Elijah Rhodes Brown
Before I became a Watchman agent, life was very simple back then. I was a little black boy growing up in Harlem, New York City. A neighborhood in Upper Manhattan, you see. The neighborhood I grew up in was tough where crime and unemployment was high because I grew up living through the Great Depression in the 30s. I was there to see the Old World for what it is and only fools with rose-tinted glasses would want to bring it back. A fool man's game to bring back the Old World.
But I digress, I grew up with my parents: mom worked at home as a housewife while father worked at an upstart automobiles company called "Steyn Motors" as a factory worker. We get by with my father's line of work at Steyn Motors and he taught me all the ropes there is to life. He was there at every point of my life, never running away when things get tough during the Depression. We were a middle-lower class family living in the streets of Harlem in one of those apartment blocks. All of the immigrant families stayed in our lane as New York continued to gentrify itself.
I am a black kid in 1930s America and life was tough for minorities, black people included. White folks have always stepped on the black man's neck for centuries and expect us to get on our two feet after decades of slavery and segregation notwithstanding. At school and the neighborhood, I was picked on by the white kids for my skin color. Called me a "monkey", "coon", and a "n****r" at school playgrounds. Turns out, if people view you as subhuman and treat you as one then you'll grow up with a low of self-esteem and trust issues. You internalize that racism when society mandates that your kind are lesser and maybe have doubts that you are human after all. A person without emotions and I came to repress it as a stoic.
Perhaps the white kids weren't the only ones bothering me, there are the other black kids picking on me as I was easy picking. I developed a hard shell around me and rarely ever show my sentimental soft side. Every day and night, I trained as a boxer when I was 13 to grasp something known as "power" and "strength". It's the only language that I knew of. Mastering the skills of the self in the martial arts in a Japanese dojo that knew of no race. In life I have learned to depend on myself and that the only person that matters in this world is myself. Black and white, I have many enemies on this world.
When my turn on getting picked around at the playground came around, I was able to defend myself and turn the tables around at the bully. I grabbed the white boy's collar and as I was about to whoop his lily-*ss, my father intervened and stopped the both of us from me giving him some righteous *ss-whooping. Father grew up in a family of pastors and always told me the importance of forgiveness and "turning the other cheek around". He cried as he grasped me in his arms. Probably distraught that the little boy used his time punching bags in the dojo rather than going to church. Jesus didn't taught us to fight after all.
Father told me "Even though we are constantly picked on for our race, you should rise above and become a better man yourself" as a mantra for me to follow. But I don't think I can. It's easy to say that to reassure yourself but the persecution... it just keeps going on. Father knew that beating him up would only reinforce the negative stereotype that our people have. I simply stayed silent and nodded so the old man would stop crying. Looking back, maybe we ought to show a little kindness to each other after all and the root of all conflict comes from not understanding one another.
However, it wasn't all doom and gloom back then. I lived a normal teenage life in my lane in Harlem. Went to High School and made some friends in the football team when I joined them in 1946. I was 16 at the time and that's when I made sweet love with a black girl. I was the brooding type but that girl whom I forgot the name of tried to pierce through my cold exterior in the dates that we have together. I don't know what she saw in me but I didn't want her to come closer to me as I wasn't able to grapple with my emotions just yet. Or she'll become disappointed when she gets around to finding an empty man beneath it all. We frequently went on dates with each other. Always going to that same café and carnival in Harlem. But her parents found a job in Frisco and we bid our goodbyes to our rather short if eventful relationship. We both waved our goodbyes at each other and looking back, she really did try to teach how to be human.
However, my most memorable teenage experience was that one fateful day when I was playing basketball in the court yards together with my brothers. We were dribbling and making shoots until suddenly a 10-year old white boy came to gawk at us boys playing this weird game of ball. I was never good with basketball but I was trying and the boys noticed the boy gawking at us playing basketball. When the boy came and asked if he could play, my brothers were adamantly against it. But I was the only one who accepted his request. I probably figured that he would be the worst basketball player to make me feel a bit better. We allowed him to test out his moves at the court and to our surprise, the boy is good at it. Always landing his shots and had good posture. We allowed him to play with us to test his mettle. He was on the other side of the team and he became the star MVP of it all.
Carrying his team and evading my maneuvers and we weren't holding back. They won at the end and it's all thanks to that boy who came to spice things up. After the match ended, I befriended the young boy if only to learn his techniques. Turns out you can learn a lot from the most unexpected of people and day and night, I trained with the 10-year old in basket in order to better ourselves. Taught him a thing or two about karate as well. A genuine friendship blossomed on those weeks and black or white, it doesn't matter. However all goods things have to come to an end. The boy's parents didn't want him to mingle around people like us so they stopped him from meeting us in that courtyard. The meeting ceased but looking back, I knew that boy looked familiar later on in Rapture. Never got to ask for his name but it was the experience that matters.
I enrolled into a black college in 1950 in Tuskegee University, Alabama when universities weren't open to people like us. I was studying English linguistics and literature. It felt... reassuring to be with my black brothers where I could express my self comfortably with little discrimination. Yet my college life was the same as anybody else filled with ups and downs. I earned that English degree in 1954 with my hard work and sweat yet I spared little time for socializing. I moved to Alabama around 1949 when I was presented with an opportunity to enrolled in the college there and life was hard in the south. Didn't made many friends outside of college, didn't intend to. An atmosphere of fear was in the air as the Ku Klux Klan set up shop in Montgomery and were the strongest in the south.
I got a lot of weird looks by onlookers when I walk across the street. Probably thought I'm a criminal or I was out for their wives. There were 'bouts of the word "n****r" thrown at me but most treated me with patronization. Looking down on me and calling me "boy" and such. I tried to pay little attention to them but sometimes that feeling of discrimination stings and not every person could process it the same. However, everything changed in 1956 when a black man was wrongly accused of sexually assaulting a white woman and paid the price when the woman's friends beat him up, set him on fire, and dragged him across town in a lynching without even asking "why" or "who". He's a black man and to them, it's all they needed.
The sight of the lynching of that poor man was an eye-awakening moment for me. Not only because of the fact that it's white folks killing a black man and desecrating his corpse but because it showed the true depth of human depravity tucked away behind all of their Southern hospitality and smile in a society where order is at a flux. This is what tribalism and misguided superiority does to a motherf*cker. His lynching pointed me towards a career in law enforcement because I felt that I could have done something to stop it but I was too weak and I'm not facing bullies anymore, I'm facing a mob. The police are hardly a friend of the black community but I just hoped that I could leave change through it.
But father had a different idea and we moved from Montgomery, Alabama after the poor man's lynching because it has become no place for people like us. My father worked in Steyn Motors and is a good friend of the boss there known as Howard Steyn. Supposed to be a big shot in America's corporations and to later learn that he will built Rapture in the future was surprising. Father thought that the pay is good and he believed that I should continue his legacy in Steyn Motors as a factory worker. I didn't felt like wasting my time in a factory churning out cars. However there weren't opportunities for me and father so I decided to follow in his footsteps if begrudgingly.
I began working in Steyn Motors in 1957 using my father's connection. I felt like I was a token member of their company as I was one of the few minorities working in their steel mill. Repetition and machinery is where I'm becoming good at and I worked harder to make the naïve if well-meaning old man proud. My pay and condition were equal to any white worker here but I felt like I didn't get enough respect around here as they patronized me as "boy" and looked down upon me as a "lazy bum". Yet I worked twice as harder to prove that notion wrong and my drive to improve myself caught the attention of the big man himself - Howard Steyn.
I didn't trust Mr. Steyn initially but the moment I talked to him was one of the few moments I talked to an actual human. He didn't look down upon me as someone who is one of the wealthiest industrialists in the US, he treated me like a human being. Mr. Steyn came from a poor background and he never forgotten his roots to which I respect him immensely. I am usually a person who has never let his hard shell crack or show sentimentality but Mr. Steyn is a friendly face to be around with and I now understood why my father liked him. Our friendship flourished to the point that he had me managing an entire factory in NYC producing electronics like TVs, radios, and such. My black brothers didn't had it as good as me and often times companies refused their employment based on the color of their skin.
It was a damn good honor to serve Mr. Steyn and his company for several years. I was probably one of the first person of color to be in a position of power - managing a Steyn Co. factory no less and it just made me all the more ambitious. Rising through the ladder of power gave people a power rush to do more and more in the service of thy self and I was about to learn it. Life and fortune was beginning to look upon me favorably and I became too... complacent with my position and material possessions. It was 1962 when everything changed. I didn't know who launched first, America or the Soviets and Cubans but in the end, neither of them won. My life turned upside down when the bombs hit.
Now, I was one of the few lucky ones to be chosen by Mr. Steyn himself owing to me being the son of the star "black employee" as well as a friend of him. Dad and mom didn't join because they wanted to stay in their roots in Harlem and they were growing old. I accepted their request to die together in that atomic blast on NYC. Father was an American patriot and wanted to die in America. I never understood why he maintained his loyalty to a nation that didn't accept people like us but he is stubborn old man who can't let go. The Old World is gone and I shed no tear for it. Yet in some place in my heart, I wish I was with him instead rather than being involved in all of this bullsh*t.
Being chosen to inherit humanity in Rapture was a huge undertaking even for myself who I'm just a humble employee of Steyn Motors. The lives of millions of men, children, and women who perished in the nuclear bombs became a weight to my consciousness. Rapture, this underwater city dome, was too small for them and they died because they weren't worthy enough to represent humanity. I nearly developed a survivor's guilt with all of those lives in my mind but I tried to press onward like the resourceful, ambitious man myself. I am serving myself only and my needs come first. I know how to make myself useful as a black man in Rapture City. Though living underwater can be quite disorienting, the beauty of it all was simply enchanting. An art deco city of the future...
I didn't pursue Mr. Steyn in order to join his company again. I don't know why but it's either me being too pride for my own good or it reminded me too much of my father but I explored other avenues to attain more power for myself. I rekindled my ambition of joining a law enforcement agency to keep the peace in Rapture. The Mayor, Mr. Steyn himself, as well as the City Council established the so-called "City Monitors" to police the underwater city and scout for malcontents amongst us. He might have assembled the world's brightest minds but they didn't necessarily agree with him. I was one of the first to join the City Monitors when it had just been formed and had the badge to prove it.
My training in the City Monitors was a breeze walk in the park. They had you doing physical wellness test by running around the field, doing sit-ups, as well as doing some gun range shooting to improve the cadet's marksmanship. The thought of a black man joining a police force was out of my imagination but Mayor Steyn was building an egalitarian utopia where merit matters most. For a moment, I believed in his vision of building a safe haven for humanity. But I didn't embrace that humanity itself, not after what I've seen, and power as well as ambition were the only thing that filled my hollow shell. They say to judge one's character instead of color but I didn't have much character. Just a man trying to live by in this big underwater city.
Yet it was refreshing to see my colleagues treating me as equals in the City Monitors but I should have known that the comradery and pay was too good for me to prepare for my next assignment. When I was a rookie fresh from training in the CM, I patrolled the streets of Rapture in my cruiser along with a partner of mine called James; younger than me. James is a good guy if naïve and he wasn't suited for the moral complexities that comes with this line of work. The citizens of Rapture gawked at the sight of a black man in uniform. Cold glances were made but I didn't let them bother me. James was always at by my side on patrols and together, we roughen as well as rounded up some petty criminals in Rapture. Keeping the city safe even though we are small fries in the system. Yet the badge and baton gave me a sense of power that I once craved.
That was just the crux of my line of work as a Monitor, I was forced to take orders that could conflict with one's... moral code. And that happened in my big assignment. You see, there's an ongoing problem in Rapture with how human test subjects keep running away from Smart Labs for experimentation. You would think that these people are volunteers but the eggheads figured to play God and tried to kidnap some people for their twisted experiments. Notwithstanding is the murmurs among the Monitors of the existence of a secret branch of the Interior Department known as the "Watchmen" like some sort of comic book hero. The ones rumored to be dealing with runaway subjects that the Monitors innocently call as "Runners". I was confused for a moment. How could Mayor Steyn let such things to continue?
However, I never questioned my orders and being at the Chief's bad side would be bad for my health. My first big assignment was that me and James were to catch a Runner by the name of "Laura" and a baby girl she carried along with her. It was me and James running in an alleyway in Hectate Square chasing after the perpetrator. It was a surreal feeling to be running after her as they tried to grasp the fresh air that is "freedom". My ancestors were the descendants of slaves brought to America by slavers. Now, I am playing the role of a slave catcher hunting down a stray runaway slave and that feeling unsettled me to the very core. My ancestors tried running for freedom but here I am snuffing away their freedom.
She was fast but not strong enough to continue as she carried her baby with her and lost the strength to continue on running. We captured her in an alleyway in Hectate Square and pinned her down while James took the baby. Perhaps James felt guilt in taking the baby away from her and suggested if we let them go and purposefully fail the mission for their sake. But I refused and that's when I later came to hate myself for it. I told him that we are going to turn them in and he resigned to the reality that we could not do much in this situation. I was blinded by the pursuit of power in that moment and when the police van carried them away, I could see the terror in the woman's face as well as the crying of the baby that will continue to haunt me to this day.
For my bravery and competence in capturing the Runner, I was given the option to join the still-secretive "Watchmen" rather than James. They probably saw through the cameras when James hesitated and I followed orders to a fault. Impressed that I had the makings of a tool of the state. In that pursuit for power, prestige and validation; I accepted their offer with little thought believing that it could help me to climb one step closer towards prestige in the ladder of power. I didn't value humanity back then and all of my life as a powerless negro led up to this moment. I was now officially a Watchman.
... I have a dream! That one day me and my little children could enjoy the fineries of a nice jacuzzi, a Cadillac, and a furnished condo. America has always told me that it is the land of opportunity and the melting pot of cultures. That it is the land of freedom and opportunities that they once promised to me in two simple words: The American Dream. Yet that dream is far from us reaching with our grasp and it is in Rapture where I would start life anew. The Rapture Dream where every man can create by his own hands and succeed in life without religion, race, and sex becoming a barrier to one's ambition. My promotion to becoming a Watchman was my calling in climbing through the ladders of power in Rapture.
However, my expectations were dashed when I actually got around to working at their office in the first day of the job. My office was a poorly-ventilated, sh*tty desk for my first day as a Watchmen in Rapture. But we all got to start somewhere - at the bottom. The Watchmen is a "secret police" force much like the Gestapo where we had to use our emotional intelligence to infiltrate resistance cells as well as using a bit of our brain to process and disseminate intelligence. Making sure that we aren't consuming misinformation for our ops. The Watchmen doesn't have much use for soulless robotic followers but emotionally intelligent people who know how to follow orders. I have a hardshell and little sentimentality as a hard-boiled man. I don't feel emotions, I replicate them. I cry when someone tells me that their relatives died yet feeling empty in the inside.
Truth be told, I was living a hollow existence back then when I was a Watchman. Not much mattered to me in this world, not even God or an ideology, just rising to the top of the food chain. The only thing that matters in this world is the material world and the self. I trained my self every day to become a better man tomorrow. Workouts and gun-range shooting, you name it. Mastering the self is what matters most and I couldn't be more happy than looking at my muscles. Didn't made a lot of friends, never intended to and that's what I came to regret later on. However, working at the Watchman wasn't what I expected as I had envisioned a life of glamor and danger at every turn. Instead of confronting humans, I was facing at monitors where numbers and words are rushing through my eyesight as a lot of things were going on.
The cold soulless interface of Rapture's SurveillanceNET came to replace human interactions and my eyes were glued on that damned monitor. I was surveilling the lives of men and women of Rapture through a camera lens view and it was as if I was... God itself by peering through the lives of these people without them noticing. You have stories of servicemen losing their humanity in duty but never had one to begin with and the black coat suited me too nicely as a Watchman. By peering through other people's rooms, I was given an insight to their intimate lives which I was not a part of or had no right to seeing. A life of doing SIGINT ops for the Watchmen from the comforts of my office is a boring existence. Just waiting for weeks on end for an interesting case to pop up for me to deal. When there wasn't any ops for me to do, I just looked through at the monitor and just watching them trying to live life.
Sometimes things could get spicy there and when two loving lovebirds meet, the magic just happens behind closed curtains. Yeah, I watched them doing the deed and sensing boredom, I thought about grabbing some tissues to watch the show. But I went against it in the end as it was "unprofessional" for a Watchman to pleasure himself at his line of duty and it would be hard to clean the stains anyway. Looking at the monitor allowed me to see and hear how people live intimately. I was never a sentimental kind of man, I tend to push away those who try to pierce through this metal heart with their "love" and "compassion". I always believed that nobody can understand me but the truth is, I pushed those who tried at every turn. So this miserable lonely existence was on me and my only entertainment in life as a form of escapism from isolation was seeing people trying to live life under the eye of SurveillanceNET.
I learned a great deal from peering through other people's lives through SurveillanceNET. Their desires, their emotions, how they could connect with one another, their bonding over shared interests... I thought it was all too sappy for a hard-boiled detective like me and always wondered how these people could form an emotional connection with one another. The more I peered through their lives and learn how they live, the more personal it gets. I took an interest towards this particular woman whom I nicknamed her "Pretty Sarah". She always invited men to her apartment room and through an ear tracker, I could hear her divulging plans on committing "acts of terrorism" against the city itself. I found out that she's a Red Cap anarchist. A terrorist good up to no good whose leader is said to be one zealous Ernesto Sandino.
Yet if you reverse the roles between Red Cap and Watchmen then there would be little difference between us. They are lone wolf terrorists with a cause where the Communist Manifesto is their Bible while we are state terrorists using surveillance and mass arrests as a means of subjugation. Anyway, Sarah was up to no good and like any other potential enemy of the state, I revealed her location to my superiors in the Watchmen. I always lied to myself that I'm not guilty for the death of these people whose lives weigh on my conscious. I merely look at their miserable lives then tell my superiors on where to look for them. I seldom carried a gun and never killed a Red Cap terrorist yet but that was one sweet lie to make myself feel better in this line of duty. The line of duty where you have to compromise your morals for power and keeping Rapture safe.
The next day, the Monitors managed to take "Pretty Sarah" along with co-conspirators who were planning on breaking free some test subjects from Rapture's Smart Labs. I was there when they took her in and she had a resigned look to her face where she accepts what's gonna come to her. I heard the eggheads back in the Smart Labs saying that they have something special in plan for these "terrorists". They called such monstrosities that they're cooking as "Skinboys". A boogeyman they created to scare people like us in line lest they turn us into one. Got a hard-skin and an equally large Magnum for deep sea labor as well as killing the local wildlife with their acidic white liquid. Would never want to be turned into one and I got to admit that the Red Caps have balls to rebel if they know that they're going to be turned into one.
I was there when they demonstrated the raw power of the "Skinboy transformation" to demonstrate the process to a bunch of Watchmen. It was me and a bunch of eggheads hurdling around behind a glass wall. They got "Pretty Sarah" strapped into this table where all sorts of twisted genetic splicing experiments are going on. Injected her with something known as a "Genome" all over her body in massive doses. Some kind of gene manipulation vial and so that's how they mass-produced skinboys to do Rapture's heavy labor.
The process was petrifying. Her skin became all dull and her muscle bloated, the clothes literally ripping apart to reveal the monster in the flesh, some of her "female features" disappeared, a large Magnum grew out of her torso, she lost all bodily hair and her human head was molded to become a dome-shaped head as she screamed throughout the process which has come to haunt me in my dreams. I remember Sarah when she was pretty with her long blonde hair, blue eyes, and warm smile. Now she's not so "pretty" looking after all. The eggheads all smiled at their pet creation. They found a certain twisted beauty in death and bodily deformation.
I was about to throw up at the sight of this unfolding in front of my very eyes and excused myself for a moment to leave. This is the first time I broke down and fall on my knees at such a sight. That's when I realized what kind of job that I had signed up for. All the people that I have condemned from the comforts of my chair... they were all surely turned into Skinboys. I screamed for dear life and life in Rapture turned hellish as a total mental wreck.
In the tales that humans write, the hero who refuses the call would certainly be compelled to do the right thing when faced with such scenario. But life is complicated and I didn't think about quitting my job just yet. I fell to the abyss as I turned to alcoholism to drink away my woes and found myself half-naked except wearing my underpants after that one fateful day on Rapture's Smart Lab. The screams of the runner and "Pretty Sarah" continued to haunt me in my dreams. Sleeping ceased to be my form of escapism from the hellhole that is this underwater city. I know how a man could fall from salvation when he accepts the temptations of drugs and alcohol so I didn't thought about doing such things to alleviate the pain that I have. Furthermore, suicide by hanging is such an easy way out and certainly not how I wanted to die for someone like me. And God? I think God died back there in 1962.
I was lost in my thoughts in that run-down apartment where I thought about how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. Just another nobody in Rapture and an adage to the city's background. A passing memory of someone and nobody by my side to live a shared experience with. I felt like I was the only one that mattered and that nobody could understand me. But I was wrong to think that way. Life would be lonely and soulless without somebody by your side and I came to crave that feeling of companionship which I tossed away for so long. Power seemed all the more hollow in Rapture but there is little alternative to be found. Joining the Red Caps would mean an early transformation into becoming a Skinboy against my will. So I continued my job as a Watchman not only for power but for self-survival. Those who think they can change the world by their own... are surely idiots.
I sat on top of a skyscraper as I overlooked Rapture's nightlife. It's a beautiful city from the outside, a monument to the Old World in all of its glory. Yet inside, it's a rotten hellhole that will chew you out. Certainly Old World problems have continued to persist in Rapture. Crime, drug consumption, political polarization, and armed insurrection. I overlook Rapture's denizens as they try to live life and continue on as normal in spite of the spike in anarchist terrorism. How absolutely pitiful they are for those who live in the Core Regions. That dome became both a physical and mental barrier to their psyche. They've become complacent as men like us do the fighting and dirty work to maintain the peace back home.
These folks put on a mask of normalcy and civility. They call themselves "civilized" people while those of the bottom-class are seen as subhuman filth. These people turn to other forms of escapism to escape from the cruel reality around them such as Virtual Reality worlds and injecting Chromosome all over their body to alter their appearances. But I know that behind that mask is a beast whose desires are chained by the threat of the law. I've seen the conduct of those eggheads in Smart Lab and I like to think that Mayor Steyn didn't know about them, if only. I hate those who are disingenuous and hide behind a mask to cover their true self. However, who am I to preach, I am merely an empty man hiding behind a mask of professionalism and stoicism.
The underwater city is a cruel and cold place made out of steel beams behind all of Rapture's glowing bright lights. A place where people could hardly understand each other or could take the time to care for one another as they are too involved in their own problems as lonely individuals. I thought this city is no place for humanity until I took a good look at the sight of a happy family frolicking around Rapture's shops filled with warmth, joy, and compassion. I certainly envied them in how much they've lived a happier and more fulfilling life than me. I used to think that those who are merely satisfied with what they have as being sore losers... but I'm not so certain anymore. Perhaps there's something to save in Rapture after all and I came to grasp emotions for the first time as a hard-boiled detective down on his luck.
As I was about to leave, I was approached by a certain Japanese broad who looked like she knew how to fight and break some men like me apart. I instinctively pulled out my Colt Python but she seemed rather unfazed by it. Looks 25-years old, had a long black hair, sharp jawline, and a resting b*tch face but I don't know about the b*tch part just yet. We continued to stare at each other's soul as the wind blew on Rapture's towers. And that's how my life would change when I met her. That stern empty gaze into my eye tells me that she has seen some things, been through things that no women should. I knew that she must be another Watchman who was looking after me from the monitors when I broke down on that apartment. It was too... convenient that she entered into my social life. Especially on top of a rooftop.
As she drove me back into HQ, the mysterious Japanese-looking woman broke the ice and told me that her name is "Megumi" or "Meg" for short but surnames don't matter amongst Watchmen. She's supposed to be a hot-shot detective and the best agent that the Watchmen could offer. I heard she's a real Amazonian who has turned in 21 runners, broke the bones of rebels, and a sharpshooter with an eagle eye. I introduced myself as "Elijah" only and she seemed rather unimpressed with my name. Maybe she read the files and found out that I had been wasting time as a Watchman by watching monitors and pushing buttons. Anyway, she's a real killer or so I've heard and I wanted to find that out by myself. We didn't exchange much words as we weren't close yet but there's a certain something in her that I wanted to come closer to find something...
Back in base, we were supposed to be briefed for a new mission handed out by the chief but before that, I wanted to get to know her better. See what makes her stick out and why she has a certain reputation amongst the Watchmen. I walked to the shooting range where she was practicing her marksmanship with her Walther PP. I put on my ear mufflers and challenged her to a competitive shooting. She grinned for a moment and nodded in agreement without uttering a word. I used to think that women should know their place before men and I was too cocky in thinking that this woman is just a wannabe action girl in the wrong kind of story. Man, was I wrong, she's perfect in everything she did. She scored a perfect bullseye score in shooting with her Walther. Not wanting my pride tarnished by a woman, I fired my shot as I pulled my Python revolver. I somehow missed every shot I made! I looked at her face and I knew she was going to laugh at my predicament.
I challenged her into more and more duels as my pride got the best of me. When I challenged her to karate, she obliged. I wasn't pulling myself back from hitting her and I thought that I could knock her out with a simple grab and throw technique. As I went for the first strike, she knocked my legs out and proceeded to throw me into the ground as she looked at me with a satisfied look on her face. When I challenged her on running laps around the track field, she likewise obliged and I prepared myself. When it began, at first I had the upper hand over her as I attempted to run as fast as I could. But I eventually began to tire myself out and began to lose strength as I didn't conserve enough energy for the run. She overtook me and by the end, she won against me.
I couldn't believe it, I thought I was the best in the field as a Watchman only to be bested by a woman. It's true what they say: "there's always a person better than you" and I would later come to accept that lesson. Yet her smug superiority motivated me to better myself instead and quit the alcohol addiction out of envy for her skills... and perhaps admiration to be at her level. After our little feud, she invited me to drink some coffee at her office where we chatted for a bit as actual humans rather than dumb gorillas trying to one-up each other. She explained to me her philosophy in life. How she enjoys the thrill of battle as well as the feeling of "breaking a man" both physically and mentally as a woman who was "powerless" in her life. I am a man and I'm sitting right in front of her and that's when I realized that she's someone who's not to be messed with.
Megumi told me her reason in joining the Watchmen. She told me how she's an ambitious woman who will stop at nothing to gain power, influence and most importantly validation. Figuring that the Watchmen are the best conduit for her goals. Always improving her skills and techniques to become a better woman than yesterday and how human emotions as well as connection are ultimately useless to her. A woman of action and cold logic rather than words or feelings. Ultimately, her greatest desire, she told me, was to attain human immortality through genetic therapy so that she can enjoy all the riches in life after accumulating enough power and wealth. Her moral duty of protecting Rapture precedes her worldly desires. She scoffed at idealistic fools who think that they can change the system.
I saw myself in her as a man who values strength and professionalism greatly. For the first time I felt like I could connect and relate with someone based on shared ideals and interests. As time passes by, we talked more and more as we opened ourselves to each other about hobbies, philosophy, and so much more. I forgot what joke I told her on that night but she laughed with a warm smile for the first time after getting rid of that snarky tough girl act around me. And so... this is how it must have felt like to grasp emotions and to connect with someone. We are two selfish empty people on this cold city... but our emotions felt genuine for the first time and deep down she knew it as she lightened up. I was going to ask her out for a date but went against it as I thought that she wouldn't be down for such useless activities deep down in my cold heart.
The Chief summoned me and Megumi to his office for a briefing on our new top mission. Never knew his name but the Watchmen isn't a fraternity group either. Before he could detail us on our next mission, the Chief chastised us for arriving late and dawdle around HQ. Megumi's chuckle turned into professional silence and we switched seamlessly from people to career officers... or we were always like that. When the Chief is done with his choir preach of the importance of duty, he told us that there's a situation transpiring in Rapture's Iron Altar steel forgery in the Industrial Area. A group of workers have taken over a steel factory with the organizing skills of one "John Brown" named after the mythical hard-working black worker with a hammer in his hand. The Iron Altar is already surrounded by the Monitors and our orders are to infiltrate the Altar from the back and silence the ring leader.
Megumi nodded in acknowledgement of her orders but I inquired the Chief as to the identity of this ring leader in order to know what kind of terrorist are we dealing with. For some reason, the Chief simply collected his breath and hunched down. Stating that the ring leader is a "dangerous ideological zealot who could not be reasoned with". I was confused for a moment but looking back, I should have known better, he knew what was going on. The zealot archetype can be found on both sides of this conflict. The Monitors genuinely believe they are keeping the peace while the Red Caps or Chaps whatever believe in fighting against unjust hierarchies. These two groups have irreconcilable aims and ideas to the point that they could not understand each other's language.
Before we had to go, the Chief told us about a new "arrangement". He told me that I'm going out with a partner now or a "handler". I was certainly surprised by this arrangement but a welcomed one nonetheless. Being assigned under her wing stung me as the obviously more senior man and I felt like I was being assigned to a "Commissar". I don't want to weigh her down with my "rookiness" and it felt patronizing to be treated that way. But the woman simply smiled with a mysterious intent in her mind and shook my hands. Told me that she was "eager to learn from each other in future missions". Her words felt reassuring but "future missions...", oh Megumi if only I could tell you what would happen next.
As me and Megumi rush to her car, I looked at Megumi when she sat down on her seat and told her "Megumi, promise me on this one, that you will live after this operation is over so that we can get to know... each other better". I didn't know what was in my mind to compel me to say that but the look on her face turned to that of a warm smile behind that cold veneer of a professional Watchman and she responded "You too, Elijah". I was all flustered and embarrassed by her comment to talk while we were in the car. Looking back, I looked at her as some kind of role model to aspire to as a Watchman. A professional from the reports I've heard with accomplishments decorating her name. I'm not good and there will always be people better than us but it's okay, we could improve... as humans from here on out. Never considered myself a human but that interaction seemed like it.
Our primary concern now was the elimination of one ring leader by the name of John Brown in Rapture's Iron Altar, rightful property of Mayor Steyn. We went from the back of the Altar which was lightly defended. Before we entered, Megumi pulled out her silenced Walther PP while rocking a white T-shirt, suspenders with gun holsters, and black trousers as a skilled infiltrator. Me? I was wearing my usual drab black coat while armed with a Colt Python and a Mossberg shotgun at the side. She gave me a Codec with the code 162.1 if I ever need anything as well as a night-vision mask to see through the dark out of her own volition. I wore the mask and the green-black interface as well as numbers came to overwhelm my senses. Just like the monitor, it reduced the living people there acting as guards to mere enemies and numbers with statistics on their beating heart rate.
Megumi made the first move by disarming the guns and knocking them out with a good one-two pistol whip on the nerve. She went first to cover my advance and began taking out armed insurrectionist with her silenced Walther PP with such precision without alerting the protesting workers on the front from getting riled up with armed gunfight in the inside. She disposed the bodies and guarded the interior to alert me of any sudden movement. I made my way upstairs where I encountered four armed guards with a silenced Uzi. I took cover from behind a steel crate as their bullets bounced off. I peeked through and began lining my shots to hit them on the head for an instant kill. One down. Two down. Three down. Four down. And five down precisely with 5 bullets and only leaving one left.
I figured that the ring leader was inside the office square of the Altar and as I knocked the door down, I was greeted to the sight of "John Brown" himself. Some sort of man of steel. Wears an arc welder to cover his face, worker's overall with a Kevlar vest, and a large steel hammer on his hand to boot. So this is the zealot of the Red Cap that I'm facing. As I was about to pull out my Magnum, he tossed the office table against me and knocked out my Python out of my hands from the sheer force of it all. Thus I was forced to fight in melee combat against the one John Brown. My barefist against his hammer of steel. What an unequal yet exhilarating fight. A fight that could prove my worth as a Watchman.