Well, recently I finished Bioshock and I felt I had to write out the ending that I envisioned. Its basically the 'good ending' explained. I think that ending is waaaay better than the bad ending. I estimated six little sisters that got saved because I could largely. I also found somewhere that the main character's name is Jack Stow. Don't know if its true but it'll do.
Regular updates for Project Nobody will still be continuing of course, this is just an aside.
Beta'd by 'Williow (because I threatened violence)
As Rachel walked up to the large suburban house she could hear the laughter of children from inside. The lawn was lush and green, flowers tumbling haphazardly out of the flowerbeds. On the wooden porch stood a bench and she smiled as she glimpsed the day's paper, tossed to one side after the reader had finished.
A hand on her shoulder caused her to turn; the touch was gentle and warm. She smiled at her fiancé as he fidgeted nervously behind her. "I'm not so sure about this," he hedged nervously. "What if they don't like me?"
Rachel let out a peal of laughter and put a hand on his cheek. "Richard, they'll love you," she reassured him. "Why are you so afraid of them?"
"It's just, you have a lot of sisters and just your father and they way you talk…they obviously mean a lot to you and I really want them to like me!" he protested. Richard was a tall, handsome man. He had clear blue eyes and chocolate coloured hear that stuck up in childish tufts. "Besides, the way you talk about your father, he kinda sounds really stern."
"My dad?" she smiled, "he seemed that way at first. Don't worry; everyone's really excited to meet you! Even is my father will be a little over protective." She gave him one last smile before knocking the oak front door.
It opened a split second later to reveal another young woman. Unlike Rachel she didn't have blond hair, hers was a rich auburn colour and her eyes were emerald green. She grinned and embraced Rachel strongly. "We were so worried you would be late!" she chirped happily. "We've missed so much, what with you, Alice and Charlotte being at university! Father says that house has just not been the same." Her inquisitive eyes latched onto Richard immediately and she looked him up and down. "So, is this the infamous Richard we have heard so much about?" she asked with a smile.
Richard scratched the back of his neck nervously an offered a sheepish smile. "Yeah, that'd be me. It's nice to meet you," he muttered, feeling like he was being interrogated.
Yet, the woman's smile remained open and wide, welcoming. "Well, Richard, I'm Rose and it's nice to meet you too. Why don't you both come in and sit down?"
They were lead into a living room that contained comfy sofas and a large television in one corner. The room's occupants consisted of one other woman and a small feline. They were all of similar age, teh new woman was the youngest by around three years. Richard was told her name was Charlotte. Rachel appeared to be the eldest.
He smiled nervously as they fussed around him. Asking questions and poking at him. They seemed to adopt him straight away; there was no wariness or caution. After a moment he relaxed, laughing with them and talking jovially.
After half and hour Rachel turned to Charlotte and asked, "When are the others getting here?"
"Well, Alice set out just after you so she should be hear soon. Laura is coming on the train, so they'll be about an hour. Patience is in the kitchen cooking, naturally." the brunette replied. She was the most fine-boned of the sisters. She looked fey and had a pale complexion.
There was an answering call from the kitchen, presumably from Patience.
Richard spluttered a little, "just how many sisters do you have?" he asked his fiancé incredulously.
Rose laughed heartily, "We are six sisters," she told him with a smile.
"Six?" he was completely shocked.
"Rachel, didn't you tell him what to expect?" teased Patience, who'd come with a tray littered with cups, saucers and a teapot. She set it down on the coffee table and looked to Richard. "Do you drink tea?" she asked kindly.
"Err, yes, thank you," he murmured, still in a state of mild shock.
Patience smiled, "sugar? Milk?"
"Milk and one sugar please," he replied, shaking himself slightly.
"Aww, looks like someone has a sweet-tooth!" chimed Charlotte, ruffling Rachel's hair playfully. Ann just smiled and handed him the worn mug without a word.
Richard was in the kitchen helping Patience when the other sisters arrived. They were older and teased him as Rachel's other sisters had. He was feeling quite intimidated being the only man. Rachel smiled happily after a while and gestured for him to come closer. "Would you mind calling Dad down for dinner? He's in his study," she asked.
Richard hesitated for a moment. "What does your dad do?"
"Well, he used to be in the army before we were born. Then he became a painter and writer." She smiled, "don't worry and don't be scared of him. He's big but he's a softie on the inside. He's probably painting right now." She gestured toward the staircase, "go on up. It's the attic room." She gave him a kiss on the cheek before he went on his way.
Richard climbed the stairs with trepidation, no matter what Rachel said, meeting your fiancé's father for the first time was always going to be a nerve-racking experience. He climbed the stairs to the attic as instructed and, after a moment, knocked twice on the large door at the summit. There was a mute shuffling before a voice called "come in, it's not locked."
He opened the door and his eyes almost popped out of his skull at the sight. The room was lit by an enormous sky light, casting halos haphazardly across the floor. Against one wall was a collection of canvases and a tall easel, a half finished painting upon it. Richard almost gasped at the quality of it, the colours were sharp and the brushstrokes were almost invisible. It depicted what appeared to be some kind of underground room with a glass wall that looked out onto the ocean. Richard was shocked to realise that the room was under the water.
He turned his head to the other wall, it had pictures of children on it, all girls. These were undoubtedly pictures from Rachel's childhood. Finally he looked to the desk at the end of the room. It had papers across it, some were sketches and some were filled with words. Sitting before it was an elderly gentleman, he was obviously imposingly tall. He wore a button-up white shirt and grey slacks.
"Don't stand there gawping!" the old man barked, turning around. "Come in and close the door!"
Richard gulped as he was pinned down by the weight of a blue-eyed stare. The old man got to his feet and proved that he was indeed taller than Richard. He reached out and picked up a walking stick, he shuffled to the wall covered with pictures. His gait was one of a strong man who'd simply gotten old. His body showed that in youth he had been a strong man, a bold one.
"Come stand with me," the harsh voice continued. Richard swallowed his apprehension and strode to stand next to the enormous man. He followed his gaze up to a group photograph. The children were around ten in it and gathered around a man who dressed smartly. He had short cut brown hair but Richard could still recognise the piercing blue gaze. The young man was now old and stood next him, but he was no less imposing.
"I understand you're to marry my Rachel," the harsh voice said after a moment.
"Yes, sir," Richard replied respectfully and instantly.
The blue eyes turned to him again, "I am Jack Stow and I have cared for my girls for over nineteen years, are you prepared to take that responsibility from me?"
Richard bravely met the gaze and nodded. Jack snorted. "I was in my forties when I adopted them all. It was strange; an army veteran like me was suddenly saddled with a group of children. At first we were awkward but, after a time, I loved them more than my life." A wry smile twisted his lips.
Richard's eyes flicked to a picture of a woman, she stood with the children and was smiling gently. "Is that your wife?" he asked.
"Wife?" the old man smiled. "No, I never married. However, that is undeniably their adopted mother, her name is Bridgette Tenenbaum. I never met her, we spoke only over the radio but she was a remarkable woman. A doctor and geneticist by trade."
"What happened to her?" Richard asked before he could catch himself. Inside he was appalled at his lack of tact. Rachel had never really told him of her past and curiosity had peaked at even a slight glimpse.
"We lived together with the children for a while. But she died not long after I adopted the girls. Cancer is a terrible predator, they missed her greatly." The man spoke harshly, indicating that the subject was very much closed.
There was silence for a moment, "you'll have to forgive my hostility but you have not seen where my girls grew up. Tell me, what do you think of my paintings?" he asked gesturing to the canvases.
Richard gazed and some of the images chilled him to the bone. Some depicted creatures of horror wielding guns, deadly hooks or wrenches, all drenched in swathes of blood. One picture in particular caught his attention; it was easily the largest and the most detailed. It was blurred around the edges, like a dream, and the colours were a wash of greys, blues and the odd splash of neon green or blood red. The focus on the picture was on an enormous figure in a strange metal suit, one arm seemed to carry a drill, enormous, turning and covered in blood. The other hand held nothing and was held out in invitation, bidding the onlooker to take it.
"Some of them are amazing, but this one-" he indicated the one containing the strange monster, "- frightens me a little."
The man laughed, "Ah, yes! Well they were designed to be fearsome, they were awesome fighters. Nigh, invincible." He ran a hand over the picture lovingly; Richard took note of a tattoo on his inner wrist. Three links of a chain ingrained in blue travelled the width of the thick appendage.
"You make it sound as if they existed," Richard joked.
"Oh they did, my children knew them very well. What if I told you - Richard was it? – that all of this was real? That all these paintings are not something from an elusive muse within my mind but are, in fact, based on hard, cold reality." Blue eyes moved their judgemental gaze back to the fidgeting young man once more.
"I'd say you were mad, sir," Richard replied truthfully.
Jack gazed at him before laughing deeply. "I wish I was sometimes," he murmured still smiling. "Imagine it, a world under the sea but not one of fairy tale. Full of murder, lies and betrayal. Both I and my children were birthed in that city, all of us twisted cruelly into monsters of another's design." He sighed deeply, "The city of Rapture was an escape from the oppression of societies in the late 1940's. Its builder, Andrew Ryan, was a genius. He was mad, of course, but a genius none the less. The city attracted minds of similar quality, it was full of the best scientists, architects and engineers of the age."
"This all existed?" Richard couldn't believe it, but the truth in the old man's voice made him think twice, listen and learn.
"I couldn't believe it either when I got there. My plane crashed, or rather under orders I brought it down. I, the only survivor, made for what seemed to be a light house. It was a lift shaft down to the city. I discovered a city fallen into chaos, where people mutated and maimed themselves to survive. Once I realised I was trapped down there I murdered and butchered to find freedom." Blue eyes were lost in memory as the old man leaned heavily on his walking stick. "Genetic research today is nothing to what was down there."
"Tenenbaum was the one who discovered the way to change the human bodies. She experimented on my children and myself before them. Well, my maker was a man called Fontaine but the principles were the same."
"Rachel was-" Richard was shocked, this seemed surreal, untrue.
"Oh yes, she was what were called 'Little Sisters', they were the harvesters of the substance that turned men into monsters. They raided the bodies of the mutated, cruelly ripping them open if they had to. In fact, they were monsters themselves. All of them were guarded by one of those," he pointed to the painting of the nightmarish figure. "Those were also freaks of experimentation. I killed them to save them and, lastly, ended up becoming one myself. But, hell that Rapture was, it did give me one thing."
Richard gazed questioningly, caught up in the old man's tale.
"It gave me my children, my little girls. I saved them, reversed what had been done and then I brought them to the surface. They remember Rapture, but not as much as I. We made a life together; I gave them a chance, to live, to learn and to love. In return I got a family, what more could I have asked for? I, who had nothing and no one!"
Richard could see tears in Jack's clear blue eyes for a split second before they were blinked away. Those eyes became hard once more, imposing. Yet, Richard could tell, Jack really loved his children. He cherished them as if they were the air he breathed.
"And now," the old man continued wistfully, "another flies the nest. I shall miss Rachel. I shall miss all of them and I like to imagine that when I die, they shall miss me."
"The way Rachel spoke of you, sir, I could tell she loved you very much. You mean the world to her," Richard told him earnestly.
"It is good to know, young Richard, that my daughter will be going into the hands of such a fine, upstanding man. Tell me, what do you do for a living?"
"Oh, I'm Engineer. I design hydraulics." Richard flushed.
"A nice stable job, a job out of trouble," Jack commented.
"Yes, sir." Richard felt that imposing nature focused on him once more.
"Do you wish for children, Richard?"
Richard blushed in embarrassment, "well, yes, I do, sir," he managed to stutter out after a moment of mortified silence.
"That is good, I would like grandchildren," the old man went back to his desk. "So I shall ask you again, young man. I have never had any sons and the man that claimed to be my father was little short of insane, so having a son-in-law is something I am not prepared for. However, I have cared for my girls for over nineteen years, are you prepared to take that responsibility from me?"
"Yes, sir. I think I am," Richard looked the man in the eye resolutely.
Jack smiled down at him. "Then let us join my children, you and I. I am sure they are anxiously awaiting us," he led the way to the door and opened it for the young man. Jack spared one last glance into his study before smiling and proceeding downstairs.
Upon entering the dinning room the old man was showed with questions about how he liked Richard, what he thought of the marriage. He held up a hand against the barrage and the girls fell silent. He seated himself at the table, which was laid out with a huge amount of food. The plates and cutlery were all positioned so that everyone could dine. The women and Richard followed his example, also seating themselves.
"It has come to my attention that another of our number is flying the coop and she will be sorely missed. She is marrying this young man, Richard I believe his name is, and while I detest the idea of any of my daughters leaving I cannot help but find him more than suitable for the task of carrying for our Rachel." He raised his wine glass, which was filled with white wine, to Richard and smiled. "I hope that you were all more welcoming of this young gentleman than I was. I am getting crabby in my old age it appears."
The occupants of the dinner table erupted with smiles and Richard heard Rachel chime, "see, I knew he'd like you."
Rachel was in their kitchen washing up. It was summer; she and Richard had been married for around ten years. Their first child, Matthew, had been born four years previous and lay sleeping in Richard's lap. The phone rang, distant to Richard who was focused on the engineering plans on his desk before him. In the back of his mind he registered Rachel picking it up.
"Richard! We have to leave now!" came a shout a few moments later.
There was a note of hysteria in her voice and Richard immediately looked around. He could see something was very obviously wrong. "What is it?" he asked, voice filled with concern.
"It's my dad, they said that, it's-" without warning she suddenly burst into tears. "I need to see him," she sobbed.
"Of course," Richard quickly got to his feet. Gently he shook Matthew awake and the three of them set off for the hospital at top speed. Upon arriving they were escorted to the corridor outside the hospital room and were greeted by the sight of all of Rachel's sisters waiting anxiously. Husbands were also present but were occupying some of the grandchildren while the women fretted. Richard proceeded to of the same with Matthew, who was the eldest of the grandchildren.
After an hour a doctor emerged to address them. "He's stable, but I'm afraid he will not live much longer." He was obviously trying to break the news gently but was having trouble. "There is nothing more we can do for him, it's just a matter of time. I'm sorry."
The girls all began to cry as he left. It was Rose who recovered first, wiping her tears with fierce determination. She walked into the room and soon her sisters followed. Their father lay prone on the clean while bed. An IV stuck out of his hand and his breathing was soft. A previously imposing, tall, strong man was now like a puppet with no strings.
Rose gently took his hand in hers, his large hand in turn closed around hers comfortingly. One by one the sisters reached out to touch the hands that had saved them all those years ago. Tears were on their faces but Jack's face held a serene smile. "You've all grown so big," he wheezed. "Seems only yesterday that you held my hand as we ran down that dock togther, do you remember?"
"Yes," said Charlotte. She smiled through her tears in fond memory. "You were so tall and at first we were afraid. But you were kind, gentle.."
"You gave us hope," put in Patience.
"You became our father and our mother," continued Laura.
"And we love you so much," Rachel said finally. All the others murmured agreement, clutching at the once-strong hands as if they were a lifeline.
"You seem to misunderstand girls, it was you who saved me." Jack smiled at the almost corny line. His blue eyes rolled to the side to meet the gaze of his eldest grandchild who'd come to the bed before his father could stop him.
"You going away, granddad?" the small boy asked sadly.
"Oh yes, I imagine so," the old man replied weakly. He smiled down at the little boy warmly.
"When are you coming back?" Everyone was silent, sorrowfully watching the small child talk to the old man.
"Well, my journey is going to be very long, very tiring. So much so that I don't think I'll be making it twice," Jack laughed wheezily.
"If you aren't coming back, when will I see you?" the boy began to cry the huge, heart-wrenching tears that only a child can make. Jack hadn't seen those tears in a long time; he watched their passage down the boy's face quietly for a moment.
"You will have to wait a long time, but we will meet again. I promise."
That night, Jack Stow passed away.
Richard moved through the graveyard, holding the hand of his six-year-old daughter, Mary, while his son darted up ahead. His wife was back at the car and he'd taken his impatient children ahead. They stopped before a large tombstone. On it was inscribed 'Jack Stow. "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a hero dies but once."' The dates of his life were also immortalised on the stone.
Matthew was the one who placed the flowers while the rest of the family watched. Mary finally looked up at her father and asked "was granddad a hero?"
Richard saw she was pointing the epitaph. "As, yes, he was." He replied, looking down at her kindly. "He did great things."
"What did he do?"
"Well, there is a story, I suppose."
"Yes, full of bravery and heroism. Would you like to hear it?"
Richard sat down on a nearby bench and the children immediately jumped up next to him, even Matthew who'd said he was getting too old for story just the night before. "Right. Imagine an amazing city built under water! It was called Rapture and was very beautiful. But it was filled with bad men and women, evil men and women who did bad things. Now, a man discovers this city by accident when his plane crashes into the sea and, soon, he is trapped down there all alone-"
Rachel smiled as she watched husband speak. The children were wide eyed with wonder as their father told the tale that had been told to him sixteen years previous. Her eyes moved to the gravestone and a warm smile dawned on her face. It was a bright day and she knew that, if Jack Stow was still alive, he would have loved it. Yes, Jack Stow had always loved the clear, blue, open sky. A sky that had been the greatest of gifts to his children. A sky that had lived in his own eyes.
I can't quite remember where the quote was from but it seemed fitting. I hope you all liked this. My vivid imagination gave me no rest while writing this. It almost made me cry. :'(
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