You can’t spell Aperture without Rapture.
= something which occurred to me out of nowhere and I can’t seem to shake, like the aftershock of a particularly sharp nightmare. I said it to Womble earlier and he came back with:
“You can’t spell Nier Automata without ‘mutation’ – what’s your point?”
At which point I dropped the topics of anagrams.
Nevertheless, we find ourselves – not for the first time – in an enclosed environment with no obvious way out, a lack in natural light, oppressed on all sides by the natural world. Situated deep below that world, where they do not belong, someone built another manmade cathedral dedicated to twisted sciences, with a keen disregard for morality. Andrew Ryan and Cave Johnson could have almost been drinking buddies*.
Then there’s the other meaning. Rapture; a segregation of humanity at the end of the world. This far down, there certainly isn’t a lot of world left, just those testing and those being tested. Womble and I find ourselves occupying the middle ground, having brought it along with us, myself hoping we’re not forced to join one side or the other. I’ve had more than my fill of being ordered around; and as for giving the orders, that’s just a little too Timelord for me.
Although, from what I’ve seen of the testing areas, my immature side can’t deny it almost looks……fun? Like the cross between a laboratory and a theme park. Guess that makes it a hat trick for Rapture (n) “a feeling of intense pleasure or joy.”
None of which detracts from another highlight of this adventure: Womble as the leader. Let’s just say, his tour-guide skills leave a lot to be desired. Even before his input, I knew an elevator and array of piping when I saw one, with no reference made to the blue, orange and white goo. And more than once, to the question “and then what happened?” he has answered “then she went mad and killed everyone.” No idea who “she” is, mind, and whoever “she” turns out to be, there’s something pressing a lot harder on my mind.
“What the hell, I’d say I’ve waited long enough. So there’s more than just one Womble?”
The original remained silent.
“And in trying to find the source, we arrive in a massive underground lair, full of science stuff and angry crows, my, what a childhood you must’ve had. Is that what they do, here? They make Wombles?” I’m not going to sing the song, we may be underground, I’m still not going to sing the song…
Ah hah! One miniature step in the right direction. “So how can there be two of you?”
“Pfft. I’m up to four versions of you.”
“Ooh, he’s a you from a different moment in time?”
I’d be clutching at straws right no except I have no straws. “Then…the Other You and this Aperture place, confusing as hell, but both completely unrelated?”
Fuck. “Can you tell me anything useful?”
“Never stand up in a canoe.”
I know the difference between someone not in the mood to talk, and someone trying to hide something. This was both. I decided to pay Womble a courtesy I don’t extend to many. I didn’t shut up – barely anyone gets THAT courtesy – I just changed the subject.
“So who is “she” then? The genocidal lady of yours?”
A few dozen test subjects and a bunch of old men in tweed and lab coats, hardly a genocide. It was more a cull of idiots, while several of their pets got in the way. You’ll know when I’ve committed genocide. Well, actually, you won’t.
It’s an incredible thing, to flinch at an omnipresent voice. You never quite know which way to duck. And what a voice, too. Robotic, auto tuned, finished with the condescending attitude of a British librarian. Capable of destroying us and/or delivering this century’s hottest new remix. I wasn’t sure whether to retort or laugh.
Womble, Captain Cool and Collected, seemed to have been expecting her voice. He froze like a dog hearing their master’s call. Or, more worryingly, like a nagged husband hearing his spouse. Suddenly I had a pretty good idea as to whom would win his prize “Most Likely to Go Mad and Kill Everyone.”
“You okay, Wombes?”
Just called him ‘Wombes’ and got away with it. Either he didn’t mind or we’re in too much danger for him to notice.
So. You came back. And you brought a…beggar, with you? I’ve been listening in this whole time and wonder, can it do any other tricks besides asking questions?
“I prefer the term ‘hitchhiker’, it sounds more eventful. HH for short.”
“And before you start throwing names around,” Womble cut in, “you’re one to talk. How many street dwellers actually received their $60 in the end?”
Well Mr Johnson wouldn’t have had to resort to such smelly, desperate measures, if you hadn’t had your episode.
I glanced between Womble and the ceiling, a frown settling into place. Their level of familiarity mixed with mutual indifference……almost like we’d bumped into Womble’s ex. His ex-what, though? Ex-prison-warden?**
“You two know each other, then?”
Oh look, it can understand, too. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll win a banana.
“Or a potato,” Womble muttered.
I’d be more offended, but who am I to deny a chance to whip up a banana daiquiri?
I hope your…’hitchhiker’ is well trained, Test Subject, because this is the perfect opportunity to try out the Dual Subject test chambers. Your survival and well being shall depend a great deal on the skill of your partner. You will need to work together.
We exchanged glances.
Best of luck.
“…is it alright if I use the bathroom, first?
*A man chooses…to build combustible lemons.
**Ex-aminer? Geddit?…………..I’ll show myself out.
“LET GO OF ME, YOU GINGER BRUTE! LET GO! R2! R2!! WHERE ARE YOU R2?!!R-” *WHACK* “-too…”
Dear Ned he can scream. The twonk’s been like that for a good three hours now, screaming its circuits dry while my hairy accomplice does…well, whatever the heck he’s doing. I haven’t looked. My eardrums are throbbing enough already, even with ear-defenders. And I wouldn’t be of any use anyway. It sounds painful, but…well, considering lust is technically a sin, C-3PO shouldn’t be too surprised. We found him in the VIP suite behind a sound-proofed door.
“LET ME OUT!! I AM A HERO, FOR GOD’S- WHAT IS THAT? NO! NOT THAT!! LET ME-” *WHACK*
“Oook ook! OOk!”
Sometimes, it’s…well, necessary to be mean. Sometimes it makes sense. We’ve all had times when being evil felt good, even if only in the moment. The trouble usually is that in creating such a contradiction, you can be reasonably expected die pretty soon after, in case anyone else has a smart idea.
“DAMN YOU R2! I HOPE YOU BURN IN EVERY CIRCLE OF HELL!! I HOPE YOU WRITHE IN- ‘:@#!!#_ghhjg!4>hjg%32hjg^&hj)jk.//j…”
“Oook. Ook. Oook-ook-ook.”
It’s dangerous to be the bad guy. I’m pretty sure we’d count. Any minute now, we might well have Han Solo bearing down on us with an army of wookies and a messianic brother-in-law, no doubt intrigued by the morality behind our decision to ransack the golden boy of Endor because the orangutan wanted to.
Explaining why is always tricky. Why do anything? There isn’t a great deal of morality between a good reason and bad one, ultimately.
The man who “liberated” Rapture by performing surgery on it’s children and collecting superpowers wasn’t far off the guy who also collected superpowers and decided to simply run the place instead. The robot who ran tests on someone because they were bored, in retrospect, was rather nice to the someone who passed those tests, gained invaluable life-experience about the application of physics, and more importantly SURVIVED.
*OOK ook ook-ook. Oook.”
A bad person isn’t necessarily evil, but they’re undoubtedly efficient. A cannibal who eats bad people is more remarkable than a cannibal who eats whoever walks around the corner. The former uses intellect and reason. They might well be incredibly good at other things, like economics. Would it be wrong to imprison them if, alongside dining on rapists and thieves, they could be helping to solve a nationwide financial crisis too?
“Oook! Oook-ook oook oook!”
Heck. Sometimes you need someone around to give the good guys something good to do. Bruce Wayne would’ve spent his entire life punching poor people in some foreign prison, if not for the league of ninja Qui-Gon Jinn.
Luke Skywalker would be boring as hell without the title of universal hero on his CV. Hobbits would still be acknowledged as a race of fat lazy midgets if Sauron hadn’t tried to take over, and master Frodo would have undoubtedly ensured mother Gamgee never got any grandchildren either.
The dwarf in the flask was doing everyone a favor when he made himself a new Hoenheim- he virtually ended slavery, and the original Hoenheim got his freedom. Not bad for something that wasn’t even the same species. Imagine a cat doing that, or a dog for that matter. No chance.
…the irony is that no one could ever actually like a villain for being a villain. It’s in the job description. I doubt Han Solo is going to forgive me for this, ever. But maybe he aught to have something to feel pissed off about. He’s a universally-accepted hero. And maybe that’s a fight we want to see. At least we’ll be able to understand each other now. Mr orangutan here is a freakin’ genius. He can take the wookie- who knows, they might even just click and share a pint together.
C-3PO’s contribution to the universe wasn’t much, when you really think about it. He didn’t kill Jar Jar Binks. He simply translated what R2 said, in order for everyone to agree with R2, and then speak directly to R2 regardless. It’s debatable if robots can feel pain anyway- Anakin must’ve been feeling cruel if, for reasons of his own, he decided to give his creation a nervous system.
Besides, this thing is awesome, in an odd kinda way. It reminds me of…what was it? HH mentioned them once. Like a…sackboy? Only…eurgh…I can’t remember. Like a Sackboy that got it’s head stuck in an incredibly small fridge. A cubehead? I don’t know. It’s pretty small, and it doesn’t do much. Maybe it should have been given a pair of hands. I’d better ask, now that its possible. Just as soon as we’ve left this sector.
The orange Einstein couldn’t bring himself to remove all the gold. I feel like its gonna start dancing at any minute. And then women will appear- human women, in skimpy outfits and glitzy shoes. And we’ll be forced into sunglasses and badly-fitting T-shirts…
…still. Even if it did, it’s still more awesome than the golden boy of verbal panic attacks. Thank god that’s over.
R2 is in for a rough time if there really is such thing as “hell”…
If there were ever an appropriate time to leave my Sanity behind, right now could work.
I kneel beside a body of metal, a demonic child sobbing beside me. I have no words to comfort her; and fear to even touch her pallid skin.
Like her, I have shed a tear for the fallen guardian. There was enough time to scan his mind before he passed.
It all came down to choices, and the lack therein. Again. Twice in less than an hour, I learn more of humanity’s cruel experimentations. Take a man, merge him with metal and genetically bond him to a child. There’s no need for ‘love’; it’s all relative on a molecular level.
And the man doesn’t even mater. She’s the walking ADAM factory, the living embodiment of Rapture’s currency. He’s just a bodyguard, and I’ve seen the production lines down here. There’s no other word, Big Daddies are disposable. I could sit here and another would walk past soon enough. He’d fall, with no choice in the matter, and only one person would care.
Speaking of which…
The girls’ still here. I know my own choices now open to me; the mask showed me before. I can see the actions, the benefits and the repercussions of each. A choice is better than none, didn’t someone say, no matter what the outcome?
I feel the same as Ryan’s son and Big Daddies right now; I don’t even have choice. I have neither the ability to rescue the girl, nor…I can’t even consider the alternative. Just like that, I have to take the last option.
I walk away.
I need to find Womble and get out of here. I’ve had nothing from his TARDIS key, I’d better send him a message. Please let me find him, alive and safe. This trip has been far hard enough already.
She’s still crying…
Rapture really is just one, long nightmare.
I left the void of family issues and power struggles that was Ryan’s office, forced my way out of the shell of Hephaestus and managed to wander right into some more warfare.
On one side: the usual red-splattered, fancy-dressed, nonsensical lunatics…excuse me, locals. On the other: one of the drill-wielding diving suits, and his ‘daughter’. Chemical warfare at its most extreme.
I must say, these metal men, the ‘Big Daddies’ are just incredible. To utilise such energy and speed when your hand’s a drill and you’re over 70% metal is beyond belief. Yet here they are, taking out Splicers like it’s just another day. This one, the ‘Bouncer’, he’s definitely worth a sonic-scan. Just a little one.
Okay…that was a mistake. A typical “don’t press the red button” moment. No sooner than my finger presses the sonic’s switch, Big Daddy turns with eight, red LED lights glaring at me. Then the drill starts spinning.
My feet are tearing me away, long coat flapping, before I even realise it. The massive dentist crashes along behind me, spurred on by cries of “Unzip him, Mr B! UNZIP HIM!” from the little one. I’ve been chased by a great deal of things, but this particular sprint will stick with me.
As I run, my mind’s on PANIC settings desperately clutching at anything resembling a plan. There’s no negotiation this time, no clever way out. There’s only the last solution. The least I can do is make it quick.
One thing I will admit in Rapture’s favour: brilliant for scroungers. (Funnily enough, given their strong disposition against parasites.) But there’s always something lying around; bullets in bins, health kits under staircases…or a grenade launcher on a work bench. Thank you Hephaestus.
Grabbing the weapon comes close to another drill rush from ‘Bubbles’. His attack keeps him travelling, a good distance away when one is without damage immunity. Three blasts in quick succession, hiding the guardian in a burnt cloud of smoke, from within which, he roars. In that moment, I get the chance to snatch up some proximity mines from a nearby desk.
Bubbles lunches at me again; I ungainly slide over the same desk and crumple behind it. Buzzing noises come from somewhere behind me: two security bots arriving to check out all the ruckus. I must have set off one of those cursed cameras during it all; still, each bot gets a sonic-induced hack and a proximity mine each. The noise of the sonic brings Daddy back around, as I launch into one last sprint away. My green-lighted bots swoop at him, I launch another grenade in the mix to be sure…
My silent thanks to the architects of Rapture. The explosion knocked me and a considerable amount of metal flying; but no extra leaks to report. Only a whimper came from the bang; a whine, a pitching shriek. Then, a crash of metal on metal.
I pick myself up, all dust and smoke clears, and before me is one ex-parent. Its ‘offspring’ weeps at his side, her sobs ands voice echoing. I find myself patting the outer shell of the protector. Time to retry the sonic scan. I truly hope this is worth it.
Back in the fishbowl. I’ve already been and have yet to arrive. Time’s great ocean envelops me, as Rapture protects me from the Atlantic’s.
This trip is already harder. Last time, the city was more than finished. It had been raining in Rapture, but they had simply chosen not to notice, right up until the sea claimed most of its space back. In fact, getting the psychic-imprint mask was the only worthwhile result of that endeavour, and even that ended badly. Still, I’ve left the mask where future…past…a version of me can find it.
Otherwise, I’ve been ducking fireballs, avoiding turrets and been compared to a ‘parasite’. Womble and I have managed to stick together so far, but I grow concerned of the ever-growing noises coming from the ceiling.
Should this go the way of rabbits and Martians, I’ve cooked up a clever bit of kit. Both mine and Womble’s TARDIS keys now serve as locators, should we wish to find each other or the box itself. I’ve checked the maps in Rapture, and something like this would be useful if it transpired that Womble ended up in Point Prometheus and I get stuck in the Welcome Centre.
Still, there’s loads to be getting on with for now. I’ve done the ‘Splicer Tour’, now it’s time to look elsewhere. Find out what’s going on behind the scenes and what makes this place tick. The easy answer to that is ADAM, but I’ve no real desire to sink that needle home. Winter Blast and Electro-Bolt are all well and good, but addiction’s all the same. One day, ADAM and EVE will take a dirt nap. Where does that leave you? Singing ‘If I Didn’t Care’ while you check that the Health-Station sign doesn’t flash green.
Really plays with your mind, this place. I hope I can keep my sanity long enough to learn something useful. Or get out alive. Priorities change down here, and if you don’t believe me, just look at the children. God only knows I sure don’t want to…
Ever had a flash-forward? A glimpse of a very possible event, in the distant-or-occasionally-not-so-distant time to come? I have. Now. Thank god he didn’t say it. I don’t know where I’d begin. Or how I’d end. I guess he caught onto that- for which I am eternally grateful.
Still, I wish he’d told me what “Rapture” is. There was such drama in his voice, I didn’t fancy asking at the time, but now that we’re here I’m sort of lost.
From the inside it looks like an aquarium designed by Guillermo Del Toro, if he’d got himself stuck in the 1950s working for Ayn Rand. It’s a capitalist’s wet dream. There’s literally water everywhere. And everything’s kind of…glitzy. Damaged, though. Like a disused fairground that someone’s powered back up. I see bronze, gold, marble and decay.
There’s some chump called Andrew Ryan living here. Sounds like a preacher. I see his name on the walls occasionally. Usually written in blood. He’s supposedly the ruler of this place, which is odd. I’ve never been anywhere so devoid of existing rules before. Anything, apparently, goes. I hear voices everywhere. None of them seem to be following the same conversation.
To be honest, I’m not all that sure why HH’s dropped us here. I’ve already had my fill of deranged retro-heads. It’s full of junk too. Whoever planted bins around here was fighting the apocalypse. Crisp packets lurk beneath every surface. Bottles exist around every corner. I’ve seen more needles than I can count. And I’m starting to believe that Rapture is one ingredient away from externalizing the ideals of papier-mache hell.
The locals don’t seem to care. They’ve got bigger problems. Someone invited them all on a night out, years ago, and I guess it hasn’t stopped. They’re still in fancy dress. And everyone’s a bit violent. First one I met nearly ripped me in half. Turns out they’re religious here too.
I’ll have to ask HH what ADAM is. These people are nuts about it. They sing to it. They fight over it. They scream at it. Some sort of drug? A deity? Maybe a boy-band.
Whatever it is, it’s driven them mad. I’d best find HH. He may have been here before. In fact, I know he has.
I really hope he knew what he was doing.
The last thing I need right now is an encounter with Louis Walsh.
Inspired by Korn’s latest album (The Paradigm Shift) and the omnipresent influence of mine that is Bioshock.
(edit)- on second thoughts, I’ll explain what’s going on here. In Bioshock, the way people gain superpowers (in this case, creating fireballs) is by injecting a drug called Adam- and anyone who’s played the game will know where Adam comes from. People who are addicted to this stuff become Splicers.
This is what I imagine the first Splicer looked like, and the title reflects on what he- and the entire civilization of Rapture- will eventually become.