- February 13th, 2011
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Bachelor Daniel Dankovskiy is summoned to Tanathica, an odd isolated town, by a former colleague of his Isidor Burakh. Isidor’s letter references the recent closure of Daniel’s laboratory thus suspending his research into beating mortality. He has arranged a meeting with Daniel and Simon Kain, the elder of the prominent Kain family who by all accounts has discovered precisely what Daniel has been searching for with his research. Daniel has shacked up with a local girl, Eve Yahn.
But Simon is dead by mysterious circumstances! He is survived by two brothers, George and Victor and Victor’s daughter Maria. George suspects foul play and Victor points the finger directly at Isidor, as Isidor was by all accounts the last person to see Simon alive and he’s a shady bastard.
However, Isidor Burakh is suspected dead as well, killed by his son (The Haruspicus) no less – or so it is suspected for a time. His home is cordoned off by town guardsmen under the direction of Alex Saburov, another town leader. Saburov refers Daniel to Julia Luricheva, who seems to think Isidor visited both Simon and Vlad Olgimsky last night.
Vlad, the owner of the Apiary, a giant meat processing plant, believes Isidor was killed by an Apiary butcher. Olgimsky’s son, Vlad Jr., used to help run the Apiary but he has gone into seclusion after a blowout between him and his father in the wake of Vlad Sr. ordering the sealing of the Apiary for as-yet unknown reasons.
Vlad Jr. himself spoke to Isidor and spoke of the Sand Plague, a disease that was spreading throughout the Steppes – the untamed land surrounding the town. As most of the meat that is processed in the Apiary comes from the Steppes, Vlad Jr. reacted to this news by instigating a riot in the Apiary which prompted Vlad Sr. to seal it to protect it and perhaps the town. He believes that it is far more likely Isidor died from whatever disease Simon contracted as opposed to being milled by his own son. Vlad also mentions Rubin, Isidor’s understudy, who is preparing to perform an autopsy on Simon’s body, which could prove disastrous if he did indeed succumb to this plague.
Daniel meets with Rubin at Victor Kain’s house. He is clearly disturbed by the notion that Simon could have succumbed the Sand Plague and agrees that a cure for it – or whatever disease it may turn out to be – must be discovered immediately.
Alex Saburov demands proof of an outbreak and in doing so will obtain a superseding position of leadership in town. After speaking to Anna, Kapella (Olgimsky’s daughter), and Spichka, Daniel is directed to Isidor’s house. It is the first house in town to become infected with the plague. A nurse inside Isidor’s house hands Daniel a key which he is able to use as proof of the disease. George Kain and Vlad Olgimsky, the other more prominent figureheads in town, abdicate all decision-making to Saburov.
A shelter is established at Lara Ravel’s house after efforts to establish it in another house are prohibited as it has fallen under infection as well – further proof the plague is beginning to spread throughout town.
Daniel’s hostess Eve begs him to help her flee town along with Andrei Stamatin, but the effort fails as no one is allowed in or out of town until further notice.
The Tanners District, where Isidor’s house is, is the first district to become infected. Furthermore, Rubin’s house is infected and Simon’s body has disappeared. Victor Kain fears Rubin has died of the plague but Vlad Jr. feels it is far more likely he is alive and has sequestered himself somewhere with Simon’s corpse in tow. He tells Daniel where Rubin might have gone after Daniel settles a dispute between the Kains and his father over the closure of the Apiary and subsequent refusal to allow anyone to investigate it for signs of the plague. Vlad Jr. suggests investigating the Polyhedron, a bizarre edifice inhabited by orphan children, as compromise as Simon and Isidor visited it after visiting the Apiary. It is judged clean after a conversation with the Khan (AKA Kaspar Kain), the child leader of the Polyhedron. Alas Vlad’s information on Rubin’s whereabouts are incorrect, but Rubin contacts Daniel anyway and directs him to his secret lab.
Rubin is well and still has Simon’s body but town law (and superstition) forbids him from cutting into him without expressed permission. This permission could possibly be granted from Alex Saburov as he is now in command of the town, but even Alex is reluctant to countermand the law. He suggests employing an escaped Apiary butcher. Escaped butchers are held in protective custody by Ospina and will not allow Daniel to speak to any of them unless he convinced Vlad Sr. to desist all attempts to find and capture them. After Daniel does this Ospina sends the butchers into the infected Tanners District to get infected and die, as one of the butchers has no family and his corpse (rather, a blood sample) may be recovered from the cemetery for examination. Examination of the butcher’s blood proves that the plague only remains active in living tissue – the bodies of plague victims are thusly not contagious – and the disease eventually affects the heart causing death by massive myocardial infarct (heart attack).
Medicinal powders of complex and mysterious composition begin to surface in town, that offer near total healing of the plague’s debilitating effects. It is believed the children of the town are mixing them.
The Tanners District is “Closed” in the wake of the plague spreading through it.
Daniel bravely tests a variety of medicines against the plague to judge their efficacy. An isolation ward for unaffected townspeople is established in the Cathedral. A hospital is meant to be set up in Lara’s house after she is coerced but the attempt fails. A morgue is meant to be set up a warehouse in the Warehouse District but it is overrun with a rogue gang of killers. The plague acts so quickly the hospital and morgue are considered the same entity and it is finally established in the Theater, which quickly becomes lined with bodies.
Alex Saburov and Victor Kain urge Daniel to investigate the Tanners District for signs of lingering infection. Daniel does so and in addition to finding no evidence of the plague, he observes thugs running free in the area with no protection against the plague. Thus it is proven that the plague does not remain in lifeless areas and it is felt that surviving townspeople may return to an infected district after the 24 hour “Closed” period of time has elapsed, although many homes remain boarded up.
The plague begins to spread in earnest leaving the townspeople in a state of panic. Anna Angel attempts to extort money from a former acquaintance in order to bribe her way out to no avail. Alex Saburov has ordered the town guardsmen to lock up or shoot on sight anyone who engages or appears to engage in criminal activity. At the behest of Victor Kain and Vlad Olgimsky Jr. Daniel bribes the courthouse watchman into freeing the unfairly imprisoned townsfolk interred within.
Among the captured is Isidor’s son, The Haruspicus. Rubin would like him released so that he can procure a fresh human heart infected with the plague so that he may examine it. Daniel uncovers his location after speaking with Kapella and Lara and petitions the assistance of Gryph the town’s thug leader to free him. He agrees to provide Daniel and Rubin with a heart. Daniel finds the heart freshly removed from a Steppe girl whom Daniel attempted to reunite with her estranged father earlier in the day. Rubin examines the heart and feels confident he can create a vaccine.
The plague has affected nearly half the town. Order is barely kept and the town is teetering on the brink of utter chaos.
Rubin has created a white vaccine, which provides full immunity from the plague, but only for a short period of time. His experiments have earned him the ire of George Kain, but Daniel convinces George to drop the bounty he had set on Rubin’s head.
The Cathedral is ravaged after someone deliberately infiltrated it and spread the plague. Julia, Anna, Lara and Ospina are all suspect, but it appears they were framed by someone else. Daniel examines their blood and finds no trace of the plague in any of them. The immediate suspect turns out to be Klara, the Devotress. Daniel visits her at Alex Saburov’s estate, as she has been staying there under the care of Alex and his wife Catherina. Klara insists that there is a doppelganger of her committing these heinous acts. She flees before submitting to a blood sample. Daniel tracks her down at Eve’s house where she finally submits to surrendering a blood sample, which proves unaffected.
Daniel interacts with a diseased Steppe Creature after Spichka fingers the creature as the source of the plague. However, Daniel is able to determine that this is not so and like as not the plague has spread outward from the town into the Steppes, not vice-versa.