The Let's Play Archive


by TheGreatEvilKing, Xander77

Part 14: The Prokhanov Zone

The Prokhanov Zone

Last time on ATOM RPG, we helped a psychopathic sexual predator mutant kidnap a woman over the advice of our only friend Fidel and were only saved by the fact she was totally into that shit.

Today we're going to go grab a new party member based on a Russian author who has had scholastic papers published about just how anti-Semitic he is. Don't look at me like that! I didn't write this game!

This individual has a long tale and, more importantly, a sidequest with some pretty sweet rewards.

: Mate, you'll dislodge your arm! Let me.

: [With a defeated sigh, the man gives you the bottle. Without much of an effort you pull the cork, and it springs out with a wet "thump".

This man's sidequest also leads to the evil route. We will not be doing it because it sucks.

: Survival from what?

: [The man grins. For a second the look in his bloodshot yellowish eyes seems absolutely insane and wild...]

: [Listen silently without interrupting]

: And what was it that you heard?

: Wait, what?

: A product of your surroundings?

: [Nod thoughtfully]

: What philosophy?

: Poor man's Nietzscheianism, I see. And what happened next?

Nietzsche is weird. I've only read Beyond Good and Evil in translation, but my understanding of Nietzsche is that there is no God, and this is bad, because instead of having the Almighty to tell us universal morality and so we need to figure out what we stand for.

This gets interpreted as might makes right by a lot of assholes (like literal Nazis) and it's not exactly helped by Nietzsche mocking Christians for pretending to be altruistic out of fear of their neighbor rather than actually caring. Then again, one of his maxims is that what is done out of love is beyond good and evil, so who the hell knows? I struggled with that book.

: [The old man nods gloomily]


: [Listen silently without interrupting]

: I lost interest in my own ideas when I saw them through a stranger's eyes... I realised that boys and girls two times younger than me, children I had raised and taught myself, were ravaging, murdering, torturing innocent people, burning down homes and entire villages, screaming out slogans I had made up myself...

: Interesting revelation. I'm amazed you were able to realise this. And then...?

: For years I didn't live, I merely existed, a nameless shadow who had no friends, no human contact. A monster who tried to quench his wild nature with booze. I guess deep inside I wanted to die. Probably that's why I developed this illness...

: How many people? When?

: As far as I understand, there will be three squads headed by the most bloodthirsty of my old followers...

: Dima Death, who likes turning people into living torches. Lena Death, a beautiful and insane girl who heads a gang of sadists. And Igor Death with his wild pack of wolves and a tendency to poke eyes...

: And what are your plans now?

I've been bringing up conspiracy fiction like Illuminatus! and Philip K Dick up a lot in conjunction with this game, and it's because of crap like this. There's really no indication that this guy is anything other than a generic old man NPC (the old lady who lives in the house yells at you to get out and not steal shit) until he opens his mouth and starts spouting off about an evil "Death Gang" no one has ever heard of, no one has reported a massacre by, no one has run off to join Lena because they're dumb horny young people, etc.

Of course, like almost every other batshit conspiracy we've heard of - the book haters, ATOM, the Mushroom Cult, the Pizzagate guys it's gonna turn out to be 100% correct. The only one that's not correct is Klinov the Nazi guy. Even the tinfoil hat murder guys - who are described as a doomsday cult - kind of have a point.

: I could offer my services for their extermination...

: Your "children" are too dangerous and immoral to be left alive...

He kind of is, but we'll discuss that later.

: Good. What now?

: Now you should go to Peregon. The guy - now a grown-up man - with whom I fled from my own gang is waiting at the entrance to the tent city. You'll recognize him by a round black mole above his upper lip.

: "The moon hides behind a cloud"... Gotcha. Now i have to go.

It's kind of amazing how the game whiffles between << and quotation marks for dialog.


: Fuck I can't get this jar open because I'm old!

: I gotchu brah!

: Now that I have your attention, may I introduce you to my long and convoluted backstory? There's a sidequest on the line!

: Why the hell not.

: When I was a young man, I read too many of those Ayn Rand books and thought I was a captain of industry and that everyone else sucked! Except I also got high on peyote and read Nietzsche too, so I decided to do violence and start the Death Gang! Then, I realized that murdering and robbing was very bad, so I left - but the Death Gang are still here, and they're going to attack and kill everyone! No one listens to me because they think I'm a conspiracy nutter! You! Can you go find and kill Lena, Igor, and Dima Death? I got money!

: Why the hell not.

That was long winded as hell. A new problem presents itself - are we going to be able to take on this entire gang with just Bear and Fidel? Well, we could, but it's like 10 gunmen in an open field, we'd get slaughtered! We're gonna need help.

Unprofessional help.

This lady needs us to bring her 10 giant spider lymph nodes. It's boring in both gameplay and dialogue, so here you go. It's on the way to do what we really want to do, which is...

Annoy this guy in the hospital!

This guy actually starts the quest to inadvertently find the last actual party member we'll see in this LP.

: Why would I want to visit you? We were just passing by.

: Cut the bull. You must have been worried sick... By the way, who's your friend?

: Meet Bear Bearovich, agent on Morozov's case. And this fellow on the bed is Gozhin, Mikhail Fedorovich, a local agent. He supervises commercial activities in the Wasteland.

Remember when Fidel took us to the back of the bar to discuss this stuff? Zhanna is right there and the door's open.

: Probably. Nice to meet you, comrade Gozhin.

: Beneficial you say..? This is interesting. Go on.

: Alright. So, essentially, there is, or rather, there was a settlement called 'Red Fighter'. Quite a decent place. One important man from KGB even had his country house there. People say it had a private bunker too, in case of war...

: The settlement has long since been abandoned. It's inhabited by nasty mutants, and the local leaders never have the time to deal with them. Or rather, they can't reach it, because it's on the territory controlled by the gangs.

: Right. And will there be a house for me?

: Okay, so I take it you want me to slaughter the mutants. I agree.

There's a ton of useful stuff you can do at base. Well, some useful stuff.

: Attaboy! You're a true ATOM fighter! Always ready for a dangerous adventure and a reckless plot which will be beneficial to everyone in the long run. Right, let me mark the settlement on your map.


: Spoilt my map for no reason... alright, I'm off.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Sup, my man?

: Yo wassup? Here to visit me?

: Uh, no, this has nothing to do with the ATOM conspiracy we're all part of.

: Oh knock it off. Who's this?

: Bear, meet Gozhin. Bear's the ATOM agent looking for Morozov.

: Well, want to do a dangerous sidequest going into gang controlled territory and killing a much of mutants so we can move into the houses?

: Do I get a house?

: Fuck yeah you do.

: I'm in!

: Alright, let me burn your map with my cig to show you where it is.

: Asshole!

We're off to Red Fighter!

Kill bandits, get XP.

Now we can go to Red Fighter.

The mutants turn out to be giant spiders, which we can kill without qualms.

We then trigger an in-engine cutscene of a spider scuttling up to the house, getting shot by the inhabitant, and dying.

The unknown shooter is very proud of themself.


: Who are you, even?

: What are you doing there?

Unfortunately for my sanity, we can't get in until we've run all across the map and sworded every last spider. Let me fast forward through some dull combat for you.

:iiam:: The hero is back! The powerful warrior who single-handedly defeated the buzzing mutant swarm, the invaders! Wait, wait, soldier. I'll clear the passage for you...

: [You hear menacing squeaking from the other side, followed by a rumbling noise]

:iiam:: Just a second... The entire barricade is based on one supporting element. Right... Ready!

: [Suddenly, the barricade falls apart, like a house of cards. You jump aside to avoid being hit by the construction. Now the passage is open!]

This old man is our next party member. We briefly met Alexander, and the dog appeared in the pacifist run (I do plan to get him eventually but he kinda sucks) and there are a few other special cases I'll talk about when we get to them.

: Hooray! The siege has been broken! No marching band, no fireworks. And by a simple plebeian? Yesterday's ape! And that's precisely what fills my heart with joy. Isn't that so, my brave fighters? Private Carrotov?

: [The old man surveys his horde of hares with hope naked in his eyes. The hares ignore his question, and continue to wiggle their ears and sniff at the floorboards in search of fodder]

So you might be thinking our mystery party member is just a crazy old man who talks to rabbits.

: That's an interesting turn of events. And who are you, exactly?


: [The man stands up tall and looks straight into your eyes, his gaze brimming with pride and passion]

There we go. Now that we have the name of our mysterious old man, I'd like you all to remember the crazy Russian writer I mentioned earlier.

: Writer? I'm not familiar with your works, sorry.

This guy is a stand in for Alexander Prokhanov, who's an anti-Semitic far right nationalist who wrote the manifesto for the coup against Gorbachev.

"Hexogen" is a reference to Prokhanov's famous story, "Mr. Hexogen", which is - say it with me - a conspiracy story about Russian politics.

: It speaks of sorrows, of people gone, the ones who left these villages and never returned.

The novel starts with the protagonist receiving a phone call to go and help a shadow government founded by real Russian patriots save Russia from "the traitors".

: [Snap your fingers in front of Hexogen's face] Snap out of it.

This shadow government, the "Secret Union", is to restore Russia to her former glory.

Earlier in the game posted:

: But I - But I am only speaking of the important things.

: Maybe you could answer some more urgent questions.

Their methodology is to use their vast conspiratorial power to drum up false conflicts to defeat the evil Jewish megacorporations (this IS an anti-Semitic right winger, after all) and promote the leadership of the "Chosen One", Vladimir Putin.

: What brings you here? Just answer me truthfully.

The ultimate reveal of the novel comes when the businessmen are disposed of and, rather than restore Russia to greatness.. I'll quote Oushakine again.

Oushakine posted:

The combination of disgust with power, a feeling of impotence, and a sense of betrayal is especially poignant in the most dramatic scene of the novel, where Beloseltsev tries to prevent the explosion of high-rise apartment buildings in a Moscow suburb. Through his investigative work, Beloseltsev discovers that the Chechen boeviks who prepared hexogen for the explosion, and their alleged enemies, the secret patriots and intelligence officers working to restore Russia’s glory, are, in fact, mem-bers of the same cabal: “They are all connected ... They will detonate the fuse together” ( 2002 : 417). They do push the button (together), and Beloseltsev, unable to prevent the explosion, has to witness an apartment block imploding in the middle of the night, burying unsuspecting people under its rubble.

: All roads lead to Communism, son. And thus I ended up here, with this crew of disorderly, long-eared forest parasites. I know, I know it's unbecoming for the country's last surviving intellectual to spend his days with the likes of these unruly, vulgar beasts!

Keep that theme in mind as we continue the game, because it is very important to understanding the writing.

: If only the insanity felt the same way about you. Can I ask another question?

: What do you know about these lands? Places of interest? Hidden caches?

: Caches. Well, if I don't tell you willingly, you'll pressure me for the info, like the Nazis did to Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya. I can see it in your eyes. All right, son. Take it. Here it is!

Ms. Kosmodemyanskaya was a Soviet partisan who fought the Nazis. She didn't give any fucks and threatened them while they hung her.

: [The old man grabs your hand, and presses your palm against his broad chest]

: Ahem, I didn't see this coming, but all right. One more question...

: I know I'm going to regret this, but... What's the recent news around here?

: Oh, son! You know you're speaking to your father, here! Not to your mother - that nasty, talkative broad from the Siberian outback! Your father is a true intellectual. Gossip and rumors repulse him.

: [The old man finishes his speech, leans close to you and whispers]

: It's better the long-eared bastards don't know I'm telling people all about them. So there's a rumor that Private Carrotov's wife ate three of her own babies right after giving birth. Can you believe it?! Their marriage is completely in shambles! And Commander O'Cabbage just yesterday was jumping over Commander Hareman's wife in the meadow.


: Dipstick! We're only interested in news about caravans, bloodthirsty monsters, and ways of earning a few rubles.

: Oh my. Maybe you could answer some questions for me?

: All right, so I've already met you. I'd better be going now.

: [As you start to turn away, old Hexogen stops you with a mournful cry]

: Yes? I'm listening.

: Lovely. I could use an assistant.

: I hope you know what you're doing, Bear Bearovitch, bringing this old coot along with us.

Uh, what? Why is letting this old guy who knows how to use a gun follow us giving us "a heavy heart"? Sure, he's nuts, but we banged Devi Christu and she was just as insane.

I should also confess that I've never actually taken Hexogen along, because this game is much easier on a solo run and you don't have to corral team AI.

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Hey is anyone in there?

: I can't let you in! I am hiding from the mutants!

: Ok, now that they've tasted the dreaded Cossack Steel, can you let me in?

: Hooray! The bold proletarian hero who saved us from the mutants! Come in! What do you think, hares?

: Uh, who are you?

: I'm a walking Alexander Prokhanov reference! Call me Hexogen, the last of our Motherland's true intellectuals...

: Whoa snap out of it!

: :mad:

: Why are you here?

: All roads lead to Communism! That's why I'm here, surrounded by rabbits. I needed a break from humans, and it turns out rabbits are delicious! Others joined my personal army, but now that you're here, I'm joining your party instead.

: Do you know about any hidden treasure or anything useful?

: I see it in your eyes! You will torture me like I am Mel Gibson! Well, I will yield my cache - my heart, which is full of love for the Motherland!

: Dude, we're just looking for cash or guns or something.

: I do not care about these things, I'm an intellectual.

: How about rumors?

: I do not care for rumors! I am not your mother, a Siberian ho! Ok, now that we've fooled the hares, let me tell you: they're fucking!

: God fucking dammit we just wanted some sidequests.

: Be silent, uncultured swine! Oh, are you leaving? Let me join your party.

: Why not?

: Fuck.

: This is gonna bite you in the dick later lol.

Like Fidel, Hexogen has various skill checks you can't make him do.

Speechcraft: I'm interested to know how much of your father's charisma was passed on to you. Thus, I shall stay quiet.

Barter: ugh. Let me live the philosophy of Socialism in my dying days, child. Take care of the shameful capitalistic haggling yourself.

Gambling: I can cope with my child squandering my retirement fund in a casino, but wagering my descendant's hard earned cash? Never!

Pickpocket: Heed my warning, child. If you ever attempt something so dastardly, you must depend only on your own skill

Tinkering: a man with a full belly is no friend to the hungry! Just like an arthritic, palsied old man is no friend to crafting.

He comes with an SKS rifle and a duffel bag. We give him the AK we stole from the guard who smoked to death.

We give the spider parts to Dr Petrovna and she tells us to come back later for her medicine. It's a purple antidote that's more effective than the red one. You really only need the red one. But hey, XP!

Gozhin is of course fucking around while we do all the work.

: You're lucky, Gozhin! I've been to that settlement already and exterminated all the mutants.

: [Unexpectedly, the man jumps on his bed]

: Look how this news has reinvigorated you! I thought you were supposed to be sick...

: Consider me recovered. I can't stay sick forever, can I? My point exactly!

: [Gozhin puts aside the can that serves him as an ashtray, stretches his body and gets up]

You lazy fucker.

: I guess everything will run smoothly now! Welp, it's high time they discharged me from the hospital. I need to start recruiting volunteers!

Guess we'll check it out.

: Okay, go on, restore it. I'll check it out when I return!

TheGreatEvilKing summary posted:

: Did you defeat all the mutants?

: They're all dead.

: Hooray! I've been faking being sick all this time to avoid helping you do that! Now I'm going to round up some volunteers to repair the village while I... I dunno, masturbate or something. You'll get your own house, really! I'm off!

: Guess I'll check it out when I get there.

That's the quest to get Hexogen. It's not super exciting, but it does show what kind of people run ATOM a bit more. This is going to be surprisingly important when we get to the plot proper.

Next time: Lamb barbeque!