A little prologue, a bit short. Seeing as I'm starting at Arcadia, this will probably be a short(er) story. There's no telling, really. Anyway, tell me what you think, good, bad, or whatever.
In the gardens of Rapture, a woman lay in a tree. She was relaxed for the time being, as it was before the next wave of Splicers came around and she had a bit before she needed to be worried. Usually she was safe in her tree anyway, but there was no such thing as real sanctuary in Rapture. All good things flow into the city. That's what Andrew Ryan always said. And how right he was.
A pink petal drifted from the branches above her and landed on her pale cheek. She idly brushed it away. She had once been very lovely, with soft hair and clean skin. But years of living in hell itself had changed that. Now drawn out and tired, she was a shell of what she used to be. But anything was better than being a Splicer.
The roars of pained drug addicts echoed down the halls behind her. She twisted around on her bough to lie on her stomach, arms hanging below and eyes fixed on the hall ahead. Her hands were wrapped around her shotgun, which she decided to pull up next to her so her entire body was parallel to the branch. More guns were strapped across her back. Bloodied kitchen knives dangled at her hip next to a silver pistol.
Her reddish hair, once long and lush, was hacked away to her chin. Her skin was a gray from being without real sun for so long. The freckles on her cheeks had faded to barely-noticeable dots, and her features were generally sharp. She had sharp cheeks and sharp lips, and most of all sharp eyes, like emerald daggers.
The first of the wave came, in a fisherman trench coat and hat, waving a machine gun around carelessly. "I hear you!" He roared to nothing, walking around in disjointed circles.
The next one came in, in her ripped, filthy, bloody dress, brandishing a pistol. "I was beautiful!" She whimpered, stumbling around. "I want to be beautiful again! Where is the Adam . . .?"
The fisherman Splicer sent a spray of bullets around the garden, and the female fell with a scream of agony, writhing in the soft grass like a worm, her body contorting horribly. "Get it off!" She roared, and got her wish as she was shot to meat.
By this time, more Splicers had joined them in the gently rolling garden, and this small exchange was just an everyday event. Kiki watched them wander around, muttering, crying or screaming to themselves and others for the next few minutes. They didn't usually look up, so she was good until she wanted to pick a fight.
She looked to the side, ready to defend herself need be, and saw something that she hadn't seen for a long time. Tip-toeing down the hill from the fishery was a lean man in an off-white jumper. A radio was slung over his shoulder, a red wrench in one hand and a controlled Incinerate on his other. Kiki reached up, scrabbling a little at seeing someone new and unaffected, and threw a handful of red petals and green leaves down on him. He looked up and stepped back at the sight of her, but relaxed when she put a finger to her lips and carefully stood up on her branch.
With precision only gained by practicing over several years of basically living in the same place, she hopped through the pink branches of the tree, pausing when Splicers looked her way, and gesturing for the guy to get back around the corner where the Splicers didn't go. He stepped back as she landed neatly in front of him.
"Are you an idiot?" She hissed, grabbing his wrist and towing him around the corner to the grassy, dark hill where it was at least somewhat safe. "Who are you, and why are you just waltzing around Arcadia like it's a Sunday afternoon? You'll get your arse killed faster than you can think."
The man gave her a look. "Nice to meet you, too. Jack." He held out his hand, switching the wrench to his left.
Kiki shook his hand, sighed, and impatiently flicked an unevenly cut piece of hair from her eyes. "Katherine, Kate, Kiki, Katie, Kay, Kate, whichever you prefer. I like Kiki, parents like Katie, friends like Kate. Doesn't matter to me. Everyone has their own."
"I think Katherine should be fine." Jack said, looking a bit bemused.
"Whatever. Now, about you being here." Kiki leaned back to peer around the corner. "Shit. One second." She ripped a knife from her belt, pushing Jack away and flipping back to dodge the shower of gunfire across the back wall. She dropped down and threw the blade at the fisherman Splicer from earlier, who yelled briefly in pain; briefly, because his scream was cut off with a strangled gurgle as Kiki dashed forward and snapped his neck. It was too late, though. The half dozen others in the area were suddenly perfectly alert and focused on her.
"Great." She muttered over her shoulder at Jack. "You know, things were just bloody peaceful before you came on down here."
He changed the magazine in his gun and wordlessly loaded it.
"Okay, man of few words. I can deal." Kiki caught the gaze of one of the Splicers, dressed in old cabaret stockings, and licked the flat of her knife tauntingly, making a beckoning gesture. "I hope you know how to use that Incinerate."
Jack waggled his hand in response, sparks jumping from his fingertips and a couple orange flames dancing up his wrist.
"Good." Kiki rolled her neck, the joints snapping. "Oh, it's good to have someone new!" With a ferocious growl, she crouched down as the cabaret Splicer shot at her with a beaten up pistol. She leapt forward and up, knife-first to stab into her unprotected belly.
She straightened up in time to see Jack snapping a Splicer into flames, and the addict going down to roll around on the floor. Kiki swung a leg up to kick the gun from a suited Splicer's hands and pull her pistol out. She put it at his head and pulled the trigger without blinking, blood and brain matter splattering across the grass behind him.
Something cracked her in the back of the head, sending her stumbling away seeing spots. Kiki looked up, holding her head, to see a final Houdini behind her. Crazed eyes stared at her from behind his carved deer mask. She slashed forward with a butcher's knife, but he was gone.
"What are those?" Jack asked her as they joined up, staring around the garden, both spattered in fresh blood and in his case, cinders.
"Houdini Splicers." Kiki spat, flipping the knife around so the blade was facing down and out, and holding it defensively before her face. "With these fuckers you're either fast or dead. And, luckily for both of us, I'm very fast."
The Houdini appeared within her arm's reach in a puff of red smoke and burning rose petals. Kiki darted forward, feeling the knife sink into flesh. The Houdini's laughter was loud and angry in her face as he crumpled over, very dead.
They relaxed somewhat, facing each other. "Thanks for the help." Kiki sighed.
"Hm. So you live here?" Jack snapped his fingers, found he was low an Eve, and casually injected another hypo of glowing purple-blue into his bloodstream.
"Yeah. I loved Arcadia before everything went under. Figured I might as well learn to live with it. Plus Julie is a decent enough woman, knows I'm here and doesn't bother me if I don't bother her."
"Julie Langford. 'Eve'. She runs the garden."
"What happened here?"
"They're keeping secrets, aren't they?" Kiki asked. Jack nodded. "Listen, I don't know what you're doing here, or why you're wearing a jumper, but when the world goes to hell you learn how to survive or you get eaten alive by the wolves. I was around when the wolves were born, and they don't get any cuddlier. Fontaine's an arse, Ryan's an arse, Atlas' an arse, they're all arseholes now. Things were good, but now they're not. That's how the world works, Jack. I get by believing that things will get good again."
"Who's that?" An Irish, male voice came from the radio at Jack's side. "Who've you met now?"
"Ah." Kiki rolled her eyes at Jack and folded her arms. "Hello, Atlas."
"Oh, okay, it's you." Atlas directed his speech to Jack. "Be careful with this one. "Girl of a Thousand Names", we call her, now. 'Course, I just call her mad."
"One of the more popular ones." Kiki muttered. "'Bitch' and 'Whore' are also used pretty often."
"Lives with the Splicers in Arcadia, she does." Atlas went on, ignoring her. "That would make anyone mad. Right piece of work, but good enough and not addled by the Adam yet."
"I don't live with them." Kiki snapped. "At least I'm actually doing something, you bloody taig. Thinning the ranks."
"Whatever you say, Mad Kat. But we have a job to do, boy-o, so would you kindly continue on with getting to Ryan?"
Jack nodded and started walking through the garden. Kiki threw out her hands, looking after him, and ran after. "Uh, hello? Jumper Jack? Are you mad?" She grabbed the radio and flicked it off for the time being. "Atlas is trouble."
"He's been helping me so far." Jack argued. "And his wife and kid were just murdered in the fishery."
"Tragic if true." Kiki said. "But he's trouble, really. Nothing good will come from chasing after him."
"What about all that 'learn to survive' stuff?"
"Exactly my point." Kiki said lowly. "Atlas is a wolf, and he's circling in on you. I was here when he came into power with all his bloody bandits and rebels. A year ago I watched Rapture fall because of him. I'm warning you because you seem like a good bloke. Do what's smart." She flicked the radio back on, nodded to him, and walked back to her tree. "Nice meeting you, Jumper Jack."