Me and Juub-K do not own BioShock. Kevin Levine, Irrational Games, and 2K Games do.


Maine Coast, 1914

About time.

Those were the words going through Booker DeWitt's head as he got onto the dock in the storm. Those two have talked for what seemed like forever, and he had to double check the contents of his box just to pass the time.

Bring the girl, and wipe away the debt. Get some girl named Elizabeth, return her to New York unharmed, and all of his gambling debts would be cleared. No more loan sharks. No more trouble with the tax people. A clean slate. A chance for a clean slate.

Before him, a great lighthouse stood like a beacon in the darkness. He heard the rowing of the two people, a man and a woman, behind him as they rowed away on their boat.

"Shall we tell him when we'll be returning?" Asked the woman.

"Would that change anything?"

"It might give him some comfort." He could have sworn he could have seen the man shrugged.

"At least that's something we can agree on."

"Hey!" Booker DeWitt called out over the rain and crashing waves. "Is somebody meeting me here?"

"I'd certainly hope so," the rower called back.

"It does seem like a dreadful place to be stranded," commented the woman. Clearly she was amused at his expense, making the ex-Pinkerton roll his eyes.

"Ah, well maybe there's someone inside…" He muttered under his breath as he walked the length of the dock onto the island, up the set of stairs and towards the door leading into the lighthouse. However, he noticed a note on the door.

DeWitt

Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt

THIS IS YOUR LAST CHANCE

Ignoring the obvious reason he was being soaked to the bone in the first place, Booker knocked. It was more of him slamming his fist, which he had done during his Pinkerton days. Some habits never die.

"Excuse me. It's Booker DeWitt. I guess you're expecting me…" He found the door unlocked and entered, seeing a stairway to the right and before him a lit lamp near the central pillar, along with several books, a water basin, and a board with letters. He looked down into the basin, seeing little water, but enough to see his own reflection. He looked up at the board

OF THY SINS

I SHALL WASH THEE

Baptism? Washing away sins? Booker scoffed. Soaking your head in water doesn't wipe away one's sins. Only idiots believe in that garbage.

"Good luck with that pal." He turned and saw another similar board, illuminated by the light from the upper floor.

FROM SODOM

SHALL I LEAD THEE

"Is anyone here? Hello?" Booker called out. Wasn't someone supposed to meet him here? He heard the music coming from the record player. He took his time looking around the room, seeing towels, books, and several cabinets. He noticed a telephone, but knew that getting someone on the receiving end was impossible so he didn't bother with the phone and the map that was connected on various locations vie pin and string.

He even spotted a sink, a bed, and an ice-box. Was someone living here?

Booker continued up the stairs and spotted a shoved over book case and in a corner illuminated by a light-

"…shit." He saw a person, unmoving with a large puddle of blood at his feet and his face was covered by a bloodied towel. Who that person was, he didn't know. The lighthouse's resident? And he spotted a paper on the person's chest.

DON'T DISAPPOINT US

'Well you made your point,' Booker thought to himself as he approached the staircase and spotted another sign.

IN NEW EDEN SOIL

SHALL I PLANT THEE

He climbed to the lighthouse's stairs until he found himself at the top, and staring before a door with intricate bronze designs, and three bells with a light over each one. Above the bells was an angel with it's wing's spread. Upon closer inspection, Booker noticed the bells had a symbol for each bell. A Scroll on the right bell. Key in the middle bell. And a sword on the left bell.

"Wait a minute, that card…" He opened his box and got out the card. It had the three symbols with a number attached.

Scroll once. Key twice. Sword twice.

He rung the bells in the order presented by the card, the dull lights lit up.

"Huh."

And a loud horn rang out, as if it was all around him, and the gray stormy skies turned red, and lights of red were shining through the clouds and down to the ocean, like search lights on zeppelins.

"What in the world…?" He heard the horns ring out a total of five times, and each to a similar tune as the tune of the bells. He turned his attention back to the central room, and heard a similar light pinging sound, again five times, again similar to the tunes of the bells.

He heard the large horns responding. Wait, was he communicating to whatever…was above the clouds? He heard ringing again and saw the bells descend and inside the room a chair flipped over.

"All right. Looks like they expect me to sit in their fancy chair." Booker mused to himself as he approached the red chair and sat down on it, his arms resting on the armrests.

"So now wha-" He was interrupted when metal clamps latched over his wrists. "The hell?" Booker struggled to break free of his bindings when he heard a female voice and the floor literally flip out underneath him.

"Make yourself ready, pilgrim. The bindings are there as a safeguard."

"The hell is going on?!" Booker asked himself as his breathing elevated as metal panels spired around him. "This can't be good…aah!" The panels closed around him, and the felt himself being flipped over in the chair and his pistol fell out of his pocket, lost to four cylinder objects below.

"No no-" And fire erupted from the four...objects below him, and it was getting really hot. "Goddamnit!"

"Ascension….Ascension in the count of FIVE-" The voice deepened from female to male.

"No no no no no."

"FOUR. THREE. TWO. ONE."

Booker felt his stomach fall down to his behind as he felt himself being lifted off, as if on a fast rising elevator, and his breathing and sounds of panic could be heard within the cabin. He tried to break free, but couldn't.

'I didn't sign up for this!' He cursed mentally as the voice continued it's "Ascension" mantra.

"Alright Booker…just stay calm…"

"Five thousand feet….ten thousand feet…fifteen thousand feet."

Booker felt as if his heart was going to burst out of his chest, break down the window in front of him, and fall back to the sea below. He didn't blame his heart. He would be trying to do the same thing if he wasn't restricted.

And he was blinded by light, and saw buildings…all old style buildings.

"Hallelujah"

Booker calmed down, feeling his jaw drop to his knees. The sight was…heavenly. Angelic. A city in the clouds, with American flags flying everywhere. He even noticed a giant statue of a great winged angel in the distance.

"Wha…?" The ex-Pinkerton was speechless. He spotted fireworks in the distance, alongside zeppelins of various shapes and sizes, and there was islands, multitudes of the floating islands with golden buildings!

He felt himself descend, and on a nearby clock tower he saw a large poster or banner with an old man with a great white beard looking out. The words 'Father Comstock' were above him, possibly his name and title.

The cabin met with a bump, making Booker jump. Machinery sounds rang everywhere as he felt himself descend again, like on an elevator. How did this flying…room even get here? And how did it time and land on a perfect spot?

Then, nothing but darkness but Booker was still on alert, his eyes glued to the window before him. Before he saw light again and countless gears, as if he was inside a clock tower of sorts. Before him were letters in gold.

WHY WOULD HE SEND

HIS SAVIOR UNTO US

Booker heard the sound of a chorus singing…

IF WE WILL NOT RAISE

A FINGER FOR OUR

OWN SALVATION?

AND THOUGH WE

DESERVED NOT HIS

MERCY

HE HAS LED US TO THIS NEW EDEN

'Did I enter a church or something?' Booker thought to himself.

A LAST CHANCE

FOR REDEMPTION.

'Redemption huh?' He thought to himself. Yeah, this whole city in the clouds may have caught him off guard, but he came here for a reason. To redeem himself. To make the slate clean.

Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt.

'My last chance…' He thought to himself as he saw light once again, and saw a stained glass picture with words and Father Comstock pointing towards the sky, people all around him looking up to him and some were in prayer.

AND THE PROPHET SHALL LEAD

THE PEOPLE TO A NEW EDEN.

And countless candles were all around the stained glass.

'Yeah, I'm in a place of worship.' He saw the metal panel in front of him lift upward after the sounds of machinery came and went, and his bindings opened, freeing himself. Booker stepped out of the cabin and entered the room, seeing water on the floor.

'I need to get out of here. Time to find an exit.' He thought as he turned left, and began his descent.


1961, Glen Cove, New York.

Asleep at last.

Jack Ryan gazed down at the four little faces; eyes closed and peaceful, their blankets pulled up to their chins and tucked in at the sides. Even after five months, five months since he had returned, the wonder of it had yet to fade.

Four little girls. Four little daughters.

Four little sisters.

Despite the shiver that ran down his spine, Jack Ryan still smiled. The memory of that brief nightmare still haunted him, and no doubt it always would. But it could not deny him the victory he had won, the happiness he had snatched from that terrible place. Those four little girls, who now called him father, would always remind him of it.

He scanned his eyes over them one last time; Annette, Beth, Catherine, and Delores. All so similar, yet each one unique. Each very different, yet united by a common experience.

That was the polite way of putting it. Jack sometimes wondered if the girls would ever truly forget what had been done to them in that place. Had they forgotten? They never spoke of it, at least not to him, or in his hearing. But Jack knew, only too well, what a smiling face could hide.

He closed the door, gently so as not to wake them, and tip-toed away along the corridor. His tip-toeing soon became a walk, which took him down the stairs, through the house, and onto his back porch. He lit a cigarette, drew on it, and stood where he was, taking it all in. The sun was going down, and the waves were lapping gently against the shore.

He was at peace.

Jack knew he would never forget his time in Rapture. He had seen too much, felt too much, done too much. He had wandered through the ruins of one man's dream, stalked by monsters, taunted by the demons that hid in human hearts. He had killed, he had destroyed, he had survived.

He had saved them.

"You've done a lot. Done things few would dare. And because of it, you have showed me that we can get a chance of redemption. And I shall not make a mistake like that ever again. And the little ones. You have given them a chance."

He thought of Doctor Tenenbaum. He hadn't seen her since their parting five months earlier. He remembered that careworn face, aged before its time by the weight of remorse. He remembered what she had done, and what she had helped him to undo. He had no idea what had become of her. No doubt the government had her locked away somewhere, coughing up the secrets she and Suchong had unlocked in the depths of the ocean; the secret of ADAM. If those in charge had any sense, they would heed her warnings and leave it well alone.

Jack sighed. By all rights she belonged in jail for crimes against humanity. But in spite of everything he hoped things would turn out okay for her. She had made bad choices, done something unforgivable. But she had also chosen to undo it, to make amends for what she had allowed to happen.

At least she'd had a choice. For him, there had been no choice at all. He had been born to serve a purpose, a twenty-year-old without a soul, conditioned to obey, to kill, and even to die. He had obeyed, and he had killed, and it was only thanks to Brigid Tenenbaum that he had not also died. And it was only thanks to her that he was finally free.

Free to live. Free to be a father to four little girls.

A growl drew him from his reverie. He looked up, wondering for a moment where it was coming from.

"Zeus?" For it was indeed Zeus, the family puppy, a Great Dane to be exact. He was standing in the garden a few metres away, erect and staring straight.

"What is it boy?" he asked, amused. "Is it Mrs. Baker again?"

That woman was one of the few flies in the ointment that was his new life. It wasn't that she was particularly unpleasant. It was that she seemed convinced that what a man like him needed more than anything else was a wife, and that her still-unmarried daughter was the ideal candidate.

And she wasn't the only one. His single-father status had made him an object of fascination to the womenfolk of the neighborhood, especially the divorcees for some reason. They rarely missed an opportunity to press their cases.

But there was no one around. Jack's brow furrowed as he glanced left and right, wondering what could have disturbed Zeus so.

And there it was.

Jack didn't know what he was looking at. It was...it looked like water running down glass, except it wasn't moving in any particular direction, and it was just...floating there, right in front of him. He stepped closer, squinting at the apparition, wondering if it was just a trick of the light.

And then he saw something. Jack stared, not quite believing, as he saw something take shape within the apparition. It was a woman in a long dress, with a pair of broad, angelic wings flaring out from her back. It was gold, a statue of some kind. But where was it? And why was he seeing it?

He stepped closer, ignoring Zeus' increasingly harsh growls and every instinct warning him to back away, to leave it well alone. He reached out, and with the very tip of his fingers, he touched it.

All at once he was moving, falling, as if some giant hand had grabbed him by the belly button. He cried out in protest, but it was over as soon as it had begun.

His eyes ached as light bombarded them. He screwed them shut, cautiously blinking as they grew accustomed to the sunlight; bright, warm sunlight.

He looked around. His garden was gone, as was Zeus and his house. He was standing in a courtyard, with an ornate fountain in the centre and stone pavement under his feet, the walls lined with grass and planters. He looked up, and saw a gate with a great neon sign emblazoned over it.

MONUMENT ISLAND

His eyes took him up, and up, following what was behind the gate. There was the golden angel, the one he had seen before. It was enormous, at least as big as the Statue of Liberty, looming over him like some ancient monument of a bygone era.

What was it? Why had it brought him here? Away from his home!

Away from his daughters!


There was the sound of knocking, more like pounding, as Booker's eyes blurred as he awoke. He was asleep on his desk, countless horse racing cards of failed bets strewn about several beer bottles and his pistol.

"Who's there? Who's there?!" He called out, getting to his feet. He grabbed his head, feeling the effect of a hangover.

"Bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt." Said a distorted voice from the door to his office.

"What do you want?"

"We had a deal DeWitt!" The voice sounded very impatient as Booker stumbled towards the door way. "Open this door, right now!"

"I told you…" Booker panted. "I'm not going to do it! Now go away…" He turned away.

"Mr. DeWitt! Mr. DeWitt!" The pounding only got harder as Booker let out a sigh of frustration, went to his door and opened it. And he was blinded by light.

And then, chaos. Gasping, he saw skycrapers that reached into the clouds, and there was fires. Smoke. Screams. Death.

And in the dark heavens, zeppelins rained fire and fury, the moon covered by the floating buildings. He could swore that he could make out some kind of angel high in the sky.

One of the zeppelins who was launching fireballs launched one his way and Booker's eyes widened as the light blinded him.


He gasped for breath, feeling cold and wet instead of burning to ashes. Coughing, his sight slowly returned as statues looked down at him. He recognized that the statues had familiar faces. George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson. The American Founding Fathers?

But Booker didn't care as he heard the voices of others minding their own business as he stood up. The ex-Pinkerton growled as he waded through the water, passing by several white-robed prayers.

"That idiot priest needs to know the difference between baptizing a man and drowning one." He grumbled. After he exited that flying cabin, he explored the church and found himself before a congregation and the priest would allow him through if they baptized him. Damn old man almost drowned him.

He wiped his eyes. "I need to find a landmark and figure where the hell I am." He walked out of the pool, ignoring some of the stares the other white-robed individuals were throwing his way. He heard prayers praising 'Father Washington' and labeling the other two Founding Fathers as 'Fathers' and revered them as if they were messiahs.

'Nutjobs.' Booker thought to himself as he worked his way through the garden and turned right and saw a sign arched above a doorway.

THE SEED OF THE PROPHET

SHALL SIT THE THRONE AND DROWN IN FLAME

THE MOUNTAINS OF MAN

"Just cause a city flies don't mean it ain't got its fair share of fools," scoffed the ex-Pinkerton as he shook off from water. "All right…still got a girl to find…" He said as he approached the door and opened it.

And he was taken in by the site. The buildings and streets were floating in the clouds, all looking as if they were twenty years old. He even noticed some sort of…rail system carrying large boxes of cargo to god knows where. And straight ahead was a statue of a man holding a sword and pointing behind him. Judging by his beard, the statue must be that 'Father Comstock' everyone has been so crazy about. The platform where he was standing on lowered and connected itself to the main street, and Booker walked forward.

"Good day." Commented a man walking by with a woman. Probably man and wife.

"Good to see you." Booker replied. 'Just keep a low profile. Find the girl, get out.' He thought to himself as he kept walking on the brickroad. He spotted more cities in the clouds, some how floating.

Everyone was so cheerful and pleasant. They had American figures in history as icons. Just what…is this place? He walked around the square, hearing bells ring about. As he passed a café, he heard some hens gossiping on some 'Vox Populi'. Quirking an eyebrow, he looked at them but he continued to walk.

'Did I get sent to another world or something?' He thought. He saw some children playing by a fire hydrant and he spotted a carriage up ahead. Don't they use Model-Ts? Those were always reliable. Then as he got closer to the horse, his eyes rose up again.

The horse was…some kind of machine. There was an orb with electricity at the center of it's back and it jerked to and fro at times.

'They…made that?' He shook his head. 'Doesn't matter. Find a landmark. Something. Anything.' The sounds of drums made him turn and saw some zeppelins pass by! And they had signs, as if they were part of a parade. 'What is this? Pasadena and the Rose Parade?'

He noticed the signs, a man in a field being greeted by an angel, Comstock pointing the masses towards the heavens, and Comstock with a woman and a child, and listened.

"After the victory of Wounded Knee, the angel Columbia did present herself to Father Comstock, and show him a vision of the future. And so our prophet led the people away from the Sodom Below, up up into the city, where they created an even more perfect union. But it was the miracle child, the Lamb, that is the future of our city."

"Wounded…Knee?" Booker said in surprise. Did Comstock fight at Wounded Knee? And how can he say that was a victory?

He was wrong. Dead wrong. But he pushed back the memories. He can't be distracted now.

"For the Prophet has said that she in the tower will lead the Sodom Below into righteousness."

'A prophet claiming Wounded Knee was a victory and making the founding fathers messiahs? Not buying this bullshit one bit.' Booker thought to himself as the bridge connected the floating islands and he and other people crossed. He heard the policemen mention something about a…raffle? As he walked across, he spotted a sign with happy children on it.

"'Columbia Raffle and Fair.' Huh." 'So this place is called Columbia.' He mentally added. As he climbed the stairs, he spotted a poster that caught his attention as he inspected it. It showed a dark figure in a staff and black cloak on a yellow brick road, offering his hand to a frightened baby lamb and in the distance, that Angel he saw when he entered Columbia appeared before him.

THE FALSE SHEPARD

SEEKS ONLY TO LEAD

OUR LAMB ASTRAY

"Who is this girl?" He said aloud. Climbing another set of stairs, he found himself before the massive golden angel. It looked larger than the Statue of Liberty!

"Telegram Mr. DeWitt!" Said a voice, making him look down, seeing a boy holding a telegram in his hands.

"huh…" Booker offered his hand and accepted the telegram. The boy gave him a salute and ran off. The ex-Pinkerton turned over the telegram and read it out loud.

"DeWitt STOP

Do not alert Comstock to your presence STOP

Whatever you do, do not pick #77 STOP

Lutece…What the…?" Booker shook his head. Who was Lutece? Don't pick 77? Don't alert Comstock? What did that mean? He turned right and continued walking, seeing another large poster with the same angel, with a lamb radiating light at it's center.

THE TOWER PROTECT THE LAMB

FROM THE FALSE SHEPARD

'This False Shepard guy sounds like bad news,' Booker mentally commented. Up ahead, he saw a gate with two constables standing watch.

"You wanna let me through here pal?"

"Streets closed for your safety fella," replied the policemen. "They're prepping tonight's fireworks back there."

"There's enough TNT back there to blow Peking to Kingdom Come…again."

Peking. The Boxer Rebellion. The event of Chinese attacking foreign interests in China between 1898 and and the turn of the century. Countless people, both Chinese and foreigner, died during that period of time. He shook his head, no need for a history lesson.

"Better find another way around." He said to himself as he turned around jogged away and climbed the stairs and entered into a place of festivity and fun.

'So, this is that raffle and fair huh?' He said as he strolled through the carnival, hands in pockets. Better find a way through this fair. He noticed people doing...strange things, like floating in mid-air. Could those be whatever those...Vigors were? But he also spotted some bright flashes coming from a tent, and the sound of gunfire and laughter. Must be from a shooting gallery. As he walked through the fair, he spotted a woman carrying some green bottles of...something.

"Dear friend, have you ever lost a penny to a vending machine?" Cooed the woman carrying the basket of bottles. He spotted free sample behind her.

Eh, why not?

"Give me one of those." Booker said coming up to the woman. The brunette smiled mischeviously.

"With just a whisper...they are all yours…" The ex-Pinkerton removed the top and drank.


It took every trick he knew, and a lot of raw willpower, for Jack to calm himself down and think his situation through.

He was out in the open, that was one thing. Above him was a bright blue sky, without a single cloud, and the air was as fresh as a country springtime. Under better circumstances it might have been a pleasant place to visit, but for now he had to find a way out of this place, and get back home. In that respect, being out in the open had to be a good thing, open spaces being relatively easy to get out of.

Jack looked around, searching for a way out. At the opposite end of the courtyard was a pair of tall wooden doors, set into the wall of a very large stone building in the neo-classical style. Booker strode over to the doors and, with a caution he had thought he had forgotten, touched one of them. The door eased open, enough for Jack to peer around. There was no one in sight. Steeling himself, Jack pushed the door further open and stepped around it.

He found himself in a tall, wide chamber, lit by sunlight streaming in through great high windows. Between the windows stood Greco-Roman columns, and just beyond was the open sky, with what looked like clusters of buildings in the near distance.

Jack stepped forward, then jumped at the sound of cheery, tinkling music. He looked to his right, and saw what looked like a man's upper torso, jerkily waving its arms and staring past him. He stepped closer, wondering what it could be.

It was a vending machine, named Dollar Bill if the neon sign above it was any indication. No wonder the damned thing had shocked him so; it looked just like the machines he had seen down in Rapture.

Worryingly so.

Jacked glanced back, and saw another similar machine standing to the left of the door. It was almost exactly the same, but named Veni Vidi Vigor! He wondered for a moment just what the machines vended, but the question was made academic by the fact that he had no change.

Of more immediate relevance was the pair of wooden barricades, standing either side of the door, each marked POLICE DO NOT CROSS. Jack wondered why they had been put there, especially since there were none of the implied police around to guard them.

He moved further away from the door, and realised that he was on a balcony, with stairs set to his left and right, leading down to the floor below. The whole arrangement put him in mind of a railway station, and as he looked over the parapet he could see that the floor below was a pair of platforms, set either side of two sets of rails leading out and down away from the building.

As he moved to descend the right-hand staircase, he saw a poster set on the back wall, where anyone stepping off a train could see it clearly. It showed a human hand pointing towards the doors, with the words MONUMENT ISLAND underneath. he words were written in big fancy letters, reminding him of one of those old wartime posters. But what drew his attention was another sign posted above the hand, with the word CLOSED in big black letters. Next to the word was an oval picture of a man in profile; an old, dignified-looking man with white hair and a long, neatly-trimmed beard.

Well, if the place was closed, there was little chance of a train coming. He needed to find another way out of this place. He looked around again, but there were no other doors. Seeing no alternative, he strode along the platform and out into the sunlight.

What he saw froze him stiff. All around him was a carpet of white cloud, dappled with clusters of buildings like so many mountain peaks. He could see shapes moving between them; zeppelins! Honest-to-goodness zeppelins in all shapes and sizes!

Where was he? What was this place?

Jack staggered closer to the handrail, staring here and there through wide-eyes, enraptured and yet terrified. Never, not in his wildest dreams, had he imagined such a place.

He saw the clouds shifting, a gap opening up in the cotton-candy carpet. The clouds drifted, moving away from the nearest mountaintop.

But there was no mountaintop.

Jack stared, in horrified disbelief. The buildings were hovering in mid-air, their bases ringed with what looked like blimps. But no blimp could hold up a building! It was…it was…

He staggered back, shaking his head, his stomach cold and churning. It wasn't real! It couldn't be real! Was he even in the same world?

Could he ever get home to his daughters?

He stood where he was, neither seeing nor hearing, lost in mingled horror and despair, until a low throbbing hum drew his attention. He looked up, and saw a zeppelin passing by, maybe a few hundred yards distant. He stared at it, and in spite of everything he managed to be awestruck at the sight. He had never even been this close to a blimp, let alone a true zeppelin. The envelope gleamed silver in the sunlight. The gondola below it was quite large, with room for quite a few people. The engines were set to the rear of the gondola on either side, each held between stubby biplane wings.

It was actually quite odd. Jack had seen plenty of pictures of blimps and zepplins, but none like that one.

He saw movement. There was an open walkway along the side of the gondola leading to the wings, presumably for in-flight maintenance. There was something on it, swiveling towards him.

Jack didn't know why, but he was already moving, bolting back towards the station. The machine gun chattered, sending a hail of bullets tearing into the platform where he had stood an instant earlier. His nerves were on fire, his heart hammered as he sprinted across the open platform and through the arch. He flung himself behind one of the columns and pressed himself against the wall, waiting for the bullets to tear his flesh and end it all. For what seemed like an eternity the bullets clattered on the stones nearby.

And then it was over. He could hear the engines receding. Maybe they thought they'd got him.

Then he heard a new sound, a ringing of metal on metal above him. He looked up, and for the first time noticed the metal wires strung up in the air like electric cables. He could see them vibrating, and he realized that they were what was giving off the ringing noise.

And it was getting louder.

Jack hazarded a look around the column, and stared in wonder as two shapes detached from the rail and dropped lightly to the platform. Both were human, and both were armed. Jack pressed his back against the wall, trying to steel his nerves as he heard their approaching footsteps.

"He couldn't have lived."

"Not likely, but let's make sure."

Jack waited, heart thundering in his chest. He could hear them coming closer; he could hear their heavy breathing, smell their tobacco. Closer, closer, ever closer. He had one chance, maybe.

He moved. He felt himself rounding the pillar, barreling straight into the nearest of the two. He heard the man's cry of surprise, and the deep grunt as Jack's shoulder knocked the breath out of him. He felt himself falling, bearing the unfortunate soldier to the ground. He felt the impact, then rolled off him into a crouching position.

He looked up, and saw the man's companion, clad in an old-style blue-grey uniform. He had a blue helmet on his head, and a look of stunned disbelief on his face. But Jack knew better than to hesitate, and he thrust out his hand, praying to any god who happened to be listening that it touch something useful.

It closed around something, and Jack threw it at the soldier. It was a leg of a bench, shattered by the machine gun fire, and it caught the soldier in the face.

"Son of a…!"

It had bought Jack precious moments, enough to spot the fallen soldier's gun. He grabbed at it, pulling it into his hands. The soldier saw him, but too late, as Jack squeezed the trigger. He felt the familiar kick as the sub-machine gun roared, and the soldier screamed as he was flung back, blood spurting from his chest.

But then Jack was moving, knocked to the ground by a swinging blue-clad leg. He tried to pull himself up, and saw the other soldier rising, face twisted with rage. He brought up the gun, but before he could fire the soldier swung his arm, knocking the gun from his hands.

"I'll tear your head off!" snarled the soldier. He brought back his arm, and Jack saw what it was carrying; some kind of gauntlet or bracer, topped with what looked like a rotor with four curved blades. Jack saw the arm fall, the blades aimed straight between his eyes. He grabbed frantically at it, the blades stopping less than an inch from his face. The soldier growled, trying to force the weapon down. Jack pushed back with all his might, but knew that he was losing. He was about to die, and the girls would be alone.

Alone.

Frantic, desperate, he lashed out with one foot, catching the soldier on the knee. The soldier yelled, and Jack pushed forward with all the strength in him. The soldier's arms buckled, and Jack pressed on hard, driving the whirling blades into his face. The soldier screamed as the blades tore his face open, blood fountaining from his ruined flesh.

And it was over.

Jack slumped back and sat, breathing heavily, feeling the hot blood on his face.

He had done it again. He had killed.

"Another scrappy one," commented a louche voice from nearby. Jack looked up with a start, and saw a well-dressed man and woman standing nearby.

"Who...who are…?!" he babbled. How had they gotten there?

"I had no idea he was coming," the young man went on. "Did you?"

"I didn't," replied the young woman. "But here he is."

"Or here he was."

"Or here he might be."

Jack stared at the pair in mute bewilderment. They were so...alike. Both had reddish-brown hair, styled differently and yet similarly. They were male and female versions of the same outfit. Even their faces were almost the same. Were they twins or something?

"Who are you?" he managed to asked. "How did you get there?"

"I'd say that proves my theory," said the woman.

"A random element?" asked the man.

"You have a better hypothesis?"

"Answer me!" Jack yelled.

"I think you'd better," the man commented. "He's getting upset."

"Just...please…!" Jack shuddered, his heart twisting with mingled anger and despair. "Something brought me here, took me away from my family! I just want to get back where I came from!"

"Of course you do," the woman replied mildly. "He runs from, you run to."

"What're you talking about?!" snapped Jack, at the end of his tether. "Please, if you know something! Anything!"

"We know something," said the man, his face expressionless. "You're not supposed to be here."

"Are not," quipped the woman, "but is."

"You see our problem," the man went on.

"No I don't!" Jack barked. "And it doesn't matter! Just tell me how to get back home!"

"We told you," replied the woman.

"Will tell you," added the man.

"We can't solve it."

"But he can."

"You mean she can."

"Who?" demanded Jack, wishing they would just talk normally. "Who can?"

"You'll meet them soon," the woman said.

"Or you can go looking for them," suggested the man.

"You mean looking for him."

"But he hasn't found her."

"That's neither here nor there."

"She is here, and he is there."

Jack was just about ready to murder the both of them. But they were, for the moment, his only chance of finding a way home.

"Look, fine, I'll…" He trailed off, as the woman proffered a silver coin. The man was, for some unintelligible reason, wearing a sandwich board with a blackboard front. There were two columns chalked on it, marked Heads and Tails. There were several tally marks under Heads, but none under Tails.

"Heads," the woman asked, "or Tails."

Jack rolled his eyes, and took the coin.

"Tails." He flipped it, and the coin spun through the air to land on the woman's plate.

"You were right," the man commented, as the woman chalked a tally mark under Tails.

"I'm always right," the woman replied.

"What does that mean?" Jack asked.

"I…" The woman paused. "No, let's not start that again."

"Go out the way they came in." The man gestured at the bloodied corpse, with the strange gauntlet still embedded in its skull. Jack saw it, and realized what they meant. He looked up to speak to them, but they were gone.

"This is just too weird."

It was, but he had no choice. Trying to ignore the smell of blood, Jack reached his hand into the gauntlet and pulled it from the corpse with a nauseating, yet painfully familiar sucking noise. He looked up at the wire, wondering how he was supposed to do it.

"Oh well," he said, to no one in particular. "Only one way to find out."

A thought occurred. He picked up one of the dropped sub-machine guns, then patted down the two corpses for ammunition. He was a little worried at how easily he was handling this, but there was no time to dwell on it. Jack let out a sigh. Back to the grind of killing to survive. And it didn't feel good that this felt all too familiar to him as well.

"Take two." He raised the gauntlet to the wire.


OZ: Surprise! Bet you didn't see this one coming! Anyways, I have had this idea prickle at me ever since I played BioShock Infinite. So now I have more main projects on my plate, but since this is collab with me and Juubi, this will get updated faster as his writing always turns on my muse. NOT IN THAT SENSE.

Anyway, hope you enjoy!