It's a bit slower, but it's quite some development Don't wanna rush it and pack stuff too much together.

Chapter XXVI: Healing and growth, part 3

And so Addie told her friends about what she’d been through and what new plasmids and gene tonics she had received. The power she’d spliced into her genetic code, making her near invincible on the battlefield against the Ryanists. Now however, she was assigned to protect the delegates of Atlas his joined rebel forces while keeping an eye on the treacherous followers of Ryan. She only realized she had been transferred to the area her friends where fighting at when she arrived. She’d shed a tear or two when she was reunited With Sandy, Darren, Wyatt and the others. She noticed how much they’d all changed in just a few weeks: Ernie had grown buff, Buck was starting to rival Wyatt’s sharp mind and Sandy had deep lines drawn in her face. Claire tried to avoid Addies gaze. Now that she has grown that much more dangerous, Addie could instill fear in Claire just by existing. Claire quietly hid herself behind Eddie who was moving his nostrils and looking around for something.

“Now it’s time we show you something, but it’s very important nobody follows us,” Sandy said to Addie. She nodded.

Splitting into a few distinct groups, Sandy, Addie and the others took long winded paths to eventually end up at the basement. Sandy, Darren and Wyatt knew they could trust her with this. They descended down the stairs as Ernie and Buck made sure nobody saw all of them enter. Then Darren opened his bag.

“Will we go out to find some angels too, B?” the girl said as her two glowing eyes peaked out, curious.

Adelaide was slightly taken aback as she visibly distanced herself from the bag with its inhuman content.

“How the hell did you get that thing? Why isn’t it screaming for its… protector?” Adelaide said.

“You can thank Darren for that,” Sandy said with a smile and nodded with her head over to her stepbrother.

“Impressive like always, Darren. You’ve done a great deal to protect them,” Addie said and formed a tiny smile as her lips curled in between the blinks of an eye.

“I do what I can,” Darren replied.

And so they told her what they had been doing all this time, quite clearly contradicting what they had said before in public about their ‘Big Daddy raids’. But they had been sucking dry corpses and improving themselves. Addie no longer had the moral high ground. They were all splicers now. They were all more than human and also something less than human.

Something… different.

They had to disperse again in order to avoid attracting attention. Using Scout, a plasmid that worked as a kind of conscious running ahead without being seen or heard but hearing and seeing itself, Sally had heard local buzz about them supposedly being involved in a conspiracy to overthrow both Atlas and Ryan and taking Rapture for themselves. Some even linked them to Sofia Lamb or Father Wales. Apparently the latter was still alive after Addie tried to shoot him in the face.

Everyone knew something was looming above them and it wasn’t rain. Maybe it was the conspiracy, maybe the Ryanists were planning something or maybe it was something vastly different. The truce meetings made everyone feel uneasy. Tomorrow they would begin and for the first time since the beginning of the civil war, as the papers called it now, the fighting had ended. A fragile armistice had been called into being. Anyone breaking it was to be shot on sight.

One by one, Sandy and the others slipped out of the basement with Darren tucking away the Little Sister back into suboptimal oxygenated conditions, in the stuffy bag. As Addie prepared to go up, Wyatt stopped her.

“Could I borrow your revolver? I’d like to make some adjustments to it for you,” Wyatt said.

“Eh sure Why-why,” Addie said and handed over her trusted revolver, which she still consider to be an old friend she was leaving in someone else’s care.

“I’ll take good care of it,” Wyatt said as he returned to his work on the turrets and bots he’d been modifying.

Eddie looked around at the people that were just standing around now they couldn’t rip the guts out of trespassing Ryanists and there was nothing left to burn or electrocute. They were bored and yet they were not alone. Some of them were growing closer to each other, even though they came from different parts of Rapture and different kinds of people. He’d always been too tough to really show it, but inside Eddie felt a bit weaker at times. Every time Claire cringed at the sight of peril.

Since they took her away from Fort Frolic, kidnapped her off stage as she’d called it, she hadn’t let anyone come near her, especially not Eddie who’d picked her up ignoring anything she might’ve said. Now he knew she was hurt inside at the time, both mentally and physically. What Cohen did to her through his disciple was unforgivable and Eddie wished he could’ve killed both of them. His previous male ‘star’ had undoubtedly disappeared by force. The whole thing disgusted him more than he thought it would. But it made him shiver all over every time he thought about it. In all these weeks, Claire hadn’t once changed her clothes and she was still moving around barefoot and in the formerly pristine white dress, tainted by dark red blood. As he had watched Adelaide passing, he’d noticed Claire hiding behind him, but she’d backed away when he’d tried to comfort her. But now, he suddenly felt the warmth and comfort of her embrace. Tucking her head against his shirt, she said: “Promise you will protect me against Finn, against all of them.”

“I…I promise,” Eddie said.

Then either of them didn’t say anything for a while and just stood there silently.

Darren and Sandy were walking along the borders of the streets that the rebels of Atlas controlled, that they had helped conquer.

“We’ve come a long way haven’t we?” Sandy said. Darren nodded.

They walked a bit further while Sandy tried to put together what she wanted to say and what she was thinking at the moment. Then she said: “Here, this is for you.” She handed Darren a worn piece of paper before continuing, “it was in the archives and I thought you might like it. I asked Wyatt to find it. Go on, take a look.”

Darren looked to Sandy as her cheeks mildly blushed and then studied the paper, all wrinkled and torn. It said something about a girl that supposedly died about a year ago. She had wavy shiny midnight black hair like Sandy’s and delightful green eyes and said to be about ten years old when she passed away. Her name was Lilly Bradford. She was their Little Sister, now eleven years old.

“I figured we could call her that, Lilly, instead of well… ehm…” Sandy said as she didn’t really want to say ‘thing’ to Darren. He seemed to like the little tyke well Lilly as much as he liked Sandy.

“Yes, thank you,” Darren said as he put her arms around Sandy and held her in a tight embrace.

Ernie and Buck were all alone at the ADAM filtering house. Ernie Donner had been thinking about a lot of things a lot lately, but whether it was the civil war escalating, the truce meetings being tomorrow or his bigger muscles making him rely more on them than on his slightly above average mind, with Buck filling in the gaps… Whether it was any of those, things had become a lot clearer.

When he saw a girl the other day, she smiled at him, yet he didn’t smile back. It wasn’t that she was ugly or anything or that he was in a foul mood with all the things he and the others had gone through, but he just wasn’t interested in her at all. He could see she knew and that he hurt her, but he couldn’t bring himself to return her feelings. All those months ago, when he’d lived and worked at Fontaine Futuristics, he’d been good friends with a man called Arthur Portley. He had blond, curly hair and deep brown eyes and the kindest heart. He thought he had forgotten about him. Today, he couldn’t stop thinking about him.

Cautiously so nobody could hear him, Ernie said to Buck: “I think… I think I might like men.”