Character(s): Jack Ryan & Andrew Ryan.
Disclaimer: As always, I own nothing. BioShock belongs solely to 2K Boston / Irrational Games.
Just another fic I found on my hardrive and decided to publish so someone might enjoy it. I could probably improve it, but it's going to be posted as-is. This one focuses on Jack's thoughts as he kills his father. When I was playing through this scene, I didn't quite understand the connection between Andrew Ryan and Jack yet so I hope this piece reflects that. I think it's only while in Tenenbaum's sanctuary that Jack finally understands everything.
As I write this, I'd like to formally acknowledge Dropout bear9 since s/he kindly took the time to review my other BioShock one-shot, The Devil You Know. They seemed pretty interested in my writing more, so here you go.
Constructive criticism is welcome. Please, no flames.
Point Of No Return
With the wireless hanging from his belt, Jack heard the static and knew that someone was about to come on. He paused, listening intently, hoping it would be Atlas with more instructions.
Unfortunately, it wasn't.
"Even in a book of lies, sometimes, you find truth," said the, by now, familiar voice of Andrew Ryan over the wireless. "There is indeed a season for all things . . . and now that I see you, flesh to flesh, blood to blood, I know I cannot raise my hand against you."
Jack frowned, not knowing why flesh and blood would have anything to do with it. If he threatened Ryan's life, Ryan was, by all means, entitled to fight back. Not doing so would only give Jack reason to doubt. To hesitate. He didn't want to kill an unarmed man. Even in an underwater world with no ethical restrictions, it seemed wrong in Jack's mind.
"But know this," Ryan continued, sounding resigned. Infuriated. "You are my greatest disappointment. Does your master hear me? Atlas! You can kill me, but you will never have my city!"
Jack's frown widened as he tightened his grip on his upgraded Tommy-gun. I am his greatest disappointment? Jack wondered, vaguely intrigued by Ryan's delirious ramblings. How? I mean, I know he knows I've come to kill him but . . . certainly this isn't unexpected after what he's done.
And master? Who was his master? As far as Jack knew, he had no master for no one commanded him to do anything. He only did as Atlas asked because he hoped it would soon lead him to life back on the surface, his return to his life. Because Atlas was only trying to help. And he was quite certain that Atlas didn't want Rapture; he had wanted to escape the sunken city with his wife, Moira, and son, Patrick. It was only because Ryan had brutally arranged for both Moira and Patrick to be blown up that Atlas was out for Ryan's blood, and Jack was all too happy to help, if it meant justice for the butchered family and a return to the surface for himself.
No. Atlas could never want Rapture . . . could he?
But Ryan still continued, saying quite forcefully over the wireless, "My strength is not in steel and fire—that is what the parasites will never understand." Then, he began to shout, angrily. Scathingly. "A season for all things," he quoted, still shouting. "A time to live, a time to die, a time to build, and a time to DESTROY!" He practically bellowed the last word over the wireless, causing Jack to wince at the sound.
Then, the alarms began and crimson lights lit up the entire room. Jack gripped his gun and prepared for the worst. At this point, he fully expected a Bouncer to come barreling into the room to kill him.
But Ryan was not finished. The wireless crackled one last time before he came on again, his voice resigned. Defeated. "Come now, my child," he said. "There is one final thing for us to discuss."
Again, Jack frowned. Child? He was a grown man, thank you very much, if only twenty-three years of age. He was definitely not a child. Ryan was beginning to make less and less sense, leaving Jack with the sinking impression that he was very much insane.
Moments later, the wireless crackled back to life once again. This time, it was Atlas' voice on the other line. "What?" he cried in disbelief, his familiar Irish lilt taking hold of Jack's attention. "Ryan set the core to self-destruct!" Jack froze, horrified at the thought. What could he possibly do to stop it? "This is different than what you did!" he cried, pointing out that it was not at all Jack's fault. "He's got a mind to take out the whole damn city! Get in there and whack the chump before the whole joint blows!"
Jack nodded to himself. Atlas was right; if he could kill Ryan, the body would probably have a key or something to override the self-destruct sequence. If it didn't, there was nothing more than Jack could do but hope and pray.
Bolting quickly through the rest of the interior core, Jack made a straight beeline for Ryan's personal office, where he would come face to face with the big man himself.
When Jack finally reached the office of Andrew Ryan, the man was, surprisingly, playing a game of mini-golf. Mini-golf, of all things! Jack paused in the doorway, watching. Waiting. He wanted to know what Ryan wanted to talk about, what he could possibly say before Jack ended his damned life forever.
Instead, Ryan continued on with his game, putting the golf-ball into the hole with the outward appearance of being calm. Far too calm for comfort. Too calm for anything.
"So an assassin has overcome my final defenses, and now he's come to murder me," he said, calmly. He looked up briefly, fixed Jack with equally curious, mournful, knowing eyes. Then, he looked away, as if the brief connection was too painful. "In the end, what separates a man from a slave?" he asked rhetorically. Jack stared, his rifle lowered. He wanted this to be over, and Ryan seemed to be stalling. Asking questions Jack didn't know the answers to. "Money? Power? No," he said mournfully, shaking his head. "A man chooses, a slave obeys," he said to Jack, as if this was the answer to everything.
Then, he looked up, met Jack's inquiring gaze with mournful intensity. "You think you have memories," he said, sadly. "A farm."
Jack nearly doubled over as a sudden wave of pain washed over him, stemming from his head, forcing an image to the forefront of his mind. A simple red barn, old wooden fences. The farm. His family's farm. Then, as quickly as it had come, the image vanished, leaving Jack alone in a room with Andrew Ryan. These flashes were beginning to be an annoyance.
"A family," Ryan went on, and the same thing happened, having an image forced to the forefront of his mind, Jack grasped at his temple, fearing if he did not, his head would explode. He saw his family, the same photograph that was lovingly placed in his wallet. His father, his mother, and himself, all smiling cheerfully.
Then, Andrew Ryan returns, holding his golf-club idly. "An airplane." Jack grimaces in pain as another image flashes through his mind, the interior of an airplane, holding a wrapped gift, lovingly inscribed, 'To Jack.'
The image fades. Ryan returns. "And then, this place," he says, sadly. He looks at Jack, looks at him with a helpless intensity. "But was there really a family?" he asked. Jack keels over, clutching his forehead as another image is forced into his mind. One he doesn't quite remember. Him, a child, sitting on an examination table, surrounded by Dr. Suchong and Tenenbaum. Something that never should have happened.
"Did that airplane crash or was it hijacked?" Another image, the present unwrapped, the same card with the phrase 'would you kindly' standing out like a beacon. Impossible to miss. A pistol was in the present. "Forced down. Forced down by something less than a man, something bred to walk through life until they're activated by a simple phrase, spoken by their kindly master. Was a man sent to kill me or a slave?"
Jack, regardless, didn't understand. He knew Ryan was talking about him—how could he not—but why? How? He wasn't a slave. And the way Ryan spoke about him—like he was an abomination. To his knowledge, he had been born and raised just like Ryan had. He was not some monstrosity.
"A man chooses, a slave obeys," repeated Ryan forlornly. He moved away, further into his office, leaving Jack standing in the doorway. "Come in," he called from within its depths.
Jack moved inside, but Ryan barred the door. "Stop, would you kindly," he said, and Jack felt his legs lock into place, preventing him from moving anywhere. He wanted to enter, to show Ryan up at this game, but could not move his legs. He was a passenger in his own body, staring in shock.
What's happening . . .?
Ryan chuckled. "Would you kindly," he echoed. "Powerful phrase, that," he said, eyeing Jack intently. "A familiar phrase."
Then, Jack doubles over once again, forced to relive every time Atlas said 'Would you kindly,' which was, actually, quite a lot. And Jack had obeyed every time. He'd never noticed. Would he have obeyed, even if he didn't agree? Chose not to?
Atlas's last words echoed in Jack's mind. Would you kindly head to Ryan's office and kill the son of a bitch. Finally, Jack realized. It hadn't been a question. It was an order.
No . . .
Ryan smiled grimly. "Sit, would you kindly," he said, commanding. Immediately, Jack obeyed, like a docile dog, though his entire body screamed not to listen. Not to obey.
He was no slave.
"Stand, would you kindly," he said, and Jack slowly rose to his feet.
"Run." Jack turned and immediately broke into a run, running away from Ryan.
"Stop!" Ryan commanded, and Jack skidded to a halt.
"Turn," and Jack turned, facing Andrew Ryan with wide, horrified eyes. He could not control his own body. Could not turn away from the man even if his life depended on it. Could not run away.
He was beginning to fear where this would lead him.
Again, Ryan smiled. "A man chooses," he echoed, "a slave obeys." Then, without a single word, he handed the golf-club to Jack and Jack gripped it tightly, feeling its weight. Testing its potential.
This has to stop . . .
One more command. "Kill!" Ryan commanded, and Jack immediately swung at him with the golf-club, hit him in the head with enough force to produce blood. Ryan was knocked to his knees and, lying on the floor, gasped, "A man chooses . . ."
Jack swung at him again, hearing the rush of air as the golf-club whipped through the air like a whip. Ryan went down. Hard.
"A slave obeys . . ."
Again, Jack swung at him.
There was nothing but helpless fury and horror as the golf-club made contact with its target. As Jack was forced to watch his disconnected body beat Ryan to death.
Ryan looked up into the eyes of his soon-to-be murderer and grimaced. "Obey!" he gasped, his final command.
Immediately, though Jack tried with every fiber of his being to stop the swing, his arm still swung, landing the golf-club into Ryan's head with a sick squish.
Jack was left looking on in horror at what he had done. What he had been unable to prevent. What he had been forced into doing.
His wireless immediately sprang to life. Atlas was on the line. "Hurry now!" he called, desperately. "Grab Ryan's genetic key! Now, would you kindly put it in that goddamn machine!?"
There it was again. That hateful phrase.
Would you kindly.
But Jack had no choice. Lurching slightly, he bent down to retrieve the key from Ryan's corpse and ventured into the adjoining room, where a large machine waited. He forced the key into the lock, and was pleased when the alarms slowly stilled.
So it seemed that Rapture was saved, but at what cost?
Please, read and review to let me know what you think. I mean, come on, I love random messages. ;-)