Human names will be used.
"It is not a dystopia . . . but like all utopias, failed even before the first shovel struck dirt . . . It doesn't matter if the utopia is in fact realized . . . it is doomed from the moment its founder pronounces the capital "U."
-Christine Tarkowski, 2005
Another Utopia Falls
Alfred, aka the personification of America, was amazed at the world around him. He was currently in the Atlantic Ocean, more than eighteen fathoms below the surface and in one of the most futuristic cities in the world. Sure, the decor was fitting for the time period, but the technology wasn't.
Alfred was standing in one of the many glass lined pathways scattered throughout Rapture, staring out at the fish swimming around the buildings. It was truly a beautiful sight, but Alfred couldn't help but think that this paradise could make a complete one-eighty in a matter of days.
"Ah, Mr. Jones," Andrew Ryan, the founder of Rapture, said as he walked into the pressurized hallway. "You are a very tricky person to track down."
Alfred smiled. "Ah, sorry about that, I just wanted to explore. This place is amazing!"
Ryan smiled. "That's quite alright, my boy. I still take strolls around the city, as well, if the mood strikes me." Ryan walked a couple steps closer to Alfred. "I am awfully pleased that you accepted my invitation to join us down here in Rapture."
"Well," Alfred said, "I still need to be present for the World Meetings up on the surface, but I'd be sure to come back as often as I can."
Most people think that Alfred doesn't pay attention to his surroundings and he's oblivious to his own actions, but that was exactly how he wanted those people to perceive him, which is why he noticed and knew exactly why Andrew Ryan's pale hand tightened on his cane.
Ryan forced a pleasant smile on his face that didn't fool Alfred for one second. "I do hope that you'll be able to stay for the New Year's Eve celebration at least?"
Alfred nodded. "Sure, I don't have anything else to do."
Ryan nodded. "Great. If you need anything, you can come to my office."
"Thank you," Alfred said and shook Ryan's offered hand.
Alfred watched Ryan walk away. He knew that under his masked cheerfulness, there was a hint of fear that lingered. Something wasn't going as Ryan planned down here in Rapture and Alfred decided that he better find out what it was before it came and bit him in the ass.
"Ludwig-san," Kiku started, "do you think it's alright to leave Feliciano-san alone?"
Ludwig scowled, but nodded anyway. "He can take care of himself for a little while."
Kiku and Ludwig were in a bathysphere heading down into the depths of Rapture with six other people. The entire group, except three people who were playing poker, was amazed by their first site of Rapture when the welcoming video that played lifted up.
"Do you get a bad feeling about this place, too, Ludwig-san?" Kiku asked, staring down at the enormous underwater city.
Ludwig scowled. "Yes. I haven't even stepped foot in it and I can tell everything didn't go as planned for Andrew Ryan. We'll have to be careful."
Kiku nodded in agreement.
The bathysphere docked and the door swung open. Kiku and Ludwig allowed the other passengers to get off. Three of them flashed their badges and proceeded into Rapture. The other three were greeted by someone that welcomed them to Rapture and led them away.
"Mr. Beilschmidt and Mr. Honda, I presume?" a heavy-set man with brown hair and a welcoming smile on his face asked. The man had a very distinct southern American accent.
Ludwig stepped forward. "Yes, that's us."
The man stepped forward with his hand out to shake Ludwig's. "Great. My name's Travis McKenzie and I'm a here to show you folks around Rapture."
Ludwig shook Travis' hand. "I'm Ludwig Beilschmidt and this is my business partner Kiku Honda." Even though he and Kiku weren't allies anymore didn't mean they stopped being friends.
Kiku bowed his head in greeting, but shook Travis' hand as well.
"Well, if you fellas will just follow me, I'll show you to your rooms. Y'all don't have to worry about them bags. The porters will take care o' them." Ludwig and Kiku nodded and followed Travis out of the Welcome Center of Rapture. "Now, y'all are a-stayin' in Mercury Suites. Now, that's Kashmir Restaurant over yonder. Have a very diverse menu. Ate there once when I first came, some o' the best food I'd a ever had.
"Any medical needs you can take care of in the Medical Pavilion. If you fellas ever want to relax, I would suggest Arcadia. It's the heart of Rapture, it is: provides all the organic food and oxygen we need. However, to get in now, you have to pay. Ryan closed it to anyone who can't.
"Fort Frolic is the main shopping area of Rapture. There y'all find some clothing stores and many music related businesses run by Sander Cohen." Travis paused in his tour. "Crazy man, he is," he mumbled.
"Excuse me," Ludwig said, "what?"
Travis waved away Ludwig's concern. "Oh, it's nothing. This is Mercury Suites. Y'all bags should be here. I'll be leavin' y'all in the capable hands of Leslie, here. Good day." Travis left and Ludwig and Kiku turned to look at the smiling woman in a yellow dress.
"Welcome to Mercury Suites. Can I please have your names?"
Feliciano was worried for his friends. They left a week ago to America to catch a boat to bring them to a city called Rapture. By now, they were probably down in the city.
"Felici, I don't think this is a very good idea," Francis said to the brown haired nation.
Feliciano stood up in the tomato box he was standing in. "But big brother France, I'm worried for them. We may not be allies anymore, but they're still my friends."
Francis sighed. "As long as you know what you're doing, mon ami."
"I do," Feliciano said with conviction. Francis smiled at his enthusiasm and passed the shorter Italian a small backpack full of food. "Thank you, big brother France."
Francis smiled and hugged the Italian. "Anything for you and amore."
Feliciano blushed. "It's not like that."
Francis pet Feliciano on the head. "Of course not, Felici."
Feliciano sat down in the box and nodded to Francis to nail the top down.
Francis did so, albeit grudgingly. He didn't want the small nation to go into uncharted territory without anyone else to search for his beloved Ludwig, but he didn't have a choice in the matter. He drove the tomato crate with the hidden Italian to the docks and left the crate next to other crates that are going down to Rapture.
Feliciano fell asleep in the crate soon after he arrived on the boat. He tried to save as much food as he could so that he wouldn't need to steal down in Rapture.
Feliciano felt the boat dock and a few minutes later, the crate he was in was tilted and he bit his lip from letting out a grunt of pain as he fell against one side.
The ride was fairly smooth the rest of the way, and Feliciano felt whatever he was on lurch as it docked.
"Okay, unload the bathysphere!" one man shouted. He felt the surface he was on shift when people walked on it and wheeled the other crates off. Someone wheeled off the crate he was hidden in.
Feliciano carefully undid the screws on one side of the crate and crawled out, screwing the side back onto the crate after he was out.
"Everything is out, sir," one man said.
Feliciano hid behind the crate he crawled out of.
"You know the drill. Start sorting everything."
Feliciano's eyes widened as the men started walking around looking at all the boxes and marking them for the specific locations they were supposed to go. He ran as silently a he could behind a few pallets that were turned up on their sides.
"What?" the foreman shouted.
"We have a tomato crate, here."
The foreman narrowed his eyes. "Why would they order tomatoes when we grow them in Arcadia?" The other workers just gave him confused looks. "Idiots, because they didn't," he told them and moved the shotgun that was strapped around his back to the front and brought it up to eye level. He fired the four bullets in the magazine at the crate making sure that if anyone was in it, they would've been hit.
Feliciano swallowed nervously. That could've been him. He quickly ran from the room as the foreman and other workers looked into the box. If the place was supposed to be a utopia, why did the dock workers have guns? Something was seriously wrong here and Feliciano just hoped he would find Ludwig before he was caught in the middle of it.