The others had moved on. Tenenbaum felt she had redeemed herself and was working as a researcher and trying to be a foster mother to Jacks daughters. Jack had his daughters to care for and the business savvy mind of his father to fuel it. Porter worked in computing, turning down several offers from the government to work on secret projects. He had moved on from his dead wife Pearl at las, although he had not found a new love yet. Eleanor tried to play matchmaker for Porter and Tenenbaum but she had not had any luck yet.
Eleanor had Subject Delta in her head. She had taken a job working as a nurse and was going to medical school to become a doctor. She had grown tired of surface life. She travelled the world for a bit, Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas, but she felt rapture calling me back constantly. Nothing compared to the hidden city, not the great wall in China or the streets of Paris, nor the jungles of the amazon.
Eleanor had travelled to Iceland then retrieved Sinclair’s lifeboat from a small underwater hideaway. She examined the genetic key again, such a strange little device. Apparently, it would read as Andrew Ryan’s DNA to the scanners in Rapture if any of them still worked. Jack had given it to her so that we could have some final closure on rapture but instead she wondered if she could keep the city as her personal retreat from the mundane surface world.
The lighthouse wasn’t visible until she came within a couple miles of it. She had removed the lightbulbs from the lighthouse. People must have found this by now she reckoned but decided without a bathysphere they probably just assumed the lighthouse was alone out here and not hiding a hidden city.
Brigid had destroyed the slug inside of her so she would need to be more careful about catching lead down in the city. The old big sister suit was a little too small now and it had been replaced with a new wetsuit, but the metal parts still fit and remained the same. She sat on the edge of the lighthouse with a metal weight to help her sink down to the city without a submersible.
She wondered how no one had asked questions about this place, perhaps someone was covering it up on behalf of Ryan or Fontaine, it was possible they had been paid off in advance. Maybe the secret agencies of the world knew about it all along and just watched it all unfold.
She leant over and took the plunge into the frigid depths. Eleanor counted four lonely spotlights still illuminating the city. Several tall buildings, surface scrapers, were flooded completely. She manoeuvred over to the top floor of the old welcome centre and into the flooded Kashmir restaurant.
She turned on her torch and dragged herself along the banister of a staircase. Starfish coated the faded scarlet carpets; barnacles were on the bar and empty plates stripped clean by the underwater bacteria. Several skeletons were strewn about the place. None of the lights worked so she decided to move on to where they did.
Eleanor swam over to the glowing crater where She had been imprisoned. Vibrant sea creatures swam around inside the trench. She saw something big down there and went to take a look. It was just a long shark, unnaturally so, three times as long but not as wide and covered in slugs.. She saw the Amusements and Dionysus park. There was so much for her to explore and rediscover.
She knew once her presence was known people would want her to do something if there were any people still down here. Her Father’s feelings stir memories of the Adonis and she returned to see where he took her for their last walk as a little sister and big daddy. Where he met mother and his death.
There are lights on in Paupers drop, Hephaestus and Arcadia. She sets aside her own desires to revisit her past and heads towards Paupers Drop to find the survivors. If they are to leave they will need to pack their belongings and several will need convincing not to stay.
Eleanor wondered if she could blow up the city if she knew someone was inside, unaware of their doom or accepting of it. She scanned the view one last time and set off down to the Drop. Fathers memories of Sinclair resurface, and her memories of aunt Gracie did as well.
Eleanor remembered how she used to spend the day with auntie Grace in her room before mothers’ experiments required her. She wishes she had come with us to the surface and hoped she would still be alive down here.
She looked through the windows to discover the Drop had changed little other than the lack of mother’s posters and splicers, in fact it seemed a bit better maintained. She took a peek in more of the windows and saw people moving around.
A big sister taps her on the arm.
Eleanor spun around and kicked away from the window to face her sister. Her heart started racing, and a chill ran down her spine. The big sister points towards the airlock and swims off towards it. Eleanor followed her. She knew she was a good fighter from her brief time escaping but she wasn’t going to rish fighting a big sister one on one underwater unless she had to. Subject Delta killed many she thinks; he is with me and we could if we needed to
Eleanor noticed that the sister has no needles with which to stab. There are no metal supports on her legs either. The two of them swim through a broken walkway that has been sealed outside, through coral crusted pillars that hold the Atlantic express and through a shoal of oncoming fish.
They stand inside the airlock and the water drains. The big sister has removed her helmet before the water has reached their ankles. Her skin is slightly greyer than it should be, a sign that something is off with her. She looks at Eleanor with big green eyes, they swirl slightly, she has some bio luminescent fluid in them, and green is a display of her emotional state. Her hair is black and long, the family would have kept it short.
Tenenbaum had warned Eleanor that the slugs probably wouldn’t just stay in them forever, they would want to reproduce and most likely detach themselves eventually. She said she didn’t know if it would be a deaths sentence or a release into a normal life, free of the parasite.
“You are Eleanor, right? You have come to rescue us and take us to the surface?” The big sister asked excitedly.
“Yes I am Eleanor, I will take you topside. what’s your name?”
“How many of you are there here?”
“lots, almost a hundred! Come, I show you!”
The inner door of the airlock opened. A hundred was probably more than the lifeboat could do in one trip. There was a crowd waiting for me.
A month ago, Eleanor had sent a radio beacon in a small watertight canister to tell of her arrival and it looked like it had been well received. She removed a sealed tube from her back that is filled with newspapers she had collected for them.
“Hello Eleanor. My name is Sidney.” A man with a cockney accent greeted her.
“Hello, I take it you have all heard of me. I have news from the surface.”
She handed the papers around. She had struggled to find enough moon landing papers but had managed to get them copied.
“I don’t know what you have heard but I am here for some reminiscence and to closure. There is more advanced technology and culture topside, but I cannot allow ADAM to escape this watery prison.” Eleanor told them.
“What about people with a few plasmids, or your sisters?” He asked.
“There is a machine on the surface that Porter and Tenenbaum have built that can remove ADAM from a person, the sisters on the surface are normal again.” She explained.
“What if we want to stay?” A woman asked.
“Then You will be left down here. There is a way to detonate Hephaestus. This is Andrew Ryan’s Genetic Key.” She held it out to show them. “It can be used to destroy the city.”
“Not, if we don’t let you. Ryan’s old office is mine now. I put a lot of work into maintaining the Hephaestus, you can’t just come back and blow it all up.” A man tells me.
“I understand. I know you may want to continue your lives down here but the Rapture abomination needs to end. There will be life on the surface for you all, you are just blind to what you are missing!”
Eleanor is unsure whether she has to blow it all up, but she knows that as long as ADAM exists Rapture cannot be left unchecked. The people seemed fine to her, not any loons from what she had seen. She took a tour of the Drop and saw how much it had changed. Walls had been painted; broken windows boarded up, leaky pipes fixed or replaced. The smell was far better than it ever was.
The cameras are gone, the vending machines are dismantled. A bathtub has been placed to collect water that drips down onto the street from a small leak above.
“What happened to Grace Holloway?” Eleanor asked.
“She still lives here, just as a citizen.” Sidney replied.
“I would love to meet her again.”
“She spoke to me earlier; she wasn’t sure if you would kill her or hug her, or if you were fucked up enough to do both. But she asked that I let you if you wanted too.” Sidney looked into her eyes. “You’re not going to kill her, are you?”
“I would see her and don’t worry; she is quite safe.”
He took her to a small cafe and bought her a coffee. It was bad by surface standards, really bad in Eleanor's opinion, but still coffee. He seemed to enjoy it as do the other patrons. Eleanor asked about how they still had coffee and Sidney explained that they were growing in in Arcadia.
I saw that it would not be the wild ride I was hoping for, no more feral splicers to deal with no daddies to save, and worst of all they were expecting me to bring them up to the surface. There was little profit now as well, technology had evolved and apart from ADAM there was nothing that would make me a fortune.
Sarah followed them with some other tall women that Eleanor presumed were big sisters. They mostly wore oversized shirts apart from a pair in well-fitting ones made from odd pieces of fabric sewn together. She knows she will meet them soon, Grace Holloway comes first.
In a small nook of the Drop there is a room with “Grace Holloway” written on the door. Eleanor knocked then let herself in, aunt Gracie never did lock her door she chuckled internally.
“Who is it?” Grace called.
Her hair was grey, and her stick had been replaced by a wheelchair. She wore the same yellow dress just faded some more. She has old posters on her walls and a crate filled with odd audio logs. Some were hers, others Lambs or Ryan’s, Atlas and one from Anna Culpeper.
“It’s me, Eleanor.”
“Baby Eleanor!” she turns to look. Eleanor bent down and they hugged.
“I’ll leave you too it.” Sidney announced as he stepped outside.
“So, how’s the surface?” she asked.
“Everything you ever told me about it is true and more.”
“How are old Sinclair and Delta?” she asked.
Eleanor took a deep breath.
“They didn’t make it, Mother got them.”
“Sorry, I didn’t know.”
“It’s alright, father is still with me, mothers project worked in a way.”
“Your mother, is she dead as well?”
She didn’t answer at first. Her biggest shame, after all she had done.
“No, she isn’t. I couldn’t bring myself to do it.” She confessed.
“It’s alright child.”
“No, I killed dozens of her followers but when it came to her I didn’t. she was drowning, I saved her life.”
“Where is she now?”
“I don’t know, she left me. I need to make sure she isn’t down here again, and I need closure.”
“I see, well she isn’t here.”
“Good, I met with Tenenbaum and Porter, there is a man named Jack as well and several of my sisters.”
“No nuclear fire?”
“Not yet, Men have been to the moon though!”
“Really! Oh, I missed you Ele. But I don’t know if my old bones have what it takes to return to the surface.”
“Do it for me, Please.” I lean back and stand up again.
I can hear voices outside; my sisters are following me.
“I will be back for dinner at some point aunt.”
“Yes, yes, your audience awaits dear.”
On her way back to the door she spotted one of her old sketchbooks and a worn rabbit doll on a shelf and smiled to herself. Retirement has been good for Grace.