The writer's apartment, 1959

A crackle was heard outside the door to the apartment. The public address system came alive again and a female began to speak, just as someone ran past on heavy feet along the hallway.
"This is an emergency message from Ryan Industries. There has been an incident at the Kashmir restaurant. Please return to the safety of your homes until further notice. Thank you." In a way, she sounded happy. That was probably so that people wouldn't be alarmed. The "incident" was bigger than anyone in Rapture could possibly imagine. But the specks of dust didn't care. The writer lay on the hard planks of the bed, only a few sheets under him for padding. Julia had gotten up and was looking at her dirty dress, which she'd so passionately just thrown on the floor a while ago. She turned to him and saw his look.
"Oh you", she said, her face red as she blushed.
"Sorry", he said, covering his eyes with his hand, but still peeking through between the fingers. She noticed that, too, and gave him a stern look that still told him how pleased she was that he was looking. Then he did look away.
"Tell me", she said as she tried her best to clean the dress with some fresh water from a glass jar they'd found at the back of the pantry, "how does one become a writer?"
He looked at the ceiling. There were some cracks there, and the indigo sea cast an eerie light over the ceiling canvas. "It's not something that you become."
"How is that an answer?"
"It isn't."
"Tell me then", she said, impatience in her voice. As if the girl would pout if she didn't get her wish. She looked at him, but he stared musingly at the ceiling, watching the dancing of the blues and greens and the hues of darkness. He thought about it for a moment. Then he said:
"It is everything. And it is nothing. It is reality. Because reality isn't as good as imagination." He looked back at her. She had her back towards him. "Well, until now", he added, half joke, half Lord's truth. He got up, and stood behind her. He ran his warm fingers against her bare side, feeling her skin in his palm. She let out a slow breath, closing her eyes, and he ran his hand through her hair, sniffing it and then came closer, kissing her neck, tasting her shuddering skin. The writer took Julia by the waist to turn her around and looked deep in her eyes, then he pulled her back into the bed.

He held her by the wrist as he fumblingly sat down on the bed, one of the boards creaking just slightly beneath him. Julia followed instantly, putting her legs on his sides, sitting astride of him. She looked deep into his eyes as they came so close, skin on skin. She threw her scarlet hair back, through the air and the writer leaned close to kiss her neck, caressing gently over her collar bone. Putting her arms around his back, Julia rose, just enough to let him get in place, and then slowly sank down, feeling him. Their breathing turned more flustered, cheeks turned red. Heat emanated, passion springing eternal. Julia's grip of his back became harder, nails scraping skin; his hands tense and pulsing with the motion, caressing her, feeling, touching, squeezing. His lips tasting, teeth nibbling. Sweaty hair dripping, breathing turning into soft moans. Julia pushed the writer down, but soft, and he lay down on the bed, holding her by the backside as she continued, moving rhythmically.

The writer's entire body became tense and loosened time and again, as he caressed Julia, caressing soft at first, but faster and more uncontrolled as they went on. He moaned, trying to keep the voice in, but to no avail, and they soon became one in voice, louder for each time. Julia went faster as pleasure built up. The writer grabbed her with his hands and stroking her gently yet firmly, made her blush and moan and throw her hair in lust. Getting closer, both at the same time, Julia leaned down atop him, not stopping her rhythmical ride. Her soft breasts pressed against him and she kissed him, bit his lip all passionate. The writer put his hands on her buttocks, firm, soft, and he squeezed, held firmly. He was as far into the affectionate sin as she. They were both sweating, going further. As his breathing increased, moans turned deeper. Both nearing zenith. Julia went on, closing her eyes and nesting her head against the writer's shoulder. She ceased, almost freezing in place as her body became rigid for one moment, then shuddered with a lustful moan. The indigo sea danced with the hues of dark on the ceiling.

- - -

"Hey. What's that?" Julia Jensen asked a couple of hours later, as they were again dressed. She was lying in the bed, still red cheeked and her breath still heavy, leaning on one of her arms. She nodded at his backpack. From inside it came a red glow that almost seemed alive.
"Oh, that", said the writer, sitting on his desk, in that moment just feeling his own existence. Life. Reality. Imagination. He picked up the source of the glow from the pack. "It's a plasmid. Never used it." In his hand he held a syringe filled with refined ADAM, ready to kick start a man. The very same syringe that he bought that fateful drunken night. He looked at it, then at Julia. Then, without warning, he stuck the needle into his skin and injected himself with pain.

It felt like the whole world was sucked into him. His back arched and his arms, hands and fingers went tense. Jolts of blue white lightning began to strike out from his fingers, zapping to the nearest point of contact and arcing from his fingers to his head, but not harming him. He groaned, feeling his cells realign within him.

He could feel his fingernails growing. He could feel his teeth itching. His legs shook and he wobbled onto his knees. He could feel his body changing. He could feel his very blood electrifying. Every sensation became stronger and the colors in front him contrasted sharply. Power! Unlimited power! Then he opened his eyes and everything looked like normal, only he felt ecstatic. Happy. Julia was looking at him, looking worried. He got up and looked at the syringe. Then he stretched his hand out, giving it to her.
"Try it", he said, his voice interchanging in his ears. He felt everything with greater clarity. All his emotions were a thousand times stronger. Looking at Julia Jensen was euphoria. Pure want.

Julia reached for the syringe slowly. The writer, her last loved one, gave her a smile and she remembered how glad she'd been to see him in Neptune's Bounty that time, and how they almost kissed in Arcadia. He was here with her now. Forever. She remembered her parents, and Sandy Reid. And for all the sorrow she felt that they lay in unmarked, shallow graves, she was happy. She, too, put the needle against her skin. Then she felt Chris' hand against her own. He leaned forward to give her a kiss as she injected the Electro Bolt into her veins. Her eyes lit up and she felt lightning flowing through her veins, just as the writer had. It electrified her, filled her with something closer to reality than reality itself; imagination. She looked at him with the same euphoric expression.
"You may now kiss the bride", she said and giggled. And then he kissed her again, sealing their electric wedding.

Just then, the loud bang of a gunshot was heard and the door of the apartment was bust open. A splicer looking man appeared in the doorway. He wore a constable's badge strapped to his chest and a Tommy gun in his hands. There was another one behind him.
"There they are!" The first one said, raising his weapon at them. But the plasmid rush gave the writer and Julia quick reflexes. Julia cast the first stone and the constable began to shake with electric convulsion. Just as  the other constable raised his weapon, a pump action shotgun, the writer rushed them, knocking the first constable onto the other. The other fired his shotgun at that moment, and as he was knocked back the shot hit the ceiling, making dust and debris fall down on top of them. The first one was knocked to the floor and dropped his Tommy gun.
"I'll teach you!" He yelled as he got up. And then he fired a cone of cold from his finger tips using the Winter Blast plasmid, the icicles freezing the writer's skin. The writer froze in place, encased in a thin sheet of ice. He was completely aware the entire time, screaming in his head for heat. Luckily, it wasn't even skin deep. Only a thin, quickly melting crust. It was cold none the less, and he longed for Julia's warmth.

While he was inanimate, Julia attacked that first constable, putting her hand on his head, and then she fired the Electro Bolt again, making his head cook and his eyeballs melt. He screamed in agony, convulsing and contorting as he began to claw against his own head. But the second constable had time to raise his shotgun at her.
"Now, missy", he said, clearly uneasy to see the young woman fight back so agilely and kill a constable in cold blood, "you comin' with me. You both are!" And then the writer hit him. Straight over the jaw. They all heard it crack. The man fell down, and stayed down.
"Hate to be so repetitive", the defrosted writer said, still freezing. His teeth chattered.
"It's okay", Julia said, "let's go, before he comes to." The writer agreed. He grabbed his backpack and the Tommy gun. Julia searched through the dead constable's pockets and found another magazine for the Tommy gun. Then they hurried off. As for a plan, well, they had to come up with one, he guessed.

Neptune's Bounty, 1959

Bonham woke up to an announcement on the public address system. Something going on down in the rich quarters. His head was spinning, and Christ, it hurt! He was lying on his back down in the wharf. As he regained consciousness the musty smell of sea water filled his nose. Slowly he began to realize what had happened. He'd been knocked out somehow, trying to escape from the brute. And the brute was nowhere in sight. He sat up slowly, wincing and grimacing in pain and looked around him. He was lying on a wooden dock, only inches from falling into the waist deep sea water if he had been extra unlucky. As he regained his senses he noticed that he was exactly where he left off, close to the old warehouse where the brute had been carrying the crates of rotting fish.

Now that he'd seen that man Jensen, Bonham's eyes had been opened for what was possible with ADAM. The sheer strength of the man! And even for such a big man to have such speed. That was what Bonham wanted. And that was all that ran through his head as he worked himself to his feet and over to the warehouse. He checked his pocket for the gun, which he had dropped, and his other pocket for the syringe of ADAM. As luck would have it, it was made of sturdy glass and was still whole. It contained the mix of Sports Boost, BruteMore, Armored Shell and Brain Boost, and glowed in a sickly greenish color. He'd probably need that Brain Boost, too, to outsmart the brute. All that remained was to find the brute, and splice up. His heart raced faster as he reached the warehouse. Looking inside, he found that some of the crates were still there, but the brute was not. He entered the warehouse to look around.
"Hey!" He shouted, no longer afraid, "are you still in here?"
There was a loud metallic creak up above, some loud clanks and finally the brute's voice, "heh, heh, heh, should've known that little fall wouldn't kill ya, ya piss ant."
Bonham looked up, to see the brute sitting on top of an overhead crane, creaking under his weight. It was a huge creature, the brute splicer, imperviously strong and big, yet nimble as a cat when it leapt. And the brute took a leap down, landing in front of Bonham, dust whirling into the air from the impact.

Bonham steeled his nerves and looked sternly into Peder Jensen's eyes.
"Well now you die, little ant", the brute said. Before Bonham could say or do anything, the brute leapt into the air, and only Bonham's quick reflexes saved him from being crushed. The brute struck down with mighty force, cracking the concrete floor where Bonham stood half a second ago.
"Quick thinking, piss ant", the brute snickered as it stood up again and looked for Bonham. And Bonham was just standing there, no more than thirty feet away. In his hand he held a syringe. The brute saw it, and instantaneously was filled with desire to use it himself. "Give it here, piss ant!"
But it was too late. Bonham had struck the needle into his arm and spliced up. In that instant he began to transform, just as Jensen once had.

For Bonham, the world turned upside down. His entire being contorted, grew, bulked up. He felt himself screaming but what he heard was a deafening roar. His shoulders grew wide as an ox and his muscles grew in pulsing spasms as the ADAM made them what they were meant to be. He was no longer himself. He was so much more. He was grown with muscles and force. For him, the strong man was a goal to strive for. He who hits strongest hits last. He'd bulked muscle mass with BruteMore and spliced heavily with Sports Boost for a while now, but now... Bonham was something else entirely. Transforming in front of the brute's eyes, Bonham loved the process. The adrenaline high that shot through his cells. Growing old had always seemed like an obstacle, but now it was truly no more than a number. He could easily beat any strong man in Rapture now; Bonham was the apex of humanity.

Jensen growled and snarled, watching Bonham evolve right in front of him. Now it wouldn't be so easy. A few moments later, there they were; two brutish splicers about to clash. The top of the food chain. Jensen hadn't expected this, and so roared loudly at his adversary. But the piss ant didn't seem to care. Instead, Bonham just stretched out his back to show off his incredible body, and roared back. The next moment, there was chaos. The two brutes crashed and thrashed around the warehouse. They crashed through the crates of fish, easily breaking them with their arduous backs, spilling fish and carefully packaged and sealed smuggle goods - topside wares like bibles, liquor, even food - all over the floor, and getting splattered with fish guts themselves.

Bonham got a great punch to Jensen's hard belly, knocking him back. He grabbed an unbroken crate and lobbed it at him like it was a small rock, but Jensen jumped out of the way, bounced against a wall and screaming came crashing down on top of Bonham, beating on him with his incredible fists of iron. Shaking his enemy off with a roar, Bonham head butted Jensen across the face, crushing his nose. It made a fountain of blood in the process, squirting over Bonham, before it became a slow trickle.
"Aw, you fucking piss ant!" Jensen shouted. Bonham was too into the fight to even think about anything else. It was as though even he'd used Brain Boost, the other tonics overshadowed it and all he could think of was the moment. No planning ahead, no thinking about how to use his surroundings to overcome his enemy. He didn't even notice how his splicing had failed - he was no smarter than Jensen. They were both just brute strength and nothing more.

With a loud battle cry Jensen charged into Bonham, who held his ground and they both wrestled while trying to stand up on the floor, slick with fish guts. Bonham was first down, and Jensen was quick to leap upon him and landing punch after punch on Bonham's strengthened body. Bonham, weakened, threw off his opponent and got up. For a moment they stood, panting, looking into each other's eyes. There was nothing left of either man inside now. All there was, was the fight. It was no longer possible to tell who was Bonham and who was Jensen. They probably didn't know themselves.

One of the brutes, bleeding heavily from his brow and his entire body aching, growled and punched the concrete floor; the meaning being, 'come get me!' The other, face bruised and bloodied, growled back and charged. It took no more than a second to cross the distance of thirty feet, but when the brute was over there, the first one jumped aside, making the one charging crash down onto the floor. Before it could get up, the first brute grabbed the chain of the overhead crane and quickly swung it around its adversary's throat. Then, before anything else could transpire, the first brute, bleeding from its brow, jumped up to grab the other end of the chain and pull it down, thereby pulling the second brute up into the air, suspended at its throat.

The chain proved to hold, as the suspended brute thrashed around it in the air. The first brute held on to the chain with all its might and all its strength, dragged it like a tug of war, all the while muttering and roaring bestially. It took a while, but the second brute began to grasp for the chain as its air supply ran short. Howling brutishly, the first brute jerked hard at the chain, trying to snap its foes neck. After a few jerks, the second brute started flopping, rather than trying to get away. The death throes of the hanged brute splicer echoed through the chain and the warehouse until it finally just stopped. The first splicer panted heavily, and let go of the chain, making the dead brute fall aimlessly down to the concrete floor, where its face was crushed. Wiping the blood off its face, the first brute examined its dead enemy to make sure it stayed dead. Then it hurried out of the warehouse, sprinting quickly on its muscular legs. No telling which one had survived the clash of the titans.

Artemis Suites, 1959

It had been a few days since Tyger had been to the writer's place. Mostly, the cat felt as if this was his life; fighting to eat, surviving in shadows. Lately, the cat had learned to live without dependence, as the city itself strived to. Tyger walked complacently down the corridor. He knew this place well. On the next floor up was the writer's dwelling, and around here he had nothing to fear. He walked past the door of Martha and Horace Johnson, who used to feed him sometimes. That had stopped about six months back, and Tyger hadn't seen either of them since. He walked close to the wall, and just rounded a corner when he realized he'd been too complacent. Careless even.

In front of Tyger stood the most terrifying creature on two legs that the cat had ever seen, and Tyger stood in its shadow. Looking up, Tyger's eyes met a pair of dilated pupils, revealing a deranged soul inside. The creature's eyes were wide open and it stared at the cat, grinning. But to Tyger, the way he looked was nothing compared to the way he felt; the sensations he gave by leering at Tyger. This was not a good person. The steps he took, small and uncalculated, his hands trembling, just slightly, with anticipation, and his breath was foul as the abyss. It opened its maw, revealing a set of yellow teeth in a state of decay, and said: "kitty cat..."
The very next moment he lunged, trying to catch Tyger. The cat was swift, though, and darted past him between his legs. Tyger didn't look back, but he heard his attacker get up. A ball of flame struck the wall just by the cat. The assailant had used the Incinerate plasmid, and missed by a hair. Quick as lightning, Tyger hurried up the stairs leading to the next floor, his pursuer close behind him, and very quick for a human.
"Come back, kitty", he bellowed in a Russian accent, gaining on the cat by blocking Tyger's way time and again with a flame ball. Heart racing and his fur cinched by the fires, Tyger could only hope that the writer's home would offer sanctuary.

Close behind his prey, the splicer raised his hand to shoot fire, but changed his mind; when the cat dodged the fire it thought would come, the splicer leapt. A moment later, Tyger felt himself in the grasp of the splicer, and he began to scream and howl. He thrashed around, trying to free himself, striking with claws and teeth against the man's arms. The splicer thought he had him, and letting his guard down for half a moment, Tyger struck. The cat's fury and power manifested as a vicious blow to the splicer's already repugnant face. With sharp claws, Tyger freed himself and ran off like Hell on wheels, not looking back to see his attacker shrieking and bleeding. No, Tyger fled. He rushed forward, round the corner and there! He reached the writer's apartment, finding the door slightly open. A streak of light, probably from a flashlight, was moving around inside. Tyger hurried into the room, and to rescue. But he was met by a stranger, rummaging through the room. When Tyger came in, the stranger looked up.
"What!" The stranger yelled. He looked a bit like the splicer who attacked Tyger outside. Confused and distraught, Tyger was overwhelmed, as the first splicer came in through the door behind him, and grabbed him by the skin of his neck. Tyger began to throw around, trying to get free yet again, but he was being held in an iron grip.
"What's going on?" The splicer said, who'd been intruding into the writer's home.
"Kitty cat here did not wish to come along", the Russian splicer replied, "I had to really persuade him that this the best course of action."
"But what happened to your face, man?" His friend asked, referring to the bloody claw marks that stretched from over the Russian's eyes and down over the nose and cheek. They were deep, and must be hurting real bad, pulsing with crimson, ADAM tainted blood. It's only luck on his part that the eye was left untouched.
"Kitty cat was really persistent", the Russian said, grinning, "but there is no point standing around. Let's get back to Pauper's Drop. We have what we came for."
The second splicer nodded, then asked: "what?"
In response, the Russian splicer held the immobilized Tyger close to his foul face and looked into the cat's shining golden green eyes.
"Dinner", he said.

The Limbo Room, 1959

The writer and Julia danced closely. The Limbo Room was closed, just recently. And for the time being it was deserted. Except the two souls who'd spent the night. The Limbo was as safe as it could be, after they barricaded the door. No music was playing, no winds were blowing, and yet they danced.  The curtain of smoke was drawn away and finally they had each other. Though his mind searched desperately for a way, he tried living the now. Though he feared for her, her heartbeat calmed him. She'd suggested going to someone for help, but that would put them in danger, too. But he agreed; they couldn't do it alone. But who? Her friends and family were all gone and he didn't know anyone. Mr. Reid, the editor in chief of the Tribune, who'd already helped Julia, was killed during the New Year's riots. But... he did know someone else from the Tribune. Stanley Poole. Would he help them? The writer wanted to think they were friends, even though he used to hope they weren't. He'd thought about it for some time, and it seemed Stanley Poole was the only one they could go to. And maybe - just maybe - he knew of some way out. Or at least some way to get Julia out of Rapture.

For now the writer was content just holding her close and moving with her as they danced to silence. She hummed a quiet melody, was all. And so they danced. He moved his feet clumsily, but she moved swiftly and he mostly just moved like she did. It wasn't really much of a fast number anyway. She put her head on his shoulder and closed her eyes. The world was no bigger than the stage of the Limbo Room, and the spotlight casting a warm light on them made them its center. It was serenity. The last serenity before the thunder that headed their way. He'd never danced in his life but he led in their silent waltz.

But it was getting colder. They couldn't just dance the night away. Safety is an illusion and though the writer and his muse weren't the targets, others sought the comfort that a barred Limbo Room could give. The first one they heard was banging hard at the door. Then they could hear whoever it was, cursing the idiot who'd barred the doors in a harsh, angry voice.
"Constables?" Julia said and tugged at the writer's arm.
"Doesn't sound like one", he answered, taking her hand and holding reassuringly.
"What should we do?" She asked, anxiously.
"If it's just splicers we could try running for it. Save the ammo", he suggested. They could sure need it. Not much money left, just a few bucks.
"Or it could be Ryan's people. Or Atlas."
"He sounds angry."
"Agreed. Lay low. I'll have a gander." Julia nodded and rushed off the stage and hid behind the piano. She peeked, her curiosity getting the better of her. The writer, in turn, grabbed the Tommy gun he'd taken from the constable back at the apartment. He tipped over a table and knelt down behind it. Over at the door the angry visitor busted through, making a great deal of noise, meanwhile cursing to himself. They heard him crashing around in the entrance and Julia hid altogether, getting scared. The sound of glass breaking and something heavy tipping over.
"Stupid machine", the angry guest said in a deep, burly voice. A few moments later he appeared, in the doorway.

The writer was breath taken when he caught a glimpse of the splicer. What a brute! It - because it must be more ADAM than man now - was at the very least two meters tall, only it was hunched over, leaning its burly upper body on its muscular arms. The face was bearded and clotted with the cancerous blobs that followed heavy plasmid use, and the clothes, once fancy, were torn and tattered and dirty. An ugly tie hung around its neck and dangled as it walked. Julia may have recognized this monstrosity, but she didn't look up from behind the piano.
"Knock, knock", the splicer blurted out. To give away the position or not, the writer thought. A regular splicer he could take, but this one?
"What's all the fuss?" Another splicer joined them. Then it shrieked in horror as the big one turned on it. Without warning, the brute punched the other splicer right over the jaw with its humongous fist.
"This here's my place", the brute said.
"Hey!" A third one yelled from over at the very entrance to the Limbo Room.
"More of them", muttered the brute as he was joined by the one at the door and two of his friends, "now it's a fight." He bellowed this with a grin and grabbed a table, while the splicers spread out around him. There was no way the writer and Julia could make it past them. One of the splicers struck the brute with the butt of a shotgun, making the brute miss his table toss. Instead of a splicer, it hit the wall and broke into a million wooden splinters. Another of the splicers wielded a wrench and he, too, struck at the brute, grinning wildly. It's easy to act big when you're three against one. The last of the splicers wielded a double barreled shotgun. This he aimed at the brute, who was taking beatings seemingly without caring. Then the shotgun fired and the brute shrieked in pain. The next shot missed, and the pellets instead hit the table behind which the writer was hiding. It hit just inches from his face and he jumped away instinctively, getting flushed out of cover.
"Hey! Who's that guy?" The splicer who'd done the shooting asked, as he was reloading his weapon, taking a great deal of time in doing so, fumbling with stubby fingers that had the same cancerous ADAM growths as his face. The other one to wield a shotgun fired his weapon in the writer's direction, but missed. He reloaded with a pumping action, and fired at the brute this time. He said:
"You worry about the big one, Vinnie! Then we worry about the little one." But Vinnie didn't have time to worry about either, as the brute grabbed him by the head and swung him through the air. Howling loudly, both out of pain and of anger, it then smashed Vinnie's head to the floor with tremendous force, crushing his skull and splattering brains and blood all over the room.
"I'll kill all you cunts!" The brute laughed. The writer had knelt down again, but it was for nothing. They knew he was there, so he got up again, pointing the Tommy gun.
"New plaything, tee hee, hee..." The brute said. Then it burst straight at the writer, smashing the table. He jumped away at the last moment. At that moment the shotgun wielding splicer opened fire. He'd switched to phosphorous bucks.
"Here's for Vinnie!" He shouted. A moment later the glowing buck got stuck on the brute's clothes and skin. He started screaming in agony as they exploded and he caught fire. The writer took the opportunity to strike with the Electro Bolt, electrocuting the big bastard while he burned. Then he, too, opened fire, almost emptying the entire magazine into the brute's colossal body. It finally died, more monster than man, making a slow, gurgling sound as life slipped away. It tipped over across a table, smashing it under its tremendous weight. The smell of burnt flesh from the corpse, still in embers, filled the Limbo Room.

Only the leadhead and the thuggish one with the wrench left. And they looked at the writer as if they didn't know if he was friend or foe. He breathed heavily, whereas they didn't seem to care about what just happened.
"Come on guys", the writer said, hoping diplomacy might work.
"Hey, Dan", the wrench wielding one said, "know who I think it is?"
"Nah. Tell me, ya ugly fuck."
"It's that damn writer. We'll get a good price for him if we bring over to Ryan."
"Yeah? And what if I say we bring him to Atlas?" The crazed men looked at him and he tried desperately to come up with something. There weren't enough bullets for both left in the gun. And Julia had the backpack with the other magazine behind the piano.
"Nah. It's Ryan that put out the bounty on this guy. Says he's a parasite."
"Looks like a prick to me. All right. Let's bring the fucker in. Alive." Just then, Dan was hit with a bolt of lightning and started to shake uncontrollably. It was Julia. She stood behind the piano and fired lightning from her right hand, looking grim in her eyes. First she fired at Dan, then the other. Then she hit them both again.
"Get 'em, honey!" She yelled. The writer nodded and raised the Tommy gun. He parted Dan's face from itself with a few bullets. The other only got a single bullet to the chest, then the magazine was empty. But he went down. The writer hurried over and stomped his head to the ground. A cold blooded killer now. A warrior poet. His heartbeat raced as he took Julia's hand and they got out from the Limbo Room.
"Thank you", he said.
"You're welcome", she said, smiling. It was an indecisive smile. Like she was happy to be alive and still had time to think about something funny even with the dance they'd danced with death just a minute ago.  She shook from the adrenaline, and continued: "what was your plan? Talk them to death?"
"Very funny. They were two against one."
"'Come on guys'", she said, imitating him. Then she giggled. He shut her up with a kiss. Then they left the room with the several corpses, one still smoking and one with his head all crushed, behind. All the blood and gore, and they only cared about being alive. They were alive! Out in the entrance they found what the brute had crashed when it first came in. A Gatherer's Garden vending machine. The glass was broken and all the contents were free for the taking. They stuffed all that could fit into the writer's backpack, and sneaked out, taking great care to avoid setting off the security camera outside.
"Do you have a plan?" Julia asked and grabbed his hand.
"Yeah. But it's a long shot."

Adonis Luxury Resort, 1968

Outside the maintenance area, Mr. Bubbles heard running footsteps. The Big Sister appeared in the dank room with weapons drawn and an imposing stance. Seeing Mr. Bubbles she arched her back and shrieked; the shrill sound that could tear through flesh. Tenenbaum was  screaming in Mr. Bubbles' ears.
"She comes for you! Quick, turn on the pumps!" Mr. Bubbles hurried over to the control board. And there it was. The lever that said Pump Control Vita-Chamber. He pulled it and all through Adonis, the creaking could be heard. The lower levels would soon be free of water.

The Big Sister was fast as lightning and elusive as a shadow, jumping the wall and within a moment she was on top of Mr. Bubbles, pinning him to the ground and staring at him through a red glowing porthole. She let him go with another shriek, and he got to his feet. He jabbed after her with his drill, but she just took an agile leap backwards and wasn't even scratched. The Big Sister summoned fire out of thin air, made it into a ball of flame and hurled it at him. The fire heated the suit and started cooking him. She threw another ball of fire and then rushed him again and struck him with her wrist mounted needle. She pierced his metal case and drew ADAM infested blood from the veins deep inside.

Mr. Bubbles felt weak, but he managed to put his hand at the Big Sister and push her off. Then he revved up his drill and rushed her, inflicting some damage as the huge drill started on her armor. But she didn't even seem to mind; she just gave him a kick to gain some distance and then struck him again with the needle. Mr. Bubbles shot a bolt of lightning at her, but with her great physique, a direct result of all her years of drinking ADAM infested blood, she did a back flip away and dodged the lightning bolt. With her great telekinetic powers she summoned objects lying around the room and spun them above her head to give them momentum; then she hurled them with great force at Mr. Bubbles who staggered backwards. Revving his drill, Mr. Bubbles lunged forward in retaliation, striking hard at the Big Sister's metal coating. She in turn hit him hard with her abnormal strength.

He lunged fast and zapped her with Electro Bolt, and then hit her with his great industrial drill with all his power and might, making her take incredible damage. The Big Sister, in retaliation, would hit him with an incinerating fire ball and lunge at him with her razor sharp needles. The fight was getting heavy; Mr. Bubbles couldn't possibly stand her attacks much longer. He was getting tired and just standing was beginning to take a lot of effort. As she jumped at him, he smashed her with the side of his giant drill, sending her flying across the room, and hitting a pipe, which burst and began gushing water into the control room. As she stood in the water, Mr. Bubbles fired another paralyzing bolt of lightning at her. The water carried the current through her entire body, and as she shook, Mr. Bubbles struck with the drill again and again, beating her to the floor.

He just about had her, and was just about to drill right through her, just as the control board signaled that pumping was complete, with a beeping noise. The Big Sister took the moment to use her telekinesis plasmid again, to send a pressurized gas tube flying across the room. Mr. Bubbles turned around just in time to see it coming, and didn't have time to get out of the way. It hit him and exploded, creating a loud blast and cloud of smoke and fire, and made his suit burn red hot. As he was staggered and in pain, the Big Sister made short work of the control board, using her needle. She buried it deep in the machinery, and in doing so, shorted out power in the facility again. While the generator upstairs slowly went to sleep again, the lights sputtered and went out, one by one. While the Big Sister concerned herself with the electrical work, Mr. Bubbles went in for the kill. But the Big Sister was stronger and faster, and her reflexes were quicker. She saw him coming and kicked him hard, making him stagger backwards into the airlock. He saw his chance; the Big Sister rushed after him, but he grabbed the lever to fill the airlock with water, and pulled it. The metal door swung up just in time to keep her out. While the water level rose in the airlock, Mr. Bubbles heard her shrieking and banging and scratching against the door. Soon he was totally submerged and the sounds snuffed out. His day was over and his part played.

- - -

Down in the dark, in the drained lower level of Adonis Luxury Resort was the Vita-Chamber. Once grand beyond measure with spectacular statuary for decorations and art deco facades. Adorned on the inner wall, visible when you entered the hall from the pool area, a stylized mural of the city of Rapture and a symbolizing sun. Now the place was eaten by darkness, barnacles covering the walls and big leaks slowly refilling the room with icy sea water. It was already inch deep on the floor. Two small feet treaded the cold floor and a pair of yellow eyes looked warily around. A Little Sister braved the haunting hall of the Vita-Chamber. She wore a purple dress, torn and ragged, and her dirty hair was put into a pony tail by a pretty bow.

Looking up, the girl saw through the glass dome. Tall buildings waved in the endless blue, brightly colored sea plants danced with the currents. As she looked around the room there were pink glowing anemones beckoning all around. Beckoning in the dark. She giggled childishly as she touched one. Slowly she approached the Vita-Chamber itself, standing in an alcove directly beneath the main staircase and the entrance. She touched it and her lips formed a smile. In her left hand she held a makeshift doll, made to look like a Big Daddy. Its helmet was made of a baseball, with a watch as the porthole. A corkscrew was the drill. Using the genetic signature inside the doll, she tinkered with the Vita-Chamber and activated it. Light blue rays of light and twirling lightning started rolling the machine and she turned to go back. Noticing the mural on the wall opposite the Vita-Chamber she was startled. She gasped, and then went:
All over the mural was written with fluorescent paint, in big letters, the words 'FALLEN, FALLEN IS BABYLON'. She gazed at it in awe and then whispered to the watch face doll:
"What do you think, daddy?" The doll was silent, uncaring about the fall of Babylon the Great. Then the girl hurried along, up the stairs and to the air vent she came in through. It took a bit of effort, but she managed to get up and into the air shaft, into an even blacker darkness, where her bright yellow eyes cut the night. In the house of upside down laughing cries and smiles frown.




Atlantic Express, 1959

Riding the Atlantic Express wasn't safe with the war. The trains still left on time, at least some of the times, but you never knew where Atlas might strike. Everyone was on edge. And in the back corner of the last train car sat two people, trying to look inconspicuous. But Julia Jensen's bright red hair was a giveaway. The writer's face was serious, looking out the window into the blue green depths and the passing scrapers of the city at war. The end of innocence had struck hard and maturity was coming fast. Not just for him, but for all of Rapture. Remained to see if either would survive. It was no longer just a wild fever dream; Rapture was tearing itself apart, and he had got the girl. All that was left was to get out, but he just didn't see how. He sighed. Julia grabbed his hand and clasped it tight. Outside they could hear the train breaking the current, burrowing steadily through the water. The train rocked gently as it rushed forward. It went by Ryan Amusements, which was closed off, without stopping.

He looked at the facade of the building. He could see a private bathysphere docked on the side of it, probably belonging to Carlson Fiddle, who'd built Ryan Amusements at the behest of the city's owner. If they could get to a bathysphere... the feeling of gloom was heavy, and the writer could think of only one thing to say to break the heavy feeling.
"This fiancée of yours..." He said, glancing at Julia in the corner of his eye.
"What's he like?"
Julia closed her eyes, remembering the time before Rapture. Then she said:
"He's tall. Very handsome. He likes to ski. That's where we met. On a ski trip to Vermont, I went there with my parents back in... '48, it must have been. I was fifteen then, so he wasn't really my fiancée, but we talked about it sometimes. My mother was invited to Rapture in 1950." She opened her eyes and looked into the distance. "The moment I saw him I thought, 'I'm going to marry him'."
"Forget I asked", the writer pouted. It was his own fault for asking.
"But he could be so childish", Julia went on, "this one time, he would refuse to pay for our taxi. The fair was broken, so he said 'it shouldn't count'" - she made an impression of his voice, sounding ridiculous - "and ultimately, I had to pay. I was sixteen! I remember how ashamed I was, telling mother what I had done with the money she found missing from her purse."
"Sounds like a pleasant fellow", the writer said.
"Yes, well. I used to miss him terribly when I came to Rapture", she explained.
"Do you still?"
Julia shrugged. "A little."
"Will you want to go see him when we get out of here?" The writer sounded almost accusing, continuing the interrogation. Julia just ignored his tone.
"Yes", she said, nodding.
"Perhaps you can still marry him?" The writer asked, jealousy shining through his very eyes and through every word.
"Stop it", Julia said, looking at him.
"Maybe you'll want to when you see him", he said, grouchy, crossing his arms.
"Do you know how I know that I won't?" She asked, putting her hand on the writer's arm, "Robert would have said 'if'. If we get out."
"Do you not believe that we will?"
Julia didn't answer. She only looked down.
"We will", the writer assured her. Julia said nothing for a while, hanging her head in sadness, but she didn't cry. Then she took a deep breath and shrugged it off, finding strength. It's a matter of never giving up, and trying even harder when you're at your lowest. Making sure that surrender isn't an option, even when you're defying the Devil forever. To rise from the fall.
"What about you?" She asked, looking into the writer's eyes, "you don't expect me to believe you had no one prior to coming to Rapture?"
"No. There was never anyone", he said truthfully.
"Truly?" She asked, skeptically.
"What of your friends?" She smiled in the corner of her mouth, feeling special, but she kept the tone serious. She didn't want to mock him. The writer knew it, and still hurt. He'd felt mocked for many years of his grown up life, even with the unsaid words. But Julia's silence made the hurt go away. Friends, though, he thought about it for a moment or two.
"There was one, yes. Johnny. Remember that guy who found the city in a diving bell? Johnny Topside? Maybe that was him", he chuckled, deflecting his emotions with humor.
"Was he a good friend of yours?" Julia asked.
"Very. And I never realized until I came here. I left without saying good bye. I... I am the one who left, you know", he answered. Heavy thoughts. Julia held his hand tighter.
"We'll go see him as well, when we make it out." She looked at him, as he again turned to stare bleakly out the window.
"You know", she said, "I was so worried when you were gone." He gave her a glance and smiled, only with the corner of his mouth, then went back to the window.
"What did you do when you were away?" She asked.
"I wrote the book", he answered, "the one exposing Ryan and Atlas and everything. There's not really much I can say that you didn't already read."
"Don't tell me it's not an adventure worthy of telling?"
The writer fell silent for a moment, rocking in synchronicity with the train. A fast swimming orca flew by alongside the train car, looking in at them, then turning away. He sighed and said:
"I have seen inequity galore, been worth a detour and some more; the snake in the backyard of Heaven."
"What's that? I don't recognize it."
"It's Sammet", he answered, then changed his tone, "anyway, I'm not about to look back at past adventures, not when we have a great adventure before us." He looked troubled, but gave her a reassuring smile. They'd make it through if their resolve was strong enough.
"But there is something", he said, trying not to sound so moody, "something not in the book."
"What?" She smiled.
"A story that doesn't have closure yet. Hopefully it will, before we leave."
"For the surface?"
The writer nodded, hopeful, then went on: "While you were knocked out I was just sitting there in the dark, almost fell asleep myself for a while. Then suddenly, out of nowhere I feel a stroke on my leg and I hear a cat meowing."
"A cat?"
"Yes, now -"
"I didn't see a cat there, where did he come from?"
"You'll never know if you insist on interrupting me, will you? There I was, in that almost completely dark room and he'd come to see me. Sure enough, it was little Tyger."
"Well, where did he come from?"
"I was wondering that too. There was a vent into the air duct, where the cover had come off. I'm guessing he came from there. Probably been chasing mice in there."
"Eek, you had mice there?"
"Did you just say 'eek'?"
Julia nodded.
"Well, no mice", the writer explained, "but I did see a spider once actually. Didn't know there were any in Rapture. I remember Tyger chasing it all over the room, knocking down a lamp. Spilled coffee all over an early draft of Returning to the Source, meowing loudly as he went about. It was the middle of the night, too, so the neighbors started banging on the walls and I had to give Tyger tuna to calm him down."
There was a sting in Julia's heart. There were lots and lots of spiders on the surface. They were everywhere up there; nowhere was safe!
"Do we really have to leave?" She asked, a ball in her throat. He knew how deathly afraid she was of spiders.
"Afraid so. Anyway. That cat and I, we used to spend a lot of time together before... all of this. He was basically my best friend for a long time. It was great to see him again. I fed him some tuna, just like the old days, looked like he hadn't eaten in weeks, he was so thin. It just makes me sad that I couldn't bring him when we left there."
"I thought you said you didn't have any food back there?" She burst out.
"I didn't", he answered innocently.
"You had tuna!"
"What kind of twisted person likes tuna?"
Julia gave him the evil eye and said: "I like tuna."
"Well you couldn't have any, because Tyger ate it all", he wouldn't let her win this one. Tuna was for cats only. You couldn't eat anything that smelled like that. Then Julia sighed, and changed the subject.
"Well, where is the cat now? I never saw him when I was there. When did he leave?" She sounded genuinely anxious.
"Some time after you woke up, I expect", the writer said. He couldn't remember.
"But I didn't see him", Julia said.
"You obviously know nothing about cats. If a cat doesn't want you to see it, you won't. Not until it's already too late."
"Do you mean to tell me he was in there when we... Mr. Perkins, you are positively indecent!"
"He could have left between the second and the third time", the writer tried to convince her, but he didn't sound very sincere about it. It was more of a joke to him. The train stopped at Pauper's Drop to let passengers on and off, but no one new joined their train car.
"It's disgusting", thought Julia.
"I don't recall you thinking so back then", the writer reminded her, "in fact, I seem to recall you begging for more. Repeatedly. And with very inappropriate language for a woman of your age. Calling me indecent, I never." He was making fun of her, but she blushed and smiled just quickly, then quickly wiped the smile off her face.
"And I might have again, had you not gone on to tell me this story." She saw him smile at her, adding even further insult, and she said: "you think this is funny?"
"Kind of", he answered, then he leaned over to kiss her on the cheek, "besides, you'll be begging again, soon enough."
Julia blushed at that, and smiled. She knew that she would.
"Oh you", she said, then became serious again, "but what about Tyger then?"
The writer sighed and shook his head, and said: "I honestly do not know. And that tears me up. If it's possible, I would like to see if we can find him, before we leave. Maybe bring him with us to the surface."
"Of course. I'd very much like to meet Tyger, as long as he stays in the next room while we..." she said, then she noticed the writer's face had grown serious. More so than when he talked about the sins of his past. He'd seen something.

Someone had indeed got on the train at Pauper's Drop. Constables, probably three or four, standing in the next car, weapons drawn.
"Company", the writer said, nodding towards them, but avoiding to look directly at them. Julia cast a glance over her shoulder, then looked quickly back.
"We can take them", she said, holding his hand tight.
"Uh huh", the writer's heart was beating fast. At their feet, out of the constables' line of sight, lay the writer's pack. Julia tried not to be seen as she opened it, taking their firearms out.
"Here they come", the writer said, "lots of them." The door to the next car opened, and the constables poured through, all carrying pump action shotguns. The one in front sported a thick mustache, but a bald head, to go with his long, beige coat with the shining constable's badge pinned neatly on the lapel.
"You there", he barked in a coarse voice whilst raising his weapon. The writer nodded to Julia. One moment later he felt the machine gun in his hand.
"Drop it!" The constable ordered. The writer simply stood up and pointed the gun back at them, taking aim. That the constable didn't shoot, meant that they must want them alive, for some reason or another. Adrenaline started to shoot through his veins. He waited for the train to complete a slight curve, then held his breath.
"Last chance", the constable barked, "drop -" He was interrupted by a spray of bullets tearing through his chest. The others had time to shout, but no more, as an electrifying jolt shot out of Julia's fingers to shock them. One quickly jumped behind a seat for cover, but the two still standing were killed where they stood. More constables came through the train car door, and the writer had to take cover. They were shouting for them to come out; that they wouldn't be killed if they obeyed. The writer and Julia chose to ignore them. They answered with gunfire.

Bullets sprayed around them both. As he got out of cover, a constable was waiting, pistol at the ready. The following gunshot took the writer's left ring finger clean off, and the next pierced his arm. The next few, however, came from the writer's gun, and they pierced the offending officer's throat. He quickly ducked into cover again, hurt and bleeding.
"Here!" Julia shouted and threw him a first aid kit. In turn, he lobbed the machine gun over to her, and she grabbed it hard, though her hands trembled.
"We know you're hurt!" A constable ordered, from his cover, "Come out, so we can see you!" The constables had stopped firing. Julia held the gun hard and got up slowly, holding it above her head, so it would seem like she was giving up.
"You too, Perkins!" One of the constables demanded. After those words, there was an eerie silence and then a buzzing. The constables seemed confounded, looking around them for what made the buzzing sound, which increased in scale. The writer, a little delirious from blood loss and pain killers, looked at Julia. Her face was rigid and stern, cold as ice. One of her hands, raised above her head and holding the Tommy gun. It had morphed into something resembling a beehive. Bees were crawling on it and at her command they buzzed on their tiny wings to terrorize her enemies, namely the constables. Within seconds, they were screaming and flailing about, as they were stung by a hundred bees, over and over. One knocked himself unconscious, banging his head into the wall. The others tasted lead as Julia's machine gun plowed through them. Then all the constables lay there, littering the train car with blood and shells. The writer got to his wobbly feet, and Julia rushed to keep him steady. He'd tied his belt around his left arm to stop the blood flow.
"Those guys couldn't hit the business end of Ryan's big, bloated behind if they used a Ryan seeking rocket launcher", he complained in his delirium, "what kind of sorry idiots do they hire for constables these days?"
"Anyone who's stupid enough", Julia answered, "and they did hit you." She was eyeing his left hand. The ring finger was gone. Just gone.
"I meant for that to happen", he proclaimed, nodding.
"Next stop Dionysus Park. Next stop Dionysus Park", was announced on the train's loudspeakers. The writer was giddy and a little high.
"That's our stop!" He said. Adrenaline and painkillers made him jumpy.
"Take it easy", said Julia, grabbing the pack. They hurried over the dead constables. High mortality rate for those guys. Any plasmid addict willing to work for a tiny bit of ADAM was welcome among Ryan's ranks now, unless they were already working for Atlas.

Dionysus Park, 1959

The writer was high from the morphine and adrenaline, but he kept it together as best he could as he joined Julia at the platform at the train station in Dionysus Park.
"I'm perfectly calm, baby", he said as he followed her out to the platform.
"Calmer than you are."
The train station in Dionysus Park was different from those in other places around Rapture. Beautiful art and statues and decor adorned it and it bathed in a soothing deep blue light, whereas other could be described only as train stations, functional yet nothing out of the ordinary, except for the architecture which painted all of Rapture. Julia rolled her eyes at the writer and dragged him over to the ticket booth. There was an elderly man there, the conductor of this station. Julia rewarded his warm, welcoming smile with a machine gun in the face. She ordered him on to the train - they'd need some privacy - and kept the gun pointed at him until he got on and the train left.

She helped the writer bandage the wound on his arm. They'd have to leave the bullet in there for the time being. It didn't seem to have struck any vitals, and he'd have some control of the arm, although it would be impaired. Getting the bullet out might make it a whole lot messy. Then she showed him the hand missing a finger. It was still bleeding and the hand was all red. It'd been torn of just above the knuckle. There was just a bloody little stump left.
"You'll have to cauterize it", she said, worried.
"What? Me?" He thought she was joking. She nodded, looking into his eyes, and he realized she was serious. "Incinerate my own finger, are you crazy?"
"I'm with you, aren't I?" She reminded him.
"Uncalled for - ow!" The finger - or lack thereof - was beginning to hurt as the adrenaline began to wear off and the painkillers set.
"Will you do it for a kiss?"
"I'd do anything for that."
She gave him a quick kiss, just a little nothing, and said: "You'll get a real one after."
"No fair", he moped. With a stern look on her pretty face, Julia grabbed his wrist and held it as hard as she could. The writer took a deep breath and put his index finger to the bloody stump. Seeing Julia's eyes glitter like the stars, he let the fire burn. The stench of burnt flesh was immediate, as was his agonizing pain. He clenched his teeth, almost crushed his skull, and arched his back, making cracking noises. Julia was afraid he'd snap his spine. But he did not wince and he did not cry. When the flame waned, the job was done, his wound cauterized.  He panted, sweating and shaking. Julia, too, was trembling, but when it was done, she leaned over again to give him the kiss she promised. And he kissed her back, not wanting to ever let go. Then it was time to go find Stan Poole, hiding somewhere in Sofia Lamb's artist's retreat.

They'd managed to avoid detection - mostly - and those infernal security bots. And finally they were here. The writer just hoped that Poole was, too. At least there were people there. Some more or less insane looking, some looked like regular nut jobs, and others were just party guests. Everyone wore party hats. That is, everyone who could keep one on their head without dropping it. Celebrating New Years still? A party that had gone on for days, damn the riots. Still, they weren't many enough to blend in with, so they had to try and stay incognito. They came in by train and immediately they were almost busted by a pair of partiers doing nasty things in the ticket booth. They snuck to evade them, and made their way through tubular walkways, where they luckily met no one, past a Piano bar where a man was playing songs and people were dancing. No one noticed them there. They moved past, scanning for Poole, but didn't find him, on to a big room at the center of which was an actual carousel.

It wasn't much to the writer, who tried looking away so no one would see his face. But Julia stopped and stared at the carousel. She simply stared, awestruck. She hadn't ridden a carousel since she was a girl. If only she'd realized where in Rapture there was one, and how much she yearned for the simple pleasures, she'd have come here all the time. Come to think of it, she'd heard something of the sort in her work, but never thought much of it. The fool she'd been!
"It's beautiful. Isn't it beautiful?" She said, childish joy in her big, blue eyes.
"Sure is."
"I wanna ride the horsey!" She said, jumping at the spot for a moment, looking at him. Then she realized why they were there. She looked back at the carousel with tears of dreams in her eyes. There were some drunk party people sitting on some of the seats. One on a lion was puking over the side.
"When we go up I'll take you to the fair and you can ride all the carousels you want. But we have to move." They were getting a few looks from people who didn't recognize them as regular visitors. Dionysus Park was Sofia Lamb's oddball recluse for alternative and subconscious art, some kind of experiment in social unity, from what the writer had understood. No wonder she'd disappeared. Ryan must have even hated the name, and it must have felt an even bigger insult that his own lackey Sander Cohen have one of his Cohen's Collection exhibitions in Lamb's private recluse.
"But the horsey..." Julia whined. He took her by the wrist and pulled her back with him. She looked sadly back at the carousel and the horse. She wished she'd never come to Rapture. Freedom was now the only choice. Then she hurried with the writer.

How would they even find Stanley Poole? The place was like a maze. They passed partygoers and a couple of Circle of Values machines, down some stairs and... somehow they'd gone in a circle and come back to the carousel. Julia refused to look at it. But more people started to look at them. Hard to tell if they recognized them.
"What is the plan, exactly?" Julia asked as the writer walked up a staircase to another area.
"I want to find Poole..." He said, looking around. It was the piano bar. They'd been here. Twice.
"Stanley? Why on God's green Earth would you do that?" She didn't have fond memories of her last encounter with Stanley Poole. Or any encounter, for that matter.
"Because I don't know anyone else", he stopped to look her in the eyes. He truly saw no other way, other than to lean on someone. And Poole was in with both Ryan and Lamb. He must have inside information on both of them. He might just know of something, some way, to get at least Julia out of Rapture.
"Okay", she said, "but do you actually think he knows of a way out?"
"No idea. But we won't know if we don't ask him."
"Sounds farfetched."
"And not just a little, either."
"Okay. I trust you. We'll split up and look for him."
"Are you insane?" He forced himself to lower his voice, "what if they recognize you?"
"Honey, it's you they're after." She put her hand on his cheek. She was with him nonetheless. "And I'm not so sure any of these people are in the condition to recognize most anything."
He nodded. It was likely the best way. She kissed him real quick and went the other way. He looked at her as she looked musingly around. Dionysus Park had big, open spaces lined with the unconscious art it was known for, great stone and marble sculptures of women reaching for the Heavens, and big, streamlined windows spanning from the floor to the roof, letting in the artificial light of the neon signs blended with the trance like ocean's glimmering.

He went down the stairs, past the carousel. A sign said Triton Theater and pointed the way. He hadn't been there. Quickly hurrying, feeling paranoid that everyone was watching him, he made for the movie theater. It was just like a movie theater or stage theater he'd find anywhere else in Rapture, only they didn't show the popular flicks, like 'Patrick & Moira'. First a ticket booth - empty - and then a small concession stand. A neatly dressed gentleman smiled as the writer passed through and into the theater. The writer, of course, tried to avoid eye contact. But then his jaw dropped when he saw the screen. It wasn't that it was so big - which it was - or that the movie was in color - another one of the many scientific steps forward made in Rapture. It was the movie itself. He just stood in the doorway while the many visitors sat in their seats, watching the so called art film.

In the film, two people, a man and a woman, were making decadent "love" by neon light, right by a large window, outside which a Ryan Industries building stood. It was those words that shone on them in bright yellow and white neon. The film was definitely explicit, switching from close-ups to wide angle views and set to a rather odd fitting classical piano number. And they couldn't even make babies that way. These weirdo artists they had in Rapture. Was there any boundaries they wouldn't try to erase? On the surface, this kind of film would have been shut down before it had even been made. And here, he was perfectly content just writing the occasional book and he was the one pursued by Andrew Ryan? He backed out of the movie theater to head back to Julia, having had enough of this so called art. Seemed more like wicked pornography to him. Maybe they were one and the same. He'd rather not know. He'd stick to books and listening to radio serials, thank you.

Over at the Piano bar, Julia listened to the man playing the piano. He'd just played a slow, hauntingly beautiful piece that seemed like it stalked the air, going along with a machine making low, humming noises somewhere in the back. He'd played, eyes closed, and at times sighed empathically. It even seemed like the sighs were part of the music itself. At least, before finishing and taking to the wine bottle instead. Some of the people around began to disperse as his tragic, passionate love affair with the flowing music had ceased.
"Oh for the love of..." She said to herself. She rushed over to him, to talk to him before he drank himself to a stupor. "Excuse me, sir. I'm looking for Stanley Poole."
"Ah, Stanley, my good old friend!" The pianist said in a fake, British accent. He was drunk. Probably on more than just Arcadia merlot and cocaine from Le Marquis D'Epoque. Still, he'd played the piece just moments before all right, hitting every note and remaining passionate in his playing. "What's the old rapscallion up to now, might I ask?"
"I don't know, sir, but I'm trying to find him. You don't happen to know where he's at?"
"Most certainly! I saw him heading for the movie theater not a minute ago!" He was wobbling and his eyes weren't focused.
"Thank you -"
"No, wait, that must have been Milford Greene..." he went on, thinking hard. His nose wrinkled as he tried to remember, and he wobbled rather much in his seat. "Oh yes, Stanley Poole, was it? Yes I saw him just moments ago. Going to the basement of all places. Downstairs, or so he said."
"Are you sure, sir?"
"Of course, lass! I'm always sure! I'm Milford Greene, after all!"
"Right, thanks..." Julia turned to go look for the writer. Or for Poole. Or at least away from the pianist who might or might not be Milford Greene. Whoever Milford Greene was.
"Wait, lass!" Milford Greene said, his accent turning Scottish all of a sudden, "will ye not dance and play the war away with me?"
"Not right now, Mr. Greene. I need to find Stanley Poole. Perhaps later", Julia answered, worried that he might try to make her stay.
"Ah, Stanley, my good old friend! What's the old bugger up to?" Milford Greene said. Then, before Julia could say or do anything, he took a big sip of wine from a bottle next to him. He then fell over sleeping on the piano, hitting as many keys as possible, making a loud noise. Evidently, Milford Greene was a loud snorer, and also a sleep talker. He started telling a Milford Greene to pass an imaginary mustard for his genitals. Julia hurried away, back out to the carousel, where she crashed into the writer.

"Thank God it's you", he said, finally breathing easy. Probably wasn't the right decision to leave a girl alone around here, what with all the pervert artists around. "D'you find anything?"
"Maybe", she said, rubbing her forehead where she'd been hit when they collided. "One of the, uh, artists says Stanley's in the basement."
"Well, it's better than the movie theater. Let's go." He took her hand and off they went, looking at the signs to find basement storage.
"Why? What's in the movie theater?" She asked as they walked.
"Well, uh... I'll show you when we get up, 'kay?"
"Oh... all right. Hey, why do you think Stanley can, or even wants to help us?"
"I don't know if he can", the writer said, kind of glad they'd changed the subject. And kind of sad at the same time. He looked at the directional signs. Basement storage was past Cohen's Collection. That prick was everywhere with his so called art.
"It's this way", she said and led him.
"But I kinda hope he wants to." The writer sighed. It was not a great plan. "Sometimes you got to have faith, and trust people. Stop!" He yelled. Julia froze instantly, not daring another step.
"What is it?" They were reaching a turn, and from behind the corner came a humming and a glow. The unmistakable red glow that was cast on the wall opposite them came from a security camera. It was around the corner, and thus couldn't see them.
"I'll shock it, and then we run. Okay?" He suggested.
"Okay." She nodded. The writer snuck a peek around the corner. True enough, there it was, scanning for evil doers and parasites. He waited until it looked the other way. Then he stuck his hand out. It turned his way. He felt lightning. The camera saw him, its light turned white and it started ringing. Security bots would be summoned within seconds. But it was too late for that. The writer felt the sting of electricity leave his finger tips, and the ecstatic jolt that travelled up his arm and his blood, and to his heart. Electric sparks crackled and zapped all over the machinery of the camera. The security camera was disabled, the light going out.
"Hurry!" The writer said. He took Julia's hand and they ran by. A couple of moments after they were out of its line of sight, the camera regained current and again started scanning the area. Its light was red and they were safe out of its sight. The writer was a bit flattered that the camera reacted at the sight of him. He was a wanted criminal. A killer of constables and a few other, not as notable, citizens of Rapture. Finally they were in the basement.

The place seemed to be empty though. Not any people here. It was just the storage place for exhibits and art that wasn't on display in the main park. They walked close to each other, past some shelves filled with all kinds of artistic crap and stuff he didn't understand. What was wrong with a simple book? The entire lower level was dark and had a pressing atmosphere. But there was someone in the main room at the very bottom level. Someone muttering and talking to himself. They snuck closer to listen. As it turned out, the drunken Milford Greene was trustworthy. It was indeed Stanley Poole, looking worried and walking in circles.
"So. Lamb broke out, and she's coming back. Wow. Okay. Didn't see that coming, but okay. That is gonna be..." He was distraught, walking back and forth.
"Hey! Poole!" The writer said, relieved to see a familiar and friendly face in Dionysus Park. He hurried up to his old colleague. Julia followed. Poole was brought out of his tantrum with a shock, looking at them with big eyes.
"Oh jeez! What? What are you two doing here? Damn, you can't... can't just walk up on, wait... ain't you supposed to be locked up or something?"
"I'm trying to avoid that", the writer said, "listen, we need your help."
"My help?" Poole was still not there entirely. His mind was off elsewhere. "Whaddaya need my help for?" He was nervous, almost panicky. It seemed like even though he was talking to them, he didn't fully realize they were there.
"We... we want to get out of Rapture." The writer said it almost in a whisper, as if afraid that someone would listen. Which was very much a possibility.
"Outta Rapture! Don't you think if I knew how, I'd go myself? I'm between a rock and a hard place, here..."
"Please, Stanley", Julia said, looking into Poole's eyes, trying to find some humanity, "isn't there anything you've heard, or know?" Poole sighed resignedly.
"Well... don't go tellin' anyone I said so..." He didn't want to say anything more, but when he saw the look of loss and despair in Julia's eyes, he went on: "there's a bathysphere over in Neptune's Bounty. Owner's no longer with us. Only problem is, you gotta jerry rig it somehow. I don't know how." There was a light in the writer's eyes, and Julia smiled brightly.
"You sure?" The writer said. His heart took a giant leap.
"No. Not at all. But it's what I heard. But listen, you're not gonna be able to just go! Ryan'll stop you. You know that, Perkins." Poole was skeptical and the anxiety was clear in his voice.
"But you won't tell anyone, right?" Julia said, thumbing at the writer's hand. Poole looked at her for a moment, deciding their fate.
"Nah, doll", he said, sounding confident all of a sudden, "of course not. It's good to see you two love birds finally got together. Been waitin' for that to happen since day one."
"Thank you." The writer looked into Poole's eyes. And saw a friend. Not in the cards.
"What are pals for?" There was still worry in those tired eyes. But he kept it together. Managed a smile. "But you should be on your way, I got problems of my own I need to... I hope ya make it. I really do. But I don't think you will."

As soon as he thought they were out of ear shot, he turned to muttering anxiously again. They could still hear him. They were actually standing just outside and listened to him. The writer needed to know if he muttered anything about them. This could be the way Ryan found out. But his fears were ungrounded.
"What am I gonna do? I... I've heard some of these, a lot of these people down here, talking. Some of them I know saw the thing with Eleanor, and who knows who knows what. You can't just stop, you know, a whole... cult... from talking. Can you?" He became suddenly different in his tone. "Maybe you can. Yeah. Maybe you can..."
The writer and Julia hurried away. They had to go for Neptune's Bounty as soon as possible. He didn't want to remain in Rapture a minute longer than necessary. Poole faded away from them. The writer found himself wondering what would happen to Poole. He'd seen the guy at the Le Marquis D'Epoque recreational drug bar in Fort Frolic once or twice and he'd doubted the man's sanity on several occasions over their brief sojourns to the Fighting McDonagh's and talks over at the Tribune, but he never, ever thought that he'd be the guy to help him out of Rapture. And he wondered what the hell Poole had gotten himself into, working undercover for Ryan, giving him an eye on Lamb, but still maintaining the park in Lamb's absence. Leaving the thoughts behind him, the writer went with Julia, holding her hand tight, path set to the surface. They could make it.

Pauper's Drop, 1959

With the war, Pauper's Drop was not the place to be. Atlas' gangs ran here and had secret bases all around, and there were constant skirmishes with Ryan's constables. One side brought the most destructive powers of plasmids and thus the human minds wielding them, and the other brought technologic engineering in the form of advanced weapons with destructive upgrades. But this night, it was relatively peaceful in a certain corner of what was once a market district but had definitely shut down with the outbreak of the war that now tore the city of Rapture. A slow fire burned in an otherwise dark corner. Some people, mostly homeless moved apathetically around, not paying attention to the crackling fire that two young men had built. The people there, who'd seen the definite bottom of Rapture's ideology for years now, long before Atlas had taken it to the rich quarters, were still happy to be alive. Plasmid users, most of them, though some were still clean. And none could afford the EVE required to activate and use the plasmids. They were harmless.

The same could not be said for the two young men in the corner. They were native to Pauper's Drop. They'd come to the city as children and grown up in Rapture to become poor, unemployed, homeless and desperate. That they survived this long was a marvel in itself. So many had fallen along the way. But they had ADAM now, and the EVE to activate it, and that gave them some semblance of power. Power that they used to get more ADAM and EVE. If they had joined causes with Atlas they might have it better; a clean bed to sleep in, a bit of food each day, and - most importantly - all the ADAM they could use. It was what Atlas paid his army with, plasmid addicts and far gone splicers, all of them. Or they might be dead; lying face down in cold, rising water, being eaten by scavenging creeps and, on occasion, starved splicers. That's a lot to bet on what might be.

They were chatting quietly by their fire, shoulders hanging in fatigue. Next to one of them - one with infected scars of claw marks on his face - sat a small, makeshift cage, and locked in the cage was a depressed tabby cat that had accepted its fate. For three days they had kept it in that cage. Tyger did not now why. As he lay in his prison he tried to sleep, but he couldn't. He was ever on his guard. His meowing had silenced by the end of the second day in the cage. The light of the fire flickered before him, and he heard the young splicers talk quietly to each other. One wanted to join Atlas, and the other one - the one who caught Tyger - did not. And he seemed to be the leader of the two.
"We've been over this Freddie", the leader said in his thick Russian accent, "the only one who wins war is survivor, who lives when others die. Father spoke of it often, how the people can win revolution only if they do not die. If you are dead, American boy, you cannot be free."
Freddie nodded, "Right, right. I know that Igor, I know. But I was thinking. Maybe we just fight a little bit. They say Atlas is going to win the war, man. You know." Freddie was probably as stupid as he looked. Igor cursed in Russian, declaring the conversation over. Swear words were the only Russian words he knew; he only put on the accent to distinguish himself.

Igor Antanov's father had served the tsar, back in the mother country, as a palace guard, before the tsar's capture and had then served in the Red Army for years, finally succumbing in Stalingrad. The young plasmid addict remembered Stalingrad, the siege between the proud Red Army and the Nazis. He'd been a young boy then, when the Nazis entered the city in 1942. His father and brother had looked Igor in the eyes and told him to guard the home; his mother and little sister. That's the last time he saw his father. The Nazis eventually came, taking the women as they pleased, or so he remembered it.
"These men, they come, while I sleep at night", he reminisced, looking into the slow fire, "I hear the screams of my sister. My mother, they already killed. And I... leave. I sneak out, leaving my sister to those, those dogs." He had froth around his mouth. For a while he was silent, taking a sip of the expensive bottle of Tate Merlot he'd stolen. He didn't share it with Freddie. Then he continued:
"Stalingrad is lovely city, much better than this pile of junk. In the night that I leave, there is debris everywhere, snow falling and bodies, corpses. Both proud Russians and filthy Nazi German dogs. I was just a boy, I can sneak out of city. When I look back, I see the statue, Children's Round Dance and it is destroyed by German bombs. I used to play around that statue when I was a boy, with Yana. She is my neighbor's daughter. I remember her beautiful, black locks and her bright, grey eyes, like Russian taiga in winter time.
"Later I came across German soldiers, fleeing. Deserters. They are going by foot, their friends are dying in the cold. But they take me with them. One by one, these cowards succumb to cold and hunger until only one remain, Ludwig. Ludwig and I, we reach another city and there, I don't see him anymore. He leaves me, like I leave my sister to raped and murdered. I don't remember city's name, but I come from there when fighting stops and I go to west."
At least, that's the story Igor told Freddie. Sometimes, he let his Cockney accent slip, but his dimwitted friend was too unaware to notice it. He'd told the story before, always with the same look on his face, like he tried to get over the trauma that he hadn't had the chance to process.

There was a short silence, which was filled by by the crackling of the fire, the dull creaking of a bulkhead above, and a slow dripping sound.
"What about the box then?" Freddie went on, changing subjects, "you gonna carry that cat around everywhere?" Igor looked crookedly at his companion. Then he looked at the cage and the animal trapped within. As he looked, his breathing became heavier.
"First time I eat cat", Igor explained, "I was only twelve years old. A starving boy in big city. Where was I to find food. I have no money, my parents are recently dead, I am alone. One day, I find cat, looking for rats in gutter. It was easy kill. Stomp to the head, then nothing." He talked as if it was the most normal thing in the world, "flay skin, grill meat. To me, cat is best meat in whole Rapture." He looked at Tyger with desire in his eyes. The look of a truly deranged person. He scratched the itching tissue at the edges of the scars on his face and shrugged of the pain. The claw marks, they hurt like hell and they were infected, yellow with puss and deep red and black with dried blood.
"Yes", he went on, wincing in pain, his accent turning into his real, British one, "it's time."
Igor stretched out his hand and reached for the cage. He put his hand on the lock mechanism, but stayed it to dole out a last minute order.
"You. Go get stick", he barked at his companion.
"Uh, stick? What stick?" Asked the dimwitted Freddie.
"Stick, stupid! For to stick through cat's ass. For grilling!" Igor ordered. He shook his head and sighed at his friend's stupidity, and Freddie hurried to his feet to go find a stick, grumbling while doing so. The Russian waited until Freddie was gone before he opened the cage. He grabbed the cat tenderly by the skin of its neck and picked it up. It made no resistance.

Tyger made no resistance. He was weak, after three days without food and only drops of water for drinking.  The madman had brought Tyger with him in the cage and deliberately made him suffer. Sometimes, he'd submerged the entire cage, cat and all, in ice cold water, laughing grimly while he did. Now, when his time was finally come, Tyger was indifferent, tired, beaten. He had his eyes closed and his paws hung lifelessly. The madman held him close, and said:
"Fast death, or slow, kitty cat?"
When he felt the foul smell, Tyger opened his eyes, pupils dilated. He saw the scars that he'd caused three days earlier, yellow and red with puss and blood, oozing with bubbling ADAM, sizzling around the edges, slowly but visibly healing the wounds in a poor fashion, like building a structure with a blueprint that's off by a few inches. He'd been driven by pure instinct then; fight and flee, and he had almost made it.

The man who was about to eat Tyger looked pityingly into the cat's eyes, mimicking sadness, then laughed with a grim smile. He kicked the little cage aside and let go of his hold around the cat's neck and just held him under the front legs so that he could pick up his knife. The cat's eyes that stared back when the madman looked up was not a beaten cat's eyes. Fast as a lightning storm, Tyger attacked. The Russian howled in pain as Tyger crushed his nose with his powerful jaws and razor sharp teeth. Blood spurted everywhere, coloring everything red. Igor dropped his knife in panic and began tearing at the cat with his fingers in pure panic, but to no avail. Tyger would not let go. He mauled at the cat eater with his claws, tearing at his throat and slashing the jugular, screaming like a hellcat.
"Hey! What's going - caaat!" It was Freddie, the dimwitted splicer, who'd noticed the commotion and run to check. With a hard kick, he dislodged Tyger from his friend, staggering the cat. It took a moment for Freddie to decide; try and help Igor, or retaliate. Just as the cat put his tail between his legs, Freddie fired his Incinerate plasmid. The fire scorched at Tyger's fur, several times, then the cat vanished out of Freddie's sight. Freddie knelt down to watch Igor's final, bloody moments and the death rattle of a deranged cat eater. Soon, the body stopped shaking, leaving only the rusty smell of blood and urine in the air.

As for Tyger, he'd darted out of sight and kept on running. As fast as his tired legs could carry him. It took all the power in him, but he made some distance from the men who would eat him, and in his exhaustion, he stumbled and fell over, right at two feet.
"What is this?" The owner of those feet said, noticing the exhausted cat that smelled burnt and looked like it'd been dragged under a bus. The human bent over and picked Tyger up with careful hands, looking him over. "Better get you to a, a veterinarian, or something... I couldn't just leave -"
"Is the kitty all right?" A second voice said. It was a little girl.
"I don't know. He's hurt. We'd have to heal him first", answered the big human, slowly shaking its head, unsure of the cat's chances of survival.
"Can we bring him with us?" The girl asked. The big human looked worriedly at the small one for a few moments, deciding Tyger's fate.
"Will you help me take care of him, then?" She said. The girl nodded, joy in her eyes and a big smile on her face. She had her hands crossed, fingers interwoven in plea. There were several other girls like her, hoping the cat would come with them. The big human sighed and looked at the cat. "Then he will come with us. What will we call him?"
As the humans talked about him, Tyger fell sound asleep in the big human's lap.
"Will we bring him when we go to the surface as well?" One of the girls asked.
The big human smiled at all the little girls, then she said: "Yes. I don't think he has ever been to the surface. Und we wouldn't want to leave him behind, would we?"
Tyger the cat purred.

Neptune's Bounty, 1959

Getting out of Rapture was an impossibility. Trying, of course, was not. The outcome, though, was always fatal, when Ryan's warning systems got a look at you. The writer and Julia had been in hiding for about a week, having spent a day or so watching the activity around Neptune's Bounty and the bathysphere chamber. Judging by that, now was as good a time as any to try and make it. He worried though, about what it'd be like once they made it out on the bathysphere. What were the conditions out at sea? Were the currents strong? Was there huge blocks of ice on the surface? It was January after all. Maybe the entire ocean surface was coated in thick ice. Still, the last week was the best in the writer's life, on the run with Julia Jensen. He'd used one of the plasmids they found back in the Limbo Room; Incinerate. Julia stuck with Electro Bolt and Insect Swarm, upgrading her electric plasmid to be able to give their enemies, splicers and constables alike, a chain lightning effect, shocking several of them at once. And on top of that, the writer had the Tommy gun with the one magazine.

With the rest of the plasmids they'd found, they were bribing a plasmid addict for help. A guy who'd lived in the same building as the writer. He'd worked as an electric before the war. He didn't seem too far gone into the plasmids, and was now hard at work rewiring the bathysphere for them, so it would work with their genetic signature and hopefully so it would be able to slip by security systems unnoticed. Plasmid addicts were of course unreliable, but he'd proven himself already, hacking a security camera outside with a nifty little tool that just shot a dart at the camera and tuned in to its frequency, and he could subvert it to their side, instead recognizing constables as enemies. Neat. It now worked in their favor and would summon security bots for them if anyone got too near.

The electrician was cursing and swearing, and progress seemed to be slow. He'd been at it for a half hour already and the writer was getting nervous. But it would be their only chance. Julia was optimistic about it, just as the writer tried to be. But he wasn't so sure. They were standing on bended knee behind cover - just a few sheets of corrugated iron - protecting their hacking friend. Watching for constables, or Atlas' guys, or even security bots.
"God damn it", the electrician blurted out, shaking his head. He'd been zapped by a shock, but didn't seem any worse for wear. "Red wire to red wire? What idiot dreamed that up?"
The writer wished he'd be a little quieter. He cast a glance at Julia. She was entirely concentrated on the surroundings and didn't notice the bangs of scarlet hair that hung across one of her cheeks.
"Hey! You pricks! What's the deal! This fucking thing is busted!" They both looked over as their hacker friend yelled, and in his chest, the writer's heart began to beat incredibly fast. The bathysphere didn't work? The god damn bathysphere didn't work!

The very next moment, they heard the sound of a security camera going off as it detected someone heading their way. Just a moment after that, the Securis door to the bathysphere chamber opened and two constables stood in the door, arriving from the wharf area of Neptune's Bounty. They seemed to have backup, too. Before anyone could say or do anything, the constables both raised their Tommy guns and fired in their direction, somewhat randomly. The hacker splicer was hit, hard, and went down yelling that he still wanted 'the stuff'. He needed 'the damn stuff'!

Julia took cover, but the writer stuck his head up and aimed the Tommy gun. He didn't shoot, but he did take aim and fired the Incinerate plasmid. One of the constables aimed straight at him, but was then hit by the fireball and started to burn instantly. He began screaming, dropped his gun and ran off, threw himself in the water. The other one was picked off by the security bots that worked in the writer and Julia's favor. There were two of them and they had mounted machine guns, buzzing about the room. The other constable thought they were on his side, and went down with a spray of bullets breaking his spine and spilling his blood all over the ground.
"Come on!" The writer hurried over to Julia, grabbed her to her feet and they went towards the door, guarded by the security bots. "Don't hesitate. Shock the bastards first chance you get."
"Okay", Julia replied. She still seemed calm, but scared nonetheless. She had a rigid expression on her face. They couldn't get out!
"We'll run, hide and come up with a new plan, okay?"
"'Kay." Julia's hands began to tremble with blue and white lightning as she charged the plasmid up, ready to fire it at any moment. They got up to the door and peeked through. Instantly, the security bots buzzed outside to begin shooting at the constables waiting in cover outside. Maybe the busted bathysphere was a trick, all along. Sure did seem like they'd been waiting for them. But the writer didn't think Poole was behind it. It just didn't seem like he was going to rat on them.

Julia got sight of a constable and let go of the electric discharge she carried. It flew as a jolt through the air and struck the man, who began to wobble with the shock. One of his friends came too close, and was hit by the electricity built up within the first one, the zap buzzing between them like a chain effect. The writer raised the Tommy gun, aimed it first at one of the constables, then fired, and then did the same for the other. Bullets began flying around them and he pushed Julia down behind some debris, while he took shelter beside her. He yelped in pain as a bullet hit his right arm, the feeling more intense than any pain he'd felt, but quickly retaliated by casting a ball of incinerating fire at the culprit. He gave all he had, throwing fire at the constables who seemed in disarray at the fierce resistance. One of the security bots was hit by an electric buck from a shotgun and exploded.

There were several constables still hiding behind some sandbags, sheets of corrugated iron, boxes of fish and corners. In a way, it was training to the writer. He got one in his sights and the bullet hit right between his eyes. Julia huddled down, the fear of the rain of bullets, getting to her. He bent down, dodging a bullet.
"You have to be strong", he said, feeling the cliché on his tongue. Her eyes were closed, then she opened them, showing not fear, not agony. But determination. She nodded, stood up - devil may care - and got sight of a constable whom in the following second got hit with several bolts of lightning, making his whole insides cook whilst he screamed in agony. The writer heard Julia grunt. She'd taken a bullet. She went down behind the debris again, looking pale. She grabbed her side and he sat down again.
"I'm 'kay", she said, strained, "we'll get 'em." With his left hand, the writer fired the Incinerate plasmid, feeling the fire build up in him and then leave him through his fingers. He fired blindly, but he must have hit someone because the smell of toasted human flesh suddenly became prevalent. Then he forced himself up, he grimaced over the pain in his arm, and fired the Tommy gun at random. A few bullets here, a few bullets there. There weren't even many constables left anymore. Perhaps he'd made a mountain out of a molehill.  Then he went down again, another stray bullet from a constable Tommy gun crushing his shoulder. He dropped the Tommy gun and gasped for air, laying on the ground. Julia crawled up to him.
"We'll get 'em", she said again. She took the Tommy gun and retaliated for him. A constable was hit by six or seven bullets. As she got the next one in her sights and pulled the trigger, the Tommy gun clicked. They were out of ammo. The constable was arguing with their security bot, however, which was on fire by now. The writer forced himself up and helped Julia up, too.
"Use your Electro Bolt on any remaining fuckers, and I'll toast 'em while they dance", he said to her. She nodded, and he kissed her real quick. Then he covered her with his body as best he could, feeling the great pain in his arm, and they ran.

There weren't many of the constables left. One was hiding behind a tipped over vending machine, reloading his Tommy gun. Julia caught him off guard and shocked him. While he shook in white and blue lightning, the writer set him on fire. Then from behind a corner came the next. He had a shotgun, which he swerved at them. He fired prematurely, and most of the pellets went by them. Julia shouted in pain though. She was hit by one in the side. And she was already bleeding profusely. The constable reloaded the shotgun in a pumping motion, but they were up to him by then and the writer hit him over the jaw with his left hand. His right was numb and mostly unusable, because the gunshot to his shoulder had crushed the bones. He was bleeding heavily. He would have laid down and died, but his eyes burned for her. And he kept going, trying to shield Julia  with his own body. He fired several balls of burning flames at the constable, who began to flail about as his skin was grilled and his melted in their sockets.

They ran. The last constable was finished with his feud with the security bot and fired after them with his gun. But they just ran, leaving some charred corpses and their last chance out of Rapture behind. Where could he take her? With the war going on, nowhere was safe. He didn't stop. He just took her hand and led her away, as fast as he could, to the only place he could think of. She was looking pale and scared and she wheezed painfully when she breathed. She wanted to stop, but he hurried her on. The pain in his right arm was unbearable. He'd likely bleed out before tomorrow. He tried giving her a reassuring smile.

Julia was bleeding as they rushed forth through one of the glass encased walkways that connected Rapture's buildings. She whimpered but kept a brave face when the writer stopped at a fork in the road, trying to remember the shortest way.
"Hold it right there!" A constable yelled, coming up behind them with a pistol aimed at them and his left hand ready to shoot lightning. The writer was holding Julia up and couldn't move. The constable approached slowly, keeping his eyes and gun at them the whole time.
"Don't move you two", he barked. For a split second he looked away, to grab his short wave radio. He put it to his mouth and began: "This is Adams. I have Perkins and the redhead, detain-"
That moment - because it took no more than a moment - Julia Jensen defied the pain and struck the constable with furious thunder. Immediately he lit up blue, electric current rushing through him, and began to shake as lightning poured with the blood through his brain. The radio short circuited with a cracking sound and he dropped his gun. The writer struck forth with his forehead against the constable's nose, and down he went, knocked out cold, but not dead. More constables came their way, and they appeared from where the writer and Julia had come. His head was spinning from the head butt, but as the machine gun bullets began raining, the writer grabbed the pistol from the floor and fired back. He seemed almost untouchable. The bullets grazed him and the adrenaline made him impervious to the pain. Eyes wide open he fired the gun six times; each bullet taking a constable with it to Hell. More kept coming, but he blocked the way by setting one of the bodies on fire with Incinerate. Then he helped Julia, who by now was delirious from the pain and blood loss, to her feet, and they rushed off, leaving a trail of blood behind them.

The writer's apartment, 1959

His arm hurt badly and he was losing blood fast. Hope may be out for him, but if they could regroup he might be able to get Julia to safety and she could at least ride out the war. It was him they wanted. They'd made it to his apartment, where to go from there? The constables would come in any moment. Back to Poole. No, Dionysus Park had been flooded. Grace Holloway? No, she was too close to Lamb. That wouldn't end well.
"Attention! The parasite Chris Perkins has been spotted in Artemis Suites. Do not believe his lies. If you see him, do not approach him, but contact constables and wait for them to arrive. He is armed and very dangerous." It was the public address system. The apartment was still dark and empty. He kicked the door in and then shut it behind them. The corpse of the constable they'd killed on New Year's, still lying right outside the door, smelled bad and drew flies. His possessions had been stolen. Even most of his clothes.

More of them were coming. All was lost. But the writer would not let them take her without a fight. He grabbed the gun from Arcadia, still one bullet left, out of his pack and stood by the door, ready to strike. His arm hurt bad and he saw in Julia's face that she was hurting, too. She held her hand to her stomach, taking quick, painful breaths. There was blood on her lips and her eyes were turning hazy and unfocused.
"We'll make it", he said, his will iron and his heart steel. She didn't answer, just gave him a twisted smile, where she stood in the middle of the writer's apartment, wobbling dizzily. "We'll make it", he said again, and turned to the door.
"Chris..." Julia was pale. She fell to her knees in the middle of the room, among all the writer's old notes. She was bleeding heavily from her stomach and her breaths became shorter, more strained. Putting her hand on the wound turned the hand all red.
"What is it?" The writer heard footsteps coming down the hall.
"Chris..." She said, almost whispered. He looked at her. The constables came closer.
"Oh no." Suddenly everything else faded. Julia sank backwards and lay on her back. She was sucking for air, and she had blood on her lips. He rushed over to her and knelt by her side, holding her with his good arm and bleeding on her from his numb, right arm.

He could feel her breathing. It was ending. He leaned closer, looking in her eyes. Her blood soaked him. Heavy trampling. Loud bangs. What is this pain? Red turning black. Julia's eyes turned to glass. There were no last words. No last declaration of love. Just a blank stare turning hollow. And then the cold embrace of death and the final ferry ride with Charon. He kissed her dead lips one last time and took a deep breath, breathing in her last. Her soul.

How much hate can one man build when his kingdom is crumbling? The scarlet rose was dead, crushed until the last petal fell. The writer looked up at the constables by the door.
"Ryan wants 'im alive!" One seemed to yell.
"Well grab him then, ya paddy bastard!" Scowled another. The writer's eyes were fire. He raised his left hand and fired the gun, straight into the eye of the constable on the left. He tossed the gun aside and stood up beside his dead love. The second constable raised his gun to fire, but too late. The writer started spewing fire from his hand, like a fountain of flames. Several constables caught fire by his rage. He scorched the walls, the flames licked the roof. He burned men and Rapture alike. His teeth clenched and eyes wide open in frustrated anger. They had crossed the line. And so several of the constables caught fire, as the inferno spread down the hall in both directions as it left the dark apartment. His final stand. No turning back. Like a priest of hellfire he released them one and all for their inbred hatred.

But he was already running on fumes and soon, the ADAM in his veins needed to be refreshed. He was out of EVE. Out of power. As the flames stopped swallowing men, his fate, too was sealed. A shot from the dark tore into his shoulder and he went down, sputtering and gasping for air, next to his lost love. In his last days, he was alive. The pain in his flesh was nothing compared to the chemical he'd given all the meaning in the world. Two strong hands yanked him to his feet. As he bled, the constables dragged him away. The writer and his love, parted by Rapture. A fate that only a man can shape.

Andrew Ryan's office, 1959

He stood outside the Great Man's office, Karlosky holding him up. They'd actually forced one of those health kits into him to keep him alive, morphine relieving the pain. Made him a bit lucid, because of all the blood he'd lost.
"Mr. Ryan waits for us", said Karlosky to the guard sitting outside. A burly man, not a sign of plasmid usage on him, who was tasked with protecting Andrew Ryan with his own life. He knew Karlosky of course.
"I see that", he said, not stopping them. Karlosky shoved the writer into Ryan's office, where the man himself sat behind his desk in his perfectly pressed tailored suit and a drink in front of him. He was speaking into an audio diary.
"I am told that Lamb has been seen in the streets... one of the Alpha Series was killed in the incident, and his bonded Sister stolen. But the Council has no time for a manhunt; Atlas swells the ranks of his marauders by the -" He looked up as they entered, pressing the sop button on the audio diary.
"Mr. Ryan", said Karlosky, worried that he had in fact interrupted, "I'm sorry, I..."
Ryan himself held up a hand, interested not in excuses, but only in the mess of a man, bleeding all over his floor.

Karlosky pulled the writer's hair back to show his face and Ryan slowly got up from his seat, giving a hint of a smirk. He walked around the desk, his shoes clacking against the polished floorboards, almost echoing in the writer's ears.
"Ah, Mr. Perkins, is it..." Ryan said. The writer said nothing. The look in his eyes was hollow. There was nothing left now. Say nothing, he thought, and they'll take me to Apollo Square and shoot me. That was... what he wanted now. If one believes - and when face to face with death's tranquil stare, that moment comes in a man - one hopes for another life, another chance. He'd always believed that. He'd paid his dues now.
"Just... kill me and get it over with", he muttered, barely hearing the words himself. In the afterlife he'd be given peace. Andrew Ryan chuckled.
"No. I think", he stopped a bit, for dramatic effect or for thinking his choice through, the writer knew not, "A man chooses, Mr. Perkins. I gave you a second chance. And you threw it in my face." Ryan stepped up to writer, leaning in rather close, feeling his authority. "I gave you everything, a new beginning in Rapture. Even when times were dark, you stood before me swearing your loyalty and I gave you another chance only for you to betray my trust. Yes, I read your so called book, let me assure you, no one else will read the mockery of Rapture you've tried to spread among my people. And now, Mr. Perkins, I will show you what happens to the parasite when he steps into my city..."
"Just do it..."
"Karlosky", Ryan said, standing up straight, "take him to Point Prometheus."
Karlosky nodded harshly. He knew.
"Any last words, Mr. Perkins?" Ryan looked smugly at the writer, who looked at the floor. The husk of a beaten man. Then he looked up, into Ryan's eyes. A last glaring gaze, a final act of defiance. His lip quivered, but Ryan stood resolute, strong and unwavering.
"Thy kingdom come", said the writer. After that, Karlosky guided him out of the office and they were joined by another constable, who led the writer away. Away, to Point Prometheus.

Torn asunder. A sinner crucified. Trapped forever in Limbo's glow.

The Atlantic Ocean, 1968

There was a sparkle in the radio, a crackle and Tenenbaum's distraught voice trying to pinpoint the right frequency.
"Hello, can you hear me? Your signal is breaking up", she said, but she wasn't speaking to Mr. Bubbles. He could barely hear her. When the Big Sister overloaded the control board, the electrical impulses must have interfered with the frequencies, disrupting communications. Restarting the generator back in Adonis would probably make it right. But he was locked out, and inside the Big Sister was waiting for him. This was where Mr. Bubbles part in the grand scheme came to an end. Tenenbaum still owed him his name, but he couldn't hear her right now.

Mr. Bubbles walked the bottom of the ocean, his body safe from pressure and harm in the Big Daddy suit. Adonis was located in the outskirts of Rapture, and off in the distance he could see the towering shells of the city, no longer the same. Most of the city was dark and dead, but there were lights here and there. All life in Rapture had not yet been snuffed out. And maybe there was another story taking shape there. Perhaps there were still lives there, worth saving. He followed the walls of Adonis Luxury Resort, unsure where to go. Its grey facade was as quiet as Tenenbaum's voice. Looking in the other direction, away from Rapture, he saw the open ocean, its wide hollow blackness taunting him. Who knows what horror lay out there. What fate wait out there for the lonely ghost who dared step into its gaping maw.

Yet in his mind the words twisted. Words that he once formed. Words and loves that he once formed and loved. His memory was burning.
"Herr Bubbles?" It was Tenenbaum at last. Her voice was crackling. "Are you there?" He couldn't answer, instead letting out the slow, piercing howl by which he'd awakened. Overhead, a whale swam by, its massive form blocking the glimmer of light from the surface, making a shadow frolic on the seabed. In answer to Mr. Bubbles' agonizing cry, it sang. The sound soared through the ocean, piercing Mr. Bubbles' metal skin and heart of steel. The whale was majesty. The whale was beauty. Imagination. It watched the lonely Big Daddy moving among the sea plants and coral. It saw his inner struggle. And Mr. Bubbles watched the whale. It swam in slow circles around him, from time to time singing its song.

To Mr. Bubbles left was the dark ocean, marked by a gigantic ship's propeller lying rusted on the seabed, and the dancing plants and sea grass around it. They danced in fluorescent golden hues and soothing dark. Just a bit forward was an Oxy Fill station for Big Daddies and deep sea divers to fill up their oxygen tanks. A school of fluorescent, light blue jellyfish wafted peacefully just above him, almost as if hovering in the air, their tentacles waving breezily in the slow current. To his right was Adonis Luxury Resort. He should be right outside the pool area. The choice was Heaven or Hell, but which was which? And were they really that different? Above him, the whale gave a murmuring call and swam to the left. Out to sea. Words flashed in Mr. Bubbles' vision. Words, the color red and a warm smile. And eyes like a sea of stars. He felt lightning inside, but it wasn't of the Electro Bolt. It was of the euphoria.
"Herr Bubbles?" Tenenbaum called again, her voice now clear and strong, "Herr Bubbles, are you there?" To his right the walls of Adonis fell. It was the window shutters. They were being dropped automatically. Power must have been restored, because light came from inside. In one of the windows, a dark, hulking shape appeared. That of an Alpha Series. It watched Mr. Bubbles as he walked off. He could hear Tenenbaum, but she wasn't talking to him. She was talking to the shape in the window. The link to the camera in his helmet was broken and Tenenbaum would leave him know, Mr. Bubbles knew as much. But it didn't matter. He remembered.

He could see her face as clearly as if she stood in front of him. Impossibly red hair held in a pony tail by a pink bow, big eyes looking into his. The stars. And she smiled at him, and in his memory he kissed her. Her pale cheeks blushed and she whispered something. Inside his mask of self deceit, Mr. Bubbles' face of death and fear... smiled. A rare sight. His hallowed saint was coming home. And he followed the whale and its singing out into the great unknown.

It was release. Remembering was release. Salvation. A purpose. Imagination. Mr. Bubbles realized, Brigid Tenenbaum was the greatest sinner ever to walk the Earth. But it was also she who brought atonement. He, too, was a sinner. And after years in Purgatory, the writer saw freedom again, in remembering Julia Jensen's eyes, and the empty void.