"Ok, uhhh…ahem. Mission to recover the Anubis stone, success, couldn't get the leader- he was iced before the …operatives could get to him. No idea who the killer is. Rest of the cult is in custody and the Anubis Stone is back in the coalition safehouse. No loss of operatives. There, how's that?"
"You speak fast. But it will do."
The transports that Arbiter and his select group had used to recover the stone couldn't go underwater. They had to rendezvous with a submersible at what a casual observer would guess was an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. The transports flew towards the steel monolith, McCloud radioing in the identity of the ships. Cleared to land, they placed themselves onto the flat landing strip.
Disembarking, the group walked over to the main building. McCloud was carrying the Anubis Stone, held in a secure plastic case. Inside the main building was a staircase leading towards the submersible that would take them back to Rapture.
Once everyone was in, the latch was closed and the sub descended. Looking out the window at the passing Tentacools, Snake made a remark. "That was easy." He yawned.
"How can you be bored?" McCloud was puzzled.
"A lot of work to get a rock."
"Oh, that's why." Lara smirked. "Don't worry Snake. I'm sure we'll get more exciting assignments soon."
"That is a given." Arbiter muttered.
"I just woke up with that drunk moron, Sparrow. Ugh. He's a world-class sleazeball, pinching where hands were never meant to go, the alcohol is on his breath so bad I gag…and he ain't even fun. The things a girl does to pay rent…you'd think I'd at least get a decent mark for once. How'd I come to this?"
Link had taken to wandering the city again. There were always more things to see in Rapture. He was looking out to window at the fish swimming by, ignorant of his presence. A kelp plant, an underwater tree, swayed in the current. Link kept walking around.
Link turned around. There was Casey, the girl who had spoken to him at the meeting. She had changed her clothes… in one of the surviving shops she found a strapless cocktail dress, brilliant red. She carried a matching purse, and had recently washed her hair. She approached Link with a mischievous smile on her face.
"So am I." Before Link could blink, she had put an arm around his shoulder. Link began to shiver uncomfortably. "I know somethin' we could do." Her voice was like liquid, a practiced sigh.
"Uh-um…" Link mumbled, beginning to sweat nervously. Casey subtly removed the commlink from his ear, teasing his hair.
Casey brought her lips closer to his. "C'mon, we're young, bored and isolated. It could be just us and the world. Don't tell me you don't want to…"
Casey stopped when she saw the look in Link's eyes. He was responding all right. He was scared. Really scared. Sensing that she had crossed a line, Casey removed her arm. Link gulped hard, backing off like a cornered animal.
"I…I gotta go." Link took off to the doors, replacing his commlink. Casey looked puzzled at his retreating back.
"Huh." She remarked to no-one in particular. Scratching her head, she was jolted out of puzzling by a noise from her purse.
Casey sighed and took out her own commlink. She didn't want anyone to hear her conversation with Link, but common sense dictated she kept the authorities link with her nearby. Placing it on her ear, she answered it like a cell phone.
"Casey here. Whaddaya want?"
Sofia's voice came on. "I need you to go to 'Optimized Eugenics' and Point Prometheus. A bathysphere should be able to get you there quickly. You have to see Dr. Freeman…Arbiter had him study Link's sword and he needs you to record the results."
"A'ight." Casey shrugged and took a map out of her purse. Everyone had been given a map detailing the city of Rapture. Looking for the nearest bathysphere station, Casey headed towards Gordon's lab, still thinking about Link's reaction to her advances.
"Poor Luigi had to take a rest today. There was a blockage in the Sinclair Deluxe's pipes, so we went to remove it. Except it wasn't a …regular blockage, it was a human hand, half rotten! Never seen anything like it. Luigi ran away screaming while I repaired the pipes back up. Mamma mia. And to think this 'Andrew Ryan' built this city to get away from war.
Rtas walked into the stockroom to find several blast marks on the walls and a small pile of unusable weapons being tossed to the side. Aven, with a bandaged part of his chest, was checking every gun in the storeroom to see if it had been hit. He groaned when he saw his superior.
"I take it then the attempt to capture our burglar did not go well."
"No." Aven kicked the pile in annoyance. "It was a human…a small one. Somehow it was able to short out the lights and turn one of the turrets against me. Then when I went after it, these machines came after me." He pointed to two destroyed robots he had set aside. Judging by the condition of them, Rtas guessed they had been shot down and then stamped on in Aven's fury.
"I recognize those. Sofia Lamb showed me the security bots Rapture used during its civil war. More dangerous than they look." Rtas noted before turning back to Aven. "What became of the burglar?"
"It got away. Through that metal flower."
A stocky man wearing red and blue coveralls was welding a metal grate to the air vent's hole. The hissing of the welding torch almost drowned out Rtas' question.
"You are certain the burglar got out through there, Aven?"
"Only way the human could have gotten in and out. I asked Mario to block the holes. Are you almost done?"
The welding torch stopped. "I am done, Aven." The man removed his welding mask to reveal a plump face with a large black mustache. "Don't-a touch that grate though, it's still very hot."
"If this burglar gets around through these vents, it may be prudent to block off more."
"There's a vent in almost every single room in Rapture, it's how the air gets around. You can't expect me to block every one of them!"
"No, just the ones to important rooms. The armories, the barracks and the stockrooms. Gordon's lab as well…I think this burglar has been helping itself to some of his technology. Start there."
"Yes sir." Mario picked up his toolkit and left. Rtas turned back to Aven.
"Can you tell me nothing more about this burglar?"
"No. I never got a good look."
"Hm. Finish sorting the weapons and then return to your barracks." Rtas walked out as the muttering Aven finished going through the stockroom.
"Ok boss, here's what I'm getting from Gordon. Link's sword is really sharp. Yeah, anyone could see that. Well, it can't cut thick steel or regular armor…can make a real dent though and slice through any bands holding the suit together. But your energy stuff, shields and the like? Can go through 'em like they ain't there. And can block those energy swords of yours, too. Can't snap a piece off to get the metal named, but probably not just steel. Anyway, that's all I can get from the guy. Only so much a mute can show you."
Arbiter walked through the Pauper's Drop area, a ramshackle bunch of flophouses next to the Sinclair Deluxe, where the backups were situated. He turned off Casey's recording, pondering.
Suddenly his own commlink came alive. "This is the Arbiter…What do you mean…HIM? That monster? I…oh…" Arbiter's face became as scared as he could manage. "Where? How long ago? Has the city been…alright…We're on our way."
Arbiter ran off from the room, heading towards Arcadia. He relayed orders on his commlink on the way.
"Snake. Lara. Gordon. McCloud. All of you get to the docking platform immediately. We have a serious problem. Rtas, get as many backup soldiers up as you can. I need to collect one of our operatives."
Pyramid Head hadn't moved from his room ever since the end of the first meeting. It was still sitting on its cot, holding the huge knife reverently. For the sake of security, it had been sheathed in a special case. The man only moved when Arbiter came inside. The helmet looked at the soldier.
"Get up. We are going to the surface, and you are coming. Our sponsors insisted."
McCloud had seen the exchange. "We're taking Pyramid Head? What's going on topside?"
Arbiter answered in two words.