A/N: Jack in this story cuts a balance between both bad and good end Jacks; he has becoma a leader among the splicers, while still holding the favor of the Little Sisters. He has found that he's becoming a revolutionary leader, and he's been rebuilding a part of Rapture even as he prepares to leave the hellhole behind.
= 4 January 1961, The Sanctuary =
Jack patrolled the edges of the building, known only as 'The Sanctuary', the fortress-base of the Rapture Liberation Front. The dim glow of the lights still functioning in the underwater city lighting up the narrow metal corridors was enough for him to be able to see. His wrench rested in his hand, and his left hand crackled with occasional fluctuations of energy as his plasmid auto-stabilized the charge he held in his fingers, ready to unleash the fistful of lightning in an instant if he needed it. Making his way down the twisting corridors that was their perimeter, Jack paused as he approached a corner.
There were a pair of splicers, not nearly as deformed as the usual fare that was Rapture's crazed denizens, standing around a burning barrel, chatting to each other as their eyes searched the corridors about them. The one on the right carried a shotgun on his shoulders, while the one on the left held a drum-fed submachine gun in his hands. As he approached, Jack made sure to make noise, the claps of his boots with the iron grating underneath him alerting both to his approach. The two splicers whirled around, their weapons rising to track the approaching figure.
"Heya, fellas." Smiled Jack, who greeted the two with a curt nod. Both returned the greetings to their leader with grins and waves, relaxing as they spotted the living legend amongst the citizens of Rapture.
"Evenin', boss." Grinned the splicers, who turned their guns away from him.
The other one continued on. Colin liked to ramble. "Didn't catch ya for a while, so I forgot to say Happy New Year, boss." He chuckled. "But as I was sayin',
Even though the man in front of him was his elder by decades, the younger man nodded and exchanged handshakes with the recovering Splicer. He stood with the two, digging out a packet of ciagrettes and passing it around, the lighter he fished out of his pocket flaring up the twisted tips of the white sticks. The three of them sat there for a while, basking in the comfort of a good smoke.
Tenenbaum had certainly done a good job, synthesizing large amounts of Lot 192 and starting – with the team of Fontaine's former plasmid researchers - on a new line of ADAM-stabilizing tonics, letting the people of Rapture enjoy their plasmids without the mental instability, if only for a short while; the 'test subjects' for the ADAM-stabilizer were starting to show signs of relapsing. Regular dosages would have to suffice, for now.
He bid the two splicers good night, and promised to send someone to check up on them later on; they had lost a few 'outposts' like this to roving bands of the more feral denizens of Rapture.
The city was doomed, though, and as Jack punched in his access codes for the pneumo, he looked up to spot another splicer leaping from wall to wall, his white lab coat trailing in the air behind him as he jumped up to reach a broken light. A Rosie-type Big Daddy was thump-thump-thumping away with its rivet gun, working with a pair of repurposed security drones to repair a leak in the walls.
The war against Ryan had meant that a lot of the front-liners were the truly gone, and that had... helped.
Skilled technicians, engineers and research/development boffins had stayed in the rear, protected by the iron shield of Ryan and Atlas, developing new and better weapons. It was them that were deprived of the truly destabilizing ADAM, and that was something that Jack had been thankful for. Once freed of their servitude, the more educated were quite happy to help maintain the crumbling underwater city until they could evacuate everyone.
Now it was a matter of making sure that all the rest of the citizens – and the Little Sisters - were accounted for. Jack wasn't going to leave any of them behind. In this hell-upon earth, he wasn't going to betray the ideals instilled upon him by Tenenbaum. Save every one you can, however you can. Some could be taken back to the surface, while others would have to be put down.
Jack stepped past a security camera, and then disappeared.
= Inside the Little Sister's Orphanage =
In the darkness, a voice cried out.
Silence greeted the plea for her guardian, broken only by the soft snores of the room. A few seconds passed. Then a minute. All around the room, a sudden tension filled the air. Stirring in the dim light of the main dormitory, the other girls began to cry out as well, wakened not by the noise of their sisters, but the unnatural silence that had followed. Daddy wasn't there. Reality had been broken; Daddy was always there.
"Where's Daddy?" Panic, now.
More voices cried out, more voices of fear and uncertainty as the fear rippled through the dormitory like a plague. It gnawed at their minds, the anxiety of their early days returning as girls reacted in their entire spectrum of emotions; some remained stoic and simply searched, while others broke down and began to cry, their more mature friends seeking the crying ones out to comfort them.
Mother. Where was mother?
A few slipped out of their beds, eyes already searching the walls around them. The room was empty of any comfort. Now the walls – whitewashed and covered with drawings – were darker. The half-remembered shapes of their protectors now menacing. Spooked, the sisters ran down the stairs, finding the bedroom of their other parent.
Tenenbaum rose from the bed, and hurried to the door. She searched around, and knelt down by the children, scooping Melissa up into her arms, she looked around for their father.
"What is wrong, schätzchen?"
The Little Sisters cried out as one. "Where's Daddy?"
= Near the Tristain Academy of Magic =
A bright light?
But... wasn't it midnight only a few minutes ago?
His fingers tightened its grip around the object that was held in his hand. Cold metal greeted him, warmed by his flesh, and the man leaped up, going from lying down on the ground to standing in the blink of an eye, his body falling back to artificially-implanted automatic responses.
When Tenenbaum and Suchong had programmed his mind, they didn't just add controls; they also added abilities, subconscious training and the 'muscle-memories' learned from Rapture's dozens of mercenaries.
His feet were already spread out in a combat stance, one seen in many training manuals and demonstrated by men in black belts; low, balanced and rock-steady while still being as fluid as air. His hands now gripped the familiar weight of his wrench, which had been gathering dust trapped between the bedside table and his bed. He must have sensed whatever had brought him here, reached for the comfort of his weapon of choice just before he had been brought here.
The chipped red paint seemed to pulse in the sunlight, the hard steel looking like a monster's claw as its balance was again tested by the one who wielded it. The half-opened wrench head could have been taken for a wolf's jaw, hanging half-open as it searched for something to bite.
Now assured of his ability to fight, Jack began to consciously scan around him.
Dozens of faces; young (and one old), with hair of many bright shades (and one without). Slim figures, not-so-slim ones, outright fat ones. All dressed in black robes. Scared was the general consensus among the expressions around him, although a few were curious.
Despite being only three years old chronologically, his body was matured to that of a young man in his prime; twenty two at the oldest of estimates. Though his throat, part of his face and his arms were scarred from the many battles that he had gone through to be where he was now, Jack still cut a handsome figure. He wasn't quite dressed, but the winter night and inevitable cries of his daughters had demanded some rather thick garments for sleep. A woolen sweater and thick wool pants had been the order of the night, before he had retired to bed.
Jack's eyes fell on the movement he caught from the corner of his eye; the balding man had raised his staff, holding it close to his body as he stepped past a pink-haired girl. Pink harried? Seriously? Even the crazed denizens of Rapture hadn't tried that.
The man – easily the oldest of the group gathered here – stepped slightly in front of the young pinkette as she fell to the grass, her legs folding up underneath her, ankles splayed out to either side of her robes.
"Who are you?" He asked, in a language that Jack found impossible to decipher.
Shaking his head Jack loosened the grip on his weapon and shrugged. He didn't understand them, and tried to deliver that meaning through his body language.
"He doesn't understand us? What kind of a familiar is that?"
"A stupid one, duh." Chuckled another voice. The amusement was apparent, and Jack wheeled around to spot a girl, laughing imperiously as she held a dainty hand over her mouth.
"As expected of Louise the Zero! A useless commoner for a familiar, who can't even understand us!"
Wait. He understood that...
"Familiars are suited perfectly to the mage that summons them, Zero!"
"Yeah, this suits you perfectly! A commoner summon for a commoner-level mage!"
Angry, the pinkette who he had just understood stood up and started screaming at the others. They picked on her, that he could see. Jack cautiously eyed the people around him, wondering about what to do now as a chant was taken up amongst the others.
"Zero ability! Zero success! Zero..."
"I! SAID! SHUT! UP!"
The younger girl seemed to explode in a rage that would have made even a Big Daddy hesitate, and almost seemed ready to brandish her wand when a voice called them to heel; more stern faced now, the man called out to the students.
"Please, students, enough of this! The 'Summon Servant' rite is still underway!" Pleaded the 'teacher'. He turned away from the class and back to the girl. "Louise, please finish the contract."
Judging by the repetition of 'Louise' when talking to the girl, that was her name or title. Said Louise rocked back as if struck. "What~! But... Professor Colbert, there must be some mistake! This can't be my familiar!"
The 'familiar' frowned. He didn't know why, but he felt like he should be insulted.
"As far as I can tell, the 'Summon Servant' spell went off completely without any complications. This... human is the familiar chosen for you." Explained 'Colbert'.
"B-b-but... Professor!" Sputtered the girl.
Professor Colbert sighed, and crossed his arms thoughtfully. "I really am interested in how a human was summoned, but the Springtime Servant Summoning ritual is a sacred rite, Louise. You must complete it."
"Don't mess it up again!" Jeered another voice.
It was weird, being able to understand only one half of the conversation. Like listening to someone arguing over a telephone. The fact that he could understand the pinkette and yet find communicating with the others in this cult impossible chilled him. Something weird was going on, even more so than the mutated splicers, the Big Daddies (he had peeled one open, a long time ago. What was inside was... messy) and the whole underwater-city-of-Rapture.
Back at the summoning rite, Louise's voice took on an aggrieved tone as she cried out and pointed at a drill-haired girl.
"Professor Colbert, Montromercy the Flood just insulted me!"
This 'Montromercy' seemed to have a similar temper to this Louise girl, and similarly shot up the volume of her protests and insults. The rest of it was the usual playground screaming. Jack ignored it as he watched the scenery around him. It was the total opposite of Rapture; rather than metal walls and artificial lighting, the rolling hills and dark forests around him made him wonder again where his family was. It would be nice, having a picnic up here. The girls had only known a claustrophobic world, prisoners inside of their own mind...
It would have been good, to see them in such an open place...
"Alright, alright, fine. I'll finish the contract."
Frowning, Jack ignored the rest of the conversation as it devolved back into childish bullying, and shook his head again. He let out a sigh, the sun of the early springtime baking him in his warm clothes, despite the chilly breeze that whipped around the school. He was feeling hot under the collar, so while everyone argued, Jack began making himself more comfortable, rolling his sleeves up to his elbows, exposing the pair of chain-tattoos on his wrist.
His mind wandered, despite the fact that he was in a very unfamiliar territory. Blanking out was dangerous, but he had been doing it a lot recently.
"You should count yourself lucky. Normally you'd go your whole life without a noble doing this to you."
What had happened to his little Sisters? What of Tenenbaum?
"My name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Vallière. Pentagon of the Five Elemental Powers; bless this humble being, and make him my familiar."
Still dazed and confused, Jack only realized that she had cupped his head in her hands just before she kissed him.
Alright, so what do you guys think of this fic? Review if you want me to continue, please!