Disclaimer: sniffle I still don't own it sniffle Now go on, get out of here and read the dang thing.
Well. Here we are everybody. The final chapter of this whole thing. Now I'll probably get all blubbery and emotional at the end, but for now, one last time, ladies and gentlemen I hope that you enjoy reading this as much as I certainly enjoyed putting it to print. So, without further ado, the final chapter of Sea of Broken Dreams.
The boat sped off into the darkness away from the mist-covered island, laden down with its passengers as much as with their hopes, dreams, and sorrows. A young woman, no more than sixteen, stared back at the receding shoreline, her hair whipped to a frenzy by the wind as tears streamed down her face, and the hum of the engine drowned out the sound of her quiet sobs.
"Father," she whispered, barely audible. "Why did you have to stay?" All the while the question that rang in her mind was Why did you have to leave me? Was it selfish to want him by her side, a silent guardian, her knight in shining armor? After all the misery and suffering that he had gone through on her behalf…maybe it was. And maybe this sacrifice was what she needed to finally realize it.
As Eleanor Lamb stared back at the distant shore she dried her eyes and sniffled once more, before a gentle hand lowered to her shoulder. Looking up, she meet a pair of equally red and puffy eyes, one framed by a long white scar down one cheek.
"Its what he wanted," Alice said to her, just loud enough to be heard over the engine, as if saying it enough times aloud would make it easier to believe.
"That doesn't make it any easier," Eleanor whispered back, another tear snaking down her cheek.
"I know," Alice answered, pathetically, as she slumped into the seat next to her. Biting her lip, she hesitated as she stared back towards the island, now nothing more than a few distant lights. "I loved him too, you know," she said quietly at last. "I loved him just as-"
She was silenced as Eleanor took her in a tight embrace, sobs wracking her body. "I don't know what to do," the British girl cried, voice muffled into Alice's shoulder.
"Neither do I," Alice answered as her own tears returned, her voice distant. "Neither do I…"
The two girls sat there, locked in their embrace, tears flowing, feeling so utterly lost. No more words were spoken, not until the well of their sorrow had begun to dry, their tears replaced by a hollow ache in their hearts. They were orphans now more than ever; two Sisters who had lost their Father, their Daddy, and nothing would ever be the same. His was a presence forever burned into their souls, their very beings; an echo that would guide them even after he was gone. But an echo was just that; a distant specter of what once was, no true substitute for the flesh and blood and metal that had been their Father. So the two daughters of Rapture held each other as their boat sped away from one final link to their past, the man who had chosen to die so that their futures might live. They held each other and they wept.
"Thank you, Father," Eleanor whispered through her tears. "Thank you for everything."
oooooooo oooooooooo ooooooooo ooooooooooo ooooooooooo ooooooooo ooooooo
"You know, Doc," Michael Carnegie began after a long silence, his eyes fixed upon the horizon as his hands worked the controls, "there was a time that I blamed you for all this." Tenenbaum was silent as his words reached her, and undeterred he continued. "ADAM, Splicers, the war, this; I cursed you night and day for opening the door to all this, flipping the first domino in the chain all those years back."
"And now?" came her measured response, the doctor's worn fingers tracing the grain of the wood in Adler's cane.
Carnegie answered with a sigh. "Now I think I'm too tired to hate anymore, too old. Every one of us has Rapture's blood on our hands. We all let that dream die. Together." The man gave a bitter laugh, his wrinkles furrowing. "You know," he started, "I can't help but imagine what could have been. In another world, you know? The tiniest choice could've stopped all of this. If I'd never maimed by hand, if I never found the slug. If I never came to Rapture. " He sighed. "But no, the cards fell this way, and here we are."
The weary man gazed up towards the nighttime sky, the vast swath of stars and glimmering moon a backdrop for twisted clouds. For the blink of an eye he saw Rapture among the clouds; he saw it just as his last fleeting vision of the city as they fled, its sweeping towers nestled amongst the clouds, the stars its dying lights. Michael Carnegie could only shake his head once more; whenever man reached to far, or dove to deep, nothing followed but misery and suffering. He knew it all too well.
ooooooooooo ooooooooo oooooooooo ooooooooooo ooooooooooo ooooooooooooo
Jack Ryan carefully flipped through the stack of files Carnegie had handed him before taking the helm, trying fruitlessly to read by the light of the moon alone. All had agreed it was most prudent to leave the lights out; it would be difficult to escape as it was without advertising their position. From what he could see, he was impressed. The work even better than the first set of false identities he'd gotten for himself and the girls when they'd escaped the first time. With a sigh, he ran his fingers through his greying hair; the years had not been kind. There were some days that he wondered just how long he had left. Suchong had played Frankenstein with him, loading all kinds of horrors into his DNA and psyche at Fontaine's bidding. Heaven only knew how long it'd all hold together. Hell, he could be living on borrowed time as much as Delta had been.
Delta. The thought of the Big Daddy they had left back on that dock stirred a pang of guilt in his heart. Still, the man had made his choice, and if it had been him Jack knew he'd have chosen the same. He would not go quietly into death's embrace, he knew that. His reverie was broken however when Masha, asleep on the bench next to him, stirred ever so slightly and came to rest her head against his arm. As delicately as possible, Jack set the files down and leaned back into his seat, carefully cradling his daughter's head and running brushing her hair from her face. Then again, he thought to himself, his blaze of glory could wait. He had more important things to worry about.
oooooooooo oooooooooo ooooooooooo oooooooooo ooooooooooo ooooooooooooo
With a rumbling grunt, Subject Delta heaved the fuel drum into the last of the docked patrol boats, a thick trail of oil leading back to the dock house that was to be his shield. Safely behind its walls, he gave a snap of his fingers and sparks blossomed into his palm. A moment later the fuel trail had been lit, flames racing down its sleek sheen until at last they reached the boats, loaded high with every bit of flammable and explosive material the Big Daddy could find like a row of funeral pyres.
One by one he watched as they ignited, gouts of oily flame roaring into the sky and pouring out black smoke as the explosions tore the boats asunder. The flames danced in the air, leaping to the wooden areas of the dock and its surrounding facilities, swirling cinders carried towards the island's pines by the biting sea breeze that whipped new blazes into a frenzy. Fire lit the night sky a harsh orange, thick columns of acrid smoke billowing out, pulled this way and that by the rush of the air. It was a crucible, Delta thought idly, stepping out into the hellscape he had created, a forge. He would enter it a prisoner, a captive in so may ways, but through its fury he would find his freedom. Here the demons birthed beneath the sea could finally be cast out.
Armed with nothing but his drill, the Big Daddy eyed his surroundings for more tools of destruction. A nearby construction site for a dock extension found itself donating the lengths of pipe it had had so neatly stacked, a handful of the longest clipped into the empty weapon holster on his back. Handfuls of hellfire and sheer brute force forged sharpened points out of their blunt ends. A spare anchor and its chain came next, the great length of iron coiled around one gauntlet, the mighty anchor itself resting comfortably in the grip of one hand. As the heat from the inferno he had wrought seeped into his metal skin, the golem of Rapture peered through the smoke towards the gate they had smashed through, silently daring his foes to step through.
He didn't need to wait long. The roar of the flames drowned out all but the barest din of the trucks' impending arrival. When the first careened around the last bend in the road, Delta was ready. Like the image of some wrathful Zeus, he took the first of his makeshift spears and let lightning course through it without reserve, launching the javelin like a thunderbolt towards the oncoming vehicle. His aim was true; the metal buried itself into the truck's engine and wicked tongues of flame were soon flitting through its grille as the driver tried desperately to keep it on the road. The soldiers who tried to bail out of the flaming vehicle met a similar fate, speared by a telekinetically guided pipe. Javelins depleted, he let loose a length of the chain, feeling the weight of the anchor as he swung it experimentally once then twice.
His tests were interrupted by the hail of heavy bullets that tore chunks out of the dock house he stood by. Scrambling for cover, he caught sight of the source through the smoke; an army jeep, .50 caliber machine gun mounted on its back, tearing past the smoldering wrecks of the trucks that came before it and smashing through the gates. The smoke became his saving grace; as the gunner's shots whizzed harmlessly into the black cloud, the Big Daddy heaved his bulk from one piece of cover to the next. Great writhing shadows played out across the smoky battlefield, and as bullets pinged against his shelter the Big Daddy seized suddenly upon an idea. Loosening some of the chain along his forearm, he gripped the anchor tight in one hand and flicked the wrist of his other out across the docks. A split second later a ghostly armored image, drill in hand, charged out towards the dock, a phantom sprinting through the smoke. A close inspection would have shown it to be no more than a mirage, but with the panic and the smoke, the decoy proved abundantly effective.
Still roaring and spitting death the gunner whirled his mounted turret to chase a ghost, and that was when Delta struck. With a blood-curdling bellow he sprung from his hiding place, twirling the anchor on its chain above his head once, then twice, before whipping it out in a wide arc on the third pass. There came a wet crunch and the scream of twisted metal as the anchor slammed into the distracted gunner like some great meat hook, pinning him to his warped weapon. With another furious roar, the Big Daddy brought all his strength to bear and pulled the chain taut, until gun and man came apart from jeep with a sickening pop. Another jerk of his arm brought the bloodied anchor back soaring through the air, and he caught the gore soaked metal with ease.
Chain wrapped in one hand and the bloody anchor in another Delta darted through the smoke, whipping that heavy blunt instrument of destruction towards any shadowy soldier that stumbled through the smoke. He dispatched near a dozen before the chaos imposed by the truck crash began to fade, and the soldiers began to regroup. The sounds of more trucks rumbling down the hill screamed out over even the roar of the fire and the harsh clatter of automatic weaponry. Hissing in pain as bullets careened off his armor, the Big Daddy charged back into the safety of the smoke clouds Even now, he could see that they were thinning as the flaming boats began to sink into the water. He grunted in irritation; thus far the smoke had been his greatest ally.
The Big Daddy emerged from the noxious cloud near the wreck of the first truck, and as he began to twirl the anchor alongside him once more he could see the next group of trucks and jeeps hurtling down the road. That would not do. With a flick of his wrist the golem of Rapture planted one swirling vortex after another onto the road before him before seeding each with a miniature blizzard. Gunfire from the surviving troops once more rained down onto his back, and with a howl of fury and pain the Big Daddy hurried to the cover of the first downed truck It gave him the perfect spot to witness the results of his handiwork.
If the new truck's driver had realized anything was wrong about the road ahead, he realized it too late. The truck's front tires struck the outer bounds of the wind traps, and Delta could only watch with grim satisfaction as the truck's front end was lifted a few feet into the air. When the tires slammed back down to the earth, they were coated in a thick crust of ice that shattered like glass and took the better part of the front axle with it. Utterly crippled but still driven inexorably forward by its own momentum, the truck began to topple towards its side as the right tire gave way far more than the left. A moment later the truck was fully on its side, its rear end fish-tailing until it ran perpendicular to the road, the whole vehicle rolling and bouncing down the remainder of the dirt track like some screeching metal log.
The Big Daddy dove out of the way as the hurtling truck slammed into the wreck of its fellow, finally coming to a rest. The jeep that had come hot on the truck's tail caught the rest of the wind traps. With a great whoosh of rushing air, the whole car was flung violently from the road, ice racing to entomb it as the jeep flipped through the smoky night air to land with a crash just beyond the smoldering wrecks of the trucks. Shards of ice like swords shot forth from the twisted metal carcass, and Delta didn't bother checking it for survivors. Instead, drill in one hand and hellfire in another, he turned to the second truck, and the bleeding soldiers staggering drunkenly out of its back. He bloodied them even further, and then burnt them for good measure.
The great screech that erupted from behind his freshly made wall of gutted trucks and bodies could only be the brakes of the rest of the vehicles, and Delta knew that the time for traps and stealth was over. Now was the time for rage, for fury. The time for a death fit for any Big Daddy.
The soldiers screamed as a hulking beast stained in blood and cloaked in smoke, like a nightmare spawned from the vilest pits of hell, thundered out from behind the wreckage, drill thrumming with malevolent glee. Gobbets of flesh were hurled into the air as the Big Daddy tore through the squad like it was made of paper. If paper could scream. As he held the last soldier impaled upon his drill, he saw a mad smile stretch across the man's face as he died, and caught a flicker of motion from the man's hands. He felt the grenade fall onto his foot and heard it clink against his boot before he saw it. Desperately, Delta tried to kick the explosive away and a drop the grinning corpse of its owner atop of it, but he moved a fraction of a second too late.
The explosion seared his vision with blinding white light and left his ears ringing as he toppled backwards, shrapnel scouring the surface of his armor. His porthole was cracked, and a distant part of his dazed mind realized it was stained with blood. His own blood. Staggering, the Big Daddy dragged himself to his feet and stumbled towards the docks, bullets ripping through the air around him as the soldiers gained ever greater cohesion, their discipline, skill, and sheer numbers overcoming the chaos he had sought to create. Ears still ringing, Delta cast out a shaking arm, wiling another ghostly decoy into existence. A heartbeat later, the phantom faded back into nothingness as the IV's in his gauntlets rattled with dry suction; he was out of EVE. Hissing in pain and frustration, he triggered the release of the healing solution contained in his back tanks until it too abruptly sputtered and gurgled on air. He was out of First Aid too., the lines running to the tanks on his back shredded.
This was the end then, he supposed. Left with nothing but a bloodied anchor on its chain in one hand and his own faithful drill in the other, the Big Daddy rose to his feet and gazed out into the dying smoke, roaring in defiance. These men had come to take his life, and he knew full well that they would succeed. But they would pay a bloody price for it.
Pouncing from his slipshod cover with all of the strength and speed that remained to him, Delta turned his sights onto the nearest squadron of soldiers hunting him through the smoke, anchor whirling above his head like a dervish. Men screamed and rifles sang, and Delta let loose a rumbling bellow that in another life could have been a laugh. Bullets tore through soft gaps in his armor into the tender flesh beneath, but he grit his teeth and gave them no notice as he tore through the men with wide sweeping arcs of his makeshift weapon. The bullets and their agony mattered little; he was a dead man either way. When he had closed the distance that gave their guns the advantage, the Big Daddy turned to his drill. The weapon rent through flesh with ease until it too began to sputter and die, fuel weeping out from holes cut by shrapnel in its tubing.
With a howl of frustration Delta beat the rest of the squad into a pulp with the now useless weapon before tearing it from his arm with the snaps and screams of tortured metal. Shadows of ever more men came through the smoke, and he hurled it with all his might towards the form of the nearest, noting the scream that came with its impact with grim satisfaction. More bullets rained down upon him, their deadly kiss crippling him. Delta moved to raise the anchor once more, only for the muscles in his shoulder the falter. Hissing in pain he tried again, and once more he failed. Then one knee gave way, and then the other.
The golem of Raputre found himself felled, brought to his knees before the smoldering ruins of the dockyard, his strength flooding out from him in countless wounds as blood pooled upon the dirt, his rage leaving with it. The world around him seemed to slow as he lolled his head in one direction, then another. As his gaze fell upon the wreckage of the boats, he could not help but smile. He had done his job. He had secured the escape of Carnegie and his people, Porter and Grace, Jack and his daughters, Alice and Eleanor.
Alice and Eleanor. Their faces froze in his mind's eye, even as he watched single soldier stride forth out of the smoke, heavy barreled shotgun in hand. It had all been worth it for them; every battle, every struggle, every night of agony and self-loathing. He had bought them a second chance, a new start at life free from the taint and poison of Rapture, and if the price was his life then so be it.
His breath was coming heavy and wet now, each a heavy wet rasp. Hands slow and shaking, he reached up towards his helmet and undid the clasps. The metal hood fell away with the hiss of escaping pressure. If he was to die, he would look his killer in the eye. The soldier stopped a few yards out and raised the gun to his shoulder, hands working the pump action with an audible click, a grimace affixed on his face.
Alice and Eleanor. If they were safe, then he had done his job. If they had a chance to live, to laugh, and to love, then he had done his duty, and there was no more need for Subject Delta to exist. There was no more need for him to cling to life, to fight each new day for this agonizing existence. He would welcome death like an old friend if those two were free to their own joys and sorrows, triumphs and tragedies. Free to live.
The man who had been Johnny Topside breathed deep of the smoky air, and the taste of blood and misery he had wrought returned to him. Tears had begun to streak down his bloodied, necrotic face as he clung tight to the pictures in his mind, the images of his daughters. They skipped through the halls of Rapture, tiny and fragile, innocence made flesh. He ached for that simpler time, when all he needed worry of was their tiny hands tugging at his own, beaming smiles gazing up to him in adoration. Ignorance was bliss. This life was pain
Idly, a corner of his mind took note of his tears.
How strange, he thought with bitter humor. Monsters shouldn't weep.
A single shot rent the smoky air.
And then there was silence.
Honestly, it's all a bit of a shock to me that I'm actually finished. When I started this story just over three (!) years ago, I didn't know what I was going to do with it, and it was as much an experiment in trying to improve my own writing skills as it was an attempt to expand upon the universe of one of my favorite games. I never could have imagined the reaction I was going to get from the community here and across the Internet, and to everyone who has read it, offered me feedback, and recommended it through their favorites and through forums and pages on other sites, I cannot thank you enough.
I owe special thanks to the small group of readers who have diligently offered me feedback on almost every chapter, super reviewer WhoIsAtlas and my original (though now long absent) beta reader, Markel, among them. To everyone who has given me feedback in the form of reviews and messages, thank you as well. I feel that whole experience has truly helped me grow as a writer and as a story-teller, and as I look back at my first few chapters of this tale its amazing to me how far I've come with it.
In anticipation of the many disgruntled reviews/messages about the ending I suspect I'll be receiving, I just wanted to plead my case for a moment. Bioshock has never been a series about happy endings. It's a series about choice and agency, of characters grappling with, and often succumbing to, their own flaws. So to me, there really was only ever one way to end this thing, and though it may seem to some an exercise in futility to have brought a character back from the dead and cast him out on this great journey only to kill him again, I think It truly fits with the spirit of Bioshock to have it end this way. I hope you all feel the same. And to those who requested I continue this tale on into the Bioshock Infinite universe, I must respectfully decline. Delta's story is told, I think, the loose threads of Rapture tied. I'm happy with how this story has gone, and artificially extending it would only cheapen it, I feel.
So at the end of the day, I must thank everyone who has taken this journey with me, who has helped me grow as a writer, and who has put up with my dreadfully inconsistent writing schedule. Without you, Sea of Broken Dreams wouldn't be what it is today; complete. I hope you have all enjoyed the ride as much as I have.
This is jschneids, signing off. You stay classy, .