Ultra Rodimus' notes: More clues as to the nature of The Thinker. Nobody tried to guess last chapter, so I got to keep all the plasmids for myself. Here we also begin the trip to Minerva's Den. Anyone who's played the Minerva's Den DLC for BioShock 2 should have some idea where we're going. And who we're going to meet there.
Ultimus paused, turning toward the sound. His yellow eyes narrowed as he gazed at the Big Sister.
The Big Sister tilted her head, and some of her own red hair fell into her face. There was something different about her then the others... other than seeming to be bigger. No, she was older, it was in her face and body.
The big mech lifted his head, letting a soft rumble escape. He knew she was different, but he couldn't tell in which way. He just hoped she stayed where she was, rather than following him and Jack.
The nightmare of Rapture tilted her head the other way, a full movement before she chuckled. Shifting she used the claws that were integrated on her right glove to snap one of the lines of her prizes, letting the body drop with a thump in front of the pair. "Better eat while you can Little Sister." She said, "You may have to run as soon as you're done with the Pack."
Jack clutched on tighter to Ultimus, gaping up at the older gatherer.
Ultimus bared his fangs. "To get near her they'll have to deal with me."
"They won't be fussing about her or you at first." The Big Sister smiled.
"No resident of this city has seen a member of my race in full fighting fury," Ultimus informed the Big Sister flatly.
She shifted and grabbed up her helmet, dropping down in front of Ultimus. By her own movements the Big Sister was acting like a top predator, and in this world, her world she was. The arm the modified needle was on jerked as she absorbed the blood and ADAM. "The Thinker has."
Yellow optics narrowed. "Are you implying that the Thinker is one of my kind?"
"You're from up there?" The Big Sister asked and pointed up, "Space beyond the sky?"
"Far beyond the sky," Ultimus answered.
"Then yes I am implying that."
Jack couldn't help but smile at that, glancing from the red head Sister to the mech above.
"I would have to wonder how another Cybertronian got here," was the level response.
"I have many memories but none from Porter." The Big Sister shrugged, smoothing her bangs back before putting her helmet back on, "You would have to ask him. Or get his blood."
"I'm no telepath, nor do I obtain memories from drinking blood," Ultimus informed her. "As for the pack, should they try anything funny, they will quickly learn how big a mistake that is."
"Packs are good for harvesting." The Big Sister's voice was farther warped now that her helmet was locked into place again. "We're raiding in twenty minutes, better move fast." She gave him a clear, mocking salute before teleporting.
Ultimus snarled, then turned away, moving quickly toward the lower levels.
"She... warned us." Jack spoke, looking around as if trying to find the Big Sister, "They never warn."
"Let's get this over with." Ultimus tightened his jaw, his optics as hard as his armor
The girl hesitated and then moved, using Ultimus' arm to stand on and debated climbing up onto his shoulder. But thought better of it as there were a few low door frames to get under, so Jack stayed where she was, leaning forward to get a good look around as they moved. Her attention was more on what windows where visible from her angle and before they came to the stairs spoke softly so not to be over heard by any possible lingering Pack Splicers.
"There're Big Sisters outside."
"I can sense them." Ultimus' eyes glowed in the dimness, his armor bristling.
"If they wanted to come after us, I think they would have already." Jack pointed out, "I bet that old Big Sister is leading them."
"If they tried, they would get quite a shock." Fangs gleamed slightly as the redhead bared them. The weapon he pulled out wasn't the rivet gun this time, but a sleek, advanced-looking long-barreled gun of some sort.
"I don't think killing Big Sisters would be a good idea." The girl said, wide eyed at the new weapon.
"I wouldn't kill them unless I have no other choice," he replied. "But the loss of an appendage, like a foot, would at least slow them down for a while."
Jack scrunched up her face, "Not if they get it back into place real fast."
Ultimus lifted one shoulder in a shrug. Then yellow eyes narrowed as the big mech began tracking on something.
"Cuz' this happens..." Jack shifted and moved to bring her forearm to the closer set of the mech's claws against them to demonstrate what she meant. Ultimus looked down at her in surprise, but didn't retract his claws yet. Before she could be stopped, Jack moved and with a scrunched face as she braced for the pain, cut open her forearm. Blood seeped down and out as she jerked the arm up so the open wound was clearly visible to the mech...
And the yellow pulses of color in veins under the skin surrounding it. the ADAM thick blood was already becoming thicker as the flesh pulled itself back together until only a seam was left. Even that pulsed with the same yellow-ish stuff and then sealed.
"See?" Jack smiled after it was done, "The Sisters can do it faster since they have more ADAM than I do."
The Cybertronian just stared. "I've never seen anyone heal that fast before."
"It wasn't that fast," Jack said looking down at her arm as she rubbed at the blood still on the outside, debating on giving into the gatherer's urge to not let it go to waste.
"At least your blood doesn't corrode like acid," the redhead observed. "Mine does."
The girl looked up, frowning, "How does it stay inside then?"
"My body is made to contain it... and that which causes the burning, the nanites that repair my body, will not attack anything that has my energy signature." Using one sharp fang, Ultimus bit his own lip, then scooped off a fat dark green drop with one finger and let it fall to the floor. The nanites promptly began eating away at the metal, creating a sizzling hole as wide as the mech's hand and spread fingers before the nanites began to deactivate.
Jack managed to pale more than her already normal pale-ish coloring (from never having seen real sunlight), "Please don't do that near the outer walls... or windows." she shuddered in the very real fear an organic got when living in and under water or space faring environment.
Ultimus nodded. "I'm well aware of the danger... And weapons down here won't pierce my armor. Only my own weapons are capable of getting through to my fuel lines."
"What about plasmids?" The girl asked, catching movement of a small slightly disfigured form of a young Packer.
"My own leader discharges more voltage at a time than the Electrobolt plasmid; I've been hit before and never bled because of it. And you already know I'm pretty much fireproof." He arched an eyebrow, referencing how she'd thrown fire at him when they'd first met.
"There's other plasmids too." Jack pointed out, "Like, where we're going to the Den, there's this thing called gravity well..."
"I can withstand extremes of heat and cold, and my body is very strong... I was built like a bipedal tank, to take a pounding and keep right on coming. And those who built me designed me to take more punishment than any human can dish out," he assured her.
Jack didn't look convinced fully as they finally descended back into the level the Pack had taken over. Unlike last time the doors where closed except one, where what could have been a girl Jack's own age of about 12.
This former child though had larger eyes that glowed green not yellow tinted. Her body thin and toned, but her arms seemed a little too long, ending in fingers that had fused into large three digit claws. Black hair hung down limp and loose, strangely it wasn't tangled and she had on a rather well preserved dress, though was just as bare foot as Jack. The Packer blinked slowly up at Ultimus as if not seeing him, despite being right smack dab in the way.
The redhead paused, eyeing the packer. Yellow eyes flared as he ran several in-depth scans, knowing that the science crew would be looking over all the data he was collecting for months.
The Packer's organs were altered as well, more steam lined and more flexible it seemed. It took a long while for her to focus on Ultimus, taking in his massive frame as well as Jack, the gatherer's needle... The mutated child smiled, "Daddy." she said and behind her several more sets of bio-luminescent eyes opened in the semi dark, peeking out of doorways in the hall beyond.
"Not yours," Ultimus rumbled, making his way forward.
"Don't touch her," Jack muttered, "It might panic her and set off a chain reaction. Or... or try to get her to move nicely."
"Was not planning on touching her." The redhead took two huge strides, then fired all the hydraulics in his legs, lowering his head so as not to hit the ceiling as he vaulted over the packer's head, landing neatly behind her. Jack clung to the mech, wincing and when he landed held her hands over her ears, but only a baffled sound came from the Packer, and a few confused squeaks from the shadows. Ultimus straightened, glanced around, and then continued on his way, ignoring the startled sounds.
"Do you think Garlding will be at the same place?" Jack asked, shifting in the mech's hold, putting a hand to her stomach. That slug must really be working inside of her since she didn't have that 'empty' feeling again like the other day.
The redhead sniffed, then adjusted his course. "He's over here."
Unexpectedly a high squeal of laughter drifted over to the two of them. Ahead two bodies of normal children and a slightly altered Packer came tumbling into view. The two boys got up and sprinted off to finish the race as the young, normal, girl stayed sitting, rubbing her eyes with the backs of her wrists.
Ultimus paused, staring after them, then shook his head and continued. "Kids..."
The younger girl looked up, spotted Ultimus and Jack and bounced to her feet, "Papa!" She yelled, running over to the aged form just out of sight around a corner.
The redhead snorted to himself, padding in that direction. Turning the corner, he fixed his sulfur gaze on the aged human.
Garlding's humped body was being supported by his cane and another older Packer, like the one in the entry way but a male. The old man's lined face was in a sad smile for the girl hiding behind his leg and peeking out. He looked up to meet the mech's gaze as best he could from his general position. "Back again I see."
"We are." Ultimus' voice deepened to a growl.
The boy Packer tensed at the growl, hissing softly in return as the little girl hugged the old man's leg, Garlding held out a hand to keep the former from moving. "Calm down. Have the ADAM?"
Jack hiccupped just then.
Unexpectedly, the elder human smiled at that.
One armored, claw-tipped hand lifted, and Ultimus called the full bucket from subspace.
The Packer shifted, pausing to be sure the old man was going to stay up right one his own before edging over to the mech, humming nervously at being so close to a- well to his eyes a Bonded pair of a Big Daddy and his charge.
Ultimus kept his gaze on the pack leader, but he was quite aware of the others inching closer. The altered boy reached for the bucket, twitched, held his breath and touched it. He looked about ready to bolt off now. The big mech did not react, except to shift his gaze briefly to the packer, then back to the pack leader.
"Just take it Joob." Garlding said with a sigh, watching the boy do as he was told and edge back. The man eyed the bucket before rummaging in the brown jacket that clung to his form. He came up with a golden disk like thing and poked the girl with it, motioning to Ultimus, "Give this to him for Papa, there's a good lass."
"I have reason to believe that the Thinker might have been one of my own kind," Ultimus rumbled, accepting the disk.
The girl looked up, as wide-eyed as the Packer had been before skittering back to her grandfather.
"The Thinker?" Garlding frowned, "You would have to ask it. And toss that key into a vent once you're done with it Tin Daddy." he added as he started his slow walk back to the power relay station.
"It was watching us while we were in the upper levels, and it responded when I spoke in my own tongue. Since organics cannot understand the spoken language of my homeworld, much less speak it, the Thinker must be Cybertronian." Ultimus' eyes flamed. He tucked the key into a forearm compartment.
"Hmm... the thing always was too smart." the man muttered, frowning, but he shook his head, sighing, "Getting too old to walk around like this..."
"You can do it Papa," the girl said faithfully, holding her elder's hand as behind them the Packer was shuffling with the bucket into the room they had came out of beforehand.
"No hints as to where to speak to the Thinker?" Ultimus lifted an eyebrow as he watched.
"In the Den, probably a station room if Reed hasn't destroyed them all or blocked them." Garlding said after a minute of thinking, "If he did, you'll have to make your way into the main interfacing chamber, never been there myself though."
Ultimus nodded slightly, then turned. "Just a bit of advice, but all of you may want to hide..."
The elder tilted his head a little, frowning again after the mech as two Packers dropped from above to help him along.
Jack peered back after and the lowered herself as if trying to hide in Ultimus' arms.
The big redhead let out a roaring howl, warning the lurking Big Sisters to back off before he sprang forward, heading out of Packer territory. Jack was back to clinging and didn't look up until she felt the mech slow, in that way she missed seeing the three Big Sisters, and one Big Brother that were all balancing on the rails of the stairs that led down. They made no move to the mech other than shifting to watch him go.
Ultimus growled at them as he darted past, heading out. His warning roar echoed down the corridors, warning the packers to run.
"I really hope they don't think we were linked to that." Jack muttered, still doing her impression of a leech.
"Would someone involved in the raid bother to warn them beforehand?" Ultimus quickly hit full stride, faster than any human could hope to match.
"Those that are spliced don't know a lot of sense!" Jack pointed out.
The redhead bounded down the corridor, easily outdistancing anyone who might try to follow them. "A good reason to disappear quickly."
"Are you going the right way?" Jack asked finally peeking up and a trying to see where they were going.
"From the signs remaining on the walls, this should be the right direction." Ultimus paused once he was well away, scanning the somewhat dirtied direction signs on the walls.
Jack twisted and lean out to look around, leaving behind a few smears of red on the mech from her earlier demonstration. She pointed to the right, "That way, and take the next left, we should be back at that maintenance tunnel."
The redhead nodded, heading down the tunnel at a ground-eating trot. He kept an audio and a sensor open for any Big Sisters or packers who might be following them.
There was only distant screaming, and the only thing from one of the elder gatherers was one of their blood curdling shrieks used to stun, other organics at the very least. Jack went back to clinging by reflex, more than once she had been nearly snatched back up by a Big Sister since she had gotten away the first time.
Ultimus wrapped both arms around Jack, his wings flaring out behind him, keeping her behind his heavy armor. Head down like a bull preparing for a charge, he raced down the corridors. All too soon he'd have to stop, or risk running into a window to the outer sea world. To the right of the window was the passage way to Minerva's Den, and the other tunnel leading to another part of Rapture.
The mech skidded sideways, a move that would have broken the ankle of a human, darting into the right-hand tunnel without losing too much speed.
"You need to stop for the key!" Jack yelped, bracing herself and hoping the mech didn't run into the locked door to the maintenance tunnel. Ultimus slammed on the brakes, his boots creating rooster tails of sparks behind him. He twisted sideways, folding one wing to take the impact of against the door on his harder armor, managing to avoid crushing the sensitive wing panel.
After a long moment Jack's voice piped up, "Are we dead?"
"Not at all." There was the suggestion of a grin in Ultimus' earthquake-deep voice. He pushed himself away from the wall, regarding the dent in the shape of his shoulder guard on the wall and the long scrapes he'd left in the metal floor.
The girl squirmed for the mech to let her down, touching the spot on his arm where Ultimus had put the genetic key. "There's a booth other there, that'd have..." Jack paused as the lights in the chamber flickered and then more snapped on, bringing the old, semi abandoned room to full light. Jack winced and covered her glowing eyes, used to the dark.
Ultimus barely blinked at the change in light levels. He loomed behind Jack, scanning the area warily. The girl rubbed her eyes, blinking rapidly and wait the few moments it took the glow to fade back in her eyes, and thus become a little less sensitive. Once she could see right the girl glanced back and held her hands out, "I can do the key."
The compartment in the Cybertronian's forearm slid open. He pulled out the key, handing it to Jack, and then followed her toward the booth she'd indicated before the lights had come up.
Jack squeezed through the jammed door to the control booth, looking over the things before inserting the key, and then pulling the lever that would undo the lockdown. Outside the two door shuddered as they unlocked, the nearer maintenance door cycled open.
Ultimus watched, running sensor sweeps. The opening of the doors might attract unwanted attention.
Jack was just sliding her way out of the booth again when the sounds of running, armored feet was heard. One of the Big Sisters from before came skidding into view, the smallest of the three, she was just spotting Ultimus and made a warble of distress, attempting to slow down to maneuver around him. There was no hostile act in her, she was just running like a bat out of hell. Ultimus reached down, scooping up Jack and darting aside with a speed all out of proportion to his bulk. The Big Sister would have just bounced off his armor, but that didn't mean he liked being bounced off.
A red porthole turned, briefly looking at the mech as she darted past, and into the public passageway. Looking after the two would see that she wasn't alone, in the basket like cage on the back the lanky young teen was that girl Ultimus saw before, limp and out of it.
"...I think we should go."
The mech let out a roar of fury after the Big Sister, letting pretty much everyone in earshot know his opinion of the raids on the pack. Holding Jack close, he began cautiously padding down the newly-opened passageway.
"It's not always their fault," Jack said once the maintenance door closed behind them, "Most I think don't even know what's going on sometimes, like the Little Sisters..."
"Just following orders." There was a growl in Ultimus' voice, his optics blazed in the semi dark as he scanned ahead.
"Or hypnotized," Jack shrugged, looking at the different and exposed 'guts' of the city that weren't hidden behind walls here. The path was sloping down, and soon the floor became stone instead of metal grating and then leveled out.
Ultimus looked around, eyeing the stone. His sensors swept outward, looking for any signs of enemies attempting to creep up. "Hopefully they will be able to break the conditioning."
"That one seemed to have...or nearly." Jack said as she squirmed to be put down again. Sniffing the air and finding it oddly- to her, clean. There was the hum of working machines and, faintly, of what could have been a voice.
The big mech's head came up, optics flashing. He moved forward, shifting into a quieter trot, not wanting to give them away to a potential threat.
"I don't smell any ADAM," Jack said softly, sniffing again and tilting her head as she now heard laughter of a female voice, "Or blood."
"So these voices are some of the few real humans remaining in Rapture." Ultimus rounded a corner, pausing to survey the path ahead. It seemed to lead into a hub, one side tunnel along the way had a hand written sign on a thin plate screwed to the wall. 'The Den - total Nutter that way' was written on it.
Jack squinted at the sign, murmured as she sounded out what it said, "What's a... nutter?"
"It's a rude name for a pea-brain, an idiot, or a person who's gone utterly and completely crazy." Ultimus eyed the sign, and then began padding along the indicated path, making sure to keep close to Jack. As they moved off a faint scent like and unlike Jack's, under the ADAM. The girl was oblivious to it as it was beyond even her altered senses. But it would be good for a note for Ultimus.
Ultimus inhaled deeply, flaring his nostrils to better take in the scent. Air hissed from his vents as he forced out the air in his systems, drawing in a huge breath, analyzing the scents the air carried.
"There's the way down there," Jack pointed, spotting a few more signs that listed instructions of how to go up into Minerva's Dem without triggering 'The Nutter's' traps.
Ultimus drew in one last huge breath, exhaling through the vents on his neck, and his eyes glowed a brilliant yellow. He had to smile slightly as he resumed walking, making careful note of the instructions.
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