Chapter 2: City of Wonder

The makeshift rocket touched down in its intended location, and released Booker from the chair.

"About damn time, felt like my arms were about to fall off." He remarked, rubbing his wrists and glaring at the pod that brought him into the city. All right, time to find out where the hell I am. He thought, making his way down the stairs. A pool of foot high water greeted him at the bottom, as well as statues and angelic music.

"The hell is wrong with this place.." Booker muttered as he noticed flower petals dancing around his feet as he trudged through the water. He spotted a man dressed in a white robe, head bowed in peace. "Hey buddy, mind telling me where we are?" he asked, gesturing toward the room.

"Heaven brother, or at least as close as we are able to come to it for now." Great, devout worshippers probably of this guy too. Booker thought, staring up at a statue of an older man.

"Father Comstock, our prophet and leader…" "Ah yes, Father Comstock is indeed a glorious man, without him Columbia would not be what it is today!"

"Columbia eh? All right, how do I get into the city?" Booker asked, facing the man in the robe. "To do that brother, you need only be saved, and brought into the healing waters of our fair city through the renouncing of your sin!" he finished excitedly, waving his arms.

"All right all right, I'll go down there and see what it's all about then." He said. Damned if I want to spend more time with these religious fanatic types, but if they are the only ones to grant me entry to the city… with that thought sustaining him, Booker headed downstairs, where he was granted a view of many pilgrims making their way through waist deep waters. And at the end there is the way into the city.

He made his way through the water, coming to a stop at a circle of men, all listening to one man in front of the exit.

"Who hear will take the pledge to be born again? Who here will be cleansed in the waters of our lord, to re-emerge in our fair city of Columbia a new man, a devoted man?"

Well, it's either go through with the baptism or get violent, and I'd like to get this job done with as little bloodshed as possible. He thought, before stepping up out of the circle.

"I am ready to gain passage into Columbia." Booker said, staring at the priest. The priest seemed to look through him, before clasping his hand. "I welcome you my child, and congratulate you on renouncing your old ways before god himself, and our holy prophet!"

"And now, I wash away your sins, and baptize you in the name of our prophet, Father Comstock!"

The priest suddenly pushed Booker deep beneath the water, and only brought him back up again when he felt as if he was about to pass out.

Fucker. He thought as he gagged and struggled to regain his breath.

"I don't know brothers, I think this one could use more cleansing!" the priest shouted, before reaching for Booker's head yet again. He reacted without thinking, grabbing the priests hand and snapping it at the wrist.

Without a single glance back he ran down the passageway toward Columbia, the man's screams echoing along the length of the tunnel. "Probably wasn't the smartest move Booker." he said, thinking of the possible repercussions.

Well, things were bound to heat up sooner or later; I just chose to up the ante first. He thought, right as he reached the end of the tunnel. For a second the sunlight blinded him, but as he adjusted he noticed more statues in the courtyard he came out in. Washington, Jefferson… seems these fanatics worship the first few presidents too… oh yeah; this is going to be trouble.

Booker walked through the courtyard unmolested, which surprised him. "Welcome to Columbia brother." A passing white robe said, as yet another nodded toward him and smiled. Seems like word hasn't reached them yet about what I did to their pseudo-leader. He quirked the side of his mouth upward. Let's see how long I can stay ahead of the mob before they come crashing down on me.

He walked along the path provided in the garden, picking up silver eagles and food wherever he found them. These folk sure are free with their cash and food, must be doing pretty well for themselves up here. Finally, he came to a door, signaling the end of the courtyard. "Now… the real festivities begin." Booker said, and pushed open the door, coming out in the streets of Columbia.

"What's this, a dead end?" he remarked, seeing no way forward. As if in response to the question, the platform he was on floated toward a street, locking them together. Well I'll be. He walked onto the new platform in front of him, testing the strength.

"Feels as if I've got the Earth itself under my feet." Booker remarked to no one in particular, walking toward the square where a new statue resided. Father Comstock again? Seems the man has quite the following if they're off building monuments and statues after him. As he passed, people greeted him as one of their own.

"Hey pal, great day we're having eh?" one man remarked as Booker passed.

"Nice, yeah." He replied, feeling mildly uneasy. He heard some whispers from a group of women sitting on a bench as he passed by, and strained to hear the topic.

"-Oh, but I'd love to get my hands on that one, he's a catch!"

"Now Beatrice, you know Mother would never approve of his type, dashing and roguish-"

Nice to know people still find me attractive, but I have more important things to do right now. He thought, feeling in his pocket for the picture of the girl yet again. In the light of the sun Booker could better examine the picture and took note of her blue eyes, which radiated warmth and compassion..

All right Booker, get yourself together. He put away the photograph and shook his head. Step one: find out how to get to that monument. And with that in mind, he headed toward a group of people, being held back by a barrier. As he approached, he heard music, and saw three floating platforms cross the crowd's line of sight.

"A vision of a great city… The Sodom below?" Booker stared at the barges, and read the final one. A child is born; the future of the city is secure? Seems these people put too much faith in blood.

As the last of the parade ended the barriers were removed, and he continued onward. As he passed the buildings, he noticed a poster on one of them. The false shepherd, come to lead the lamb astray? I guess everyone needs a devil to vilify, keeps the populous scared and compliant.

He finally reached the end of the street, and went through the gate leading toward his destination. The monument he was headed toward towered over the city, looking on as an impartial witness to its crimes and accomplishments.

"Telegram! Telegram sir!"

The devil? Booker looked down from the angel, and saw a small boy eagerly holding up a piece of paper at him.

"Telegram for Mister DeWitt sir!"

"All right kid, settle down." He said, taking the paper and tossing an eagle at the kid. "Gee, thanks mister!" he said, running off down a side alley. Booker turned the paper over, and read.

"Do not alert Comstock to your presence, do not pick #77… Who the hell is Lutece?" he asked, finishing the letter and discarding it in a nearby trash bin. I don't know what's going on here, but I know advice meant to save me trouble when I see it.