September 12, 1958

Neptune's Bounty

It was night down at the bottom of the sea. The bright lights that had pierced the murk by day had been dimmed to simulate the setting of the sun. Most of the docks were empty with the fishermen gone home for the day. The only people working now would be smugglers, shifting their illegal cargo from bathyspheres to hidden storerooms to be sold at a tidy profit during Black Market hours.

Which made it the perfect time for a raid.

Twenty men on Ryan's police force had been assembled for this. They all wore dark colored coats and fedoras. If that hadn't been enough of a giveaway, each of them also had a revolver in a hostel and either a machine gun or a shotgun slung across their back. In Rapture it was illegal to own firearms…unless you were a member of the security teams. The task force was led by Sullivan and even if he'd done some things he wasn't too proud of, one thing was always true. The man was always in the thick of it, always willing to do the dirty work.

The men converged quietly on a water sodden warehouse that reeked of fish. Silently they split up to cover the separate entrances leading in and out. Sullivan locked eyes with one of the newer guys. He had a machine gun slung across his back and a sledgehammer in his hands, and judging by the slight tremor in his arms, he was nervous as a cow on milking day. Sullivan glanced at his watch. The others wouldn't be ready for another ten seconds…time for a quick pep talk.

"What's your name kid?" He muttered.

The younger man twitched and looked at him, "Pike, Pike Williams, sir."

"Scared?"

Pike hesitated, "First time I've done this," he admitted.

"I know the feeling." Sullivan paused, "That's a good thing."

"It is?"

"Sure, it's your body saying okay, I'm in a life-or-death situation, and now I'm ready to deal with it. Makes you focus on what's important, kiddo."

"Twenty-one."

Sullivan blinked, "Come again?"

"I'm twenty-one, I'm not a kid," Pike blushed, the picture of a private disagreeing with a general, "…sir."

Sulivan chuckled. "Twenty-one eh? Well I tell you what. We make it through this in one piece and first round at the Fighting McDonagh's on you, kiddo."

"Just as long as the first round's the cheap stuff." Pike grimaced, but at least the kid wasn't twitching anymore. Last thing he needed was some jumpy rookie getting him shot.

"It's a deal." Sullivan glanced at the watch. "Okay, ready?"

Pike nodded and hefted the sledgehammer.

"Go."

Pike stepped forward and swung the hammer. The blow connected square with the water-logged wood. All around him other doors were breaking down, men in dark coats came streaming in. There were eleven, maybe twelve smugglers in the warehouse. Pike locked eyes with one smuggler, a gray haired woman who looked like she should be bouncing a grand-kid on each knee rather than holding contraband and staring at a bunch of men with guns pointed at her.

"Rapture Security! On your knees!" Mendez yelled.

Then the kindly looking old woman threw a fireball. There was a moment of stunned silence as the flaming Plasmid traveled through the air and impacted on Mendez. Then the man's coat burst into flames and he collapsed to the ground, screaming as plasmid-induced fire sizzled into his flesh.

Splicer, she's a fucking Splicer.

Almost like that had been a signal, the rest of the smugglers unleashed Hell on Sullivan's men.

Fireballs the size of skulls, forking blue lightning, and freezing tendrils of frost filled the air. Pike stumbled behind a table as a jagged burst of light struck sparks off a bathysphere hull rusting in a corner. To his right he saw Taylor grab Mendez and try to smother the flames. A ball of ice struck him and Taylor froze into a grotesque sculpture.

A greasy looking man unleashed a swarm of hornets on Brian. The older man yelled and slapped frantically at the poisonous creatures, he stepped back and right into the path of a burst of fire. A charred slab of meat emerged from the blaze.

Surprisingly, at that moment, Pike felt…calm. Things were going to hell, and they weren't going to get better if someone didn't do something soon. Sullivan was in a corner, yelling for people to return some goddamned fire.

So Pike did.

The younger man unslung his Thompson and ducked out of cover. He sighted on Greasy and squeezed the trigger.

The ratatatat cut through the sounds of Plasmids. Greasy shuddered as hot lead tore through his workman's clothes.

The smuggler-Splicers might have been able to throw fire, cast lightning, or summon frost.

But they definitely weren't bulletproof.

Greasy collapsed to the ground and now more guns opened up. The remaining security members took cover and fired at the Splicers. The Splicers counter-attacked but their Plasmids were starting to fizzle.

EVE, they're running low on EVE.

Some of the Splicers managed to find cover while they jammed syringes filled with blue liquid into their wrists. A lot were caught out in the open, fumbling for a needle. The older lady that Pike had first seen collapsed as buckshot tore through her. She slumped against a door and cradled the gaping wound in her chest. There was a flicker of movement in the glass porthole set in the door.

A flash of a well-cut business suit, a glimpse of a sly face, a flare of a brightly lit cigar.

Fontaine.

Pike didn't think, he burst from cover and dashed towards the door, firing the Thompson from the hip to deter anyone from frying his head off. Offensive plasmids sizzled and splatted and crackled at the ground by his feet and all around him, getting closer and closer.

Click

The machine-gun spat out its last shell and Pike fumbled for a spare magazine. He stumbled and then someone grabbed him and yanked him behind a support column just before a blast of Incinerate struck him. Sullivan's sooty face glared daggers at him.

"Christ kid! You trying to get yourself killed?"

"Saw Fontaine!" The younger man gasped out as he loaded a fresh drum into the Thompson.

"Where!"

"Disappeared behind that door."

Sullivan glanced at the door in question. There was about thirty feet of open ground between them and the door, thirty feet of screaming lead and flying Plasmids and Sullivan wasn't as young as he used to be. "Think you can make it?"

"Guess we'll find out."

Sullivan cracked a smirk, "Alright, Billy, Drew! Get ready to hose some lead around!" The two men to his right nodded and reloaded their Thompsons. "Ready Kiddo?"

"Ready Gramps."

"Go!"

Pike ran.

Arms pumping, head bent, hat scrunched low over his head, coat slapping at his legs, he ran through a storm of Plasmids and bullets. Behind him the three older men stepped out of cover and opened up with the Thompsons. The deafening roar of the firefight reached a crescendo as bullets ripped through wood and flesh and casings clattered to the ground. The Splicers were forced to take cover or be riddled with holes.

Ten feet

A Splicer emerged from cover in front of him. Pike tucked his head down and slammed past him.

Fifteen feet

The Splicer cursed, a fireball whipped past his head so close it singed the hairs on his neck.

Twenty feet

His lungs were burning, the smoke in the air clogged his nose, the smell of gunfire was sharp and his heart was pounding.

Twenty-five feet

The door loomed closer and closer, and the fireball that he'd dodged struck a rafter directly over the door. The aged wood warped and cracked.

Shit.

Pike uttered a quick prayer that the door wasn't locked

He tucked down one shoulder and twisted his body. Debris fell from above.

Thirty feet

His shoulder rammed into the door.

It wasn't locked.

The door slammed back on its hinges and he fell to the floor. Behind him flaming rubble collapsed against the door, blocking him off from the rest of the taskforce. Pike slowly staggered to his feet. He was in a narrow corridor, branching off into three directions, either side and straight ahead.

He patted around for his Thompson. All he found was the broken strap that had secured it to his back. He glanced back at the flaming rubble but he couldn't find a trace of the gun.

Shit.

Now all he had was the revolver. He slid the sidearm out of its holster and snapped open the chamber. Six gleaming brass cartridges winked back at him. Six shots…just hope I don't run into any more Splicers

Thud.

Pike froze. Something big was coming. He cursed and pressed his back to the wall. Six shots and then it was down to bare knuckles and pistol whipping. Against what sounded like a tank. The percussion of stomping feet grew louder; he aimed the pistol down and the corridor and then-

"C'mon Mr. B!"

A Big Daddy appeared at the far end of the corridor, stomping along in its reinforced diving suit. It was a Bouncer, the basic version of Big Daddies armed with a powerful mining drill used to burrow into the sea floor. Repurposed as a melee weapon, it had a gruesome effect on soft flesh. Its young charge impatiently led the way, tugging at massive gloves with her tiny hands. The little girl couldn't have been older than ten. She had grayed skin and unsettling yellow eyes. Her dress was tattered and her dark hair was tied in a messy pony tail. Her feet were grimy from where she'd been walking barefoot and she carried a small needle in one hand.

Pike sighed and slowly lowered the gun. Big Daddies were harmless so long as no one threatened their Little Sister. Then they became Hell on legs. The problem was, their definition of threatening behavior wasn't very specific. So Pike quietly took the corridor in front of him and left the behemoth and his gatherer to their grisly business. He looked up and caught a glimpse of a supple leather shoe disappearing behind the corner.

Fontaine.

Pike ran down the corridor as quietly as his boots would allow. He eased through the door and whipped the gun up. He was in a large maze-like room with rows and rows of shelves stretching into the distance. A couple of flickering bulbs spread dark shadows and muted light across the room. Broken machinery hung from the rafters and gathered dust in the corners. The smell of fuel bit into his nose and he looked down. Glimmering slicks of oil criss-crossed the room, a web of murky liquid.

And then Rapture's Public Enemy Number One stepped into view at the other end of the room. Pike cursed and aimed the gun, marksman style.

"Fontaine!"

Frank Fontaine paused and nonchalantly glanced at him, "Evening Officer." The cigar tip sticking out of his mouth flared crimson, "Nice night for a shoot-out, ain't it?"

Pike slowly walked towards him, keeping the gun leveled on his smug expression all the time. "Fontaine you've been found guilty of smuggling. I'm ordering you by law to stand down."

Fontaine chuckled, amused at his naivety "This is Rapture, kiddo…there is no law." He took the cigar out of his mouth and breathed a column of smoke, smug as a hustler with several aces up his sleeve.

"Yeah well the shiny badge pinned on my coat says otherwise." Pike shot back, "Turn around and put your hands on your head or I swear to God I'll blow that smug smile off your gob."

And then-

"Look Mr. Bubbles, angels!"

Pike's head twisted for a fraction of a second. The Little Sister and her Big Daddy stood at the entrance of the room. The Big Daddy rumbled…and Fontaine dropped his Cuban cigar into the fuel.

There was a whoosh and a wall of rippling flame raced across the oil. Black smoke rose from the flames, obscuring his vision and cracking his throat.

"Fontaine!"

A mocking laugh answered him. Fontaine was gone, and if he didn't get out soon, he was toast. Pike turned back and made his way quickly through the narrow dry path. He reached the door and slammed his weight against it. The steel portal was impervious to his blows however.

Goddamnit!

Behind him, he heard a deep rumbling roar.

Through the flames, the Big Daddy burst through like some metal ship breaching a wave. The Little Sister clung to his shoulders, the lone mariner in a sea of fire. The Big Daddy's porthole glowed an angry red as he approached the door. He leveled the massive drill on his arm and the steel head slowly began to turn. The metal man lowered his head and charged towards the door.

Pike scrambled out of the way just as the Big Daddy impacted. Steel slammed into steel and sparks flew as the drill gouged at the heavy-gauge door. The Big Daddy growled in frustration and struck the door again and again. Slowly the metal door began to groan in protest as the ADAM and metal enhanced man vented his rage on it. Then the fire reached a pile of bright red canisters.

Pike's eyes widened.

"Look out!"

The Big Daddy whipped its head around. In the split-second before the fire reached the pressurized canisters, the Big Daddy realized the danger. The Little Sister yelped as her protector plucked her off his shoulders and hunkered down over her form.

Ignition.

An angry roar deafened Pike's ears and an invisible fist swatted him to the ground. He tasted copper in his mouth and blood dribbled from his lips. Metal whipped across the room at lethal speeds and somewhere a behemoth roared in pain. The man slowly stumbled to his feet and looked around with dazed eyes. The explosion had ripped across the room. The Big Daddy lay slumped against the door, a metal shard the size of his arm had skewered him right through the spine-

-but the door was open. The Big Daddy and the explosion had ripped the metal door right off its hinges and now the smoke rushed out into the fresher air. Blearily, Pike staggered through the smoke towards salvation and then-

-a little voice cried out in distress.

Pike went cold.

The fiery blast had dislodged the Big Daddy's precious cargo and sent her spinning away from safety. Now she lay crumpled against the burning floor as fire raged all around her. Yellow eyes wide with fear she called out for her Mr. B.

For a single agonizing second, Pike was stuck between the salvation a few feet away, the bright light and fresh air beckoning to him, saying come, you will be safe here.

He took a step forward…and the little girl cried out again.

Damnit.

He pulled his shirt up over his nose and then he turned from safety and plunged back into the inferno. A support beam cracked and he had to stumble to the side as its flamng structure crushed the ground. Sparks from it flew up to land burning on his face. The leather coat and hat protected him from most of it and then he was staggering into a small clearing in the flames and the little girl- Little Sister- was curled in a ball hacking her lungs out as the acrid smoke stole away the oxygen. Angry burns from hungry flames scoured her flesh. She yelped when he scooped her up in one arm, but Pike didn't have any time for finesse.

"Hang on!" He yelled and then he was rushing through the smoke, lungs gasping for oxygen in the smoky air. He vaulted over burning debris and the little girl clung to his shirt as he rushed through the flames. The exit was in sight, just a few more feet and-

Crack.

With a creak of protest, fire-damaged wood broke from the ceiling. A piece of burning rubble slammed into his leg, buckling it. White hot pain raced up his leg and with a muffled scream of pain, Pike collapsed to the floor. He could hear the Little Sister- no the little girl's fearful whimpers as the room collapsed around them. As masonry rained around them, he looked at her with smoke-streaked eyes.

Sorry.

Something slammed into his skull and his world vanished in an explosion of pain.


A/N: I'm not quite sure I'm satisfied with this piece, but I needed to get this out of the way before moving on with the story. As always reviews are the ADAM to my Splicer muse, so feel free to give me a dose.