Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pathologic: Day Twelve, in which it will become apparent what all this was for (PART I)

At 7am:

The morning of the twelfth day has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 378 ppl.
Died in the past 24 hours: 648 ppl.
Gone missing: 122 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 7776
Number of infected: 512 ppl.

This day is the last. Less than fourteen hours remain to make a worthy decision.

Today's Forecast: Clear, with a 40% chance of artillery fire.
I walk outside and find the streets deserted. Everything has gone: the rats, the dirtied sheets, the plague clouds and leprous robed figures. The bandits have been exterminated. Every single district of the town has swept clean of any trace of the plague, save for the now-useless scarecrows which were once stationed at the entrance to each zone. I've received panicked requests from both the Haruspicus and the Devotress: their adherents are sick, and I'm the only one with enough panaceas to cure them.

First, however, I'd like to share some thoughts.

The decision I make today should be impartial: I've spent twelve days in this hell-hole of a town gathering information, making observations of its squabbling inhabitants, running errands, watching men die in the streets. Nobody is beyond judgment here. Yet I have a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach. Maria (or Nina?) Kain's little diatribe yesterday did nothing to strengthen my resolve. Did I really call her "Dark Mistress"? And, really, have I been playing into the Kains' hand all along? They want the Polyhedron to construct a Utopia. They want the town destroyed as much as I--though they want it destroyed so that they can birth a new town, a new Utopia, on the other bank of the Gorkhon. Victor Kain tells me the new town will be larger, better, birthed from the cocoon of the Polyhedron. 


I'm sick of hearing everyone else's drivel about how the Polyhedron is unnatural. It's a tool. We have been making tools since we crept down from the trees: we made fire, cut stone, burrowed holes. These things are not "natural"--but it doesn't make them intrinsically evil. It's how they are used that determines that. The question all along has been this: what is the Polyhedron's use?


Despite the ominous colour scheme, I insist this thing is as harmless as a kitchen knife.
If the knife were in the hands of little kid.
The Polyhedron was created to preserve. It's more than a tomb. It revolutionizes our idea of the tomb: it turns our tombs into brief waypoints, regurgitates our consciousness, refracts the breath and light of the human spirit and pours old wine into new skins. Is this evil? I don't know if it is. The reality of all this, however, is that like any tool, the Polyhedron has been misused. It was thrust, unceremoniously, into the heart of the earth. And from this, one of two things may have happened: either the wound became infected, sending the Sand Plague upward through the man-made tunnels beneath the city, or the puncture stirred up a restless poison.


I am more inclined to believe the latter. The Sand Plague has struck before. It has been here from the beginning. If the architect had any knowledge of this, he might have chosen a better place to make the puncture. Is the Sand Plague a judgment? A fizzing antibody? It's pure science--a manageable result of a routine operation. We might find a harmless plot of land near the capitol, conduct some research, do some digging, and plug in a dozen more Polyhedrons with no repercussions. All this was nothing more than an experiment. We could do it better next time.


The Polyhedron is not evil. But after my chilling conversation with Maria yesterday, I am conflicted. It comes to this: The Polyhedron or the Town. Destroy the Town and a legion of Kains will build their own version of "paradise" no different from the current madhouse on the other side of the river. Destroy the Polyedron and the residents of this god-forsaken little hamlet will go on with their pagan practices: the children will grow into quibbling men and women. They will abuse the earth, pour poisoned blood and tar into the ground, and go on killing and expiring and expending.


In the end, nothing will truly change. So what does my decision matter?


This sculpture at the Kains' makes much more sense in light of Kevin's map.
I have enough panacea to save just one set of Adherents: either the Haruspicus' children or the Devotress' corrupt ones. It might as well be the children. I find, after administering several doses to the last of the sick, that I suddenly have a letter from the Authorities. It's cryptic and mildly passive aggressive, and for the better part of the day I pay it no heed. The General will need my decision at 7pm, promptly, at the Cathedral. 


However, at the apex of the Polyhedron, the door has opened again. I step inside, into the inner sanctum, and trace my way down the steps, deeper and deeper, to the very base. After a brief head-swimming blackout, I am greeted with this strange scene:




It's two kids in a garden standing behind a sandbox in which they have crudely modeled their own version of the Town and the Polyhedron. I've gone on and on about finding a "true adversary". And in the end, I don't believe it was ever the plague. Here, at the base of the Polyhedron, I may have found my adversary.

2 comments:

  1. Should have seen this coming. It always comes down to creepy kids.

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  2. I'm not sure it won't be discussed later, but I can't hold from pointing out that:

    a) Maria is to become the Dark Mistress (the Scarlet one, like Nina, but while "Scarlet" is merely descriptive, as in quite violent but also passionate, "Dark" is more of a title). bit it's a case of Dark Is Not Evil. there are three Mistresses in the town, one Dark, one, er, Light and one, errr, Neutral? Grey? I can't remember the term. the idea still stands, though: it's a balance. so there's nothing evil in Maria — we don't really quite know what her "darkness" implies, really.

    b) the Utopia is not just the same town on the other bank. it'll still be an earthly place, true, but without pagan rituals and with less dirt (remember the talk of emeralds and rubies?). a bright new world. less natural — but the inevitability of death is natural, isn't it?

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