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dark water.

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no energy in the universe is created and none is destroyed.

The world is ripped open with a fury of hellfire and the charge of blood. She wakes to the sound of Rapture being ripped open. Death and dying are a form of art and for her, she has been unwrapped. Her hands fly to her head, finding an ever familiar wound. The wrench mark… Thick blood coated her hair and fingertips dipped against the wound. It’s deep , leaving a dent in her skull and her face crusted with blood. Elizabeth is sure that if she pressed hard enough to the wound, she could probably crack through the last of her skull. She doesn’t .

Something louder follows, a scream perhaps. In the reality of it, she assumes it’s a Splicer being ruined with whatever the crash was. Likely, something else has fallen. Rapture is in ruins and every day a new piece of it breaks. If she doesn’t get out, sooner or later, she’ll go down with Rapture. Sinking to the bottom of the ocean never to be seen again. It takes time for her to get her feet, be able to stand without feeling dizzy and nearly collapsing. Her hands are skinned, body laid in blood and grime; skull indented and… It’s an issue to find out for later, if her final moment were real or just something placed in her brain. But she fears it was real. She knows it was real. His hands on her, how his lips felt again her skin, how he… Elizabeth pushes the memory down, repressing it deeper than Rapture could fathom.

Under the circumstance, there’s a dozen things she should do before she sets out to investigate the crash. Find water, find food and get her hands on at least one weapon. She’s just small enough that she could squirm into a Little Sister vent if she needed too. However, she’d would rather not.

Things need to be addressed, such as the status of her reality. She died. She must have died. There is no way that she could have survived the blows that Atlas delivered to her. Yet, somehow, she was still alive. It was a burning sensation, one that she hadn’t experienced since… There was no  possible way that she could still open tears. She’d lost that when she came back after the Big Daddy. Bluebird eyes drift to her hand, and… no. The thimble was back. Somehow, by some God unknown reason, it was back.

Her hand clenches, pain aching through her body  —   then there was a crackle. The burning, the ripple, the sensation of ripping dimensions. It aches, her bones creaking with the weight of it. It’s been so long since she used this. Between universes, a tear opens; laying a large box of medkits. She almost fell to her knees with joy, leaning her broken body against the wall and slowly making her way over to it; taking consideration to insure that she wouldn’t harm herself even more.

Another loud crash from above echoed down, shaking Rapture to its core; making Elizabeth whip her head up from medkits. Please don’t be Splicers…  For the moment, she focused her attention back to her wounds, her hands shaking as they ran through her hair  —  the wound was deep and covered from the middle of her forehead to near the center of her head. Around her hairline, she could feel her skull; the rest of it just being a bloodied and bruised gash.

MARTIN MACKIE’S MIRACLE MEDICINE!
can fix any illness or wound!

Eyes narrowed, starting at the small pill bottle. The truth sunk in quickly, she didn’t have much of a choice. There was no doctor to treat her and the wound would get infected if she didn’t do something about it. Swallowing down a few of them, Elizabeth began to properly deal with it  —  on the chance that the miracle medicine didn’t work. There wasn’t time for her to deal with the silly little cuts over her skin, just wrap her head and slather something on her ribs that was meant to cure bruising; even if she suspected that it was most likely a broken rib or two and not just bruising.

Shoving a spare medkit under her arm, Elizabeth rose from her spot by the tear and took a deep breath being closing it. It wasn’t draining, God no. Using her powers made her feel stronger; as if somehow falling back into the Lamb gave her strength and took away her pain.

Food. Water. That was next on her agenda. It would be a trek from Apollo Square to wherever the noise had come from. Taking a deep breath, she carried on; ducking into dark alleyways whenever she heard the sound of a Splicer. And then  —  something clicked . She could take a shortcut through Fort Frolic. It was unlikely that her former mentor had changed her code out; or at least, she desperately hoped he didn’t.

At least something was on Elizabeth’s side when she twisted the numbers into place and the secure door opened. 0387. She’s delicate when she enters, hyper aware of her surroundings and that at any moment, Cohen or one of his Splicers might spot her. And there, brightly in the spotlight of the room, was the only weapon she could really use. A small crossbow. Strong enough to kill but light enough that she could lift and load it with little difficulty.

"Oh my Songbird…"

Her head whips up, eyes wide and she looks around; for something to defend herself but only finding the crossbow. There was no way that she’d be strong or fast enough to reach that before a Splicer reached her, assuming Cohen called one. Or he could just shoot her in the head. At least that would be painless.

"Don’t be shy now, Songbird! Come, come! Grab the gift I’ve left for you."

Tentative in her steps, her eyes never drift to the bow, only staring around the room for a trap. There was no way that he would just give it to her. He’d want something in return. Or to just kill her. Or turn her into art. Either way, bad. Fingers slide into the handle of the bow, no odd strings to it; nothing that could blow up in her face. Holding a weapon is comforting, a real defense against whatever was coming.

"My gift to you! The only disciple not to betray me. My loyal Songbird… There’s more ammo by my latest project, take it and fly!"

For once, she moves quickly and with little care. There’s more than enough bolts to keep her alive for a while. “Thank you…” It’s said in such a hushed voice that she isn’t sure he heard it, but considering the place was rigged with microphones; Elizabeth takes her luck and doesn’t repeat her words.

There isn’t a restaurant in this area  —   but there was the Apothecary! The mutilated corpse of a Splicer lays at the entrance, a satchel over her shoulders. It takes a few minutes to remove the bag from the corpse, hands digging into her chest cavity. There’s a few spare medkits, some rotten fruit and  —   Salt . Pep bars. A dozen or so bottles of water. Whatever God that Andrew Ryan didn’t believe in must have been looking out for her.

In a few moments, she’d chugged most of a water bottle and munched her way through a couple pep bars. It wasn’t the salt like in Columbia, which was designed to help with Vigors. This was more raw and while it got the job done just as well, it tasted like well  —   salt. Taking the bottle of salt, Elizabeth divided it up and dumping it into two water bottles. Adding those as well as a few normal ones and all the pep bars into her backpack, Elizabeth emptied the last of the raw salt into her hand before swallowing it. It’s disgusting, feeling like it’s melting her mouth but there it is. The feeling of the Vigors waking up in her body. As if she could come close to annihilating the world, her body starting to feel like her own again.

Making her way back through Rapture takes at least an hour, ripping bolts out of the Splicers she shoots and listening to the city creak and groan with whatever had happened. When she hits the Welcome Center, a familiar voice rings out.

Atlas.

Frank Fontaine.

It rings around the structure through someones radio. Her luck had run out. She was trapped in an area that must be crawling with Atlas’ men by now all while they thought she was dead. Despite her death, she was the same identical woman. With an earned anger towards Atlas, her bones aching and a burning light inside of herself, she strides forward; ready to take on whatever is ahead.

Johnny’s voice is clear when he responds to Atlas’ command and the only part of it that she catches is,  The Ace in the Hole .

It ticks and clicks, she’s holding her breath as they speak. Plane crash… The Ace is here… No one can stop us now… Yes the whore is dead, I bashed her in myself… We won’t even have to lift a finger… She’s tempted to laugh, give herself away and allow the world to know the truth. It will come out sooner or later.

She hears it before Johnny does. Once she would have warned him, enemy or not. Once . But that child had died long ago. She waits, tucked in the darkness, guided only by the sounds of pain as he is torn apart by an unholy abomination. Stealth is her skill, to hide in gaps and leave nothing in the silence. A sort of walking miracle, she is. Somehow surviving countless attempts against her life, brainwashing, kidnapping and  —   no . It’s still too fresh to think about. Survival is an art and Elizabeth rivals all at that talent.

“Would you kindly pick up that shortwave radio?”

Atlas had the Ace.

Bright eyes close, trying to hold back tears. Whatever happened from now on, belonged to her. She had given Atlas the code, be it for a noble cause. She never thought she’d live to see the consequences of her action. Grazed hands grip her crossbow tighter, anger steeled in her veins. Blood splatters the walls as she emerges from her hiding spot, hands gripping ever tight as her eyes cast around; looking for the Ace. Atlas’ voice is a clear ringer, even if everything else she hears is muted even. Hard to forget the voice of the man who murdered you.

“Grab that shortwave now. That splicer’s out there still.” The radio in the bathysphere... She’s quick as a dove when she grabs the spare radio resting aside the entrance. Elizabeth tucks it into her belt loop, securing it tightly. The familiar sound of the bathysphere door clicks open, pressure changing between the rooms before it clicks and locks itself again. “  —   Take a deep breath and step out of the bathysphere. I won't leave you twisting in the wind.

Her breath catches deep inside of her, hands shaking and eyes transfixed to the man who emerged. He was… stunning . Rapture encouraged a very strange style of beautiful. Beyond the ordinary, more than human. To look and act like a God. He however, was simple . Curly dark blond hair, bright eyes and … a cream knit sweater.

“Just a bit further ... how do you like that, sister?”   The bot was small, whirling as soon as the Splicer passed a security camera. She’s not shocked that Atlas has some of the cameras and bots hacked. Chances are, he never programmed her into the don’t kill and even if he did, she’s probably been removed.

Everything in her is screaming to get to him, not allow Atlas to sink his claws into him like he did to her. The moment she moves, the bot is pointed with a gun straight at her. It takes a few moments to register her but by the time it changes to a red light, she’s already got a bolt right beside the camera and smashed it in with the side of her crossbow; bringing the bot into a smoldering mess.

“  —  did you just… ”

Her nod is quick and sharp, bow now lowered to her side. “I don’t want to hurt you, I’m not a Splicer. I had too. It would have killed me.”

“Who are you then?”

Throat dry, words catching inside of her; it takes Elizabeth a few moments to find her words. Elizabeth Comstock. Anna Dewitt. Elizabeth Dewitt. Anna Comstock. Songbird… “You can call me Songbird.”

Perhaps it’s silly of her to give an alias  —  considering what will inevitably happen with Atlas. Nor will the nickname keep her hidden from Atlas. He’ll know her voice but to the Ace, the name means nothing. To Atlas, it’s everything.

“I’m Jack. Jack Wynand.” Placing the crossbow down for a moment, she extends her hand to the man  —   Jack. All those books on formality and respect paid off. Oh how Robert must be proud.

She was short, almost unnaturally even. Barely five foot two; in comparison to the man who towered over her. In reality, he must have been six foot one or so, perhaps a touch taller. Breaking from him, she kneels; fingers grasping to the bot. Ripping the bolt out, she peered at the robot. It takes a few minutes of silence before the bot beings to whirl back to life, flashing bright green at her. A smile grew across her cheeks before the radio crackled between them. “Hey boyo, what’s going on?”

Jack fumbles for the radio and Elizabeth flinches away at the sound of Atlas’ voice. His eyebrows raise, staring to her. “Uh  —  I… I met someone.”

“Yeah? Is it a Splicer? You smash its head in? Oh speakin’ of, would you kindly find a wrench or a crowbar or somethin’?”

His movement is automatic, the words clearly sinking in. He really was the Ace. And the words really did work. She’d given Atlas the code to control him. “No. Her name is Songbird.”

Silence echoes loudly, none of them speaking. Sweet, innocent Jack who didn’t deserve this. Who was now caught in the middle of the Civil War in Rapture and would just be played like a puppet by Atlas. That man was a monster and without a doubt, she’d given him a death sentence. And more likely, Atlas would use Jack to give her a death sentence. “Funny kinda name. Sister going to speak up for herself?”

She could fake an accent, try change her voice somehow… No, either way she was fucked. “Hello Atlas.” She’s crisp and cold, her voice calm and he’ll know she’s alive. She’s alive and at least, unharmed enough to have gotten to the entrance. “What can I say? Aliases are a common trend now days, wouldn’t you agree?”

The radio crackles, her words having obviously caught him off guard. The glimmer of Rapture, having broken down long ago. It’s time of glamour was gone. It’s filled with rot, with ruin and the place of bone and shadows. The myth of death, as she stares towards Jack and the radio. Rapture was an abomination, it is Doomsday forever. She fell from the sky, Columbia’s hero  —   Saint Elizabeth . Buried in the bottom of the ocean now, sinking deathless and everything fluid in motion. Time and space was always in flux, she’d learned that a long time ago. Her life was not linear, the world around her simply a siren call to her. Her death was an accident, causing her to collapse within herself but somehow, but some God unknown right, she’d come back. Flourishing into what she had been. It was as clear as she the moment the Siphon broke. She was free. She felt free. Even if Atlas lingered, watching their every move; preparing to control and manipulate an innocent man, all for the sake of a city going to rot anyways.

“I’m sure they are. Now, Jack  —  the bloody Splicers sealed you in before they left. Find yourself a way out, would y  

There’s a hint of venom in her voice, cutting Atlas off quick. She may have been a Songbird, simply no more than a girl or a Lamb once but one does not tend to roses without being aware of their thorns. “ We will find a way out.”

Adjusting her backpack, Elizabeth stared to the man before her. She’d seen the future, seen the possible outcomes that his actions could cause. The Lutece twins had told her before, her actions would always ripple back. Every action has an equal reaction. She couldn’t tell him who she was or what she’d done, about the Would You Kindly or that Atlas wasn’t who he said he was. She’d ruined herself.

“Songbird?”

Her head tilts, a mimic of the creature she named for herself. As a human, her body aches. Everything hurts, joints wrenched from their sockets and matted with blood. For the girl who was once a God, she carries the weight of the world and choices yet to be made. Humanity was not meant to be her burden to hold. Then again, she was simply meant to climb mountains, not to carry them. “Yes?”

“Do you think you could fit in that hole and then maybe smash it in a bit so I could get through?”

Elizabeth is a delicate creature, a narrow frame and barely a grown woman in height. The hole is more than big enough for her and jagged rocks press into her knees, ripping her tights as she clambered through the passage. “Can you pass me your wrench? I’m not strong enough to do this on my own.” Clasping the wrench tight, she swings; the rubble crashing. It takes time, the wrench is far heavier than it looked and getting the rubble to crumble wasn't easy. Lips pressed together, wide eyes peering down to stare, “You going to come?”

In return, she extends her hand; an offer of friendship even. He dusts his hands against his dress pants, eyes focused down before Elizabeth screams; the high cry of a bird echoing around the hallway.

“Look out!”

He’s unsure what the object is, only that it’s on fire and rolling down the stairs towards them and someone, likely a Splicer, is laughing at them. Elizabeth lunges towards him, pressing him against the wall and just out of the way of the object. For her miniature frame, she’s far stronger than she looks. “Thank you, Songbird.” Jack paused for a moment, teeth biting into his lip. “You’re so… small. A little bird.

A blush comes to her high cheeks, soft smile curving. “Thanks Jack.” Crossbow presented in front of her, they ascend the stairs; Elizabeth leading and loading up some Splicers with bolts as they come for them. For all that Rapture is more destruction than creation, it’s still filled with a horrifying beauty. In its prime, it was stunning. A glowing city under the sea. Even crumbling, it was still beautiful. The elegant glamour forgotten and replaced with trauma and the sadness of lost.

“Little bird? What’s this?” She flicks over, staring at the Gatherer's Garden. There was always a part of her that wished to take EVE, to press the needle of a Plasmid into her arm. Columbia’s Vigors were different, allowing a form of combat that few could fight back from. Rapture supplied Electro Bolt, Incinerate, and Insect Swarm  —  Columbia had produced Shock Jockey, Devil’s Kiss and Murder of Crows. Similar but different enough that the flicker of light on her fingers made people expect one thing before getting another.

She rests beside of him, fingers touching the side of the deep red needle. “That? They’re called Plasmids. Give you superhuman abilities and I do believe that one of Electro Bolt. You can produce electricity from your hands.” He had to take it, one way or another. Every inch of her body is begging him to press the needle in himself, so that she won’t have to force it in herself. Jack always had Plasmids. It was a constant.

The moment it slides into his skin, he screams. Out of fear, she steps back; horror alight inside of her. Her radio crackles with Atlas’ voice, only adding to her worry. “What the hell did you do, whore?”   His voice is hushed, despite it coming only from her radio.

“Electro Bolt.”

It’s all she spits out, body pressed against the wall. As long as he didn’t strike out; as long as he didn’t hit her. One shot kill, easy. “Boyo, steady now! Your genetic code is being rewritten  —  just hold on and everything will be fine.”

Atlas was known for his lies.

No one truly is fine after their first Plasmid. She’d seen people die from it before. It was rare, simply something to do with their bodies being unable to handle the change that rewritten DNA caused. Electricity crackles around the room, his hands alight with the Plasmid. Fear strikes through his face, Atlas’ words of everything will be fine clearly bringing no comfort. She’s rooted in her spot, paralyzed from fear. Booker wasn’t like this when he drank Vigors but then again, neither was she. Robert always believed that Plamids were more raw, more pure in their nature and hit faster while Vigors crept slowly, a warm feeling not a rush of pain.

It’s only when he falls, she moves. A dart of lightning, staring over the balcony with her heart screaming. He cannot be dead. She can’t have fucked this universe up, no, no.

She descended, feet almost falling over themselves. His cheek rests in her palm, spare hand trying to find a pulse against his neck. As long as he was alive. That’s what mattered. Uninjured, excluding what would probably be a headache; she rests beside of him. Under a caring touch, she moves him slightly; bringing his head to rest on her knee while her fingers touched his hair slightly. When her radio crackles, she’s got a mouthful of salt water.

“Wanna tell me how you survived, Betsy?”

Only once she’s taken a few more swigs of it does she even consider replying. Atlas knew nothing of her and her powers, what she really was. He lived off a different lie to Jack. She was a stranger in Rapture, Cohen’s protege and Sunchong’s assistant. The truth was a lie to everyone. Columbia’s reality was a burn on her skin and Atlas had no right to know the story of her scars. “If I tell you, you’ll just figure out a new way to kill me.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. Depends on how you preformed your little trick. Might keep you ‘round, show the boys how you did it.”

She’s seen far too much and been forced through hell to ever trust him again or to believe that he wouldn’t shove a knife in her back the moment she stopped being useful to him. “You think I’m that dumb? I know who you really are. And I remember everything.” She’s never had such anger to her words, not even when being face to face with Zachary Comstock. Not even when she was tortured for seventy two years. Not for a moment until now. He broke her in ways that no one should ever be. And for what? To make her final moments living hell?

“Yeah, pet? I remember everything as well. Your sweet  — ”

She cuts the radio off before he can finish. Mainly because Elizabeth knows she’d be sick if he spoke another word and she’s fairly sure she heard something. It’s a laugh, a sick twisted laugh. Only a Splicer could produce something so ravaged. He’s far too big for her to drag anywhere and if they’re coming, they’re looking for ADAM. She carries none and they seem to know it but Jack is a prime target. Unconscious and freshly rewritten. Her crossbow is disregarded on the top floor and she knew that she couldn't fight the Splicers with Jack's wrench.

So, she beings to crawl; slowly and carefully as to not make any noise and hopefully get to the balcony before the Splicers do. At least if she has a weapon, she can fend them off and protect Jack.

“This little fish looks like he just had his cherry popped ... wonder if he's still got some ADAM on him.” A laugh follows from the Splicer before she feels it, even half way up the stairs. The boots of a Big Daddy echoing around Rapture. Alerting everyone to flee. The childish laugh of a Little Sister follows, singing some tune unknown to Elizabeth.

“You hear that? Let’s bug!”

“Weak! You’re a weak chopper!”

“This little fish ain't worth toeing it with no Big Daddy!”

“Yellow! Always have been! You'll be no better off with the metal daddy, little fish. See you floating in the briney…”

At least if Jack was alive, the Sister would come by and then leave; realizing he was alive. That’s what she hoped for at least. Assuming that one of the Splicers didn’t kill him. Elizabeth feels sick when she sees the girl. Only a portrait of what Sally was. Childhood stolen, not unlike her. Forced into a role and controlled by a metal creature and an overseeing monster of a man? At least the Sisters saw the world in light and joy; even if their job was cruel. “Look, Mr. Bubbles, it's an angel. I can see light coming from his belly. Wait a minute, he's still breathing. It's alright, I know he'll be an angel soon…” The child drifts away, hand clasped with her Big Daddy’s.

The moment she’s got a grip on her crossbow; she bolts for it, rushing back to Jack’s side so she can wait and hope. He has to wake. He’s the Ace in the Hole, the only one that can save Rapture from Ryan and Fontaine. The only one who can save the Little Sisters.

“I’m not going to let you die on my watch, Jack. You’re our savior. You’re our only hope. My only hope.”