The stench of rotting meat filtered through the air of the damp corridor. The electricity had failed in this area, so the rooms were lit only by dim emergency lights. Elda braced up against the wall next to the hallway door, holding grimly to his shotgun. Old Buck had gotten him through a lot, and the feel of the metal and hardwood that made the gun was reassuring, as was the slight weight of the pistol at his side. Harlan Fin, old and grizzled, pressed against the wall on the other side of the door, clutching the tricked-up tommy gun that had saved both their lives on too many occasions. The sounds of splashing water put Elda's teeth on edge. Neither he nor Harlan was moving; the splicers were on the move.
He and Harlan were heading towards the Gaia district, where the last survivors of Rapture holding out against the murderous waves of their former friends and family. Elda's breathing grew faster as the sounds of movement grew closer, a slight echo of insane muttering echoing through the room. Elda's mouth grew dry, and he heard Harlan mutter swear under his breath. Harlan was a veteran, a fighter in Andrew Ryan's war against Frank Fontaine, one of the few people in Rapture that had moderated their use of ADAM, the mutagenic substance that had ruined their home. At the thought of ADAM, a slight hunger rose in Elda, the desire for more of the vicious substance. He pushed it firmly down, and focused on the sound of the approaching splicers.
They had grown closer now, Elda could hear an argument between the mutants, thick with insanity; it made his skin crawl. If his mother hadn't disapproved of plasmids, he would be one of them, or dead. They were only metres away now, snarling as they caught the scent of true humans. Harlan nodded to Elda, his eyes flinty. Elda gulped air, and swung around the door, wheeling Old Buck to face them.
Before him stood six splicers, mutated and insane, snarling their desire to kill in order to get their hands on more ADAM. They were once human, but bone only a passing resemblance to them now. Horrible sores and blisters grew all over their discoloured skin, which sagged in some places, and was stretched to splitting in others. Their limbs were deformed, the bones elongated and bent out of shape. Ragged masquerade ball masks covered their paces, but there was no hiding the rotten, bloodstained mouths that threw obscenities at Elda.
One of the splicers swung at Elda with a lead pipe, but he let loose with a blast from Old Buck, the splicer took the shell to the chest and crumpled to the ground. He heard Harlan let loose with his gun, sending a spray of bullets flying towards the mutants.
Another splicer rushed at Elda, to be dropped by Old Buck. But six splicers were too many; he felt clawed hands close on him from behind, and then a huge force knocked him forwards onto his stomach, Old Buck flying from his hands, and the weight of a snarling, enraged splicer on his back. Adrenalin pumped through Elda's veins, and he twisted over the ground onto his back as the splicer clawed into his flesh.
He could see it now, scars covered the deformed face, and he could see the glint of blood on the unnaturally long, sharp teeth. Panic threatened to overwhelm him, but that would mean death. A sharp, tingling feeling lanced through Elda's arm, and in the confused mess of movement, he could see blue light shining through his skin. The splicer's mouth lunged towards Elda's throat, and a surge of energy, prickling and hot, shot through his arm. A huge arc of electricity jumped from his hand to connect with the splicer's head, only centimetres from his skin.
The splicer went slack, and Elda pushed him off, rolling to his feet. He pulled his pistol from the holster at his waist, and shot the convulsing splicer in the head. A final, enraged scream sounded from down the corridor, followed by the sound of gunshots. Elda looked around, and saw Harlan clutching his gun tightly, pointing it towards the body of a collapsing splicer as it attempted to flee. Harlan nodded as it hit the ground, and glanced at Elda, his eyebrows drawn tightly together.
'You ought to kill that light, boy', he said, and Elda glanced at his arm. The Electro Bolt plasmid he had used to stun the splicer was still active, and he could see electricity flowing through his nerves; tiny sparks jumped from the tips of his fingers. He muttered an apology, shut the plasmid off.
Harlan was rummaging around in the splicer's pockets, pulling out whatever he could find. Bits of glass and empty syringes were the main result, but he had put aside a few shiny coins, a box of ammo, and a couple of hypodermic needles filled with a dark blue liquid. Harlan finished, and observed what he had found. He put everything into the satchel that hung at his side, except for the hypos. He slid one into his pocket, and held the other out to Elda. Elda reached forward and took it; the hypo was filled with EVE, the substance that powered the effects of some plasmids.
He could feel the EVE that remained in him; he was running dangerously low, and the Electro Bolt had brought him down to almost zero. He held his arm out, and stabbed the needle into his arm, forcing EVE into him. A pulse of cold passed through him, along with a new, stronger feeling; the feel of EVE running through him, ready to help. Elda sighed, and found himself collapsing on the ground, his head in his hands. Harlan sat down too, albeit more gracefully. As Elda looked, Harlan's skin took on a slivery sheen. That was the regenerative effect of some gene tonic, a passive, ongoing plasmid that Harlan had used in the past. It kept him healthy, too bad adrenalin stopped it from functioning. Elda tried to speak, but only managed a dry croak. He cleared this throat, and tried again.
'Why are they fighting us?' he asked Harlan, who glanced at him. He had a mane of bushy gray hair shot with silver. The silver was a natural colour, not ADAM-induced. The thought of using plasmids merely to change the way you look sent a shiver down Elda's spine now; Rapture had destroyed itself by doing things like that. Harlan gazed at Elda for a few seconds, and then stood up. Elda hesitated, and then went to get up too, but Harlan told him to stop. Harlan walked towards Elda, pulling a medkit out of his satchel, and spoke.
'They're insane, and I imagine the reasons are different for each of them. It doesn't matter in the end' he said, 'Pull your shirt up, there's a fair amount of blood here'. Elda obliged, and winced when Harlan fixed up the wounds the splicer had inflicted. His adrenalin was fading, and he could feel Harlan stitching him back together.
'How did you end up here, like this?' he asked, more to take his mind off the pain that anything. He didn't expect a response, but to his surprise, Harlan answered.
'I was part of a mercenary group Ryan took down to Rapture when he founded it. We were supposed to train a police force, but when the war started, we just ended up as soldiers. We were the first people that Ryan sent against Fontaine, and some of the first to abuse ADAM'. That was almost the longest speech Elda had ever heard from Harlan, and even Harlan himself looked a little surprised. He pulled Elda's shirt down and barked 'done', before picking up his gun and walking down the corridor. Elda got up, feeling slightly weak, but workable. He retrieved Old Buck from where it lay, and walked off, following Harlan.
In the lightless depths of the ocean, the city of Rapture had to be lit by artificial lights, and the splicers seemed to enjoy destroying them. As Elda and Harlan walked through the corridors of the hotel they were passing through, they were confronted by an ever-deepening darkness. Harlan had given up on finding anyone else of his shortwave radio, and had it tuned to the emergency frequency, giving them a thin, continuous blast of static that quickly got on Elda's nerves. Elda's heart sped up as the darkness got ever thicker, eventually lit only by dim, dirty emergency lights that illuminated only a metre or so of space. Harlan looked unperturbed by his surroundings, and Elda tried to follow his example, attempting to keep his face calm as even the emergency lights began to sputter out. Suddenly Harlan stopped, holding up a hand to signal Elda to do the same. Elda watched Harlan as he turned his head, as through trying to see through the gloom by sheer force of will.
'They're coming' he said, in response to some signal that Elda couldn't detect. Harlan turned towards him 'we're going to need some light, boy'.
For a second Elda didn't know what Harlan was talking about, before understanding dawned on him. He raised his left hand, and willed the ADAM in him to come to life. The Electro Bolt plasmid sparked into existence, electricity flaring across his nerves, casting a pale light around them. As tiny sparks flew from Elda's fingers, he felt a small tug as a tiny, almost negligible amount of EVE was burned to sustain the plasmid; and the flaring hunger for ADAM that rose for a second before settling back to a dull ache in the pit of his stomach. Some part of that must have crossed his face, because Harlan put his hand on Elda's shoulder, and muttered a few words.
'We can't afford to become like them, we still have work to do'. At those words, Harlan began walking down the short hall they were in, navigating by the glow of Elda's arm, before stopping at a flight of stairs. Harlan turned back to Elda, a frown creasing his face as he beckoned Elda to hurry. Suddenly Elda heard something, like a crash in the darkness behind him, followed by the faint echo of maniacal laughter. Elda felt his blood run cold as sounds started echoing down from the stairs Harlan was standing at. He hesitated for a moment, and then slung Old Buck onto his shoulder, grabbing a piece of lead pipe in his right hand, holding Electro Bolt ready. He began to make out what the splicers were saying.
'So pretty... She was just too pretty...' echoed down from the darkness, punctuated by short bursts of sobbing. Elda's mind was drawn to one of the splicer's first atrocities; the killing of everyone closest to them. Harlan held his gun ready, and Elda noticed the silvery sheen to his skin was gone; his adrenalin was shorting out the regenerative plasmid. The sounds grew closer.
'Had to... so pretty, just had to... she wanted me to...' the insane monolog was cut short by a vengeful scream from behind Elda, rapidly approaching. Fear pulsed in Elda as his shot Electro Bolt in the direction of the sound. The bolt flew wide, but the illumination it provided allowed Elda to see a brief flash of a man in a tattered suit without pants, holding a picture in one hand and a long bloody shard of glass with the other, rushing towards him. Elda swung with the pipe, feeling it connect with the glass, shattering it. The splicer screamed, and moved to drive his teeth into Elda's arm; big mistake. Elda let loose another blast of electricity, right into the splicer's face, before braining it with the pipe. No time for celebration, the sounds of gunshots were echoing behind Elda, followed by the sound of a gun clattering to the floor; he turned around to see Harlan standing around three splicer corpses, wrestling with another in a ragged red dress.
'Sorry honey, but I'm not into that shit!' he yelled as he ripped the splicer off him, snapping her neck. She fell to the ground, and after a few seconds, Harlan followed. He glared at Elda.
'Next time, boy, I'd appreciate it if you'd give me a little help!' he said, before eyeing the bloodstained pipe in Elda's hand. 'I don't suppose the pistol ever occurred to you?'
That got on Elda's nerves. 'Fuck you, I almost died killing that thing!'
'And I almost fucking died killing four! Next time you decide to shoot lightning when there's no need, don't miss!' Harlan roared, and Elda shrank back. He'd never seen the old man this angry before. Suddenly Harlan took a deep breath, visibly gaining control over himself again. The silvery sheen slowly returned to his skin, and he began to look normal again. Elda turned to the dead splicer behind him. He noted that, thankfully, despite having no pants, the splicer was decently covered; Harlan had once expressed concerns of ever seeing 'that' again, and had failed to elaborate. He began digging through the Splicer's pockets, finding nothing. He sat down while Harlan searched the other corpses.
'Nothing useful, boy. We ought to get going' he said, picking up his gun. Elda nodded, and got up. They started walking again, Harlan leading the way. A few seconds passed before Harlan spoke again.
'I'm... sorry, boy; I should have-'
Harlan's head twisted back to look at Elda, staring at him for a few seconds before shifting back. A few harsh chuckles cut through the air.
'Heh, maybe in fifty years, boy, but for now I ain't calling you 'Elda'' he laughed, and a smile grew on Elda's lips, despite all that had happened. Harlan's laugher soon stopped, and again the corridors were quiet. Something glinted in the distance, catching the light rising from Elda's arm.
'Hang on, boy, I saw something' said Harlan, increasing his pace. Elda almost had to run to keep up with the old man. Harlan stopped, and Elda saw what had caught the light; a huge circular door of shiny metal. Harlan pressed his hands against the door; it didn't budge. He swung his head towards Elda.
'Help me, boy' he said, and immediately Elda pushed up against the door. He could feel it giving way, millimetre by millimetre, and then...
...the door swung open with a terribly loud crash. Elda squeaked, sure that the sound would attract splicers. But he heard no screams of rage, no insane shrieking, nothing.
Something's not right... thought the teenager as he followed Harlan through the door. Inside was pitch black, and the Electro Bolt plasmid didn't shed nearly enough light to illuminate it. Harlan sniffed the air, and grimaced. Elda didn't understand why; the air smelled dusty, but apart from that, nothing. Hang on, he thought, Rapture doesn't smell like dust, where's the blood? And he realised that the ever-present stench of rotting meat and dried blood had disappeared. This place had been sealed away before splicers had gotten in, that meant...
'This place is safe, I think' said Harlan. He reached around to the wall, fumbling in the darkness. Elda heard a small 'click', and suddenly the room was filled with dim light. It was large and circular, the walls and ceiling made completely of rusty metal, instead of the strong glass that showcased the ocean. A 'Gatherer's Garden' machine sat against the wall off to the left, but Elda paid it no attention, he was focusing on what lay in the centre of the room.
Oh, God, it's not...
'A bathysphere!' he yelled, racing towards the spherical transport. As he approached it, he saw the rails that held it up, and led down, below the floor through a large circular hole. Harlan was already walking towards it, a grim smile on his grizzled face.
'Come on, old man! We're getting out of here!' yelled Elda, coming up the bathysphere's door. He grabbed a lever attached to it and pulled; nothing happened.
'How do you get it open?' she asked Harlan sheepishly. The old man chuckled and stepped to the side of the door, kneeled down, and opened a small hatch on the side of the sphere. Elda watched as Harlan pulled out a small toolkit and began fiddling with the machinery behind the hatch.
'Can't go straight... move though there... maybe...' Harlan muttered, and suddenly he swung the hatch back up, and the bathysphere door slid open on its own, startling Elda.
'How did you know how to do that? asked Elda as he and Harlan climbed into the sphere.
'You don't... fight against splicers for a year without learning how to hack' replied the old man. Elda got the impression that Harlan wasn't telling him everything, but disregarded the feeling as the sphere descended into the ocean.
I'm getting out, thought Elda happily, watching the ocean drift by them as the sphere dropped further down, sliding on its rails towards another of Rapture's buildings.