BioQuest: I’m Not

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Elizabeth followed after Jack, which was easy enough. He was walking quickly, though not even close to jogging. The moment she laid her hand on his shoulder, he stopped.

“Jack,” she broke the silence. “After listening to that…” She took a breath and tried again. “Are you alright?”

He stood still for a minute, maybe more, and she waited. In a way, her tower was… Somehow a mercy compared to what he experienced. There could be no comparison, but Elizabeth was the only one close to his age who would understand. His mental age, she supposed.

“No,” he breathed. It wasn’t hurt or anger in his voice, more of a tiredness… His arms hung limply at his sides while he continued. “I’m not.”

“We all called him Papa Suchong, you know.” He glanced over his shoulder, barely brushing her gaze before looking away again. The faint rumble of the turret’s motor filled in the space between his words, turned to face the door now as if giving them privacy.

“Me and the girls. I don’t even know how it started.” He scoffed, shaking his head, and yet he stayed exactly where he was. “A cruel joke from Fontaine, maybe. I can’t imagine Suchong wanting to be called Papa.”

Jack shifted under her hand and Elizabeth took her hand back to instead stand beside him. He looked distantly at his hands, not her. “He made another recording, one of me during the mind control tests. It’s got to be in the city somewhere.”

She tilted her head and waited, not failing to notice that her heart was beating a bit faster. Something akin to fear and worry mixed together, and Elizabeth couldn’t avoid it as much as put it aside for now.

“I had this puppy. She was little, I could cradle her in my arms, but,” he chuckled and his breath caught. “Her legs dangled because I wasn’t big enough yet. I, I don’t remember how old I… Should’ve been.”

He trailed off, gazing towards the door. “Tenenbaum and Miss Diane will be coming soon. We should see if that woman is still there.” Finally, he looked Elizabeth in the eye. Tears ran down his face, the last of a few, and now his eyes were calm. He’d put the pain aside too.

“I think she knows something about the state of Rapture now. What she said, it’s either an offering or a threat.”

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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BioQuest: Escape

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“I’ll come back out later, see if she’s still there.” Elizabeth answered, keeping an eye on the woman as they took the far hallway away from her.

“I’ll be here,” the woman drawled, her voice like a worn bell. “There ain’t no escaping what I gotta say.”

Elizabeth watched Jack’s shoulders tense, but they pushed ahead to the clinic. Jack stood against the wall by the doorframe, pistol drawn, and nodded to Elizabeth. Whatever happened… he was ready. The moment she stepped forward, the door slid open and she spotted the camera broken on the floor.

“Aaah, long live Atlas!” A woman in a mask with a pipe raised rushed at her, and Jack came out, landing two shots– one in the chest, one in the head– and she fell.

Jack went in, leading with his pistol and stepping over the corpse.

“Jack, wait,” Elizabeth hissed only seconds before a turret opened fire to his left. She pulled a crate through a tear, narrowly blocking the bullets. She caught up with him as he launched lightning from his hand, shutting down the turret – for now.

Elizabeth rushed in and kept low to hack the turret back to their side. She felt the rush of wind first, then saw Jack landing on the other side on the turret.

“It’s him, it’s him,” a man shouted. “I’ll show you!” Jack rolled to the left and she barely heard the glass shatter before fire burst where he once stood.

“Got it,” she muttered and the turret chirped to life. It turned and opened fire on the splicer, groaning as he died.

Over that, she heard a voice on an audio log. The Little Sisters. “Papa Suchong, Papa Suchong, Papa Suchong!”

She’d filed enough of his logs know exactly what they were like and it’d stopped bothering her long ago. But to see Jack holding it, his back to her, facing the mangled corpse of Suchong…

“Get away, you filthy little shit!” The slap in the recording seemed loud, even several feet away. Elizabeth walked around the turret and stood next to Jack in the yellow-green light over the broken desk. Their shoulders only grazed one another, but it felt like enough.

The girl cried in the echoing tape, and a Big Daddy lumbered in with a telling groan.

“What?” Suchong pieced together what his fate would be then, but still he tried to change it. How had Elizabeth missed this tape, she wondered… And regretted it. “W-what are you doing? Get back! Get bac–” He screamed, cutting the recording off to a bloody end.

Jack set the recorder down, staring at the body on the desk. Abruptly, he took purposeful strides back the way they came.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

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BioQuest: Seeking

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She stood over Suchong’s body, mangled and covered in reddish-brown stains. The sight should have made her nauseous. Instead, she examined his body for a place he’d store the formula for Lot 192.

Nothing so straightforward as a pocket, although… Elizabeth went to the supply cabinet and pulled on a pair of surgical gloves with a delicate snap of the elastic band around her wrist.

She found herself approaching his corpse with calculated steps, not just for the blood pooled on the floor. There was a chance the formula wasn’t here, and then– They would find another way. With a tear or Tenebaum’s help, somehow they would make this work.

Elizabeth peeled open the left-hand coat pocket on the corpse’s jacket, peering inside. “Too dark,” she whispered to herself. Slipping her hand inside, she wrapped her fingers around a small box.

Turning the side not soaked in blood to the light, she made out the phrase ‘NICO-TIME’ and dropped the cigarettes into the trash. “Now for the other pocket.”

Reaching in, the right-hand pocket came up empty. She set both hands on the table, looking over his facedown body. “Suchong… Where would you hide it?”

Nowhere Ryan or Fontaine might come across it and nowhere that he couldn’t readily access it in an emergency. Dr. Suchong needed to be indisposable to any political power to ensure his safety at all times, after all.

Not that it helped him in the end.

Elizabeth crouched to eye level with the desk, looking for any pockets he may have had on the front of the coat. Keeping it on his person made the most sense for him to do, and… “Wait, is that…?”

She reached for an edge of photo paper sticking out from the seam of his shredded lab coat, pulling it out as she tore the corner pinned by the drill. The secret pocket protected it somewhat from the pooling blood, and with the overhead light, Elizabeth could make out the picture.

It was Jack, staggering out of the Vita Chamber after– After the fight. Turning it over, she saw a notation in the center, L192, and a chemical formula she could only partially understand.

But Tenebaum would know exactly what to do and Elizabeth breathed a laugh. Finally, a bit of luck. She tucked the photo into an inner pocket of her coat, peeling the gloves off and tossing them into the trash.

None of the security staff so much as glanced her way as she left and only the small chirp from the camera made it clear she was there at all.

She walked down the short hallway, past two couches, and into the panicked crowd on their way to someplace they hoped would be safe or to arm themselves with plasmids or take their money out from the banks– all contributing to the growing chaos.

Except for one person. He was at the edge of the crowd, calm and certain as to where he wanted to go. His black button down with white cuffs ended at his forearm, baggy and poorly fitted just like his black vest.

Something about him was familiar, but she didn’t recognize the crew cut he had– not until he glanced over his shoulder before ducking down a passage deeper into Apollo Square. And she knew it was Jack, going out again when she asked him to stay. Towards Hestia Chambers, if she remembered correctly…

She looked to Bathysphere waiting the in dock, then down the hall with a flickering light where Jack made his way towards… Whatever he sought.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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BioQuest: For Family

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Elizabeth paced in the tunnel, kicking some pebble into the running water now and again because, well, she could. “The formula is easier to steal, harder to miss. I should go for that,” she muttered to herself, gesturing as if it was on a table beside her right there.

“But then, the materials,” she trailed off, thinking on where they would even get those legitimately. It’s not as if she could steal the makings of it and the formula. That would be a good portion of the lab’s supplies, they would know.

She pivoted, looking into the shadows of the tunnel arches for an answer… Or maybe the feeling of being watched was finally getting to her. “For goodness’ sake,” Elizabeth scolded herself. “My family needs me at the labs.”

Her meaning caught up to her after she’d already said it, and she strode purposefully to the pathways leading out and up to a Bathysphere that would take her to Artemis Suites.

The streets were already in chaos. People crying, shouting to sellers and bankers, maintenance men installing the glowing Vita Chambers already… Elizabeth fought the urge to reach for the familiar surface of her pinky’s metal cover and focused on removing the image of a revived Jack covered in his own blood from her mind.

My family needs me.

That thought pushed her ahead with a shaky breath towards the next ready Bathysphere. Lucky for her, the lockdown being broadcast overhead didn’t apply to scientists.

It would make her a target eventually, but for now… Elizabeth sat in the Bathysphere alone and the door closed behind her. Anyone who targeted her was in for more of a fight than they realized. She was a DeWitt, after all, and she smiled out at the inky black ocean floor dimly lit by Rapture.

Or what was not broken in the city. The amusement park was dark, and Elizabeth only barely noticed it was there at all. Hardly a priority when one considered that other critical areas of the city had been blown apart and if the damage was to be contained, the repair Big Daddies would have to focus on those regions.

Just like that, the Bathysphere docked and she was in Artemis Suites of Apollo Square, following the practiced walk to Suchong’s clinic. She was surprised to find the entrance unmanned with countless moving shadows cast on the floor outside the door.

What they were saying, she couldn’t tell. The clinic had been heavily soundproofed to the outside long ago. And the moment she passed through the doorway, a camera chirped to life– calming when it was only her– but still, she had everyone’s attention now.

A sea of faces she didn’t know parted to show Sullivan, marching up to her and dropping a hand on her shoulder. “Miss, what are you doin’ here alone? Don’tcha know there’s a war on?!”

“I, I thought people may need help, so I–” He led her further into the lab, pulling her into an empty surgery room she distinctly recalled as beige, not the red-brown she saw splattered behind his looming figure.

“Look, your dad does great work, but I can’t keep covering for ya if you pull stunts like this,” he scolded her and kept her in place with his hand.

“I’ve got break-ins, turrets to set up, artsy types going ape, and this area’s turning to a prison overnight.” His face was unhealthy combination of pale and flushed, and Elizabeth wasn’t certain he even breathed during that lecture. She nodded, putting on her best wide-eyed innocent look. “So you beat feet outta here back to Booker, you hear me?”

“Yes sir,” she nearly answered to empty air as he went back to the main entrance of the lab… Leaving her to finally see Suchong’s maimed corpse affixed to his old desk with a bloodied stump of a drill.

What do you want to do, Elizabeth?

Read the next chapter.

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