Detective Anna DeWitt knew who she was. And she hated herself for it.
She knew that she was little more than a splinter. A fragment of a woman who sacrificed herself for the greater good in that damned city at the bottom of the ocean.
She wouldn’t have called that version of herself a god. But when comparing herself to her, well, Anna DeWitt was a mere mortal.
She did not know if she could ever forgive the Lutece twins for putting her on the path to remembering that life, a life that was really not hers. But then again, maybe there was nothing to forgive. Maybe she just had to accept it as it was—her city, Ascension, needed a hero.
Anna DeWitt did not think she was a hero. In her mind, Booker DeWitt was a hero. Not her Booker, but Elizabeth’s Booker. Hell, even Rapture’s Jack Ryan was more of a hero than Ascension’s Jack Ryan. At least, that’s what she thought. Actually, she wasn’t sure what Jack Ryan was in this world. As far as she knew, he was simply attending college on Earth.
Frankly, the Elizabeth that went back to Rapture was more of a hero than she was. Anna DeWitt saw herself as simply a detective who just had the big cases thrown at her.
Anna DeWitt was wrong about herself. She did not simply take cases because they came her way. She had a strict moral code, which she followed in all of her cases. Perhaps the universe’s way of atoning for what it had put other versions of her through.
Her being a hero is not a variable. In the end, she will always do her best to save her friends and her city.
Whether she will succeed, however, is not a constant.
My brother and I felt we should warn you of that.
But that choice is much farther down the line. Perhaps you deserve a diversion of sorts until that day comes.
Sunday, July 5, 2370, 11:23 PM
A dark alleyway behind The Liberty Club, Sandland
The average human spends a lot of time loitering.
There’s probably a study out there with the average amount of time a person spends loitering in their lifetime. I mean, it depends on your definition of loitering. Walking around a city aimlessly with your best friend, hanging out in an alleyway behind the theater where you’re rehearsing a play, enjoying a light summer breeze in the park. Loitering can be refreshing, if uneventful.
The woman in the black fedora and tan overcoat standing outside of the club was loitering for the sake of loitering. The atmosphere in the club had taken a turn for the obnoxious—so many creeps grabbing her butt—so she had gone out for a breather, to enjoy the fresh air.
Well, not fresh. All air in the city of Ascension was processed through turbines, pumping out pollutants and scrubbing carbon from the air. So the whole thing was like a sealed canister hopelessly tumbling through space in a stable position between the Earth and the moon. Of course, there were trees planted in places to help control the environment, so that was basically fresh air, too.
Either way, it was a welcome relief from the sickly smell that permeated the interior of the club. A light summer breeze blew through the air (another completely artificial creation).
The woman heard a door open, along with the flutter of music and drunken singing. She turned to see a man, late 20s, walk out of the club, wearing a black peacoat. He reached into his pockets and pulled out a cigarette. As he placed it into his mouth, he felt around his coat. Not finding what he was looking for, he took to looking in his vicinity.
“Got a light?” he asked the woman.
She raised her arm, revealing a grey metal band that circled around her wrist. She hit a button on it, and a small flame shot out from the band. “Smoke away,” she declared.
The man smiled with gratitude and lit his cigarette.
The woman extinguished the flame and lowered her arm. “Cigarette break?” she asked.
“Basically,” the man replied, blowing smoke out from his lips. “You a smoker?”
“My dad was. I never picked up the habit.”
“It’s a terrible habit,” the man shrugged, tapping some ash away. “My boss discourages it. But what can I say? I’m a whore for nicotine.”
“And I’m one for alcohol,” the woman replied. “Nice to meet you, Mr…?”
“Cobb. Silas Cobb.”
The woman smiled as she shook Cobb’s hand. “DeWitt. Anna DeWitt.”
Silas’s eyes widened slightly. “The Anna DeWitt? The one who solved the Tenenbaum murder and exposed Fontaine’s dealings?”
“The one and only. You seem puzzled.”
“Well, no offense, but I thought you’d be…well, older.”
“Most people expect that,” Anna shrugged. “I don’t like my image showing up in the media. I’ve made some friends in pretty high places, they know how to keep my face out of the papers usually. What brings you to Liberty Club, Silas?”
Silas took a long drag of his cigarette. The way he did it reminded Anna of when her father let her try her first cigarette. She had taken one breath of smoke and was coughing for a week afterwards.
“Lotta pressure at work,” he said finally. “Needed time to destress.”
“No kidding. What sorta work do you do?”
“Well, I guess for my regular job I work at Ascension Overtures. You know, the music store?”
“Yeah, I live a couple blocks from there. Nice place. Doesn’t have anything from before 2100, might want to change that.”
“…I’ll…talk it over with my business partner. But on the side, I guess you could call me an actor.”
Anna smirked. “How’s that working out?”
“I’m detecting a hint of condescension,” Silas remarked, lowering his cigarette.
“Forgive me for saying this, but I know my fair share of actors. Most of them are broke.”
Silas laughed. “Well, you’re not far off. I used to be a broke actor.”
“I took the deal of a lifetime. Pays well, I suppose. Although…” He looked at Anna. “…well, I really can’t tell you.”
“Don’t bother,” Anna replied, pushing down one of her cuticles. “I’m not particularly interested in the details of your life. I just feel like talking to someone. Makes hanging out here a little less awkward.”
“Well then,” Silas retorted. “What brings you to the Liberty Club, Detective DeWitt?”
Anna liked it when people referred to her in a formal manner. “Well, Monsieur Cobb, I too needed some destress-time. I try to take whatever case comes my way, no matter how dangerous it could be.”
Silas flicked some ash away. “Like, for example, throwing Frank Fontaine off a building?”
“So why a jazz club specifically? One would expect you to go somewhere more…bouncy. Like the Club 80s.”
Anna snorted. “If I went there Les Cohen would just flirt with me all night. No…I come here for my dad.”
“Oh, is he here tonight?”
“No, he’s dead.”
Silas raised his eyebrows with concern. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be, it was…well…” Anna looked down a bit uncomfortably. “…it was a long time ago. But, you know, he always came here to unwind, and when I was old enough he brought me along too. So I figured it’s my duty to come here when I can.”
There was a brief silence. The conversation had taken a dark turn.
“You miss him?” Silas asked.
Anna laughed. “Of course I miss him, he was my dad. Why?”
“Just asking. You said you keep coming back.”
“For him, yes. But also for me. They’ve got good music and alcohol. That’s all I need.”
Silas didn’t say anything. He just looked off at the traffic light, directing the empty streets and the occasional car who stopped when it was red despite being the only vehicle around simply because they figured there was no point in breaking the law.
Anna glanced at the traffic light before looking back at Silas. “Okay, prettyboy. If you were me, what would you do?”
He let the rest of his cigarette drop to the ground. “Let me put it this way, detective: I’m a performer. I spend my days following directions, but at some point I’d like to be able to do my own thing, without the burden of my relationship with others. Sometimes we’re better off not letting the influence of others hinder us, and maybe try controlling our own life for once.”
Anna took in Silas. He was tall with amber-colored hair. The most distinctive thing about his face were his cheekbones, which easily made him one of the more attractive people she had ever seen. He was a bit thin, but it looked like he had a bit of muscle on him. He looked like something out of an old movie.
After analyzing him for a few seconds, she smiled, “I like your thought-process, Silas. And your face isn’t bad either.”
Silas smirked. “Not the first time I’ve heard that.”
Anna reached into her pocket and pulled out her business card. “Here: in case you ever need a detective.” She pulled out a pen and wrote down her mobile number before handing the card to Silas. “Or if you ever need a friend.”
Silas turned the card over a few times in his hand. “I’ll be sure to, Detective DeWitt. Hey…have a good evening.”
And, taking a moment to crush the remains of his cigarette with the heel of his shoe, he walked down the alleyway out towards the street and disappeared into the night.
Anna had no idea she would be the last person to see him alive.