BioQuest: Free

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Was she ready? It was a good question even if she didn’t feel any fear at facing Fontaine… There was someone she was afraid of leaving behind. Almost without thinking, Elizabeth reached out for the front of Jack’s sweater, her fingers twisting around plush, worn cabled yarn as she pulled him into a kiss.

Not a chaste one either. The last they might ever share if something went wrong, as this things so often did, and she put all that feeling into it. Jack gasped and she took the opportunity to deepen the kiss, her face flushing at how bold she was being.

But this was it, perhaps the only chance she’d have. Elizabeth had no idea what she doing outside of the romance books from the tower she read time and again.

The hand he’d held out to her found its way to her back and for a moment, she could pretend they were safe and the fight was already over.

Then Jack pulled away, resting his forehead against hers and gently rubbing her back. “It’s time, Elizabeth.” He didn’t have to say any more. “I love you with everything I am, whatever that might be… I’m yours.”

Elizabeth chuckled warmly as tears pricked at her eyes, not quite coming. “You’re whoever you want to be, Jack. And wherever your path takes you, no matter what comes, I will always love you.”

She opened her eyes to see his still closed, and he bit his lip to keep from crying– she assumed. He turned to the stairs, going up and into the elevator and kept his head down.

“Thanks, Elizabeth. For everything you’ve done. I…” His voice wavered for a second and he recovered as she came to join him, holding his hand. “Thanks.”

— Fontaine’s Lair —

“We didn’ know one another long, boyo,” Atlas droned as the elevator rose. At the gates of the last stand, it made sense that she felt Jack’s hand tighten around hers. “But you? You were like a second son t’me.”

The ADAM distorted his voice and she almost couldn’t believe it hadn’t warped his mind so far that he’d drop the Atlas ruse.

“Way I see it, your old man took my family from me. All of it,” he spat. “And that’s why this hurts. Betrayal, boyo… I know life ain’t fair, I know it better than most. But this one’s personal.”

And the elevator stopped, pausing for only a moment before the deco doors slid open to reveal the massive empty room. In its center stood some device, Atlas— no, Fontaine suspended and barely recognizable as human, never mind himself. Ryan was slumped over in a chair beside him, bloodied but still breathing.

“I’ll take care of draining the ADAM,” Jack explained, pulling his hand away as his eyes hardened. “And I’ll fight with everything I’ve got.”

“You won’t be alone in that,” Elizabeth answered curtly, holding her gun at the ready.

The fighting truly began once Jack drained him of ADAM, and Fontaine broke free, backhanding Jack clear across the foyer. It was chaos from then out– a cycle of super-powered plasmids overtaking Fontaine’s body as his ADAM resources became more and more depleted.

He screamed at them from the device, how he was going to cut them to pieces and the girls would be next, all the most horrible things he could think of. Elizabeth wondered if there was another version of him in some reality that might be horrified by this, but somehow, she doubted it.

It was luck that she found the bot shutdown panel before the security bots got too out of hand, and that bought her time to hack them to their side too. The splicers were another story altogether, even with Jack turning them with Enrage…

Every muscle in her body screamed, and there were far too many close calls to count. Jack drove the needle into Fontaine’s chest for the fourth time, hopefully the last. But he didn’t move fast enough to evade another brutal backhand from Atlas that sent him flying.

“Jack!” She started reloading, cursing the exhaustion that fighting this long brought with it.

“I made you,” Fontaine began, stomping towards Jack as he scrambled back. “Showed you what you were, all you were capable of… If you don’call that family, I don’t know what is!”

She finished reloading, aiming for his heart, when the first little girl leapt at him. But it wasn’t until the rest of the girls came from the tunnels of Rapture, stabbing him as their cries mixed with his, that Elizabeth could let herself believe it was over. Well and truly over.

Everyone was free.

She ran to Jack, dropping her weapon uselessly to the ground as she helped him to his feet. “Jack, are you hurt?”

“All over,” he breathed but smiled. “But… I can be free. I can go anywhere, be anyone.” He didn’t seem to believe it himself. One of the little ones ran up to him as Tenenbaum and Booker stepped out of the elevator, going straight for Ryan.

“I think I’d like to be with you. In Paris,” he added, laughing tiredly. “I don’t even know where that is or what it looks like.”

Elizabeth threw her arms around him, pulling him in tightly. “It’s alright. We’ll see it for the first time together.”


An epilogue turned out to not be necessary, so this is the end! Thank you for all your support.

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BioQuest: To the Point

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The presentation of two doses of Lot 192 from Tenenbaum got more of a reaction from Jack than the message from Atlas did. As pained as he was, he seemed suddenly… Unsure was the closest word Elizabeth had. He stared at the bottles as if they might disappear at any second.

“Drink them both quickly,” she ordered, somberly staring him down. “This will not be pleasant.”

Like a spell was lifted, Jack took both bottles without a moment’s hesitation and downed the first. He almost dropped the bottle once it was empty, a shuddering gasp escaping him the second he was finished drinking.

“Tenenbaum,” Elizabeth warned, reaching out to Jack to– she didn’t know what. How could she help when she didn’t even know what was happening? She could feel the tremors in his body even with a light touch.

“Nein, Jack, the second bottle,” the mother in her kicked in, pushing his other hand up to jolt him out of whatever the effects of the first were. Fire and electricity ran up his forearms and over his hands as he drank the second bottle, his face twisted in pain.

“Jesus, Mary’n Joseph,” McDonough exclaimed, taking a few hearty steps back. “What in blazes?!”

“It’s… It’s over now.” Jack did drop the bottles now, color back in his face even as he trembled– however slightly. “We need to go.”

Elizabeth nodded, knowing this is exactly what she would want in his place. “And we will.” She marched over to him, met with a tired, confused stare as his shoulders slumped. And Elizabeth hugged him gently, feeling his breath steadying and finding a bit of solace in that. “I love you, Jack. Now that I’ve said it, we can go.”

She tried to ignore Booker and Tenenbaum sharing a grin, but her own smile wouldn’t quit.

“I’m… Right behind you!” Jack caught up, walking beside her with a bright-eyed smirk. Whatever Point Prometheus held, she knew they could handle it. Together, they could handle anything.

“W-wait,” a young girl’s voice called after them, and she turned to see Sylvette. She gave Jack the present from the girls at his birthday party, and she was close with Carol, but Elizabeth didn’t know much else about her. “You’ll need help… From a former Little Sister. Fontaine, he… He’s splicing now. I can help you against him. Me and my sisters.”

Without missing a beat, Jack nodded. “Thank you, Sylvette. This means a lot to me.”

Her smile was faint, almost invisible in the dark, and even less obvious as she shrank in shy delight. “Oh… Of course. We’re family.”

— At Point Prometheus —

Leaving the Bathysphere station, everything was calm… Even if it was in shambles.

“Watch your step,” Sylvette advised, flitting over the wreckage like a natural. Her boots helped with that, no doubt, though her floral overalls were well out of place here. Elizabeth figured her dress and Jack’s knit sweater were too, though.

“Oi remember puttin’ you into that sub,” Atlas drawled on overhead speakers, so sincerely hurt. Jack exhaled sharply, but otherwise, his mouth was set in a hard line and he never stopped scanning their surroundings as they pushed ahead.

Atlas had to have his people eating up some story or another, a hint of the truth drowned out by pretty lies. “T’help you escape this awful place. And what’s my thanks? You come right on back, but to save your daddy even after he tried to kill your mum.”

Turrets and splicers broke up his speeches, inaudible underneath her calls out to Jack, Sylvette warning about more splicers, and the general chaos of combat.

“S’ppose there’s no helpin’ it. Blood’s blood, and yours is tainted,” he accused. Even if Jack didn’t feel that, she did. Her grip tightened on her weapon, and Elizabeth got a second wind. Atlas would eat those words.

“You wanna find me, save your wretch of a father?” He chuckled drily, a twinge of… Something else layering his voice now. Something inhuman. “Come to the top o’ the Point. We’ll settle this like men.”

The overhead speakers hissed off, and they came out from their long trek to an atrium of sorts… Filled with vending machines and weapons, and the odd corpse or leak. Had Fontaine been preparing for them here, just like they would now? And where was Ryan?

Sylvette darted over to a Little Sister holding out a needle from the flower tunnel, muttering something to her before running back.

“We… We can’t beat him without this.” She bit her lip, looking down at it before presenting it to Jack. “Drain him of ADAM. It’s the only way.”

He took the needle, pulling her into a one-armed hug. His voice was low, tender, but Elizabeth could just make out the words. “Thanks again. You’re the family I’ve always wanted. All of you.”

With a sniff, she nodded and took off to the tunnel. Soon, she would be too big to use it. Carol was already, and she was so proud of herself for it. For them, they had to win. This was why they came here from Columbia in the first place, and she got so much more than she ever hoped for.

“Elizabeth?” Jack held his open hand out to her, waiting for her on the first few steps to the elevator that would take them to Fontaine. “Are you ready?”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Two chapters remain, potentially one (an epilogue will only happen if I need to tie up any loose ends). 

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BioQuest: The Fray

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Tenenbaum didn’t say a word, just kept getting her supplies together in preparation to make Lot 192. Looked like she was coming along, at least, but it was up to Elizabeth to decide anything that remained.

With a careful breath as she watched Jack, Elizabeth reached for the radio from Diane. She only hesitated for a second before opening the channel. “Booker, do you read me?”

“Yes,” he answered, curt with the expectation of worse news he always seemed to carry. He wouldn’t be wrong, not this time. “McDonough’s secure.”

“Can you meet us Suchong’s old apartment? We need Lot 192 for Jack now.” As if on cue, Jack hissed and tensed while he was getting his weapons together for braving the city. Try as he might to be subtle about it, Elizabeth couldn’t keep from noticing his every expression and stumble.

“The hell happened?” An echo of McDonough in the background layered with Booker’s response, but they didn’t have time for either. Not yet.

“We’ll tell you when we get there,” Elizabeth explained, picking up extra ammo for her gun.

“Right,” he grumbled and the line went to static.

“Ready to go?” Tenenbaum hadn’t wasted a moment, her pistol and science equipment ready.

“As I’ll ever be,” Jack breathed, pale but determined as he made his way to the exit.

“I’ll stay with the girls and watch the clinic. You be safe out there, you hear me?” Diane squeezed Elizabeth’s hand gently, giving her a worried smile.

“Of course, Diane.” Elizabeth felt a pang of guilt that it couldn’t be a promise, but she would do her best. They all needed to come home.

– – – Outside Suchong’s Old Apartment – – –

bioshock_s11_207218741202578438319.jpg

Slowed down by Jack, they arrived to gunfire and shouting already underway. Without a word, everyone reacted like a well-oiled machine. They covered each other’s back and pushed forward to the apartment itself– no sign of Booker or McDonough, unless the dead splicers they passed counted as evidence.

“Elizabeth,” Jack called out, pointing down the hallway to a lit room across from a slumped over, bloody splicer. “The– there. I saw Booker.”

How he caught so much in battle, she would never know. She nodded, leading the way with her gun ready. Tenenbaum shoved past, going directly for the shelves and muttering in German.

“Thank God,” Booker muttered, stepping back to give her space. Science was… Out of his scope, so she couldn’t be surprised.

booker dewitt bioshock.jpg

“Good to see you too,” she teased him, smirking. Everything had been so chaotic from possible treaties to Atlas’ ambitions, this was a shred of normalcy Elizabeth needed.

“Aha!” That was the only alert from Tenenbaum that she was making progress before she cleared off a battered desk and set to work.

“So…” McDonough cleared his throat, thumbing to Jack. He looked older than she thought he’d be, but he had a naturally fatherly air about him that made you want to trust him. “This the kid?”

bill mcdonough bioshock

“Yeah,” Booker answered, studying Jack and his unsteady breathing. “Yeah, that’s the one.”

“Ryan’s kid,” McDonough said through a laugh. “Yer dad’s not a bad man, son, he’s just…” He scratched the back of his head awkwardly, the sentence dying. “I’m Bill McDonough. ‘S great to meet ya.”

“Thanks,” Jack answered, taking Bill’s offered hand. “He… Kind of is.”

“Almost done,” Tenenbaum interrupted, though Elizabeth doubted that she’d known she had. This was Tenenbaum’s area of expertise, after all.

“Hello, boyo,” came the fizzled voice of Atlas through Booker’s radio. “Hope you ‘ad fun cutting down my people,” he spat, a sure sign he wasn’t alone. He only had to put on a show for his people, not one of them mattered to him.

atlas1858422307852987457.jpg

“‘Cause we’re gonna get even.” Elizabeth raised her eyebrows, distantly impressed with his emotion. For a person who can’t bring himself to genuinely connect, he almost sounded invested. “Hurry now to Point Prometheus, an’ you might just be in time to save yer old man.”

Thankfully, they had Tenenbaum to break up the staticy silence that followed.

“Jack,” she called him over, holding up two bottles. “You’re a free man.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

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BioQuest: Sideways

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Elizabeth didn’t have an exact count on how many people from the Family were with Grace, but she believed Grace wouldn’t let harm come to them. Even if they didn’t agree to the truce, she’d keep the peace. Elizabeth had to believe that.

“I have considered your offer, but I actually come here with one of my own.” She holstered her weapon, hearing Diane doing the very same behind her. If anyone recognized her in connection to Ryan, they didn’t mention it.

“We’ve made a truce with Ryan,” she started frankly, hoping that honesty would earn her some leniency. Elizabeth saw anger come to Grace quickly, spreading to the Family with her like wildfire.

“A truce with that monster! Like he cares what happens to the good people of Rapture,” she scoffed. “Throw your lot in with him if you like, but we–”

“Grace, please hear me out before you decide. I implore you,” Elizabeth begged, trying to pull this back from the brink. She only had this one chance. “This is our opportunity to bring peace to Rapture for everyone.”

Grace shook her head, scowl unwavering. “Peace? That animal doesn’t want any peace.” Muttering agreement rippled through the group beyond her. “How can you tell me about peace with Ryan when he holds Dr. Lamb, the one who really cares about us little people?”

bioshock rapture family

“We’ll talk to him about Dr. Lamb,” Diane interjected, stepping up to stand beside Elizabeth. “It’s the only right thing to do.”

It was a tall order, but they had to try it. And the fact that Diane came forward… Elizabeth couldn’t be happier. Her friend was finding the self-esteem to be brave when she had to be.

“You do that,” Grace bit back, but at least her expression had softened slightly. “But you hear this, and you remember it well: his answer is ours.”

“I understand,” Elizabeth nodded, taking the unspoken command to leave. Diane walked alongside her in silence until they were far enough from the Limbo Room for comfort when the radio she carried crackled to life.

“Zur Hölle fahren,” came the first distant words, and Elizabeth’s heart froze. Gunfire followed while Diane scrambled to get the radio where they could both speak into it.

“Tenenbaum! Can you hear me?” Elizabeth waited for what felt like ages in static.

“Yes, yes, I hear you,” she snapped back. “Scheisse.” More gunfire burst in the background. “Fontaine was watching us. With you both and Booker gone, he attacked.”

atlas fontaine bioshock

“Oh, oh no,” Diane worried, her brows furrowing. “What about the girls?”

“And Jack?” They only just opened up to one another, finally starting to date. She waited for him to ask, why did she do that? What if he was–

“We pushed him back. They’re safe, but not for long.” Static punctuated her sentence and it was all Elizabeth could do not to run off without a word.

“We’ll be there soon,” Elizabeth promised, rushing ahead as Diane hurried to keep up.

– – – Back at the clinic – – –

The first thing she heard was Jack biting back a scream, and Elizabeth couldn’t hold back anymore.

“Lizzie, wait,” Diane tried to shout, breathless, but with no luck in stopping her.

“Jack, where are you? Jack,” she called again, running through the second set of clinic doors to see him breathless, pale, and sweaty, leaning again a counter.

“H-here,” he forced out, wincing.

“Fontaine used a command, one I need Lot 192 to reverse,” Tenenbaum explained from her lab area. “Ryan hasn’t delivered, so we would have to go and get the supplies ourselves. But he can’t go anywhere.”

“I can–” Jack cut off in a horrid gasp, gripping the edge of the counter he was against. “I can go. I’ve had worse.”

“You aren’t convincing anyone, Jack,” Elizabeth said, tempted to be gentler but knowing she had to be honest first.

“I need the dose, or I’ll die waiting here for it. My heart is stopping every–” He cringed, eyes shut tight for a few seconds. “It’s stopping too often. I won’t make it unless I go too.”


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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A Hero’s Burden: KH3 Spoilers

So I was doing some thinking on Luxu and Sora, and the parallels between them as protagonists of their own stories (though Luxu doesn’t have a game at the moment, of course)… And how much I’d love to analyze that like the nerd I am. And here we are!

Luxu

Sadly, there’s not much on Luxu himself before he returns as Xigbar. But I can glean some information from The Case of Luxu!

And yeah, he’s not exactly a hero, per se, but he’s got a quest and a mentor and bear with me here

The Gazing Eye

kingdom hearts back cover luxu.jpg

The Keyblade he was given didn’t have a name, but Luxu assumed this was its name. It’s something both literal and philosophical— there is literally an eye in it and it gives MoM the ability to see into the future.

And once he’s told it has no name, he repeats “No Name” with a breathless interest, giving the Keyblade a closer look. It’s safe for us to assume, then, that he’s a philosophical person who looks for deeper meaning in things and that he also reveres the Master of Masters like all the Foretellers do.

Whatever he told Luxu, the seventh member would have been interested and sought depth in the message he was given— whether it was there or not.

EWWW

But when he’s told that it’s the Master’s eye, he recoils and says “ew” immediately. From his voice here in particular, we can assume Luxu was young. Perhaps Sora’s age at Kingdom Hearts 1, but likely a little bit older.

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. When MoM asks him accusingly if he thinks that’s gross, Luxu hesitantly answers, “N-no.” He holds his hand out towards MoM in a disarming gesture, looking a little crestfallen.

So even though he just said Ew and clearly thinks it’s gross, he said he didn’t. Why lie? Based on his body language, he either didn’t want to disappoint MoM or didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Later in life, I would call that a manipulation, but Luxu’s overall sincerity and inability to hold back his emotional responses here (such as recoiling and saying ew), I think it’s truly a little bit of both.

His Role

kingdom hearts back cover luxu box.png

When he’s told his role, he makes the connections quickly— his role is what allows the Book of Prophecies to exist. Luxu is smart, but for now, he tends to think in linear patterns. As most people do.

MoM tries to congratulate him on a job well done, but Luxu only said, “But I haven’t done anything yet.” This is a far cry from his actions as Xigbar, who sits on ceilings and casually warps space regularly while also helping out with some heart science and time travel.

The first step of his role was the most brutal, which I’ll expand on in this next section.

Luxu’s Disposition

Given how jumpy he can be, he’s likely kept to himself for the most part in his youth, possibly even being distrusting.

At one point, MoM says bingo and points in Luxu’s face and the younger man jumps and draws back to get some distance between them. This tells me Luxu dislikes sudden movements and people being in his space.

That said, all the Foretellers knew who he was even when he was Xigbar and presumably didn’t look like himself. So they knew him well enough to recognize his heart regardless of its vessel, at least.

His isolation during his role that took literally hundreds of years to see to fruition did not do him any favors in this regard. Especially considering he didn’t want to go alone and asked if he really had to, even wondering aloud what the other Foretellers would be doing.

With that and his eagerness to help MoM when pulling out the box, I think it’s a fair claim that Luxu doesn’t necessarily like people, but he’s loyal to those who are close to him. He dismissed his Keyblade the second he realized MoM was struggling with the box, running over to help him even though the job was mostly done.

And his promise to not open the box if he was told what was inside was softly spoken, but sincere, further cementing the notion that he’s devoted to those he already holds close.

But he’s also very curious and loves to push boundaries. If he’s told no, it just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Like not knowing what was in the box paired with not being able to open it made him really want to know what was inside.

And even when MoM told him what was in the box, he wanted to know why. This driven curiosity carried over to his time as Xigbar in the most destructive of ways, where learning secrets was worth nearly any cost.

His Descent

When he was told to just stand by and watch “as things unfold between the others”, the direct instructions from MoM, it was probably actually difficult to do. See them turning on one another, these people that he cared about and trusted, and worse yet— they were bringing the whole world down with them.

It’s no wonder that he grew to value emotional ties so little. It was those ties, their hearts, that led them so wrong. This affirmed that Luxu was right to distrust people, even friends, and that was the start of his descent down a slippery slope.

And now I draw my parallel.

With Sora!

sora riku soriku kingdom hearts

He’s curious, competitive, thoughtful, and loyal. Sora values his friends above all else and there’s nothing he won’t do for them.

To someone like Luxu, who started his journey by watching his friends destroy each other and the lives of those around him, it must be hard to see someone with a good deal in common with his younger self.

Sora also watched one of his friends turn on him, even going so far as to make him feel worthless.

But he was able to act. He wasn’t confined to a role. Sora stepped in and didn’t lose faith in his friends. Whether Luxu thinks he’s a fool who only put off the inevitable betrayal or resents him for being able to save the people he cared about (or a third option I can’t see yet), Sora is a reminder of how Luxu used to be.

Worse, how he could have been.

Then you get into meta narrative bits, like Kairi and Riku either expressly telling Sora or implying that he should never change.

As Sora battles with his insecurities, especially in KH3, it’s possible for him to go down a similar path as Luxu and lose his hope and optimism. For someone like Sora, that would make him change completely.

I can’t say that Kairi and Riku knew that was a risk or if Nomura is teasing that option with Sora. But I personally find it interesting that Luxu can be paralleled with Sora, at least with how they began their journeys, and I hope it is highlighted in some future game or DLC.

But most of all, I hope you had fun reading this!

Hearts’ Reunion: Zemyx

“I’m sorry you had to see me that way, Demyx,” Ienzo explained. It wasn’t much of a greeting for their agreed upon “chat” in the labs, but it had to be said sooner rather than later. Demyx seemed uncomfortable in the moment between Ienzo and Ansem the Wise, and it took Demyx speaking up for him to even realize that. Ienzo shook his head at such a serious oversight. And to think he believed he’d improved so much in understanding social cues since recompletion. He was proud of it, even.

“Nah, it’s no big deal,” Demyx dismissed with a wave, or as much of one as he could manage with two cups in his hands. Thick straws jutted out of the plastic film covering them and dark spheres sat at the bottom inch or two. Ienzo eyed the drinks, glancing up to Demyx questioningly. This was not part of their plans for this reunion and he couldn’t resist his curiosity.

A trait Demyx knew well from his regular visits to see him in the castle labs. He avoided his missions at all costs, but Demyx certainly always found time for social calls… Which led to their friendship and eventually evolved into something quite a bit more despite their lack of hearts. Pushing that thought away for now, Ienzo drew himself back to the present and willed his mind to stay on track.

“I just wasn’t really sure how to handle it. And, uhh, the others might’ve caught on if I dragged my feet.” After a thoughtful pause and a pout, he laughed. “Eventually. And Vexen, man, he is a terrible liar! He’d probably get me into more trouble with whatever story he cooked up.”

Ienzo chuckled at the thought. Even could keep his fair share of secrets, but it’s true that he had insufficient skills in impromptu lies. Given time to plan, at least, Even could deceive as well as any of them. But he had another question to address. “Demyx, what are those…?” He pointed to the cups and Demyx started as if he had completely forgotten they were there. Perhaps he had.

“Oh! Right!” He offered one to Ienzo, smiling from ear to ear. “You gotta try this! There’s a world out there with this stuff called bubble tea,” he answered with a shake of the cup he held out. The black orbs in the bottom jostled about to demonstrate his point that they were the reason for the name. Rather, Ienzo presumed that was the case. “I wanted to surprise ya, so I went with something I thought you’d like.”

“Thank you, but,” he trailed off, folding his arms as he examined the drink. “What is it, exactly? You’ve brought me a fair share of tea, but never anything like this.”

“I found it out—” Demyx cut himself off with a grumble, frowning. “Doing stuff.” Ienzo raised an eyebrow at that. Had Demyx taken up pretending his missions with the Organization didn’t exist? They were both well aware that he’d been deceived back into their ranks, so there was nothing to benefit from acting as though that wasn’t the case.

“It’s tea with some flavored milk, sugar, and they let you put a buncha stuff in it. I stuck with the classic chewy tapioca because the popping boba has this little flim that gets stuck in your teeth, and it’s just kinda weird. Still fun, though, you gotta try that next,” he ended through a giggle.

“Well, thank you,” Ienzo accepted, taking the cup from Demyx. “And now that we’re… getting to chat, I have some questions for you.”

“Huh?” Demyx fiddled with the straw in his cup, angling for the tapioca. “Umm, sure. Shoot.”

“The time at the castle… When we were both with the Organization, I…” Ienzo idly moved the cup around in his hands, busying himself to steady his mind. “Did it mean something to you?” It came out harsher than he meant it to. But what other way was there to ask and get an honest answer?

“You mean dating?” Demyx had a sip of his drink at the single worst time for Ienzo’s nerves, meeting his distressed gaze over the tea. “Aaah. I mean, sure. Even if it was in secret and all, like you wanted, I really lo— Sorry, sorry. I really like you.”

Ienzo sighed in relief, but it seemed there were more problems to resolve. “You can say love, Demyx. And I’m sorry I told you that you couldn’t before. Without believing I had a heart, I…” He shook his head, staring down at his untouched tea. “That was in the past, I suppose.”

Demyx watched him hopefully, brow furrowed but his smile intact. “Right, gotcha. I, uhh, I love you, so yeah, it, umm, it meant a lot to me, Zexion.”

“Please, call me Ienzo,” he diverted, not prepared for his confession even though he had prompted it. “I acknowledge that I am responsible for my actions as a Nobody, but I am using my human name now, and I… I love you as well.” To preoccupy himself, Ienzo finally had a sip of the tea. “Oh, this is delicious.”

“Ha! Called it!”

BioQuest: Meet the Family

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Hearing Booker out about the plan to save McDonough, Elizabeth planted her hands on her hips thoughtfully. “Can you do that on your own?”

And Booker scoffed, wrapping up his work on his gun. “Of course. I take plenty of jobs like this.”

She couldn’t stop a smile at how proud he was of it. A far cry from when they first met and he talked like a ruffian who went about killing people for sport. …Which was not as far from the truth then, Elizabeth supposed, and pushed that thought aside. “Just… Please be careful, Booker.”

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“I should say that to you,” he shot back matter-of-factly, holstering his weapon and turning to her. “The Rapture Family was unhinged before Lamb was imprisoned in Persephone. Now?” He shook his head. “They’ll be in a rage the second you even ask about making peace with Ryan.”

“Which is why I’ll strike a deal, and I won’t go alone.” Her smile took on a smug edge, which Booker answered with a sigh. Elizabeth hoped he’d finally come to accept or at least resign himself to the fact that her mind was made up. “I’ll take Diane with me.”

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“Diane?” His skepticism was clear as day, of course, and he evidently wasn’t alone in it. Diane fumbled with what she had been doing, managing to avoid dropping anything– narrowly.

“Me? Oh, Lizzy, I’m flattered, but I don’t know,” she started, worry taking over her expression in a pout. “Jack taught me to shoot and all, but do you really think I’m the right one for this?”

“Yes, I do.” Elizabeth insisted, sure and correcting. “You’re like them, Diane. Ryan promised everyone on the surface that they’d have a better life in Rapture, and now they’re trapped down here. They’ll listen to you because you understand what they’ve been through like no one else can.”

“If you say so, it must be the case,” Booker agreed, his cynical frown softened by a hint of trust.

“Well,” Diane thought out loud. A smile snuck up on her and she drew herself up. “Well, alright then. I’ll just be a second.”

— Outside The Limbo Room —

“It’s closed,” Diane whispered as Elizabeth put her hand against the door. She’d never been to the Limbo Room, but she heard of it from plenty of their patients back at the clinic. It provided a lot of solace in these dark days– and now it had closed its doors.

“Well now,” a woman’s voice cut through the stale air, and Diane stood beside Elizabeth with her hand on her holster. “What’ve we got here, gents?” A few men, sickly with splicing, trailed after her. They either had wrenches or pistols, but all of it was bad news. It was four against two.

“Brunette looks like the pretty one Atlas tol’us about,” one of the men said through a dark laugh. And shortly after, a gunshot took him down.

The reaction was immediate. Atlas’ people went on alert to find out who attacked them, conveniently forgetting about their original targets. Diane shot one and Elizabeth, the other, but the woman escaped in the scuffle.

“She’ll be telling Atlas, no doubt.” Elizabeth turned to the voice to see Grace reloading. “I can’t stand all this violence, but these brutes give us no choice.” She gave Diane a skeptical glance, but in the end, she settled on smiling at Elizabeth. “Have you considered my offer, then?”

Gradually, Elizabeth became aware of people from the Family also standing guard with Grace. They nodded or didn’t acknowledge them at all, but… Elizabeth had received far less friendly invitations.


What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

– – –

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