Tunnels, long dark desolate space after space, never ending, and around every corner was another sick twisted smile with those hooked hands that clawed after virgin flesh, desperate for blood, weapons and ADAM.
That foul yellowed slime that oozed from behind those yellowed hollowed eyes, it was everything here, Rapture, city of the uncensored life, was reliant on the stuff.
And that's were she lived, no it wasn't life, it was a slow death, naively struggling to just survive only to be taken down by invisible ghosts of the past. Survive, that was what mattered wasn't it?
Survive, escape, just to get out, to see the sun once again.
But there were things that she wasn't prepared to do, steps she wouldn't take, but those were few.
It had been two months now since Rapture had truly hit rock bottom, and she in her torn and blackened shell had began to wander the streets of her former home.
She was a woman, nothing more, from the hard line of her angled chin, to the gentle flick of her raven black hair, she was still a woman, still human, unspliced, and that was the way she'd keep it.
The rusty shaft of the pipe scratched at the hardened skin of her palms as she twisted it nervously.
It was too quiet.
The empty realm of the abandoned medical bay was empty and it shouldn't be.
The woman crouched, waiting, her back pressed against the grimy wall, tensed and ready for the unmistakable sound of the dragging foot steps and confused mutterings in the dark. She needed the medicine, she couldn't live alone on her luck, she'd make a mistake sooner or later, and then she'd need what little this bloody district could offer her.
She could smell the death on this place, the tiles below her feet was nearly always slick with blood, the screams providing a demented ambience to the madness of the doctors and nurses that still roamed the wards. Corpses were left to rot where they fell, the flesh either falling in putrid slugs from the broken bones, or pulled in fist full's for whatever foul purpose that the splicer could think up.
She left the bodies alone, she couldn't salvage anything from a body that had been dead that long, it wouldn't be safe, it would be a stupid mistake to die from disease after surviving the splicing, the Big Daddies and the agents of the warring parties.
A tiny clatter caught her attention, the crouched lower in an attempt to blend into the wall, then a noise which mad her blood turn to ice echoed down the dimly lit corridor.
It made the remainder of several discarded EVE syringes jump and rattle rolling on the tiles.
It was getting closer, the pounding foot steps getting closer.
She got to her feet slowly, her heart beating through her ribs, she turned to the grate which lay three or so metres behind her, her escape route. She didn't run, she walked, running would be stupid, too load, she be jumped upon in seconds and then be at the mercy of the metal monster that was making its way down the corridor.
"Look mister B", she froze her heart no longer beating fear instead pulsing round her veins, "it's a lady".
Shaking in terror she turned to face the owner of the voice.
The glowing golden eyes stared at her in wonder shadows however masking every thing else, the enormous black outline of the footsteps stood directly behind the eyes.
Her throat was dry and try as she might she couldn't bring her self to move, tiny light footfalls padded from within the shadows, a little girl emerged from them, black hair hanging filthy from an poorly tied ponytail, her little round face smeared in the grime of the blood and decay of the city, wearing a torn, blackened blue dress with a grey pinni surprisingly still tied round her waist by a neat perfectly formed bow.
The woman and the girl stared at each other, the woman frozen, the girl curious. The corner of her little mouth pulled into a slight curve, it took the woman a moment to realise that she was smiling.
"Your like a momma" she said with a confidence and finality that hinted she meant it, the woman blinked surprise shocking her out of her fear for a moment.
"What?" she asked, she felt a new level of shock hit her as she heard her voice for the first time in months, it was deep and melodically, like her mothers…
The little sister opened her mouth to answer, but an answer didn't come out, instead it was a scream.
The rusted meat hook came whistling past her head, and struck the wall beside her. She ducked low, just in time to miss another flying hook, the Big Daddy was not so fortunate, the red razor sharp metal caught his left shoulder tearing through the rubber tubing.
To her surprise blacked thick liquid started to ooze from the wound, like blood in long slow moving streams it rolled down the metal. The Big Daddy roared, pain and fury driving it to charge at what must have been a spider splicer.
There was a great cloud of dust and smoke as the Big Daddy lunged down the corridor, she found herself thrown against the wall by a flying piece of shrapnel, dazed, bleeding and confused, she tried to get to her feet, she slipped ending back down on the floor, blood or oil had slicked the floor, she was covered in it.
The battle between the Big Daddy and the Splicer raged on, screams from both sides shaking the hall way.
Just as she was about to make another attempt at getting to her feet another crash forced her back down to the ground, she was not alone any more, without warning the much smaller body of the Little Sister slammed into her forcing the wind out of her. There was an almighty boom forcing rubble and sparks to rain down from the ceiling.
Coughing and spluttering she tried to grasp what had happened, the corridor was now a mass of lose cables and cracking concrete hanging by the thinnest of metal supports, some where she could hear water, the battle it seemed was over, but neither side had won.
The splicer lay broken and bloodied at the base of a mountain of rubble, and from within the rubble low groans where coming.
She got to her feet, careful not to tread on the little sister that lay next to her, her neck twisted to an unnatural angle, slowly she approached the pile of rubble, her arm was broken that was for sure, she carried it as best she could as she scrambled over the rubble.
She didn't now why at first but she began to dig out the rubble, part of her just knew it was the right thing to do, her fingers were cut as she gripped the crumbling slabs of plaster and fractured metal, but she kept digging.
Suddenly a groan came from the pile and with an almighty burst of power a metal hand lunged out of the rubble seizing the woman's hand, she screamed and tried to wrench herself free but the Big Daddies grip was like iron. It pulled her closer to the rubble, her ear grazing the sharpened surface of a broken pipe, then it groaned at her.
"Prooooooooooooooooo…" it moaned, "…tect".
The woman gaped, "Protect?" she whispered, another groan echoed from the pile, "Protect what?"
From behind the woman their came a quiet coughing, "Mr Bubbles?"
The creature groaned again, there came a desperate scrambling from behind her, the Little Sister who she had almost certainly thought dead emerged at her side.
"Mr B!" she cried trying to pick away the pieces of rubble.
The Big Daddy groaned once more, its voice a heartbreakingly low and long moan, slowly another hand emerged from the rubble.
The Little Sister seized it immediately pressing the rough metal to her cheek, tears coursing down her dirty face, "No don't go Mr B" she wept her word becoming lost to her sobs.
The woman's heart wrenched, for the first time in what felt like a life time she cried for some one else, empathy for this little girl seizing her weak heart.
The Big Daddy yanked the woman's arm again snapping her from her silent tears, "Proooooooo..tect" it groaned.
The Little Sister turned to face the woman a tiny smile on her lips, "Mr B says your going to look after me" she sniffed shuffling closer to the woman.
The woman licked her dry lips, "I…"
The rubble groaned.
She swallowed the fear that had risen in her throat and let a few more tears run down her face, "I will" she said softly, "I'll protect her".
With her answer the woman felt the big daddies grip on her hand grow lighter, then with a mighty rasping breath it ceased and the woman knew the creature was dead.
The Little Sister watched the woman her little hands gently reaching towards her face, the woman let her touch her face, her fingers danced lightly across her cheeks to her ears, where they gently tucked the straying strands of her dark hair behind her ears.
"You have hair like mine" the Little Sister smiled showing a row of pearly white teeth.
The woman knodded, "I'm Miriam" she said gently, "what's your name?"
The little sister frowned slightly, she took a few minutes to remember how to say it, "I'm… Alice".