Eleanor wasn't really paying attention over the next hour or so. She was vaguely aware that Tenenbaum had found her, and she seemed to have been sitting next to her until a moment ago. She could still feel the warmth from where the older woman had been slowly seeping away. The only thing on her mind was the accursed helmet she held between her hands, and the implications that came with it.
After some measure of time had passed, Tenenbaum's warmth long gone and forgotten, Eleanor stood up. But as she did, something managed to catch her eye and bring her out of her shocked state. A little white piece of paper. What could that be doing in there? she wondered. It had clearly just fallen out of the helmet, but how would a Big Sister manage to get paper shoved in there?
She picked up the crinkled piece of paper, smoothing out some wrinkles and creases, and read the barely legible handwriting that adorned it.
To Eleanor and Tenenbaum,
Please don't follow me. Don't worry, they won't hurt me.
I'm not even sure if they can. I'll bring everyone back as
quickly as I can, I promise!
"I thought so."
Eleanor jumped, but before she could even think about defending herself, she'd already recognized the voice just behind her shoulder.
"Isn't that just like her, always rushing off on her own, thinking she's invincible?" Tenenbaum asked with a heavy sigh, plucking the message from Eleanor's hand. There was a certain amount of depression in Tenenbaum's voice that had Eleanor worried. It sounded as if she'd come to a decision she imagined that she might regret in the future, or perhaps the time to make that decision had come and gone long ago and something in the letter had sparked a memory.
Her gaze rested on the small porthole on the other side of the room, ribbons tied to the frame and what Eleanor imagined were drawings of the girls', their friends and their Big Daddies taped to the sides and the wall above. It faced back into the port, a few straggling flames from where a fire had been built inside of a trash can providing a momentary distraction.
The drawings brought a sense of nostalgia to her, brushing aside some of the events of the day and taking some of the tension from her shoulders. She'd just lost everything in the world, and yet, for some reason, Eleanor was feeling hopeful. It was a rarity for her. The last time that I felt hopeful... was when I brought father back to life. And before that... She couldn't even remember. Deciding to change the topic, at least the one she was thinking about, she asked the first question that came to mind.
"So what do you want to do after we get out of here?" It was something she'd never really thought about before. Did Tenenbaum have a life waiting for her back on the surface? "After looking for the Sisters for so long, you'll probably be completely lost, huh?" A smile graced her lips as Eleanor imagined what Tenenbaum might be like if she wasn't always so stressed out.
"Actually, there is something I want to do after I find them all, " Tenenbaum spoke with absolutely no emotion, positive nor negative. It was strange how she did that some times. It left a person of even Eleanor's psychiatric abilities completely in the dark as to what they were thinking.
"Like what exactly?" Eleanor asked. "Maybe show them some of the things they've missed from the surface? Animals, airplanes, things like that?" Tenenbaum remained silent, her eyes still fixed on the porthole, undoubtedly still searching for the tell tale signs of a neat little bow poking out from behind a pile of ruble or the flash of a golden eye.
But to simply stop talking, and allow herself to give into the will of Rapture, to slip into silence like everything else in the dead city, was simply too depressing an option for Eleanor to even consider. So she continued, hoping something would - could - spark a friendly conversation. One that wasn't so serious for once. "Maybe you'd like to tell the world about Rapture?" she mused. "Or reunite the Sisters' with their parents?"
It was subtle, but Eleanor still noticed. The way the wrinkles around the edges of her eyes deepened, the slight twitch of her hand nearly curling into a first, but catching herself in such a small amount of time most wouldn't have noticed. Instantly she knew she'd said something wrong.
"It's very late, Eleanor, " Tenenbaum said, standing abruptly. Her gaze that had been so unwavering was now jumping between Eleanor and the door to her room. "If we're going to be of any use to anyone tomorrow, we will need our rest. We'll talk more about this in the morning."
Eleanor knew a blow-off when she heard one, but she was much too preoccupied to care. Has Tenenbaum tried to reunite the Sisters' with their families before? she wondered. And, if so... What happened?
Dawn was fast approaching, but Eleanor knew she wouldn't be able to sleep. But in the place where no light could reach, what did a thing like dawn really matter, anyway?
The sound echoed in the small glass walkway connecting two of the underwater facilities. Alice wasn't even sure where she was anymore. She'd been following the scent so intently, she hadn't even paid any attention to her surroundings. But now, something felt different. A creeping feeling cascading down her back, a pressure in her chest, but mostly the feeling that she was being watched. Her blood ran cold and a chill shook her frame as the scent of Adam swirled around her. They weren't Splicers, all of the Splicers were hiding from something. Not to mention they had far too much Adam.
It had to be the Sisters. She'd been following the scent ever since she'd teleported down here and found Tenenbaum's craft deserted. But now it seemed as if it had simply split into a hundred different butterflies that decided to fly around her in circles until they made her dizzy. As the feeling of being trapped by something or someone crawled over her skin, her palm began to glow with a fire hot enough to melt the glass right off of a Big Sister's glowing face.
"Go ahead! Attack! I've been waiting for it all day! Are you afraid of me or something?" Though her voice was bold, she was shaking inside. She didn't know how many were there, or where they were, or if they were even there at all. One could sneak up behind her and finish her before she even knew she'd been attacked, or a group of ten might suddenly appear from the shadows, completely surrounding her.
"Come out and fight me damn it!" With a shriek she shot fire in random directions, a yell each more vicious than the last was hurled along with every volley of crackling fury until finally her throat grew sour and hoarse.
But as she stood there gasping for breath, something seemed off, even after setting the whole place alight. She waited in the dark silence, anticipation gnawing at the bottom of her stomach. Could it be that... The drip was gone? But why? She turned towards where the source had been, a pipe that had been dripping from the ceiling.
But the instant she turned she knew it was a mistake. A discarded doll sat on the ground under the leak, the drops landing on the makeshift Big Daddy's cloth body being absorbed rather than splashing in the puddle. Someone was in there with her. Before she could so much as turn to face the direction her attacker would undoubtedly come from, there was the high pitch noise of something slim slicing through the air, and then something hard and cold crashed into her skull. She had lost consciousness before her face ever met the damp ground.