Sometimes, life deals you a hand you just have to play.
Sometimes, life deals you a shitty hand, and you end up a pauper begging off the streets.
Sometimes, life deals you a great hand, and you start your life as the son of a rich lord.
Sometimes, life deals you fun hands, sad hands, horrible hands, good hands...but never —ever— does it deal another hand to you.
At least, that was the normal thought process that tied in with the moralistic concept of 'life deals you a hand'.
Rosalind Lutece believed in that, she believed in the fact that life dealt a single hand of cards for every person, until she met her other self.
Then, she undoubtedly believed that life dealt a single hand of cards to multiple hands of multiple selves. The multiple hands were the multiverses. The cards dealt were always different, just like the selves who received them.
Her other self, instead, believed that life dealt a single hand of cards to single hands that however belonged to multiple selves. That meant that taking someone from one multiverse and bringing him into another would deal the other with the same cards as the original one, but things would be altered.
To put it simply, in extremely simple terms that even an ape could understand, her other-self believed that different perspective brought forth changes, no matter the world or the hand dealt.
He tied change to the person, rather than to fate or the cards handed over.
So they made a bet, as always.
She said Heads.
He said Tails.
And for once…
Booker DeWitt, Columbia, Arrival Station.
He opened his eyes fast, his hands flailing around as he pushed his body upwards. He reached for air and coughed, spluttering out the crystal liquid from his lungs as he breathed in the air, the fresh air, that surrounded him.
He should have been dead.
He should have died.
He should have drowned so that no Zacharias would ever be born.
So why was he there? Why was he where it had all begun?
He moved like a lingering ghost through the sheet of water that filled the rooms of the arrival station. He moved his right hand up to his eye level, to gaze at the A.D. mark on his hand.
He felt renewed, as if a current had run through his body in that moment.
His daughter was there, in Columbia. He just had to reach her. He stilled halfway through his next step.
He had fought off all of Columbia's forces the first time around, even when warned against the number Seventy-Seven.
He looked at the mark on his hand once more. He turned to where the closest candle was and gritted his teeth, as he realized what he had to do.
With his left hand, he lifted the burning candle. He closed his eyes, taking deep calming breaths as he thrust the back of his hand against the flame.
He groaned as the fire scorched his skin, burning it and the mark together.
The False Prophet was no more. Zacharias, his other self, would not catch a whiff of him until too late.
Songbird, the C-A-G-E that was the song's tune, he too could be easily dealt with. He could do this. He could save Anna.
He just had to survive another baptism.
The white dressed priest looked at him as he reached for the stairs down, his face smiling as he probably expected some question a pilgrim was supposed to have. This was what made his task easy: everyone was kind and considerate, living a perfect idea of society as long as you were a white man and held yourself with distinction and grace. Never mind the dying and the hungry beneath Fink industries.
"Excuse me, where am I?"
He asked, in the same way as he had done the first time around.
"Heaven, friend. Or as close as we'll see till Judgment day."
He nodded to the fanatic's words, before starting his descent down the stairs. The massive hall, lit up by the flickering candles, displayed all the magnificence of the cathedrals of old. Had he really engineered all of this? Had his other self, Zacharias, managed this only because of a baptism?
Why had he decided to imprison the girl in the first place? What reason was there to steal his daughter? Of course, if he had grown up sterile, then he would have never had Anna. Yet why take his daughter? Why not somebody else's child?
He didn't know the answer to that question, but he wasn't there to ask and receive answers.
He was there to save Anna.
He could hear the music of the chorus, the voices pitching in the Hallelujah as he walked through the corridor of water, towards the circle of pilgrims and the priest, who was delivering his own achievements.
"…it would have been enough!" the man's voice echoed through the hall, and as Booker pushed aside two within the circle, the priest's attention was caught with his arrival.
"Is it someone new? Someone from the Sodom below? Newly come to Columbia to be washed clean, before our Prophet, our Founders, and our Lord?"
"Yes," Booker replied. He eyed the priest and the others in circle, before adding. "I am eager to enter Columbia, the city closest to heaven." He could play sucker up as long as it got him what he wanted. The Priest actually smiled at that, opening his arms wide as he beckoned Booker closer with his right hand offered.
He grabbed at it, and then surprisingly, he wasn't nearly drowned within the water.
No, the priest gently cupped his free hand of the water, and wet his hair.
"I baptize you, in the name of our Prophet, in the name of our Founders, in the name of our Lord!" His hair was once more wetted by more water. "And make him born again, in the bosom of Columbia!"
A chorus of Amen soon followed, and then the priest let him go, gestured for him to move forward in the tunnel behind him. The light at the end of it seemed alluring, and as he walked, surprised by the lack of the risk of drowning, he narrowed his eyes.
He had to find a Tonic soon, the pistol at his belt was barely enough if shit hit the fan, but hopefully he wouldn't have to dash through the rooftops or fight any enemy real soon. Maybe after having freed Anna, maybe then.
He could meet up with Slate too.
Was he already bunkered up by then, or was he free? Was the Vox Populi active? Maybe he could slip a warning about their arm maker, that Chinese guy called…Chen, Chan, Chin or whatever.
The end of the tunnel did bring him to a small waterfall, nothing more than a slight jump that however landed in the pool of the Garden of Eden.
As he stepped down, admiring the statues of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin, he trudged through the water upwards, to where the stairs would lead him in the garden first. He walked past the rose bushes and the pilgrims lost in prayers, his eyes already settled on the door of white wood and bronze, and yet he stopped to look at the words written above it.
The seed of the prophet shall sit on the throne and drown in flame the mountains of man.
In a strange —and twisted— way, the words were right. Anna was Zacharias' daughter as much as his. Only the way it had come across…the way the Lutece twins had…
He opened the door, already expecting the sights of Columbia in all of its glory to blind him. The wind wasn't as strong as one would expect from such a high altitude, yet it still felt slightly cold against his skin. It was the nearness to the sun that probably equilibrated the temperature.
With a soft thud and a clank, the building he was on connected with the passage to the statue in the middle of the park. He followed through, his face nervous as he tried to calm his beating heart. He was alive, he knew what was going to happen…and he would do what he was meant to do.
His hurried walk became a mad dash through the streets, as he deftly avoided a hummingbird and a few of the other Columbia natives who waved at him with their smiles, calling him pilgrim. How hypocrisy could reach such a level was something he didn't know, but for every one of them that smiled, there was a slave with a different skin working his skin off.
He groaned as he was forced to wait for the passage to be freed from the passing chariot. The Lamb of Columbia, his daughter…his blood boiled.
He resumed his run a moment later, hoping against all odds that he wouldn't need to attract the attention of others onto him. It was as he passed by two policemen that he realized that he was missing something extremely important.
The Sky Hanger, the tool he had used to practically travel through kilometers of Sky Line and had saved his skin time and time again…he'd have to kill a cop to get one.
The Tonics too. He could get the first one free at the fair, but for the others…the Fireman was a tough nut to crack. Maybe he could work fine with only the Possession, but he liked having a fiery land mine at the ready when the time came.
Even if Songbird was solved and even if he reached Anna…the city would still remain there.
That wasn't his problem. The world was a den of sinners and selfish people.
The noise of the fair soon drowned away his thoughts. Last time he had lingered around, looking and asking questions. This time he didn't: he headed towards the Possession display and immediately drank one under the gaze of the sultry assistant. He closed his eyes as he felt the familiar pull of the Tonic take effect on his body.
He reopened his eyes and marched through the gate.
In that moment, he realized that the nagging feeling of wrongness in the back of his head was actually right.
Something was different.
No small boy had delivered to him a letter.
No Lutece Twins had appeared from nowhere to ask him the Head or Tails question.
He stopped his hurried walk to glance around. No, they weren't there. They weren't around the corner. They weren't along the street.
Everything seemed the same, but at the same time…
At the same time it wasn't, because something was different.
The Lutece twins weren't there. That, more than anything else, was what made him afraid.
If that was different…
Then what if Anna wasn't in the monument, waiting to be saved? What would he do if…
No. He had come this far once already.
He'd do it again, and if Anna was a Comstock fanatic, then he would make her see the truth. He didn't care about Columbia or its people…
The only person he cared about was his daughter.
And he would save her, even if he had to tear down the entire city.
Finished playing Bioshock-Infinite and…
The Ending made me cringe.
So here we go, giving Booker another chance.
Because, sometimes, people deserve another chance.