Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pathologic: Day Three, on which the Bachelor will be offered to proceed in hunting the imperceptible enemy and assess necrosis possibilities

At 7am:

Infected in the past 24 hours: 34 ppl.

Died in the past 24 hours: 31 ppl.

Gone missing: 11 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 93
Number of infected: 48 ppl

Less than ten days remain.

They say that in its early stages the plague is manageable. Incrementally, the little bar in the top right hand corner slowly climbs whether I’m asleep or awake. They say that once the plague has established itself (around the halfway mark) it rockets, floods the immune system, and death is imminent. Naturally, I keep my pills well stocked. Like everything, however, there’s a trade-off. I can’t just pop pills whenever I feel like it; each boost to my immune system shaves off a bit of my overall health, which means I have to scour the pharmacies for tourniquets.

Simon’s Body

Rubin (poser-magician-doctor) has fled his house, now overrun with plague, and the body of Simon Kain, which has started this whole mess, has also disappeared.

The Apiary 
The Olgimskiys and Kains are in a tussle over the Apiary and the Polyhedron—two massive structures at opposite ends of the town. George Kain worries that the looming white asylum has become a breeding ground for disease, while Olkimskiy says the same thing about the spindly, impossible spiral that is the Polyhedron. I am charged to quiet these fears by taking a visit to the very top of the Polyhedron, which is home to the Dogheads. (I gotta say they’re not as terrifying as Quintin makes them out to be in his review).

I didn't think I was that heavy.
The leader of the Dogheads, a kid named Khan, the oldest son of Victor Kain, meets me at the top of the Polyhedron and assures me that nobody has been infected, that he runs a tight ship. When I insist on inspecting the premises, he refuses, and I’m promptly kicked out.

The Polyhedron really is quite impressive.
This thing makes no sense.
It's strange--it almost looks like a giant bug. See the stinger? 
Strange markings on each floor.
Once things are squared between Kain and Olgimskiy, and both are assured that the Polyhedron and Apiary are safe, Olgimskiy’s son Young Vlad is willing to share what he knows: a few Butchers have been sighted in the Knots and have holed up in a house. When I arrive, it’s obvious the body is not Simon’s, though the Butchers are happy to see me. They rush at me, knives in hand. Two headshots later, I’m on my way back to a disappointed Victor Kain.

Just after speaking to Victor, I receive a letter from Rubin. He’s got Simon Burakh’s body in a warehouse downtown, and needs me to track down some infected tissue.

Imperceptible Enemy

Only the Haruspicus is allowed to dissect bodies, despite the fact that I am a learned physician. Yet I need the infected tissue, which means I need help from the Butchers of the Cult of Bulls. I spend several hours passing between the squabbling nobles who, again, each want something. Creepy-as-hell death child Ospina won’t tell me where the butchers are unless Olgimskiy stops pursuing the butchers. Olgimskiy twists my arm to get Artemiy Burakh (the Haruspicus) off the hook. Et Cetera.

I find myself lying to the nobles. Saburov, who would waste Simon Burakh’s body, wants to know where it is, and of course I lie. Only Rubin and I can identify the Plague. Yet, as the one charged with fighting the virus, these men are looking to me for guidance, as the only pure, objective outsider in the town. And yes, I lie, twice, three times. There’ll be hell to pay if anyone ever finds out. I guess I’m not quite the goodie two shoes I thought I was.

Today's map: the red section is the infected district.
After wading through internal politics, I find the information I seek. There are three likely houses in the Tanners District—in the Northeast corner of town—where the butchers could be.

Plague Bouncer: Worst. Job. Ever.
It’s on my way to the houses that the changes in the town today become abundantly clear. I see an unfamiliar sight as I approach the Tanner’s district: A large shrouded human-shaped cross of wood, draped with dirty brown rags. At the entrance are several mustachioed honchos who tell me the area ahead is rife with plague, that I should stay clear. With my privileges as Bachelor, I tell them it’s on my authority. They tell me that above all, I cannot shoot the infected. They are "taken by the devil", and have their own lot to die already. The guards will kill me if I harm any of the infected.

“Sure whatever,” I think.

Beyond the guards are hunched figures covered in dirty brown shrouds. Piles of bloody and infected clothing litter the ground; the sound of coughing and sobbing women fills the air. Disconcerted, I check my map. The butchers are situated squarely in the middle of the dead zone.

I did not enjoy taking this screenshot.
It’s unsettling. Miasmic clouds float across the landscape, full of plague, which are easy enough to avoid. A few large rats waddle through the filth; I fire my gun into the air when they approach, which sends them running. The real horrors are the wandering plague-ridden citizens, who reach out to me as soon as they see my medical bag. They’re beyond saving, but so desperate for healing that they force themselves upon me, coughing. My immunities suffer, and the little disease bar in the corner raises ever so slightly.

Two of the bodies have been taken back by their families. The third and final body has been removed to the cemetery in the south. I arrive at the scene to find the body guarded by several men, who demand an exorbitant ransom. Naturally, I say “hell no” to that, and am immediately attacked by the guards.

For some inexplicable reason, I find myself suddenly transported to Alexander Saburov’s home, where he tells me he’ll make an exception, and that I can get to the body when the guards change, before 10pm tonight. It’s already 9:12, and the cemetery is all the way across town. Heart-pounding, I make my way through the plague-ridden streets, arrive at the cemetery just before the shift change, and find my sample of blood.

I present the blood to Rubin in his super-secret lair, then whip out my microscope.

What I discover is crucial. The invincible plague has a single weakness: it cannot linger in dead tissue, and is not fully airborne (despite what the plague clouds might have led me to believe—this is an inconsistency I cannot fully reconcile). The point is that it cannot stay in one place. By tomorrow morning, the disease in the Tanners District will have run its course, and the plague could very well disappear altogether if properly quarantined.

The Bachelor's optimism is feigned, of course. He wouldn’t want the threat to end too soon. He needs a worthy adversary. This is a war and He has been appointed general and savior--the only strategist, in charge of keeping the town a step ahead. After all, in the end it’s only a game.

(Note: Due to formatting issues, the screenshots don't display as nice as they used to. By all means, click on the pics to see the weirdness up close.)

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