This couldn't be real…it wasn't…it wasn't possible. The first group had submerged ten minutes ago, the strange metal bubble whisking them away into the unknown. Tony Gibbs had seen many shocking things in the war, until now he had thought the world had no more surprises for him…clearly he was wrong.
The talk of a fallen underwater utopia, of a wonder drug that bent the human genome to its will, of people with abilities no human should have, of the monsters they inevitably devolved into, it had been too much. They were crazy they had to be. Tony had been convinced of that, at least until the tall grimfaced man had conjured a flame over his thumb and, as if it was the most normal thing in the world, lit a cigarette with it.
And now here he was, standing in the grandiose entrance chamber of a lighthouse, waiting for some metal bubble to return to whisk him away into…wonderland. To his surprise he recognized the unfamiliar emotion squirming around his stomach, unease, he was nervous. Well fuck…
"You alright soldier? Last thing I need is the bad ass soldier type having a psychotic break down on me." Ah yes…Sandy. Casting his gaze towards the young woman staring at him eyebrow raised, Tony paused to evaluate his…ally. A petite young woman with a mane of dirty blond hair and tan skin, the young Australian had been very forthcoming about her motives, more so then anyone else in the ragtag group he found himself acquainted with. Her parents had died when she was young apparently She and her sister had found themselves homeless and she had been forced to look out for the both of them. They had lived together on the streets for several years, fairly successfully from the sound of it. Until three months ago that is, whatever had taking his daughter had taken her sister as well.
From what he had managed to glean from the other group members they had all lost someone be it a family member or close friend to that creature, save for the older German woman, Tennembaum, and Jack her…he didn't know what he was to her.
Sandy had noticed his lack of response. "Earth to ageing soldier man, are you okay?"
"I'm fine kid, just trying to contemplate what I should be expecting down there." He responded with a role of his eyes. Her sarcastic and flippant manner obviously was just her way of coping; he'd seen soldiers with similar mannerisms, when things got too bad for their sarcastic shield to take they…broke he'd have to keep an eye on her. Despite her potentially dangerous attitude towards the situation Tony found himself reluctantly impressed, she was stronger then she looked and quite resourceful from the sound of it.
"I-I can't believe this is r-real. G-god I wish this was a d-dream, that I could j-just wake up." Harper was considerably less impressive then the quirky adolescent, a small man with a sad, pinched face that always seemed nervous about one thing or another. He struck Tony as a coward someone who the moment the screws got too tight would cut and run, abandoning anyone relying on him to their fates. And on top of all that his stutter was irritating; Tony resigned himself to dislike the small man.
"This is real, come to terms with that or go home. I won't let you endanger the rest of us by cracking under pressure when we need you!"
"W-what makes you think I-I'd be the one to c-crack? My d-daughter's life is on the li-line, and my wi-wife needs me to d-do this! I'm not going anywhere!" How anyone could stand that man enough to sleep with him, let alone marry him Tony would never know. He just seemed so…whiny.
Seemingly attempting to ease the tension, Sandy cut in. "Relax Harper, Jack's an 'expert' on this type of stuff apparently. By the time we get down there the job'll be done."
"I-I don't t-trust that man. Why is he so q-quiet? I d-don't th-think I've heard him talk once!"
Before Tony could retort there was a loud splash as the strange metal contraption surfaced for a second time. With a creak of rusty metal hinges, the door to the submersible swung slowly open. It looked like it was now or never. Moving towards the vehicle Tony shook his head with a sigh. "Well…down the rabbit hole and all that."
This was without doubt the most awkward meal David had ever had. To his right at the head of the table sat the Bishop, proudly overlooking his "Family". Across from him sat Thompson, the doctor animatedly talking with Buzz. The unpleasant rodentesque Splicer occasionally sent David a hostile glare but for the most part left him alone. To the hostile Splicer's right sat Andrea, seemingly quite upset that her "quality time" with David had been interrupted.
To David's left sat Samantha, she looked…nothing like the armor plated killer he was used to seeing. Her strikingly red hair was down, gently brushing her bare shoulders. The light blue coloring of the dress contrasted vibrantly with her bright hair and glowing eyes. As if sensing his curious gaze she turned towards him, eyebrow rising inquisitively.
"Are you sure you've always had red hair?"
Theta felt her face flush as she looked down at her lap. Her hair had always been red; it hadn't been that dirty…had it? She hadn't looked that bad…had she? "I didn't mean to upset you."
Unsure how to react to the human's attempts to reassure her, Theta looked up at him from behind the curtain of hair obscuring her face. "That dress is very…nice."
Theta turned fully to the slightly flustered human with a happy hum. She didn't understand why he had given her the dress, not that she was complaining. The dress was incredible! The silk felt so nice against her skin, she couldn't help squirming in place slightly relishing in the texture of the amazing fabric.
"I take it you like the dress?" Smiling excitedly she nodded. Did he realize how amazing it was? Surely he had to; he got it for her after all! Quicker then the human could react Theta's gloved hand shot out and brushed against his neck.
To her surprise and concern, instead of smiling and acknowledging the quality of the silk garment David stiffened from surprise or pain. "What…what was that?"
Shaking her head with a surprised snort, Theta gestured around with her gloved hand. What did he think she was doing? "O-oh, yeah of course. That silk's really…great."
Theta smiled broadly at the generous human, she still didn't understand why he had given her that wonderful dress…she didn't deserve it. She was distracted from her pondering by David sheepishly clearing his throat. "You know, I've always thought red hair was-"
"Tonight my family!" Standing abruptly the Bishop raised his hands as he addressed his followers.
"Tonight we accept the Guardian and the Vassal of Ascension into our midst!" What? No! She didn't know what David thought about her hair!
"While it saddens me that the Vassal was too tired to attend tonight I am honored to welcome the surfacer David Kristoff to our humble little town." Theta rested her head on a hand with a pout, why did the stupid monster have to choose that specific time to start his rant?
"Tonight we feast alongside these new faces so they can be welcomed amongst us as adoptive members of our family." Theta turned to David, hoping to somehow catch his attention. Unfortunately he was too busy watching the Bishop spout his idiotic speech.
"Bring out the food!"
The food the Splicers provided was surprisingly good, and the entire atmosphere was shockingly friendly and welcoming. Even Biff with his normal penchant for antagonizing David was acting almost friendly, well he was ignoring David but that was enough for him.
All illusions of Samantha somehow being someone other then the armor plated protector he was familiar with ended the second he saw her start to eat. She had a severe lack of etiquette when it came to eating, a fact he was already well acquainted with. At least she took her gloves off before she started.
"How has the feast been so far?"
Turning to the Bishop David smiled politely. "Very good, best food I've had in weeks." The fact that the only food he'd had in the past weeks was the gruel they served on the ship and whatever he could scrounge up in Rapture wasn't important.
Face showing the perfect amount of interest and aloofness the Bishop replied. "I am glad to hear that, I hope Haven's hospitality has not been lost to you."
David responded with a smile, ignoring Samantha's frustrated growl. "It hasn't. You have no idea how much of a relief it's been to be able to relax, even if it isn't for long."
Smiling toothily the Bishop nodded before he revealed the string attached to his hospitality. "Now while it is our honor to help the Vassal and her Guardian, we find ourselves needing you to do a task for us before we give you the bathysphere you need."
David eyed the Splicer warily for a moment before responding, well aware of Samantha's low growling in the background. "What exactly do you need us to do?"
"While we are not the rabid animals you have often found yourself faced with we are still Splicers, we still need Adam." Casting an affectionate fatherly gaze around at the assembled Splicers the Bishop continued, seemingly ignorant of Samantha's rumbling growl. "Thompson has been organizing an expedition to gather a large amount for our people; he claims that he knows the location of a stockpile."
Thompson took that as an excuse to join the conversation. "It isn't particularly far, less then a day away. I was an assistant in the protector program and often worked closely with Dr. Yi Suchong." Upon hearing that name Samantha stiffened noticeably. "His apartment had an attached lab, only a select few had access to that area I was among them."
David could already tell where this was going, "And this Suchong had Adam?"
With a shark like grin, the Bishop leaned forward, "According to Thompson that is exactly what he had."
"Look Sam, I don't like this any more then you…but at this point what choice do we have? We need a bathysphere and they have one. Like it or not we need their help." Why did he have to be so reasonable? She was angry damn it! Why couldn't he be angry too?
Growling in frustration Theta sat on David's bed, head in her hands. Why couldn't one thing go the way she wanted? Was one thing really too much to ask?
A tentative hand placed itself comfortingly on her shoulder, "It'll be okay, I mean what's the worst that could happen? They betray us and you murder them in new and inventive ways?"
Theta could only respond with a piercing glare, he didn't understand, couldn't understand, wouldn't understand. She didn't want to go back…there.
Back to where she had been imprisoned for longer then she liked to think about…
Where she had sat alone in the dark sobbing in fear for so long…
Where lack of food and drink had nearly killed her, even with her regenerative abilities…
Unbidden her thoughts turned to the boy she had seen, the boy who had replaced her in the room, his soulless, vacant, hungry eyes, the brief joy that had flashed across his face as he sunk his teeth into her flesh. Was he still there? Still entombed in that horrible room?
He had been like her hadn't he? He wouldn't die of starvation or thirst? It had been…eight years? Eight years since she had been released from the room…what was he now? She didn't know how long she had been trapped there, but it certainly hadn't been anywhere near that length of time. What would he be like if he got out? What would she have been like if she'd stayed in there for that long? The thought scared her, more then she liked to admit.
Her thoughts were pulled back to the present by a familiar voice, "Are you okay? You seem like you're upset. It…uhm it isn't just working with the Splicers is it?"
Theta nodded, struggling to hold back tears. "Is it the place we're going?" She couldn't go back there! Hugging herself tightly, Theta nodded again turning her face away from David as it flushed in shame.
What must he think of her? Did he see her as a coward, a melodramatic fool? A frustrated whimper slipped past her lips, he didn't understand and her inability to articulate her thoughts frustrated her more then she had ever thought possible. Before, her inability to talk hadn't bothered her, her sisters always understood her intuitively and no one else mattered enough for her to care. Now was a different matter, David was…confusing for lack of a better word. He was frustratingly insistent on his attempts to talk with her and despite his stubborn and overly intrusive attempts at bonding she felt a certain…fondness for the quirky human.
For the first time in years, Theta wanted to talk. She wanted to explain that she wasn't a coward, that the place they were going was hell, that she refused to return there when there was a chance she might never leave. She wanted to speak, she could even remember how, but somewhere between her brain and her mouth her voice was twisted and only a strangled croak emerged.
The familiar feeling of savage anger reared its ugly head, unable to take her frustration out on her voice she had to resist the urge to disembowel the root of the problem...the irritating human no doubt looking down on her in scorn.
The bed shifted slightly as David sat next to her, to her surprise a tentative arm wrapped around her shoulders. "Whatever's going on, whatever upset you, its okay. Hell you've been in this dystopia for a lot longer then me. I can guarantee you if I had to spend more then a day or two alone here I would be dead, or gibbering in a corner somewhere."
Was he trying to comfort her? The anger and frustration she had been feeling rapidly receded. Tentatively she glanced towards the baffling human, seeing only concern in his eyes. She didn't want him to think poorly of her, to her frustration and shame she felt a tear slide down her cheek. The arm around her shoulders tightened slightly before David continued. "You are a much stronger person then me."
An unfamiliar emotion surged through Theta, after a moments thought she was able to recognize it…gratitude.
David studied his silent companion warily; she didn't look like she was going to rip his arm out of its socket, that was probably a good sign. Still shyly facing away from him his companion let loose a teary sniff. "If you really don't want to go I won't force you. I am going with them though; I need to show the Splicers that we are willing to cooperate. We need their help if we are ever going to leave."
Standing he stretched briefly, his back cracking satisfactorily. Before he could leave to prepare for the mission however, a hand caught his wrist. Samantha released his arm and stood slowly turning to face him. Mentally he slapped himself for his brief jolt of surprise; he knew she was abnormally tall. Why was he still surprised she was taller then him?
For several seconds they stood there in an awkward silence, both seemingly unsure of what to do. After several moments, when no action was taken on either side, David turned to leave. He was halted when he found himself encompassed in the grateful arms of his friend; Samantha had him in an uncomfortably tight hug.
To his surprise David could feel her trembling, could feel the soft sobs wracking her frame. Whatever was upsetting her was more serious then he had thought. Trying to be as comforting as possible he wrapped his arms around his distraught friend, slowly rubbing what he hoped were comforting circles on her back.
Tony handled the field of bodies that greeted them on arrival to Rapture better then his companions. Sandy was doubled over with tears in her eyes, desperately dry heaving having already emptied her stomach's contents into the water around the bathysphere. Harper had reacted with considerably less self control then Sandy. Upon seeing the bodies he had loosed a high pitched scream, and taken off at a dead run. He promptly tripped, loosed a less then masculine scream, and face planted in the rancid sludge that oozed from the ruptured stomach of one of the many corpses.
Ignoring the disgusted screams and dry heaves coming from the pathetic excuse for a human being before him, Tony turned and walked to Sandy. "You alright kid?"
Loosing a tearful laugh, Sandy deflected his concern. "I'm f-fine solder man. It's just…just the smell."
Once again checking his LMG Tony carefully began to maneuver his way through the bodies. "Stick close to me, step where I step."
"Oh G-urk oh God! It's in my mouth!" Even over Harpers pitiful blubbering he could hear Sandy's trembling breath.
As if she could sense that he was aware of her near panic, Sandy did what came naturally. "God this smell is horrible! It reminds me of my Dad's cooking. You know that bastard gave me food poisoning thirteen times? Thirteen! And even after all that he still insisted on cooking!"
"Good G-god, it's everywhere!" The sound of someone emptying their stomach echoed around the large room as Harper's body rejected his last meal.
Continuing to stubbornly ignore Harper's ineptitude, even as they moved past him; Tony put an end to Sandy's attempted joviality. "I got used to the smell of dead bodies a long time ago…that's probably not a good thing. Be glad the smell still disgusts you, I'd be concerned of it didn't."
"Oh…okay." Tony couldn't help but smirk slightly, it appeared he'd succeeded.
After another minute he finally cleared the field of carnage, he hadn't failed to notice that some of the bodies were horribly malformed, or that others showed signs of being cannibalized.
As Sandy cleared the field behind him, Tony saw the familiar form of Jack walking towards them. Nudging Sandy with an elbow, he raised an arm in greeting.
Calm brown eyes sweeping over the two of them Jack rested the wrench he was carrying on his shoulder. Eyebrow raised slightly he greeted the strange duo in a calm quite voice. "I see you made it" He paused. "Where's the other one? Harvey?"
Unable to resist a slightly cruel smirk, Tony gestured behind them. "He's playing with his new friends."
Before Jack could respond there was a horrible squelching noise followed immediately by a thunk. It appeared Harper had managed to regain his footing only to slip once again, pulping the unfortunate body considerably. Openly sobbing by this point he yelled. "W-why w-was there a b-boot in there?" Hurling a sodden leather boot away he slowly clambered to his feet. "Why th-urk why isn't a-anyone helping m-me!"
Smirk now a full blown grin Tony turned back to Jack. "Well…shall we leave?"
I changed the rating to teen. There will be gore, language, and some sexual themes later but I'm not planning on writting anything too M. If I cross that line at any point just tell me and I'll change the rating back to M.
Anyways I'm once again sorry for the wait, life's been hell. I'll do my best to see it doesn't happen again.
As always reviews are greatly appreciated.