BioQuest: Growth

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“Endlich,” Tenebaum agreed, exasperated. “I will collect the girls for travel to the clinic. The older ones will help carry supplies with me.” She nodded to the girls in their preteen years and they smiled to varying degrees, just eager to help.

“And Booker, you talk to Sullivan about ammunition.” Tenebaum had already begun, grouping like things together for the girls… Although they were packing blocks and bears with clothes and medicine. “We will need that, more than we can smuggle in or steal.”

“Yes ma’am,” he almost joked and they shared a smirk. Elizabeth raised an eyebrow at them, but of course they pretended not to notice. Booker picked up a radio and his shotgun, heading out on his own in less than a minute. Some military habits never left, Elizabeth knew… Or at least tried to understand.

Tenebaum crossed her arms and looked Diane over. Hopeful, naïve, ready to make a difference… And what was bad about that? They would have to keep an eye on her, that was the worst of it. “Diane, perhaps you would come with me and the girls? It’s too much to set up with just us.”

“Oh! Oh, I–” She looked at the girls, delighted already to meet someone new. “Well, of course I would.”

By the door, Elizabeth picked up a pistol from their weapons cache. She gathered spare ammunition for it as she spoke. “I’ll go ahead to the clinic, make sure it’s clear.”

“Jack,” Tenebaum called. He turned to her, silent and waiting. “What’s that look? Go with Elizabeth,” she playfully lectured him, waving him towards the weapons cache. “Keep each other safe.”

“Right!” He shouted and the girls laughed at his excitement. “Right,” Jack corrected at a normal volume and picked up the other pistol.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth and Tenenbaum?

Because they are both present, you can choose how they react… BUT you must choose someone to go with as they will be separated.

– – –

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BioQuest: Assembly

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Tenebaum 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,” Tenebaum 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.”
“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?”

Tenebaum 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,” Tenebaum 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,” Tenebaum 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.”

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

Booker sighed and ran a hand over his head. He new 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.”

What do you want to do, Elizabeth and Tenenbaum?

Read the next chapter.

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New Year’s: Thane x Shepard

They had a rare chance for a break, one night as one year became another, and Thane brought Shepard to a small beachside resort.

Well, not just her. The whole crew came along. In case of emergencies, of course. This would be interesting to explain on their expense report…

But that day, it hardly seemed to matter. Shepard walked through the resort to meet Thane at the shore, passing Miranda and Jacob together by the fire pit, Jack steadfastly getting Joker drunk, Tali laughing as Garrus flirted badly with her. Shepard found herself with a smirk as she reached the worn stairs towards the shore. This is what they all fought for.

Shepard felt the day’s warmth radiating from the sand as she walked the beach, closing in on the lone silhouette at the shore. He wore white, just as he asked her to as well.

“Thane,” she announced herself and he turned with a soft smile.

“Siha.” She would normally have put her hand in his, but tonight, there was a bouquet there.

“Flowers? That’s a first,” she teased. The smell of salty sea air reached them on the breeze, and she reflexively breathed in deeply.

“I confess, they’re not for you,” he answered. Shepard cocked an eyebrow, waiting for details. “I want to share them with you another way.”

“I’m listening,” she prompted.

He knelt, set the flowers in the sand. They were foreign to her, although the faint light from the resort behind them caught the rich blues and purples of its petals and anthers. Standing again, he offered his hand to her.

“First, come with me. Into the water, siha.”

She rested her hand in his, comfortable and familiar. The smooth and scaly areas of his palm mapped in her mind– not with clarity rivaling his, of course, but with a serenity that was hard to find these days. He led her to the water and once it reached her knees, Shepard had to ask.

“What’s this about, Thane?”

“It’s a tradition from the days of Rakhana,” he began and stopped shortly after, water just above her knees and below his. The waves were small, gentle, and the ocean was clear. “Though we didn’t have many oceans there. It’s to bring good luck in the new year ahead.”

She chuckled, stepping over a rock buried in the sand underwater. “We can always use more of that.”

“Then together, we jump over seven waves.” He squeezed her hand, and she nodded.

“Double the luck, then.” She had to admit to a certain worry and watchfulness– he insisted he was capable, that the disease was not that far along, and still she kept an eye on him with every wave they leapt over.

“Siha, the bouquet,” he asked and gestured once they’d finished. Wordlessly, she fetched them and held them out. “No, I… I wish for you to make the offering.”

“For who?”

He held his hands together, trusting she would follow his signal. “To Kalahira, mistress of inscrutable depths, whose waves wear down stone and sand. We offer this and ask for your guidance before you set us on the distant shore of the infinite spirit.”

He paused, took a breath, and Shepard tossed the flowers out to the waves. They watched it float away together, shoulder to shoulder, cool and comforting.

“I will always be with you, siha.”

Shepard took the moment to rest her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arm around her waist. “Wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Based on a Brazilian tradition described here.

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.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth and Tenenbaum?

Read the next chapter.

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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.”

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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BioQuest: Ruin

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“Of course,” she answered without a moment’s pause. “I didn’t let Booker do it all, but I didn’t go alone. Neither will you.”

He smiled, bowing his head gratefully, and she reached into her hidden pocket for the formula– careful to make sure not to show him the picture on the other side. “First, you’ll want to take a look at this.”

Jack glanced to the yellowed back of the picture, taking it between two fingers and scanning the formula. “This is for–” He breathed a laugh, eyes brightening. “You found it. I’m… I just…”

“I’m always glad to help you.” For a moment, they were an island of peace among the falling city. Panic and sirens surrounded them and yet they felt no need to rush.

When they were ready, Jack led on and the hallways emptied as people fled from the prison zone. Security and rebels were out, mostly security escorting them to their cells, and a few Big Daddies stood watch. No Little Sisters in sight, unfortunately…

And then Elizabeth saw her. A woman with bandages around her head beneath an elegant simple hat, muttering to herself as she weakly shuffled along. “Jack, wait,” she whispered, putting a hand on his shoulder.

He followed her gaze, catching her voice but not what she said– or at least Elizabeth couldn’t hear her clearly. “Is that…?”

“Miss McClintock,” he confirmed. “We should see if she’s alright.” He started ahead at first, hesitating to look back at Elizabeth.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

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BioQuest: Constants

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With his cautious pace towards Hestia Chambers, Elizabeth easily caught up with Jack. He didn’t notice her at first, at least not visibly, which could have been just part of his disguise… As she got closer, she picked out the details in the worn, faded black vest draped over his shoulders as the one Booker was never seen without.

Except today, apparently.

Of course they bought extra clothes in Rapture, but none matched that so perfectly. Elizabeth fell in stride with Jack, who simply let her– he knew he was caught, she supposed, but he didn’t seem even slightly guilty.

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” She kept her voice and expression even. The others around them were too frantic or busy to observe them, but Atlas’ people could be anywhere. Especially as they went closer to the prison areas of Apollo Square that Sullivan mentioned at the labs.

“My part,” he answered with a small smile and a glance her way. A bulb burst a few feet behind them and she tensed, but he kept steady. Times like these, Elizabeth recalled all the files from Suchong’s work on what they did to Jack.

He was genetically and mentally conditioned to keep his cool in tense situations, particularly combat. This civil war was his element– and she shuddered at the thought of her future self that helped Booker.

“I’m not sitting this out, Elizabeth,” he continued, stepping over rubble and minding the crowd with a familiarity that still seemed uncanny although she knew its source. “I only said I wouldn’t go with you, not that I wouldn’t go.”

He was silent for a few beats, and she could tell he was considering his words. From his eyes sometimes catching hers, from the calm way he carried himself, who knew how she knew, she just did. Living with someone as long as they had… It could do that.

“You were right not to take me to the lab. I’d be recognized or worse. Too risky,” he admitted heavily, sighing. “Instead, I’m tracking Atlas and his thugs.” She expected some disgust or perhaps hesitation, not how matter-of-fact he was striding ahead of her into enemy territory.

…it was nostalgic, in a way.

“The radio chatter reveals a lot if you cycle through,” he explained and turned to her as they reached the district beside Hestia. “And I think he’s treating this prison like a base. A bit of Rapture all his own.”

And suddenly, he waited there. First, he took in the damage, the people rushing by, security directing those who would listen, and last, he rested his gaze on her.

“Booker told me. About where you were kept.” He kept up an even tone and she reached for the bird necklace, remembering how sudden her freedom was. Sometimes, even after all those years, it still felt surreal. “You didn’t just let Booker save you on his own. I want to do the same, and this isn’t like with Cohen. The only one at risk now is me. Unless…”

He faltered, looking away from her to finish that sentence. “You want to join me?”

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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