Chapter 13: Planning
1 Day After Prologue
Jack wasn't in the most pleasant of situations. For one, his calve surgery was going to cost a lot more money than he thought it would. Then again, Aeris's claws did dig rather deep. Second, his daughters still had no idea where he was, and he didn't like the idea of abandoning them. Of course, they could all take care of themselves at this point, but he didn't care, he was still they're father, and it pained him that he couldn't call them. Besides, if he did, what could he say, that he was in the sewers for two whole days, then got a large gash in his calve when a devolved cat tried to kill him? And third... well, he had no choice but to call her, he definitely needed her assistance. After all, she had a larger stockpile than he did, and many more... connections than he did. Sure, they parted on less than friendly terms, but if it was to save two innocents, he would do anything.
Pressing the call nurse button, Jack waited patiently until a nurse came into his room, bringing along a fake smile and an oddly insincere air. In an almost sickeningly sweet sounding tone, she said, "What can I do for you sir?"
"I want a phone.", he said bluntly, "I need to make a very important call."
"Well, there is a payphone out in the hall. Would you like for me to take you out there?"
Jack raised his eyebrow at her, and he said, "As good as it sounds, I'd rather it be something that I don't have to pay for."
"I'm afraid I can't do that sir.", she said, her smile cracking, "Just please be still."
Jack just looked at her with a raised eyebrow and said, "Look, I just want to call a... friend. Pretty much the only person I know. Besides, I'm pretty sure my daughters would like to know where their father is after all."
The nurse now looked visibly annoyed and said, "Look, it's hospital policy. I can't have you-"
"I'll stop you there.", he said, raising his arm, "What's the name of this hospital?"
The nurse sighed in annoyance and said, "The Anna DeWitt Memorial Hospital. But I don't see how-"
"Wasn't Ms. DeWitt supposed to be one of the most caring and loving individuals known to man?", he said, "Hell, she'd have to be to have a hospital named for her. Do you think she would want her nurses to deny patients the right to something as simple as a phone call?"
The nurse was silent, but after a moment, she sighed, "I can't do that sir. Hospital policy states that you have to use one of the payphones. I'm sorry."
"I'm sure...", he grumbled, crossing his arms.
It was then that a new nurse entered. This one was a pure black cat. Her green eyes, unlike those of her coworker, had a friendly look to them, and she seemed much more cheerful. Then she spoke in a kindly voice, "Hey Jessica. I'll take it from here."
The nurse that was now identified as Jessica sighed and mumbled a quick, "Thank God.", before leaving the room.
The new nurse shook her head as Jessica left, smirking while she did. She then went over to check Jack's IV bag while saying, "Don't mind her. Her and her husband just got a divorce."
Jack whistled and said, "Understandable. I'd be in a sour mood too."
The new nurse nodded and continued looking over Jack. After a few moments, he said, "So, what's your name?"
"Kathrine.", she said, "Everyone calls me Kitty though."
"Heh, cute name.", he said with a slight chuckle.
"Thank you.", she said amicably, before continuing her work. There was once again silence, but after a few moments, she said, "You know, I heard what you said while you were talking to Jessica. You know, about Ms. DeWitt."
"You did?", he said with a smile, and then joked, "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to eavesdrop?"
Kitty chuckled to herself and said, "Yes, many times.". She then grew a little more serious, "You were right though. That hospital policy about the payphones. That's something that she would never do."
Jack raised an eyebrow and asked, "Why? Did you know her?"
"I only met her once.", she said, thinking back, "She was 90, I think... she came to this hospital to see how it was doing. See, this was the first one she built. We didn't talk much, but from that, I knew she was just one of the nicest people in the world. It would break her heart if she saw that her patients had to pay for something as simple as a phone."
Jack shrugged, "Well, what're you gonna do?"
Kitty looked at the door, then back to Jack. She quickly shut the door and pulled out her cell phone from her pocket and said, "I'm breaking a ton of rules by giving this to you. Don't breathe a word of this to anyone, got that?"
Jack looked at the phone and back to her face. He smiled broadly and said, "Thanks.", before taking the phone and dialing a very familiar number. His thumb hovered over the send key for a while, but after a moment of deliberation, he pressed the green button and held it to his ear.
The ringing felt almost incessant, like a gnat was buzzing in his ear, taunting him with the fact that he had to call someone that he particularly didn't like. Still, it was a necessary evil. Then, it picked up, and a weary sounding woman with a thick German accent answered, saying, "Hello?"
Jack sighed deeply and said, "Hey, Tenenbaum, it's Jack."
Her voice became much more stiff and proper, no doubt a result of the man who was talking to her on the other end, "Jack. I take it that you've run into Suchong?"
"Oh, yeah.", he said, suddenly remembering that there was another person in the room and that he needed to be vague with what he was saying, "And it went over horribly."
He heard a weary sigh, "Why would you go after him. I told you that I needed time to supply and gain resources."
"Well while you were doing that, I was trying to make it so that it would be safer for others.", he said in a matter-of-fact way.
"And what exactly is that supposed to mean?", she asked, a little annoyed.
"Well, let's just say that a couple of problems arouse while I was trying to attend my daughter's wedding rehearsal. Like, people getting lost problems.", he explained, hoping that Tenenbaum would be able to pick up on his vague words.
"...Lost?", she asked, "Was... was he kidnapping people?"
"Yes.", he said, glad that he could finally say a direct statement.
"Well... this complicates matters.", Tenenbaum admitted, "It appears that we'll need more help."
"More help?", Jack asked, "What other help could we get?"
"I know a man.", she said, "I've been holding something for him for quite some time now. Let's just say he owes me a favor or two. All I have to do is find him."
"Well, good luck on that.", Jack said sardonically, not entirely convinced that a stranger could help him, "I just want to find them, get them back, and be able to make my daughter's wedding."
"I'm unsure of how long it'll take, Jack.", she confessed, "All I know is that he'll be a valuable asset."
"Yeah, sure.", he said, sighing, "Look, when you have the time, come and pick me up? I'm at the Anna DeWitt Memorial Hospital."
"Hospital?", she asked. She then paused, as though processing the entire thing, and asked, "What happened?"
"I'll tell you later.", he said, wishing to end the conversation, which he did, with a simple, "Bye."
And before Tenenbaum could say anything else, he hung up on her, and handed the phone back to Kitty, who asked, "Who'd you call? Wife?"
"Not even close.", Jack said with a humorless laugh, "No, she was just a... friend of the family."
"Oh. Sorry.", she apologized.
"Eh, it's fine.", Jack said sincerely, "Now all I have to do is wait for her to get this friend of hers so that she can help me out."
In the sewers beneath the city of Toronto, Johnny Evilguy's fiendish plan was coming together beautifully. His first two victims walked beside him as he supervised all of his Hellspawned laborers. They worked diligently, copying Suchong's formula down to the T, handling each and every hypodermic needle with care. Walking behind him was the greasy Chinese man himself, closely followed by Charles, who seemed to be slightly afraid of the entire scene. This was shown when he tugged on the good doctor's coat and said, "Doc, I don't think I like this, I don't. It's all... evil."
"Will you be quiet!?", Suchong said in a harsh whisper, "I'm tired of your complaints! You get your ADAM don't you? So stop whining like some petulant child!"
This shut Charles up immediately, as well as having him turn his head down in shame. He was a splicer, yes, and he lived for ADAM, yes. Yet something just felt... off. He couldn't explain it, partially because of his low mental faculties, and partially because... well, the feeling just felt so alien. Still, he pressed on, ever loyal to the man who gave him his fix.
Suchong himself started to talk to the robed man in front of him, "This is indeed a most impressive operation, Mr. Evilguy. I had my doubts about devils and such things, but seeing all of them here, is just breathtaking, if I do say so myself."
Johnny smiled, "Thank you, Doctor. Having certain... connections makes things so much easier in the long run. Besides, I've seen the results of your Plasmid. It's incredible. And when something this incredible comes into being, I just can't help but mass produce it for my own purposes."
Suchong smiled and said, "Speaking of which, how exactly do you plan to distribute this plasmid?"
Evilguy chuckled, "Through inoculations. There's a new batch of flu vaccine coming out soon. All I have to do is replace those with Feral, and all the animals are as good as ours."
"And of the humans that take the vaccine?", Suchong asked.
"Tragic casualties, but nothing more.", Evilguy said, smirking in delight.
The two who were conversing were right at home with each other, each happily talking about the entire plot. And yet still, Charles was uneasy. It made no sense to him. Yes, he was meant to serve Suchong, but the more he got to know the man, the more he came to distrust and grow uneasy around him. Suchong chose him because his intelligence was far better than that of the normal splicer. And now, that was starting to work against him.
A dark skinned hobo was sitting in an alleyway, minding his own business. He was a shell of a man, all things considered. He spouted inane ramblings at the drop of a hat, had a crazed look in his eyes, a brown paper bag as a makeshift hat, and a bottle of cheap whiskey in his hand. He barely moved as the world walked right passed him, ignorant of this man. After many hours of motionlessness, he had finally started to nod off, when the faint sound of clacking heels echoed down the way. He wouldn't have paid attention to it, but she then called out, "Dr. Porter? Dr. Porter, I know you're there."
The man's eyes opened in a flash. He looked over to where the voice was coming from and saw an elderly, yet strong looking woman facing him. Her eyes looked cold, but betrayed a hint of warmth that years of hardship and selflessness had created. Her voice was laced with a thick German accent, but her words were still intelligible. The man recognized her, but chose to ignore her, looking away from her.
She sighed as she walked closer to him, "I refuse to call you. Dr. Hobo. It's degrading to you."
Dr. Hobo chuckled, "If you say so, Ms. Tenenbaum. So, what did ya come here fer?"
"You can drop the act, Dr. Porter. I know how you act around other people, and I won't stand not being able to talk to one of the most brilliant minds I've ever known.", she said, staring intently at him.
Dr. Porter shrugged, "If you say so. But I have to ask again: what did you come here for?
"I need your help.", she said evenly.
Porter raised his eyebrow in response to this, "Help? What do you need my help with? Because if you want me to help you build another supercomputer, I think my knowledge is severely out of date."
Now, it was at this point that Tenenbaum became quiet, unsure of how to continue tactfully. Eventually though, she decided to just flat out say, "I... need you to become a Big Daddy again."
This was the part that she knew she was going to hate, and when she saw Porter's look, she knew she had hit a nerve. It wasn't often that she saw someone speechless, but this was indeed one of those times. They stared at each other, completely silent, until Porter spoke up, "I'm not doing it. I'm not turning into one of those things again."
"Charles, please listen to me.", Tenenbaum pleaded, "There are people in danger. I already have someone on our side, I just need you to put the suit back on."
Porter was silent for a moment before saying, "You know what it's like? Being trapped inside that thing? I still have nightmares..."
"People are in danger, Charles.", she said.
"Danger?", he asked, "What kind of danger?"
There was a pause, and Tenenbaum sighed once more. She then spoke, "I know this sounds insane... but Dr. Suchong is alive again. He's been kidnapping people. I'm not sure what he's doing with them, but knowing the man, it isn't going to be anything good."
Porter looked to the ground and sighed, "What am I supposed to do, Brigid? I don't want to be grafted to that thing again."
"You won't be.", She said, "I've been calling in a few favors. You won't have to be grafted to the suit to be able to gain it's enhancements."
Porter sighed deeply and rested his head against the nearest brick wall, thinking about the entire thing. This was something he never even considered as a possibility, especially after having escaped Rapture and moving on from his wife. But this? The entire thought of the most hated scientist in Rapture coming back to life? That was crazy. He shouldn't have even been considering what she was saying.
And yet... what was her reason to lie? To get him into the Big Daddy suit so that she could experiment on him? Then why have the suit upgraded for his sake? Or why not have done it while they were escaping the underwater metropolis? It was all so much to process, but it didn't take long for Porter to think back to the fact that innocent people were getting in harms way. And that was inexcusable. So, he looked back to Tenenbaum and said, "Alright... but if this is a trick, I swear to God that you'll regret it.
"I don't doubt it.", she said with a surprisingly uncharacteristic smile, "Now, come on. I need to pick someone else up."
A Few Hours Later
It took quite some time before the pair of doctors were able to make their way to the hospital that Jack was recuperating at. However, to him, the wait seemed much longer than that. An eternity was more like it. Still, he was patient, and he was eventually rewarded with their presence (Even though he considered it a rather dubious reward.)
When Tenenbaum and Porter first entered Jack's room, he was skeptical of the 'help', that the dirty, smelly, and all around unpleasant looking man could be any help to them at all. He remained ever unconvinced, until Tenenbaum started to tell Dr. Porter's story.
After being rescued from Rapture, Charles Milton Porter, one of Rapture's brightest minds, as well as one its former Big Daddies, he needed a change of face. He wasn't exactly one of the most prolific scientists of the community, but he was bound to be recognized sooner or later. So, much as he loathed to do it, he had grown out a beard, and lived out on the streets as the man called by the locals as 'Dr. Hobo'. He eventually grew into the character, and this was the first time in years he had broken character in public.
Jack listened to the story intently, and by the time it was finished, he said, "So... former Big Daddy, huh? I can see how that can help... but how'd you get out of the suit?"
"Simple.", Tenenbaum said before Porter could answer, "He was a prototype. Alpha Series, they are called. They are considerably less resilient than normal models, but can use plasmids, and are much faster. Yet, thankfully not all of them is bound to the suit.
"You see, Alpha Series Big Daddies weren't fully grafted, only their nerve endings, and only then into certain points. Also, their helmets could be removed in full. All it took was some surgery, and he was out."
Jack's mind was aflutter with all these terms and technicalities being thrown around. The information dump was going to give him a migraine, and that was not something that he particularly wanted to have. So, in order to get his mind off it, he said, "So, what? You're going to put him back into the suit? Hardly seems fair."
Tenenbaum rolled her eyes, "The suit has been modified. One does not need to be grafted into it in order to gain the strength or other advantages that comes with it."
"Then why not let me have the suit?", Jack asked.
She sighed and rubbed her head in slight frustration, "Dr. Porter is the only one of us who knows how the suit operates."
"Oh?", Jack asked, turning over to the technological savant, "You sure you can remember how it works?"
Dr. Porter nodded, "Most definitely. I lived in that thing for God knows how long. I can never forget how to work it."
There was a few moments of tense silence before Jack finally relented, saying, "Alright, fine. We'll bring him along. Any other surprised guests I should know about?"
Tenenbaum looked uncomfortable for a moment, then said, "There are a few... but I do not feel she needs to be dragged into this. Not again."
Jack looked at her for a moment, curious to what she meant. But he supposed that it didn't matter too much. With the combined might of both Jack and Porter, they would be nigh unstoppable in the face of Suchong's plans. Jack then spoke up, "Alright then. My leg isn't exactly healed up quite yet, but it's nothing I can't shake off."
"If you feel up to it.", she said, helping him out of the bed, "I've signed your release papers. You're free to go."
"Good.", he said, cracking his neck while leaving the room, "Now I need to get a few things..."
An Hour Later
"You kept everything?", Tenenbaum asked, looking around Jack's study, glass display cases scattered across the walls, holding many different relics.
"Of course I did.", Jack replied, "You won't find weapons like this on the surface. Not unless your in the military. Besides, I'll need all of my arsenal if I'm going to save those two."
As Jack strapped on a holster for his pistol and various other holders, Porter wandered around the room, looking into the various glass cases, one of which holding a dented, rusty, and yet still dangerous looking pipe wrench, various ware and tare evident in the peeling paint and rusted surface. Turning around, he asked Jack, "Why do you even have this? There are many more effective bludgeoning weapons."
Jack looked to Porter and down to the case. He calmly strode over to it and opened it, pulling out the wrench. He felt the familiar weight in his hand and held the head of the object in his other hand. He then said, "...It saved my life, that's why."
It was then that Porter realized that the red stains on the metal weren't rust. Now knowing that Jack was not one to be trifled with, Porter moved on from the display case, and proceeded to look around the rest of the area. Coming across a large case with what looked to be a chemical thrower, he asked, "You really intend to carry all of this?"
"Yep.", Jack said without a hitch as he strapped a crossbow to his back.
Porter looked confused, "Where would you put it all. I had many weapons while I was a Big Daddy, but it made sense, I was stronger. But... how?"
"Trust me, I just can.", he said as he opened the case with the chemical thrower, strapping the weapon across his lower back.
And that was it. Jack now stood, an already imposing figure made more intimidating thorough the sheet fact that he was carrying that much weaponry at once. In two holsters on his side were his wrench and pistol, ready to go in a split second. A tommy gun, crossbow, and a grenade launcher were all strapped to his back, locked, loaded, and primed to start firing. Hanging loosely around his neck was a research camera, stocked with leftover film. And as stated before, across his lower back was the chemical thrower, a soft hissing escaping from the end of the nozzle. All across the rest of his body were numerous pouches containing the multiple ammo types needed to keep the weapons working. And in one specific pouch, numerous hypodermic needles and canisters contained all his Plasmids. Jack was ready to kick some ass, and as he made the last adjustment, he said, "Alright then. Let's get you in your suit, and we can get this all over with. I want to save Leo and Aeris and stop Suchong before things go south."
"It won't be a problem then." Tenenbaum said, finally cutting into the conversation, "I had all the suit pieces in the trunk of my car. They're relatively lightweight, so I was able to carry it all in by myself."
Porter and Jack looked confused, before they saw the suit pieces on Jack's desk, the other two too preoccupied with Jack's preparation to notice that she had done something of this nature. Both of the men looked disquieted about the armor, but for different reasons. Still, Porter put on a brave face, and said, "Alright, Tenenbaum... strap me in, I'll do whatever it takes."
"Good.", she said, going to the nearby chest-plate and back-plate, clamping them onto Porter. She was right, the suit felt lighter, but the weight... it still felt the same. When she started to attach the legs and boots, Porter closed his eyes, hoping that by doing this action he would be able to make the process go by faster. Then, with the sealing of a vacuum, he knew that the helmet had been attached, and he was breathing out of an oxygen tank.
Porter opened his eyes to see Tenenbaum, looking rather pleased with the results, while Jack looked slightly astonished. Porter knew they probably couldn't hear him through his helmet, but he still asked, "...How is it?"
"Rather well, actually. The suit's better than new.", Tenenbaum said, much to Porter's surprise.
"You can hear me?", he asked, bringing one of his hands into view, seeing that it was actually a rather polished gold, rather than the expected mossy green and dark brown of the usual Big Daddy.
"Yes.", she confirmed, "I have installed a microphone into your suit. You will now be able to talk normally with the rest of us."
Porter once more looked at his gloved hands, and asked, "Could I please have a mirror? I want to see how I look."
Jack nodded and went out into the hall for a moment. When he came back, he had a large mirror in his hands, and when he got in front of the Big Daddy, he set it down against a wall and said, "I gotta say, you look way better than you normally would."
Indeed, Jack's words were true. It was a certainty in Rapture that one would never come across a Big Daddy suit that was clean. But this... this was amazing. It looked as though it had come right out of the factory. Rust and blood stained metal had covered up what was once gold colored steel, and what was once pale blue fabric in between the armored parts was replaced by the original deep blue color. The porthole he saw through had a slightly harsh yellow light coming from it, both a sign of his mood, as well as a good way of seeing through the dark. He took a deep breath, and he could tell that the oxygen inside the tank was fresh, unlike the stale recycled air he had to breath for all those years.
Numerous holsters around his body help different weapons much more efficiently than Jack. All his weapons were magnetically attached to his back, allowing him to have easy access to his drill, rivet gun, machine gun, spear gun, grenade launcher, shot gun, hack tool, ion laser, and his research camera built into his helmet. Looking deeply into the mirror, Porter didn't see himself as a Big Daddy. Not this time. He saw himself as the shining knight the Little Sisters always thought he was supposed to be. And if this was the way to show them that he really was good, then this was the way to do it. Taking a deep breath, he said, "Alright. Let's go."
Jack nodded, and they were about to leave before Tenenbaum said, "No, it's too dangerous for Charles to go out there dressed like this.", she turned to Jack, "You have a van correct?"
Jack shrugged, "Well yeah, but-"
"Then we use that.", she said, leading the way, "We're leaving now. Jack, you give directions to the manhole you crawled out of. Hopefully Suchong hasn't relocated."
"I don't think he has.", Jack said, following her into his garage, "He doesn't have anywhere else to go."
"I hope you're right.", she said, keeping her pace, "I sincerely hope that you're right."
Charles crept to his small corner of Suchong's lab, the large gateway to Hell looming ominously opposite of him. He hated to look at it. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't ignore it. It just didn't seem right. Yes, of course Charles had done horrible things. Murder, kidnapping, all that. But this? This felt almost too far. He didn't want to be part of this anymore. But he unfortunately had no choice. He either got his ADAM and lived, or didn't and die. But... maybe he could fix it. Maybe he could help the cats. But... could he though? He was outnumbered by Suchong, Evilguy, the cats themselves, not to mention all the demons. He couldn't withstand that. So, with a sigh, Charles laid down on the hard ground, and went to a troubled sleep only to awaken to the sound of grinding stone.