Trailing Booker DeWitt without him noticing wasn't really the most difficult of tasks.
Dante luckily knew the layout of Columbia due to the massive amounts of time he devoted into playing the game in the past. It was easy for him to find places to duck behind while a rather lost Booker took a look around.
He would stop every once and awhile to take in some of the architecture was pretty late 19th century, early 20th century-rare to see unless you took a trip to some of the older civilizations in the world. Tall buildings stood-no, floated-proudly around him, decorated festively with American flags and other patriotic decor in light of the day's events. Children played hopscotch and jump rope in the streets under the watchful eyes or their parents, who chatted with their friends about this and that. There was the distinct smell of food in the air-hot dogs in particular-that had Dante's mouth watering. He found himself absentmindedly wandering towards a hot dog stand, but caught himself just in time to get himself back on track with the mission. Columbia was truly something to behold. A city in the clouds, next to a space station or an underwater city, was one of the wonders of the world.
It would be better if it weren't so virulently racist.
He was so lost in his thoughts that he didn't notice the small boy running around with a telegram until he collided right into him.
"Sorry, sir!" the messenger exclaimed. "Are you Mr. DeWitt?"
"Uh…" he looked up to see Booker was now gazing out at the Angel of Columbia statue. "...that's him over there."
"Thank you very much, and have a nice day!"
Dante casually parked himself on a corner, taking a moment to look once again at the card Robert Lutece had handed him.
'Knowing what's about to happen, I wish the Lutece warnings weren't so understated.'
Booker had gone ahead at this point, having received the telegram about the lottery.
"Keep going, Booker," Dante muttered to himself. "You're about to get in a lot of trouble."
"Is he talking to himself?"
"It appears so, brother."
"Do you suppose he's senile?"
"Everyone talks to themselves. It's a human trait. Even we talk to ourselves-I'm talking to myself right now."
"A fair point. Does that mean everyone's senile?"
"...A wise point as well."
The prospect of taking part in Booker DeWitt's journey had been exciting when proposed. That said, it was also a dark and depressing one. The upcoming threats and the waves upon waves of people that'll be sent to kill them. Secrets that'll be revealed as well as true motives to agendas. But in the end he'll have a chance to correct some things,
'But that's all in the future.' Dante thought to himself.
In reality it was more fun for Booker than Dante, who was merely trying to keep his distance while also keeping an eye on Booker. That meant he didn't really have much of a chance at playing the carnival games.
Ultimately, the only thing worth doing was looking in trash cans Booker hadn't already got to and scrounging around for items of worth.
Why people threw out so much uneaten cotton candy and silver dollars was beyond him.
After one excursion into the trash can, he looked up in time to see Booker launch some kind of green and glittery mist out of his palm and into an automaton, which opened up the gate. The automaton glowed a misty green as it said, "Well if it isn't Assemblyman Buford. Your spot at the raffle awaits. Don't know why I didn't recognize you before. Odd. Always good to have gentlemen of your caliber at our fine fairgrounds."
"Possession." He suspected, knowing that was one of the only vigors that could trick a machine. Not to mention seeing a sales girl near the gate with a whole basket of them. If Dante was going to get through this, he needed vigors.
He casually walked across the carnival grounds towards the stand, but before he could get there, he was stopped by the feeling that someone was watching him.
Glancing towards the gate, he spotted the Lutece Twins in their "head or tails" exchange with Booker. True to his thoughts, Rosalind had taken a casual glance towards the part-human, part-time lord in a brief acknowledgement of his existence. The moment passed, and she returned to looking at Booker.
With a deep breath, Dante walked up to the stand, just in time to witness Booker heading on.
"So was it heads or tails?" he asked.
"Both," Rosalind replied evasively.
Dante raised an eyebrow at her. "So it's like that, eh?"
The sample lady laughed. "Friend of yours?"
"You could say that. Could I have one of those?"
He inspected the green bottle he was given. Dante remembered that one's first time drinking a vigor could be a painful experience. Possession, as far as he knew, was the most painless. But for all he knew, it would taste like a strong vodka, and Booker simply didn't react to it because he was so used to alcohol.
"Well," he muttered, pulling out the top. "Bottoms up."
He let the liquid dribble into his mouth, letting it sit for a moment before swallowing. The taste? Well...it tasted like limeade.
It also made him feel very lightheaded for a moment.
"That's good stuff," he commented, trying to shake the weird feeling he had in his pre-frontal lobe.
"Mr. Fink knows how to put the kick in vigors!" the sample lady beamed. "This is just the first of a whole line for public consumption: soon he will be mass-producing these and other flavors, including Devil's Kiss and Bucking Bronco. There's a stand back in the fair where you can test out Bucking Bronco if you like!"
The loud sound of Jeremiah Fink singing "Goodnight, Irene" reminded Dante of his duties.
"Well, I'm kind of in a rush…" he said, considering his options.
The sample lady tilted her head. "Wait just a moment." She took off the basket, placed it on the table,and reached into a container. She came back up with a golden bottle which the cap/top of it looked liked a horse head
"They accidentally shipped a few of these Bucking Broncos with my sample supply." she explained. "You seem like a nice fellow, take it. A gift from me to you."
Dante nodded. "Thank you, madame," he said in his best genteel voice he could manage.
The sample lady, with a blush on her face, placed her basket back on and returned to handing out samples.
Dante walked through the gate, taking a moment to inspect the Bucking Bronco bottle. He hadn't expected to receive it so early, but there was no point in turning down a gift.
"This is going to taste like crap," he muttered, twisting the bottle and downing a healthy amount.
The flavor of vigor was sort of harmless: it tasted like concentrated cinnamon. Rather, it was his hallucinogenic bleeding hands. Reacting to the substance that caused him to scream out in pain, causing the group of kids singing the Songbird chant nearby to stop and stare at him.
"Alright, I'm okay," he breathed after recovering from the horror. "How am I fixed for time?" He checked the watch feature on Ultramatrix. "Not good at all, I guess I have to run."
"Do you suppose that our slight intervention will alter the course of things?"
"Surprising, yes. But, ultimately only a minor deviation in the story. The order of the script might have changed, but the finale still remains."
Dante ran as fast as he could towards the raffle spot, praying he wouldn't be late. Turns out, it was a wasted effort, as he arrived a few minutes early.
'Just enough time to catch my breath,' he thought to himself. His attempt to catch his breath caught the attention of two women close to him, who stared at him shamelessly.
"Handsome fellow, isn't he?" one of them whispered to the other.
"Probably running from all the other women who want him," the other joked, prompting both of them to giggle.
Dante rolled his eyes, trying his best to ignore them as he stood up straight, searching the surprisingly small crowd for his target.
He caught sight of him leaning over a trash can and muttering to himself. He caught the words 'the things people throw away…' and nodded, as if Booker could see him.
Dante turned away from Booker and looked around, marveling once again at the wonders of Columbia. He was so distracted that he didn't notice when he accidentally ran into someone else.
"Oh! Sorry!" he exclaimed.
"Hey, watch it, kid!" the man yelled in his face, before heading off in the other direction.
He shrugged. 'Some people,' he thought.
Dante reached the top of the stairs just to see in time Booker walk up to the bowl girl and grab a ball.
A man with a Snidely Whiplash mustache enthusiastically, "And now the 1912 raffle has officially begun!" He then gestured towards the girl. "Is that not the prettiest young white girl in all of Columbia?" Picking a number from the bowl, he eagerly showed it to the crowd, who cheered enthusiastically. "The winner is...number 77! Come up and claim your prize! First throw!"
Dante inched into the best spot for the inevitable violence; two rows from the front, behind two young girls with the biggest sun hats he'd seen in awhile. Before he could think on it any further, however, the stage curtains peeled apart and he felt his stomach turn.
Standing on the stage, tied to a pole, were a man and a woman-a couple, Dante guessed. They were struggling against their restraints, pleading with the man with the moustache to let them go.
"Please, please, it's all my fault, let her go, she had nothing to do with this!" the man shouted. "It was all me! Let her go!"
'These are some sick sons-of-bitches.' Dante thought, watching in disgust as the crowd cheered and laughed at the couple's suffering. He wondered if it was morally okay that he was glad they would be dead soon.
"Come on," the man yelled at the person in front who was holding the winning baseball. "Are you gonna throw it, or are you taking your coffee black these days? Hahahaha!"
The man with the baseball looked at the announcer, but Dante couldn't see his expression from where he was standing in the crowd. He knew who the man was, of course-it was Booker DeWitt, but Dante wasn't sure what he would do. Of course, when he had came to this point, he had chosen to throw the ball at the man instead. But he wasn't sure if Booker would do the same. He held his breath in anticipation.
Booker held up the baseball, drew back his arm-and aimed at the announcer.
Dante let out the breath he had been holding, but before he could sigh in relief, he saw a pair of police officers head towards Booker and grab his arm.
"It's him!" one of them shouted at the announcer, holding up Booker's hand to show him.
Dante, being part-Time Lord and having knowledge of the upcoming events, knew what was going to happen next before it did. He stepped back a bit, wanting (for now, at least) to steer clear of getting any blood on his new clothes.
The next few words were spoken quietly, so Dante (and probably most of the crowd) didn't hear them. The next thing anyone knew, however, the man was announcing that the False Shepard had come and everyone was running in a different direction, save for Dante and Booker. Booker had his hand in a Skyhook and was revving it up to stick it in some unfortunate souls skull-though, they probably deserved it, Dante thought.
He suddenly realized that Booker was looking right at him, and he quickly held up his hands in surrender. "Wait, I'm on your side!" He dug around in his pockets for the card that the twins had given him-oh, where was it? Oh, there! He pulled it out, flashing it in Booker's face.
Booker gave him a wary look, but nodded. "Okay. Who are you and what are you doing here?"
"Well it's like the card said, bring you to the girl. Watch it!" Dante shoved the PI aside as he caught the swinging arm of an offending policeman. He flipped him over his shoulder and pushed down on his throat, crushing the man's windpipe.
"Holy-! You a soldier or something kid?"
"Was. Long time ago. Right now, let's get to the point. I need your help, and you need mine. So, let's work together to save this girl from the tower, and then we can both go home."
The PI was naturally curious about his new "assistant", but didn't have much time to think about it as he parried an oncoming cops swing. He then lodged his skyhook into the officer's throat and twisted, snapping his neck. After dislodging the corpse, he stuck his hand out. "Deal."
Dante shook his hand before pulling out his Hand Cannon. "Only got about a handful of rounds for this thing before I'm out."
"Better make those shots count."
Dante nodded in agreement before firing a shot into an oncoming police officer's head. The two made their way forward. "So I guess we're partners now?"
"I guess so," Booker grunted as he looked Dante over once more, frowning slightly.
Booker shrugged. "Nothing. It's just...well, I don't really need a partner. They're only good for getting themselves-and you-killed."
Dante scoffed at that, knowing that he'd have a partner soon enough, one that would prevent such things from happening. But he kept that information to himself. "Well, Mr. Dewitt, I think we're both capable of handling ourselves."
"Call me Booker."
"Name's Dante Price."
"Odd name. But, I've heard weirder."
They reached the top of the stairs, where a couple more policemen were waiting to ambush them. Working together, they managed to eliminate the threat with relative ease. Booker turned to Dante once the last policeman had fallen.
"What exactly do you stand to gain from helping me out, kid?"
"Aside from accomplishing some good by taking out some of these flying racists, nothing much."
Booker looked at him funny at that last bit, but didn't comment on it. "Forgive me, but I don't really believe folk just 'help each other out' like you're claiming to do."
Dante sighed impatiently. "Look, Mr. DeWitt, we don't have time for this. Please, just trust me, and together we can take down these guys, and save Elizabeth."
The hybrid knew as soon as he said the girl's name that he had made a mistake-or, so he thought. Booker's eyes narrowed instantly and he stepped forward, moving to raise the skyhook attached to his arm. Dante subtly reached into his jacket pocket and grabbed hold of his sonic screwdriver, preparing himself for the worst case scenario.
"Did they send you? That's the only way you could know so much, is if they sent you..." he mused. He looked at Dante again, who, after a moment of confusion, nodded vigorously.
"Well yes and no. But now is not the time because-"
Dante wasn't able to finish his sentence as a group of cops had shown up. This time brandishing firearms. "There he is! Open fire!"
The two ducked behind some cover bullets went flying by them.
"We'll talk later, so don't think you're getting out of it or anything."
As one of the many policemen neared Dante, he shot out his hand and used Bucking Bronco to lift two officers off the ground. He then shot both of the mid air guards and their bodies dropped onto the ground. From afar, he heard Booker whistle, clearly impressed as he punched one of his adversaries in the face. He then gestured with his hand again, (which was now green and glowing), as a ghost flew out from his hand and into one of the officers.
Said officer stumbled for a second before opening fire on his fellow men. After they had fallen, the man shook his head before putting the gun to his head and pulling the trigger.
Dante, somewhat satisfied with his work, walked over towards the bodies and started searching them for ammo (and maybe some food, it had been a while since he'd eaten). He found a couple of pistol rounds and a half-eaten sandwich. Looking at it in disgust, he threw it away. There was no way he was going to eat something that someone else had.
Booker, on the other hand, had found virtually nothing, and said as much. "I got nothing."
"I got a few bullets and a pistol. Here," he tossed the gun towards him. "You'll need it."
Dante moved past Booker, who was busy loading the bullets into his new pistol. When he was done, he clicked the safety on and off again repeatedly, cocking his head as if he saw something wrong with the design. Dante knew, however, that such was not the case-Booker was probably just making sure the thing worked.
"The fireman! He's here!"
"He'll take care of the son of a bitch!"
The two became on guard, as they moved forward towards a gate that was slightly opened.
They started to push it open.
"Is it me or is it getting hot all of a sudden?" Dante inquired.
"Definitely not just you," Booker replied, wiping some sweat off of his brow.
With the door opened, the two saw a man covered in padded armor with tubes running around his torso and a faceplate made of an old stove oven door.
"Burn in the name of the Prophet!" He shouted, flexing his arms out as the surrounding area became engulfed in flame
"Holy shit!" Booker yelled, dodging the blow. "What the hell?"
"Wonder later, shoot now!" Dante responded as he opened fire on the Fireman.
The Fireman roared in pain, jumping off of the overturned cart and charging straight towards Dante.
Said hybrid moved to the side as he spotted an automated turret up ahead.
"Booker, use the turret!"
"That one, over there!"
Booker turned to where he was pointing and promptly released his Possession vigor. Then he turned and fired a shot at the Fireman, who turned his attention to the PI.
"Burn False Shepard!"
The two shot at the Fireman, dodging the balls of fire being thrown at them, before finally the armored man yelled in pain before exploding.
"Holy-!" Booker yelled, stepping back hastily before he caught on fire.
"Well...that was...a thing." Dante holstered his gun before going over to the remains. Sifting through the ashes, he picked up a red bottle that was shaped as a woman with devil horns and a tail. He picked it up and red the tag that was attached to it.
"Devil's Kiss. "Light the way." Huh." He turned to Booker, holding the bottle up. "We both have Possession and I got Bucking Bronco. So this one's yours." Dante tossed it towards Booker who caught it. "I'll get the next one that comes along."
'Thanks, pal. I gotta say, it's useful having you around." Booker unscrewed the cap and downed the bottle.
"Thanks." Dante wondered if he should warn Booker of what was about to happen, but as Booker started screaming he figured it might be too late. Nevertheless, he decided to try. "Booker, your hands-!" he tried to say, but quickly realized that it wouldn't do any good-Booker would not be calmed no matter what. Dante watched as Booker held up his hands-the skin of his fingers had melted off, revealing the bone underneath. Dante had, of course, seen this scene about a dozen times during his sessions of the game-but it was much more disturbing seeing it in real life. A bright flash of white light signaled the end of his partner's suffering, and the private investigator watched with a horrified look on his face as his hands returned to normal, as though nothing had happened.
Booker took a deep breath, still staring at his hands in shock. "Whew...that wasn't no sample."
Dante nodded, still a little shook himself despite having know beforehand what would happen. "Yeah, no joke," he says, laughing a little. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. That was insane, though. Yours do that too? With...what was it, Bucking Bronco?"
Dante nodded. "Yeah. 'Cept my hands were torn apart, but you get the idea. Shall we?" he said, gesturing to the path ahead of them-empty for now, though Dante knew that there would be more enemies soon.
Booker nodded as well. "Yeah. Let's get out of here. The sooner we find her, the better."
"Right...but we should probably scavenge for supplies first, right? I mean, given that the people here literally just throw away good food, there's bound to be some good stuff in some weird places."
Booker gave him an odd (and yet somewhat amused) look. "You mean like pineapple in a chocolate box?"
"What? No," Dante shook his head as if that was ridiculous. In truth, he had found that exact thing more than a few times-but he wasn't about to let the private investigator know that. "No, I mean like, a couple of pistol rounds in a garbage can or something. You know. Weird places, weird items."
Booker scoffed. "Whatever you say, pal."