"Fontaine's room. When I was asked why I wished to reside here and establish it as the base of communications, I gave the simple reasons…it's intact, well guarded, close to the other members and a strategic place for a base of operations. But I feel it is more than that. Fontaine was a true tyrant…while Ryan and I merely followed our ideologies to their logical extremes, Fontaine was a truly amoral person seeking his own gain from the beginning. From the beginning… I wonder, did I delude myself with my visions of 'the common good', while only seeking my own gain in truth? Did my ego mask itself as altruism? Perhaps…perhaps an understanding of Fontaine, horrible as he may be, may be a key to dispelling some of my own illusions."
The ruler of Rapture finished her recording just before the elevator stopped and the door opened to her room and base of operations. Passing through a hallway full of guardian turrets and security cameras trained to obey her and a select few, Sofia Lamb entered her new office.
Fontaine's signature polar bear statue was still in the back of the room, frozenly pouncing on a large wooden desk. A collection of butterflies hung on the walls, most of them a beautiful blue color. A school of Relicanth swam by the impressive window, a rare sight. Sofia appreciated it for a minute before placing herself down on a leather chair. Planting her cigarette on a nearby ashtray, she began sifting through one of the desk drawers.
Lara and Douglas' notes on Link were as thorough as they could make it, but the Hylian still seemed a mystery to them. Hyrule had very little official records, but there were clear indications of Link. His name and description seemed to peripherally appear whenever something significant occurred. There was a doctor's report concerning two children a 'lad in green' had brought to him, a translated page describing a 'courageous youth' delving into a mine and rescuing a Goron chief, a few pages of rumors, and a description of Link being the vanguard of a strike force liberating Hyrule Castle. But were they conclusive? Was this Hylian league material? And then there was this mysterious disappearance…
A noise broke Sofia's train of thought. She recognized the noise and light on her desk and her commlink. Incoming message from her superiors, the sponsors of the league, the leaders of the Coalition. Sofia wasted no time going into the nearby communications room.
There was a large screen in the room, as well as a multitude of smaller screens and switchboards. From here, she could track any operative in Rapture, activate his commlink, or broadcast an important message around the city. She could also speak with the Coalition. Placing herself in front of the largest screen, Sofia pressed a button that signaled she was ready to speak.
The screen flickered for a moment, and the stony face of the G-man appeared. Sofia had been hoping for someone else, but she did not say it. She instead greeted the man on the screen. "I trust you have a new assignment for us, then."
The ghoulish man in black explained the particulars of the mission. As he described the location of the target, an idea struck Sofia. Still, she remained quiet until he had finished. "Is there anything else?"
"Very well, I will make the necessary arrangements." Sofia was about to end the transmission when she hesitated. "Um…may I ask something?"
"Is it possible for me to speak to Eleanor at some time?"
The man was silent for a moment, thinking. Then he answered. "I'm afraid…the head of the coalition has…other priorities at the moment. She will contact you at earliest…convenience."
"I understand." And with that, the transmission was over.
Sofia mused for a moment. This assignment…what better way to gauge Link's capabilities? It was as if this mission was custom-made for him…but first things first. Sofia turned to the switchboard that allowed her to communicate through the commlinks. Pressing a button, she began to speak.
"Casey Lynch, this is Sofia. A new assignment has come in, and your presence is required. Please report to the briefing room."
"Casey, do you copy? Can you hear me?"
Still nothing. Sofia checked the tracking screen, where she could track the whereabouts of any operative in Rapture. Seeing the dot that was Casey's commlink, she contacted the closest operative.
This time there was a response. "Yes?" a weary but dutiful voice answered.
"A new mission has come in, but our chronicler is not responding."
"She is likely asleep."
"Her signal is in the walkway outside Pauper's Drop. You don't fall asleep there. Besides, earlier she contacted me to say she was moving. Wanted to find a quiet place to play."
Rtas sighed. "Very well, I will investigate. Send the location of her signal to me."
"Thel is dismissive of Sofia Lamb. As far as he is concerned, she is another hierarch, clutching to her reign even as the League operates in her domain. But she does not seem the same woman spoken of in Rapture's records. And truthfully, who are we to judge? I see no harm in giving her the benefit of the doubt…for the time being."
It was a painful struggle to get to his feet after Casey's kick, but the soldier managed. He smirked. He had just heard Sofia ask for Casey, and once she realized Casey didn't have her commlink…well, first of all he had to ditch this thing he snatched off her. Clutching it in his hand, he began staggering towards a room with a trash can, to make it look like Casey had deliberately…
But when the door opened, he was face to face with Rtas Vadumee.
Surprised, the soldier snapped a sudden salute. "Commander Rtas, sir! I was just, uh, returning to my barracks…"
Rtas was staring at him rather extraordinarily, and his eyes fell upon what the guilty-looking soldier was carrying in his other hand. Without a word, the elite pried it out of the nervous man's hand and looked at it carefully.
The soldier whimpered under Rtas' fierce glare. "There is an explanation for this, and I cannot wait to hear it…"
"In answer to your question, Link…In the earliest days of Rapture, an amazing genetic modifier called ADAM was discovered to be created by a deep-sea slug. The ADAM became the cornerstone of the city's market, and a way was needed to mass-produce it effectively. By implanting the slugs in the stomach of a host…young girls…they were able to recycle and produce ADAM in an efficient way. The girls were specially conditioned...you see, blood from corpses that carry ADAM could be drunk to produce more useable ADAM. They were given the name 'Little Sisters', and were bonded with heavily armored protectors nicknamed 'Big Daddies'. It is a disturbing part of Rapture's history. You will be pleased to know the majority of the sisters were cured by a woman named Tenenbaum. If you want any more details, don't hesitate to ask."
Link's eyes opened slowly. That was a good rest. Sitting up straight in his bed, he let out a long yawn before climbing out. He was wearing some baggy pajamas he had found in the drawers…his tunic was being washed and dried by one of those machines in the room. It was good he was able to read the simple instructions. He always could figure things out pretty quickly.
When he took his tunic out, it was perfectly clean and dry, all evidence of the crazy day before gone. Putting it back on, Link felt more like himself again. Stretching briefly, he started to go over the story he would give Sofia. He glanced at the mask and wondered if she would really believe it…probably best to give her an abridged version for right now.
Replacing the commlink in his ear, Link walked out of his room, nearly running into Arbiter in the process. Link skidded himself to a halt just in time. The Sangheili was holding something.
"I trust you had a decent rest?"
Link nodded. "Yes, sir."
"Can you account for your whereabouts for the last few days?"
Link didn't expect to be asked so soon, but he had an answer. "I was wandering through Rapture, then got knocked out. Woke up somewhere else. 'Ryan Amusements'. Attacked by a group of…creatures on my way back. My commlink was broken, I think…didn't hear anything."
Arbiter stared hard at Link for a moment. Then, seemingly satisfied by that answer, he handed Link the parcel. "Your weapons. Use them well."
"Thank you sir." Buckling the scabbard onto his back, Link felt that he was truly back to his old self again. Giving Arbiter a salute, he walked off to the shooting range, to practice again.
Arbiter waited until he was out of earshot, then looked up towards the watching security camera. "Well, Sofia? You claim to be an expert in how people act. Was he telling the truth?"
Sofia answered, watching the camera screen in her room. "Yes, he was telling the truth. Might be hiding something, but not significant…probably has a good reason to keep secret. I don't think he's very used to explaining everything he's done. I don't think you should be concerned. We'll see how well he acts on this next assignment."
"I've just received new orders from the coalition. Our next target is in his home. In the meantime, let's focus on our vanished Chronicler."
"This gift is amazing! Somehow it charges a projectile from a needler with a sort of…plasma derivative, making the needle even more deadly. It is like a tiny grenade, detonating on impact. Furthermore, it is surprisingly easy for me to recharge and reload; took me some time before I understood, but it can be done with standard plasma cores and needles. This is quite a fortunate…oh, hello, it's that swordsman, returned from the missing. Pity. Well, I will behave. I will not relinquish THIS weapon."
Aven closed his message and turned away from Link, who had just walked into the shooting gallery. He did his utmost to ignore him as Link took out his bow and arrows, firing accurately at the circles to the cheers of the recorded voice. Link didn't seem to mind having Aven for company, as long as he didn't speak or start another fight.
Aven groaned and took aim at a circle in his sights. The elite steadied himself, taking careful aim. Pulling the trigger, a charged needle flew from the burglar's gift, exploding with a purple light just a bit to the right of the circle.
Aven cursed aloud and felt Link's eyes glance at him. Link the oh-so-accurate little backward smug human…
Aven turned to face him, unable to stay silent. "I would like to see YOU do better, little human!"
Link was surprised by this outburst, and on his guard. Regardless, he raised his bow to another target.
Suddenly, Aven knocked his bow down. "With THIS." He held out his sidearm, a plasma pistol. Most elites didn't use it…it had a reputation for being inaccurate and unreliable. Most humans avoided it as well, searching for better options. It was small enough to tuck away as a backup, though.
Link was puzzled, but took the challenge without argument. Taking the pistol out of Aven's hands, he looked at it closely for a moment. The elite folded his arms impatiently, waiting for the little human to do something. Apparently, Aven thought, he thinks staring at it is as good as firing. He would not last five minutes in a battle.
Eventually Link turned and pointed the gun at the red target. "Well," Aven acknowledged, "You are not holding it backwards. That is something."
Link fired the pistol. Unprepared for the recoil, he ended up firing high above the target. Aven would've laughed, but he didn't think the boy would know how to fire that gun on the first try.
Link was prepared for the recoil the second time, and the shot hit the red target, although not a bulls-eye. Aven blinked. Link simply turned to give the gun back, his eyes silently asked Aven if he was satisfied.
Aven sighed. "Keep it, human. You need it." Without bothering to hear Link's puzzled "thank you", Aven turned back to the gallery with his new gun. He could always get another sidearm from the stockroom.
Link looked at the new weapon in his hands. This was unexpected. Perhaps Aven's way of apologizing for the unwarranted attack. Whatever. Link deactivated the weapon before putting it in his sack. Link was about to leave when he heard a voice on his commlink.
"This is Rtas Vadumee. Does anyone know of Casey?" The youth recognized the voice as the white-armored elite from the Master Chief. "Our chronicler has vanished, her commlink stolen so we cannot track or contact her. Last known location was leaving Pauper's Drop. Any clue to her whereabouts would be appreciated."
"The little noisemaker?" Aven snorted. He had gotten the message as well. "Heh. We should be able to hear her soon enough."
An idea struck Link. "Where is her room?" he asked aloud.
Aven gave him an odd look. "They would think to check her room, human."
"Where is it?" He repeated.
Aven sighed. "Sinclair Deluxe, number 76. Though what you would hope to find…"
But Link had already left. He had the perfect idea to find Casey Lynch, and it required something he had just received…