand up to silence the boy for what little good it did.

“It’s civil war out there, we can’t be keeping secrets from each other now.”

Tenenbaum couldn’t help but smile. Jack was coming into his own and Booker, well… Anytime he was caught off guard was a reason to smile.

“Yeah, so says the kid who snuck out. Twice.”

“Three times,” Tenenbaum interjected, putting her hand on Booker’s back. “And once with you, no?”

Booker sighed and ran a hand over his head. He knew when he’d lost. “When you asked me to lay low, I took up work with Sullivan. He doesn’t agree with Ryan anymore, not after–”

Booker cut himself off and wouldn’t meet anyone’s gaze. “Doesn’t matter. It’s hitting him hard. We can rely on him a lot better than a splicer, there’s that.”


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BioQuest: Rebel

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Jack stayed silent with his back to them, unreadable for the moment. Elizabeth, though… Diane’s naivete and honest wish to change Rapture with the rebellion moved her. She saw an innocence in Diane and there was this tightness in her chest– regret? Mourning? Elizabeth smiled, sliding her arm out from Diane’s and resting a hand on her shoulder.

“It does mean something,” she began, her mind already made up about Diane before she’d even spoken to the others. They would just have to understand. “But not to Atlas. I know another group who has done honest good deeds and can do even more for these people, but you have to promise to keep it secret.”

Elizabeth heard Jack turn and felt his eyes on her as real as if he’d reached out to her. She continued only to Diane, her eyes wide and all even hopeful. She simply nodded, the ghost of a smile still on her face.

With the help of Diane, perhaps more would join and then… They could do more than save the girls and Jack. Elizabeth would have to tell them all her hopes, although for now, just having the hope was enough.

“Then come with us. Jack,” Elizabeth offered and held out her other hand. His eyebrows raised, he took her hand and Diane held the other.

They walked together in the shadows, avoiding the firefights and vandalism with surprising ease. It wasn’t often they were that lucky, and Elizabeth chose to believe it was a sign she’d done the right thing.

Once they reached the Bathysphere, however… An announcement overhead repeated that there was an incident at the Kashmir and at least one attempt on Ryan’s life, screaming and clanking echoing in the distant halls. The chaos had driven some of the unarmed citizens away, even as the corpses facedown in puddles proved that not all made it.

Diane stepped closer to Elizabeth, watching as she tried to access the Bathysphere and the radio on the wall dinged. “I apologize, but you do not have access to travel now. Given the emergency, only leaders of Rapture can travel. Thank you.”

“Oh, oh no,” Diane muttered, shaking her head. “What’ll we do now? Ryan, he must’ve found out, he…” Her free hand went to her chest, and her voice caught. “This’s my fault, isn’t it?”

“Let me try,” Jack said, pushing ahead and opening the door instantly. Without so much as a glance to them, he stepped inside and set to directing it to Olympus Heights.

Diane lowered her hand and slowly turned to Elizabeth. “Is he… With Ryan? I never met him, never saw… Elizabeth, what’s going on?”

“I can explain once we’re back.” Elizabeth faced her, holding an arm out to the Bathysphere ahead. “Please, I need you to trust me.”

Moments passed, the gunfire coming closer even in that short time. Diane breathed in and out carefully and went inside without another word. Though she sat at the opposite side from Jack and they traveled in silence, she was there. That was a start.


Elizabeth went first with Diane into the Sanctuary, dank as always, watching her for a reaction. The girls’ giggles floated to them first and Diane reflexively beamed– a weight off Elizabeth’s shoulders.

Then Booker rounded a corner, his button down shirt hanging open as he searched the area. Presumably for the clothes Jack took, but… Diane sighed wistfully, tapping Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Oh, you didn’t say you had such attractive men here.”

“Diane,” Elizabeth introduced her with a gesture that passed back to him. “My father.” Diane gasped, her hand over her mouth before an apology could escape. Elizabeth tried to do the same for her laughter… Mostly succeeding.

“Call me Booker,” he told her, settling his gaze on Jack wearing his clothes. “I expect my clothes back clean, Jack.”

“Right,” he mumbled behind her, shuffling to his bed to change. Or so she assumed, at least.

“Is no one going to ask why Ryan’s toy wife is here?” Tenebaum had collected herself, at least, but Elizabeth put herself between the doctor and Diane at that statement.

“Tenebaum!” It was an accusation, a demand for an apology, whatever Diane wanted.

“She’s, she’s the one!” Diane pointed over Elizabeth’s shoulder. “Ryan said she’s been taking them little girls away.”

“I have and I will continue.” Always the same bluntness with her… Elizabeth frowned, Tenenbaum took out a cigarette to light. “Your husband continues where Fontaine ended, and he will sink the city–”

“I know he will!” Diane marched to stand beside Elizabeth, her brows furrowing once she was there. Jack made his way back to them beyond her, and she looked to Elizabeth for support.

“Go on, Diane. You’re safe here.”

“I’ve seen it,” she started softly, eyes locked on her clasped hands. “The party, and then… People burning, screaming, those hulking monsters killin’ people, and now Bathyspheres are all closed up.”

Silence hung in the room for a moment. Booker was already sold right there, with his soft spot for people in need ever since Columbia, but Tenebaum? She smoked, studying and inscrutable.

Diane kept on, finally looking up. “We got nowhere to go and I… I just wanna help. Elizabeth said your people were better than Atlas, is all.”

Booker scoffed, buttoning up his shirt for what little it mattered now. “Hard not to be.”

“But I’ve got questions, you know?” Diane took another step forward and Elizabeth couldn’t help being proud of her friend. This was so much growth, so fast, and yet she was still holding to her ideals. “I don’t want to be blind to this no more.”

“As do I,” Tenebaum answered. “Elizabeth, what exactly is your plan? You kidnap Ryan’s wife now, and he will notice. Eventually,” she corrected, and at least Diane and Tenenbaum looked equally disgusted in that moment. “His attention is on his mistress and Atlas for now, but–”

“Mistress?!” Diane recoiled, her hands clenching into fists instantly. Before Elizabeth could get a word in, Jack came forward.

“My mother?”

“What?!” Diane snapped, stomping her foot and turning on Jack.

“Hey, hey, would you both stop it!” Booker raised his voice, but soon all the shouting blended together between them.


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BioQuest: What it Means

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Elizabeth followed after Jack, who took her silent agreement and reached Diane first. She turned to face him but quickly glossed over Jack for Elizabeth.

“Oh, Elizabeth, you’re safe! Thank G–” Diane caught herself, wringing her hands. “I’m just real glad, that’s all.”

Elizabeth stood at Diane’s side, sliding her arm in her friend’s to offer support. At first, she was met with surprise, then… Diane smiled, even if that didn’t reach her eyes, and she relaxed against Elizabeth. The scarring on her face and neck, going below her neckline, were faint at a distance, but this close…

Jack stayed quiet, keeping an eye on their surroundings instead.

“I’m perfectly fine, Diane. Is there any way my friend and I can help you?” Elizabeth gestured to Jack, who nodded politely and looked away.

Nervous, perhaps… Diane was Ryan’s girlfriend to him and that was reason enough to be distant. She squeezed Diane’s hand reassuringly, drawing her attention back to Elizabeth. “Do you have a safe place to stay?”

“I…” Her breath caught. Diane stared off at the prison, quiet for a few moments. “Ryan won’t even see me no more. He doesn’t care, if he ever did.”

Elizabeth was at a loss at first, thinking of Diane alone on that operating table after the blast. “Diane, I–”

“I wanted to tell these bandits, let them know they’re ruining everything–” She stopped to breathe and Elizabeth realized… Diane held her hand tightly, almost white-knuckled. “But things have changed out here. I watched a woman burn alive walking here, passed bodies in the street. And these words sprayed on the walls…”

“Atlas Lives,” Jack answered flatly, his back to them.

“Yes! Yes, that’s it!” Diane brightened, relieved. It must’ve been lonely for her when she lived with Ryan… Being so eager to be understood as she was. Elizabeth smiled all the same. Such innocence was refreshing here. “I don’t know what it means, but… It’s got to be important to these people.”


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50th BioQuest: Jack vs. Atlas

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Leading Elizabeth out of the Kashmir Restaurant by the hand, Jack wove around couples dancing, people laughing, and spared only the occasional wary glance to the security posted at the party.

As much as he’d wanted to help Booker get Lot 192… He was grateful that Booker convinced him to go to the party instead. The brief time he was there with Elizabeth and simply talking – even about their plans against Suchong and Fontaine – felt normal for a change.

But when music cut to screaming and gunfire, Jack stopped and a chill overtook him as surely as if the walls had shattered around him. He might’ve preferred the ocean rushing over him, to be honest…

“Fontaine,” he muttered. His hand tightened on Elizabeth’s first and he took in a sharp breath. When he glanced back, it was to Elizabeth—the Kashmir behind her—and her again. She studied him, waiting for his decision. “The labs. Go find him.”

And Jack let go of her hand, running back towards the restaurant and the fight he knew he couldn’t avoid. He skidded to a stop beside a dead security guard, lifting the pistol from his cooling corpse.

Fortunately, he hadn’t gotten many shots in before he’d been taken out. Jack checked for spare ammunition, blood spotting on the sleeves of his white suit jacket in the process…

Booker would know how to get blood out of anything. If not him, Tenenbaum.

He looked back up to Elizabeth watching him and for a second, he cringed in embarrassment. “Go! Please, go.”

She examined the restaurant too, taking a steadying breath. The smoke from grenade launchers and gunfire rolled out of the entrance now and the fight wouldn’t be far behind. She pointed to the doorway of the restaurant, shouting, “There’s, it’s a crossbow! Keep yourself hidden, stay safe.”

“No, you—” It was no use, she took off without another word. “Be safe too.” He stopped to pick up the crossbow, pulling it over his head and one shoulder by the strap to drape across his torso. It would be a useful backup if the worst were to happen.

Stooping low, Jack used the smoke as cover to get behind an overturned table and listened for the movements of Fontaine—Atlas—and his men. Sobbing and disoriented groaning replaced the music and between pained cries, someone kept shouting, “Long live Atlas!”

“Be quiet now,” he ordered in a heavy Irish accent. It sounded so real, he really was… the best. Jack gulped and gripped the pistol closer. He was genetically designed by Suchong, who was paid by Fontaine, to make sure he would be a hell of an opponent. Time to make good on that. “I think we’ve got ourselves a guest.”

Jack set one foot forward, heel first, rolling to his toes to minimize noise. One cautious step at a time led him from the overturned table to the bar counter.

“To hell with ‘em!” One of the thugs screamed, shattering a glass and getting a muffled cry from someone else in hiding. “Oh, who’s this?”

“Would ya shut your gob?” He snapped, footsteps carrying Atlas closer to where Jack hid. An easier target at a closer range. “It ain’t her.”

His voice faded away slightly in the second sentence, but kept its distance. Atlas had turned his back on Jack without even knowing it. A smile came too easily and Jack took his position, elbows on the counter and just barely visible behind the staggered counter of the bar. Only enough visibility to aim.

As he settled Fontaine in his sights, Jack shivered and a tremor nestled in with the cold coursing through him. His finger hovered over the trigger but he couldn’t—He’d be so angry with Jack.

Who knew what else Atlas had on him? Were these trusted men of his, or would he hesitate to use trigger phrases around them? Biting his lip, Jack turned his aim to a woman past Atlas, putting her down in one shot.

“Shite,” he growled, sprinting to a battered table for cover in turn. Jack’s bullets strayed or ricocheted off furniture, never quite hitting home. Jack dropped down behind the counter, reloading and Atlas’ throaty laugh cut through him across the room.

“Real cute, that,” he taunted, continuing to talk to let Jack know exactly where he was moving. He knew it would be worse to know what was coming next.

The rebels with him were dragging their weapons against the walls, the floors, tables, anything to add to the mind games. There had to be four of them left including Atlas and yet it felt like an army. “Tell me, did ya come up with that yourself, boyo?”

Underneath it, he could still hear Fontaine just as plain as if he wasn’t trying at all. Or was that in his head? Jack maneuvered away from the bar towards a fallen pillar, pressing his back against that and straining to hear anything that might give Atlas away.

“Or did ya let the pretty lass do the thinkin’?”

The next few words were lost on Jack, staring at the vacant, clouded gaze of a heavily armed security guard gaping at him. A single grenade hung from a belt over his chest and Jack snatched it off him, dropping back against the pillar and pulling the pin. With all their racket, they didn’t even hear the grenade roll across the ground to their cover—

He hunkered down at the blast, a distant ringing stuck in his ears even as it faded. “—just a dirty lit’le maggot,” Atlas raged, storming behind the bar and Jack hurried out of his sight to the cover where is dead men waited. “Hide like a stinking coward, go on ahead! You won’t last pissing time.”

Jack exhaled and knelt by the blasted remains of a person, keeping his eyes on Atlas.

Fontaine.

Who screamed next, Jack or the man at his feet, he didn’t know. Fingers coiled around his ankle and locked here, the splicer howling and pushing himself forward despite his legs ending in crude stumps.

Where’d the gun gone, when did he drop it? Jack pulled the crossbow over his head, beating the man over the head once, twice, again and again and again—

Breathless, he sat by the destroyed body and caught sight of the shoes at the other end leading up to the sneer on a familiar face. “I oughta kneecap you for that, boyo,” he drawled, gesturing with a gun to the dead man between them. “He was a right fighter, but I guess you figured that out.”

Every plan, every time he’d gone over this moment in his head, it was all gone. Jack backed away without even getting up and even the brief darkness of blinking, never mind looking away, had panic twisting his insides.

“Still an’ all, I’ve got one more experiment for you, Jack,” Atlas almost praised him and came down to his level, squaring the gun against his chest. “See you on the other side, boyo.”

The shot rang out and at first, it was just a tight pressure in his chest and a ragged breath ripped from his throat. After came the fire bursting in his chest not too much unlike the doses, the prodding, and his eyes rolled back.

“Don’t bleed out too quick, now,” Atlas taunted. “I’ll need a head start if I’m to get to the chamber before you. Remember,” his voice warped, pulse pounding in Jack’s ears. “God hates a quitter.”


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BioQuest: Down One

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“Hm,” Elizabeth stalled and tried to do a quick recount in her mind of their supplies in Olympus. They’d need them for Booker for sure, maybe Jack too depending on where all that blood was from… She closed her eyes and rested a hand against the craggy wall. “What does Tenenbaum have for supplies?”

“Bandages, antiseptic ointment, a small lab of chemicals…” His voice strayed and she opened her eyes as he looked at the tunnel roof. “Footsteps above us,” he dismissed. “They can’t hear.”

“What’s it matter?” Booker interrupted, exhaling sharply. He had to be feeling that injury now, the adrenaline was fading. He shifted to take a knee, continuing. “Anything she needs, you can find easier at your lab.”

As her eyes adjusted to the weak lighting, she saw Booker brace a hand against his head. Elizabeth turned to him so quickly she nearly stumbled on debris by her feet and she hovered a hand near him. “Booker, what is it? Are you–”

“Tell me someone else sees this blue light,” he mumbled, wincing. The tunnel had sparse orange lights burning low, some flickering, and even that was enough to catch the sweat beading on Booker’s face.

“Lot 192,” Jack whispered. He put his hand on Elizabeth’s shoulder, moving past her to Booker. “He got the dose…?”

“Listen, Jack, it– ngh,” Booker grunted and dull blue electricity arced on his forearm, blinking out just as suddenly.

“Down to one.” Jack breathed the sentence, sinking to the floor. “And Booker could die.” He pulled at his tie, ripping the shirt collar open so forcefully that the top button rattled off down the tunnel somewhere.

“I’m not going to die,” Booker forced out the sentence, getting to his feet with the wall as support. He shuffled ahead against the wall… going nowhere fast. “Not here. We’re getting out of here.”


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BioQuest: Runaway

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Footsteps and rose petals fell, coming closer as the three of them waited behind cover. The crossbow was gone and they had two weapons between them… If they didn’t know about the tunnels, they’d have nowhere to go but the dead end in Kashmir.

So this is what it looks like when he’s not faking his own death.

Elizabeth kept low and reminded herself – this was good intel against Fontaine. “The tunnels,” she whispered to Booker. He nodded, tapping Jack on the shoulder. “Take the lead.”

By Pirate Cashoo on dA

Following him again by the hand, Elizabeth went with Jack to the tunnel’s entrance. Nothing but a vent beside the restaurant to the regular citizens and even smugglers. These tunnels, they belonged to Tenenbaum and her runaway family.

“There’re plenty o’ ways to find you, son,” Atlas taunted. Jack crawled into the tunnel ahead of her, waving her in once he’d shuffled forward enough. “And I will save you from Ryan’s men, you mark my words.”

Keep talking, Fontaine. Tell me your story.

Yet Fontaine wasn’t using his other code words against Jack… Tenenbaum knew about them, so they all know. His men didn’t know.

Elizabeth slid into the vent behind Jack with a smirk. That was leverage in the right hands. Booker hunkered into the tunnel behind her, pulling the vent cover on behind him, and put his hand on her back with a little too much force.

“We need to move,” he said as plain as small talk. Jack picked up the pace with them in line behind her, although…

“Booker, what did you do?” She ran her hand along the wall as they rushed forward, bumps and nicks mapping a mental image for her as they went.

“I got him a little present too.” The explosion rocked the frame of the tunnel and only Booker kept steady.

“Come on,” he ordered, helping Elizabeth hang onto her balance.

“Wait,” Jack interrupted. She could see the curve of the wall ahead… They were at a fork in the tunnel. “Which way? The medical pavilion or home?”


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BioQuest: Reunion

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She returned his second gesture to sneak around their potential attackers and he gave a curt nod, giving his attention to the thugs outside the bathysphere.

“H-he’s not here,” a third, jittery voice muttered, seeming on the edge of screaming, crying, or laughing. “He’s not, he’s not, he’s not.”

Elizabeth ran her hand along the floor of the bathysphere, smooth wooden flooring even underneath the seats.

At least Ryan’s consistently over the top…

Her fingers grazed the box, and she pulled it towards her as Booker wrapped his hand around her arm.

“I can smell him,” the woman breathed, her voice fading as if she’d turned away. A ploy…?

Booker led her out of the bathysphere in a walking crouch, passing them by towards the battered entrance of the Kashmir.

“Elizabeth,” he whispered, shooting her a half-hearted scowl. “When did you start keeping secrets?”

“I’m not, not from you,” she answered, resting her hand on his shoulder. “Jack was here. And so was Fontaine.”

Booker shook his head, but he held his position and simply waited. Seconds passed in stillness and the people waiting for them had wandered off in whatever madness had them…

Although Elizabeth knew. She knew too well exactly what it was.

“Well, they’re not here now and we don’t have much in the way of time,” he advised, taking out a pistol in addition to his shotgun. “We’re going to Fort Frolic, that’s where the Vita Chamber’s hidden.”

He stood and held out the pistol to her. “I am a detective, Elizabeth.”

“Booker.” That was a quiet, steady voice she recognized. “Can we go home?”

She stood and took him in, dried blood set into his suit. A sleeve was ripped at the shoulder and right over his chest, an entry point showed where he’d been shot… But he was here. “Jack, I…”

Booker grabbed them both, pulling them down, and then she heard it. Metal clacking overhead, faint humming, and last, an Irish brogue.

“Boyo,” the man’s voice was clear but far enough that she knew they could evade him. If only barely. “Where are ya now, boyo?”

But to where? The bathysphere, Kashmir, the tunnels? Jack held her hand tightly and met her gaze. She held onto the gift box in her other hand, and in his other hand, he had the pistol from Booker.


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