Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pathologic: Day Eleven, in which the Bachelor will discover the truenature of the Kain family

At 7am:

The morning has come.
Infected in the past 24 hours: 371 ppl.
Died in the past 24 hours: 618 ppl.
Gone missing: 131 ppl.
Number of dead at the moment: 6798
Number of infected: 552 ppl.

Tomorrow everything will be over.

[I lost my map screenshot for today. The town is completely plagued or burnt out.]

Base of the Miracle
The Inquisitor needs a more in-depth look at the Polyhedron's architectural plans. She believes the structure—unnatural as it is—has somehow caused the epidemic. Perhaps something in the base will tell us more. This is preposterous, of course. I’ve been inside. It’s a wonder—a testament to human ingenuity. It shields from plague; it doesn’t spread it.

Andrey has the plans, so I head to the tavern. Of course he’s not there. He’s purportedly been arrested for his renegade hero routine yesterday. However, when I ask General Blok to recall his arrest, he tells me no such order was issued. A large faction of soldiers have staged a coup, and is leading Andrey to his death down at the southernmost part of the train tracks, just at the edge of town.

I follow the tracks to find a swarm of soldiers, all pointing their rifles at me. Unfazed, I walk through the ranks to the very end and address the officer in command. He’s some haughty everyman, and he believes I am the architect. I’m sentenced to death, he says; he’s taking control now. My pleas don’t matter, so I stall fortime by asking for a final smoke. He promptly knocks me out, and the world goes black.

Dude, you get the puppet avatar. There's no way you're getting out of this alive.
When I come to,I’m standing in front of a burning pyre out in the middle of the cemetery, stripped of all my weapons and medicine, shivering in the rain. I’ve only just oriented myself when several snarling attack dogs emerge from behind the graves and try to bite me. I jump onto the pyre, skirting the flames, and beat each dog’s brains in, then head to the gravekeeper’s house at the edge of the cemetery. After some convincing, the little girl Laska gives me some tourniquets and a butcher knife.

Two guards are stationed at the cemetery’s entrance. I stab one in the back, silently, then the other, take their rifles, and march cold-blooded back to the train yard. Everyone in this entire town—even the military—is an idiot. I shoot each soldier in the head before he can fire a single shot, then run to the patrol leader and shoot him squarely between the eyes. I take back every single thing he stole from me, then walk back to the Tavern in hopes that I might hear some news regarding Andrey.

The sop is waiting for me there. He tells me he’s surprised I didn’t ask about the base earlier. It turns out the Polyhedron is supported on a spring—a three hundred meter-long shaft, about five and a half meters in diameter, was drilled into the earth beneath the foundations of the town: a crystalline rose sprouted froma metal stalk. A sort of lever, weighted down by the foundations of the town itself.


The Inquisitor is convinced that this is the instrument which has stirred up the plague. Through some shift, the stalk punctured the clot at the heart of the town,which has sent plague up from the soil itself. This makes sense to her. But it isn’t good enough to me. Yes, the wound has stirred up the disease, but the disease has been there from the beginning. I have very good reason to suspect the Steppe folks and their pagan practices in the Abattoir. They thirst for blood. The worms always tell me they never have enough blood to feed the earth.

Who’s to say that the excess of sacrifice—the poisoned meat, the putrid flesh fed by these steppe barbarians—is not what originally created the plague? The Polyhedron was the one prick that revealed the infection: it was there all along. With modernization—with systematic and permanent housing, with wells digging into theground—the once-harmless practices of the natives, repeated ad infinitem in the same place, has become malignant.

Today's Pantomime was admittedly unsettling.
Preparations For Crowning
I take care of a few smaller tasks—saving several wrongly condemned men from a firing squad and suppressing some unsavory rumors about the Kain family. The most alarming quest of today concerns Maria Kain.

The Kain family continues to talk of dying, of suicide. They all seem to have gone mad. After some coaxing, I talk to George Kain, who talks of the Inner Chamber of the Polyhedron. It is a tomb, of sorts, and also a receptacle for the now-deceased Nina Kain, Simon’s love. Yet Nina Kain is returning, he says. The beautiful Maria Kain, who has loved me for quite some time, has accepted the soul of her mother.

Utter nonsense.Of course, Andrey and Peter have succeeded where I failed. I may have mentioned—the Bachelor and the Inquisitor met years before when an attempt to resurrect the human form was conducted in the capitol. It failed miserably. Perhaps, in this squat-hole of a town, it has not.

Maria needs pledges from the two other female authorities in town: the young Kapella and, inexplicably, Klara the Devotress. I go to both of them and ask for a token of their fealty. Klara protests—she says that Maria will become a “sorceress queen”and make her own twisted version of a utopia from the town—a “violation of nature”, man’s own attempt to create the kingdom of heaven. I dismiss her; this is all a simple formality. I return to find Maria’s followers congregated outside her front door. They look mad. Everyone in this part of town has gone mad. Perhaps it’s a side effect of the panacea.

Her Entourage

She’s waitingfor me inside the tomb behind the Kain family’s estate. Rather than summarize,I’ve transcribed a conversation so strange that Ospina herself would be proud. [I have made slight adjustments for clarity.]




MARIA: It’s not me. Not your Maria anymore, but not the Scarlet yet. Nothing of me is here. Touch my flesh: your hands will touch the air only.
BACHELOR: Here are the signs of recognition from Klara and Kapella. They bow to you, Dark Mistress.

MARIA: Scarlet. But let it be so. That means that if a miracle happens – and by tomorrow only those who should survive by my plan live, and the ruthless Authorities will forget about us as before –we shall deny the severe law of life. And then the dream will triumph. And a new Utopia will rise.

BACHELOR: What do you call Utopia, Maria?

MARIA: It’s not the Tower, Daniel. It’s the town. We understand the word “Utopia” not as an ideal of prosperous trade,a perfect social system and political validity, but as a mystical fact of materialization of the incomprehensible, normally inaccessible to the profane person.

BACHELOR: Who speaks now by your mouth?These aren’t your words, and this is not your voice.

MARIA: Truly. You listen. This world exists, but is not given into human hands. Never. It is revealed only by delicate hints; in inevitably perishes under a straight sight. Mystery is its life; this world dies if it is enslaved.
BACHELOR: This is why the pestilence has begun?
MARIA: Probably. But luckily, even in the best adjusted mechanism failures happen. Sometimes the two worlds—mundane and utopia—touch each other! The antibodies collide! And contrary to the law of self-preservation they do not perish, but merge, forming a marvelous symbiosis. Thus is Utopia – a terrestrial embodiment of an unearthly miracle – achieved!
BACHELOR: And you chose to create this town? This is how an embodied miracle looks?
MARIA: Yes. We could build a magnificent town of rock crystal, sapphire walls, emerald roofs and ruby roadways, as you would expect from children’s fairy tales about magic countries. But here true life – living people of flesh and blood – exists. What surprises you?
BACHELOR: Why dirt and dullness? Why worn walls, brick-works, rusty beams and sewage manholes? Is this how Utopia should look?
MARIA: This is how it looks. That’s why it’s Utopia instead of a dream. It is even associated with the word “bog”. It needs dirt. A bog of peat bathed in a ruby sky. Utopia accepts even the basest humans, the unattractive terrestrial. Therefore: the bloody Abattoir, rotten fields, barracks, and impoverished slums. This is the land.
BACHELOR: Oh, so . . . 
MARIA: Utopia needs the Cult of Bulls, a living echo of the symbiosis between the world of beasts and spirits and the world of men. The animal nature lays the foundation of our civilization. Dirt, blood, manure, devouring each other’s skin and meat and bones: tools from which civilization, the commonwealth of creators, grows. 
BACHELOR: And where’s the miracle? 
MARIA: In the earth a miraculous merge of the Anthropophobic Steppe and the Human world occurred. This settlement transfigured from a society of devourers into one of creators. A true wonder was born. At its height, the Cathedral was built. But here we failed. 
BACHELOR: . . . And then you built the Polyhedron. 
MARIA: Yes. The Tower of the Riverbank has finally metamorphosed – a miraculous merger of worlds. The world of the possible and the world of the impossible. 
BACHELOR: If all this was so great, why the pestilence? 
MARIA: I do not know, Daniel. This is not our fault. The town has not sustained this tension, has not endured the heat. So we begin again. There is no death. We are not afraid of it. You see, I am dead and incorporeal, yet I am here. Like a restless soul doomed to return.

Her words leave me conflicted. I lurch back to my bed through plague-ridden streets. Over the past two days chaos has overtaken the town: I can’t go ten steps without seeing another bandit cut an honest man down, or see the plagued burned down in waves like fields at the end of harvest. The buildings are red and blotched. And above it all, in perpetual bloom like a concrete rose, lingers the impossible shape of the Polyhedron. 

2 comments:

  1. ahh, I can't just ket it slip, 'cause in English Maria's dialogue sounds utterly ridiculous.

    not so much in Russian, though: the Russian word for "bog", топь (TOP) echoes "Utopia" (as in U-TOP-ia). so while the meaning stays the same (there's no real-life Utopia without bogs), the joke works in Russian.

    also to Kevin (sorry for not posting it under the relevant post, I can't seem to find it): Ospina confessing love to the Haruspex is not a translation glitch. every PC has two love interests, both quite different, and it's Ospina and the Inquisitor for the Haruspex. yeah.

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    1. Does she really count as a love interest? Maybe it was the translation, but between her dialog and her age and creepiness she seemed more like his Stalker. ;)

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