BioQuest: Standoff

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Tenenbaum casually checked her pistol, reloading while Jack stepped back from Jolene and closer to her side.

“Both of you, hide,” she ordered flatly, taking out her radio. Anyone who left the clinic had to carry one– though that was only Jack and Tenenbaum these days. She pressed the button and spoke. “Booker, meet me at Siren Alley.”

The radio crackled for a few moments, then Booker’s voice came through. “What in the hell are you even doing there with Jack–”

She interrupted him there to explain, “Ryan is coming to us on the only path out.”

“I’m on it,” he barely finished speaking before the radio cut out.

Giving her attention back to Jack and Jolene, she sighed at the sight. Now it was Jack trying to get her to hide, but she would not hear him.

“Dr. Tenenbaum can handle it,” he insisted, exasperated, holding his arm out to the armoire. “Please, just listen.”

“No, no! You don’t know him, what he can do,” she spoke half to herself, hands gesturing wildly.

“It isn’t even half of what I will do to protect him,” Tenenbaum answered, pointing to the armoire with her pistol as she went to stand in front of the door. “Now hide.”

With only slight fussing after that, they rushed to hide just before Ryan barged in. Tenenbaum guessed from what she heard that one of them was under the bed and the other was in the armoire.

“Mr. Ryan,” she greeted. “What brings you here?”

“Ms. Tenenbaum?” His rage gave way to surprise, if only for one eyebrow-raising moment, before he got his cool front back. However thin of a facade it was. “I ought to ask you the very same question! What are you doing here?

“Dr. Tenenbaum,” she corrected, smirking. If he even noticed the pistol in her hands, he gave no sign of it. Typical. “Where’s Diane?”

“Diane?” For yet another moment, he seemed to truly not know who she was. “We’re not together, it’s not my responsibility–”

“Ja, it never is,” she talked over him, nodding in false sympathy. “But did you not bring her here? Wasn’t that your choice, not hers?”

“No, she had a choice! She,” he trailed off to a grumble. “You have no right to accuse me of anything! What are you here for? Hm?”

He snapped his jacket collar lightly and tried to circle her to her farther into the room. That’s when the pistol came into play, locking on his grinning expression. “There’s no one here for you to prey on. So what have you done with Jasmine?”

“You speak as if you are not a predator here to cause harm,” Tenenbaum observed, training her pistol steadily on him.

“The difference between us, dear doctor, is that you cannot harm me without harming Rapture.” He crossed his arms in a gentlemanly manner, chuckling from his chest like he told a clever joke.

She scoffed back. “Those in power are always so ready to believe in your own importance.” He relaxed beside the armoire, but there was nothing she could not do that would not betray that as a hiding place for whoever was inside.

“I could shoot you now and you would be just another corpse in the filth,” her accent thickened with the heat of the words. “The people of Rapture would strip you cleaner than any vultures could.”

“This city was brought up by my hands, doctor. And it will be undone by mine just the same if you do not tell me–”

The door slammed inward, and Booker came in after with a shotgun leveled at Ryan’s head. Apparently, he felt that spoke for itself and Booker said nothing. All Tenenbaum could think of was how grateful she was that the Bathyspheres were much faster now that so few could use them.

“What was that again?” Tenenbaum taunted.

“I won’t be scared off by thugs,” Ryan spat, looking at Booker with disgust. “Where is Jasmine? We have business and you will not keep me from her.”

What do you want to do, Tenenbaum?

– – –

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BioQuest: A Meeting

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Read the previous chapter.

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Tenenbaum looked at her ammo supplies and made up her mind. They could get to Siren Alley and back with what she had alone, and lucky for both of them, he had supplies too.

“Jack,” she said, breaking him from his thoughts. “You want to see Jasmine, ja?”

“What, I, you,” he started and stopped, bewildered but smiling. “Can you do that?”

Tenenbaum chuckled drily, heading towards the recent red light district of Rapture ahead of him. “I’d never let you go alone,” she admitted. He’d end up– no, she did not want to think about that. “This way.”

He breathed a laugh, following after her with palpable excitement and anxiousness. And all the unnecessary motion that went with that for Jack…Which mercifully came to an end at Siren Alley, where Jack stayed no more than a foot away from her at all times. Wasn’t that lucky too? Even though she and Booker drank more than they or anyone should, Jack had the good mind to be nervous in the bar.

Or was it the barely dressed men and women?

One of the women sauntered over, addressing Tenenbaum with a sultry look.”What c’n I do for you, miss?”

Jack’s eyes were on Tenenbaum, she could tell without even looking. She held out a stack of cigarette packs to the woman. “Take us to Jasmine Jolene.”

Eyeing the stack, the woman hesitated before cracking a smile and taking them. “Jus’ a moment, then.”

The moment passed, and the same woman sauntered as she led them to the quarters of none other than Jasmine Jolene. On the way, they passed a red-faced man who looked thoroughly pleased with his service.

“Nein,” Tenenbaum said to Jack, again sensing his thoughts without even turning. That maternal instinct of hers was proving far more useful than she ever could have believed it would be, when the first Little Sister crawled up onto her lap.

“Tch,” Jack answered, keeping pace with her even if he wasn’t happy about it.

“A pair, Jasmine,” their guide chimed, waving them in and closing the door behind them with a giggle.To her credit, Jolene tried to disguise her sigh as wistful rather than exhausted. “You sure know how to treat a lady, I–” She froze once she saw Tenenbaum and if she even realized Jack was there, she didn’t show it.

“Jolene,” Tenenbaum greeted.

“How… How are you, doctor?” She could see thoughts racing in the woman’s head, wondering if she owed anything, what the return of Tenenbaum could mean at a time of civil war, and more than she could predict at the moment.

“This is not a social call.” With that, she stepped aside since it didn’t seem like Jack was going to step out from behind her.

“Oh,” he responded, glancing from Tenenbaum to Jolene. “I’m… Jack. Jack Jolene.”

She finally looked at him as if she’d never seen anyone before at all. “I, I thought…” Jolene dropped to the bed, eyes locked on her son. “You can’t. You’d be so young.”

“This is Rapture,” Tenenbaum explained. “A city at the bottom of the ocean where men shoot fire from their hands.” And on that note, she took out a cigarette to light it. “Is anything impossible?”

“Suchong engineered me to grow faster, so I’d be an adult sooner.” Instead of his normal far-off look with this subject, Jack watched Jolene intently. Looking for a response, she figured, and puffed on the cigarette to light it with her lighter.

Jolene’s face wrinkled and still, she was beautiful. Curls fell just right on her shoulders and drew the eye to her considerable assets. “Why? Why would anyone do that?”

“Same reasons someone might sell an unborn child, I figure.” His voice was steady, as was his gaze, but Tenenbaum could see his shoulders tense. “Tell me why. Please.”

“I–” She froze when footsteps barreled down the hall, and Jolene was on her feet moments later. “He can’t see you, he’ll– he can’t,” she repeated, ushering Jack towards a warped armoire.

He stepped away, expression unchanged. “Who?”

“Ryan, it’s blasted Andrew Ryan,” Jolene answered.

What do you want to do, Tenenbaum?

Read the next chapter.

– – –

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