The Let's Play Archive


by woodenchicken

Part 36: Chapter Ten - pt.2

Klara entered the holding cells slowly, trying carefully not to inhale fluffy white vapour that hung in the air in thick clouds. Three of Maria’s henchmen, from the group that kidnapped Rubin, were held in detention there, and she needed to interrogate them to find Rubin's current location.

How could they run a prison like that? On the other hand, jail probably only became that way earlier that day – Sand Fever was known to spring from the earth randomly and disappear fairly quickly. The military couldn’t just move all the prisoners at a moment’s notice.

All of... one prisoner? Klara crossed the entire cell block carefully, until she found the only prisoner, way in the back.

I told you – I just want to die. I have had enough of your temptations – I don’t need confessors!
Were you among those who escorted Rubin?
Yes. I was.
How did you end up here?
I was covering my retreating comrades. And I’m proud of it!
Where were they taking Rubin? Tell me and I will get you out of here!
No, it’s going to be the other way around. You’ll get me out of here and then I’ll tell you. I promise.
You'll keep your promise, whether you want it or not. Wait here.

Having told the prisoner to stay put, Klara rushed back to the General.

The servant was brave and did not deserve to wait for military «justice» in a deadly contaminated cell. No one deserved that.

Every action requires circumspection.
I need the prisoner who was escorting Rubin.
What do you need him for?
He promised to tell me where Rubin has been taken.
Well let him talk at gunpoint. Why release a dangerous miscreant that exhibits violent behaviour?
I promised him freedom.
I will do as you ask. At my own risk. You can always ask me for help in the future. You need protection.
Thank you!
Go to the prisoner. I shall tell them to release him.

When she came back out, the man was already outside and unguarded. Luckily, he hadn’t just split when they let him out.

One shouldn’t breathe prison air for too long...
You are a free man now. Now talk.
There is one other place in town with reliable bars. It’s at the factory. They used to put Luddites there. Superstitious folks from the Steppe would often break machinery out of primitive fear, and... You probably know the place I am talking about?
No. Where is it?
It’s in a cellar under the rolling shop. Look. I’ll show you.

Klara entered the Land using the closest bridge, and found herself near Stem.

Riots continued over there as well. She suddenly learned the function of the heavy pumps that hooded men were carrying, when one of them pointed his device at an arsonist, and a yellow arc of flame travelled from the pipe’s opening towards the man’s loins.
So the government finally decided to fight fire with fire.

Klara was heading towards the factories, trying to locate the rolling shop marked on her map by the servant.

It was quite a distance from the building where Haruspex had moved in.

The territory occupied by the factory was large, and it took her some time to find an unlocked basement entrance that led to the Luddite pen.

She descended the stairs, turned a corner... the place had the same layout and probably originally served the same purpose as Burakh’s lair. Klara proceeded towards the barred cells at the end of the corridor...

Only to encounter Burakh himself! The man was omnipresent.

Not you again...
What happened here?
Can’t you see? I was leaving my den... passing by this workshop when I heard a noise. Six or seven people dragging Stakh inside. I had to attack! But I couldn’t help him! There were too many of them...
He was taken away again?
Yes... They got away. Three of them attacked me... or was it four? While the rest of them dragged him away... I bashed them up properly, but I was injured as well. The knee is hurt and the ankle joint feels like it’s broken... Maybe it isn’t... Anyway, we must help Stakh! Inform someone... Younger Vlad, for instance!
Where was he taken?
I recall hearing them shout that they were going to the Lace Square.
Isn’t that where the theatre is?
Yes. I think I know why. There is a place there... I’ve been there once. There is something like a labyrinth under the Knots... Vlad breached it when he was digging his well... The exit is through the manhole behind the theatre. That was where I saw that creature... that apparition! The Rat Prophet.

Going back to the Town Hall for reinforcements would take too long. Klara decided she would have to intercept them herself. For whatever reason, the kidnappers were taking Rubin underground, and it didn’t sound like she had a lot of time.

But instead of chasing after them again, she would approach the group from the opposite side.

She would enter the underground tunnels through Vlad’s well, start moving towards the theatre, and hopefully listen in on them, or catch them unawares. With any luck, the underground tunnels wouldn’t be too hard to navigate.

One look at Vlad’s room told Klara everything she needed to know. She wouldn’t be able to do any of those things. At least, to Klara’s relief, Vlad hadn’t put his suicidal plan to give himself up to the butchers into action.

Lace square... Such an innocent name for a street, by this town’s standards. One would expect the locals to call it something like GORE PLAZA.

Behind the theatre, she found the manhole that Artemy was talking about. But no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t lift the thing.

She heard a chuckle and turned to notice the Rat Prophet lounging next to some dumpsters. The beast was probably spooked away from its home by the invaders.

Look who’s here... What do you want, Plague?
Did you see Rubin taken down there?
I see many mysterious events... And this one was among them. It may have happened already – or it might happen in the nearest future... What do you choose?
I always choose the future.
Be careful, this might not be the best idea... What do you want with Rubin?
I need his help.
Rubin is already six feet under. And is likely to stay there. Do you really want to join him?
I do.
I shall grant your wish.

And the Rat Prophet granted her wish.

As she dropped into a narrow torch-lit cavern, two thugs that were with Rubin launched themselves at her. Rubin just stood there motionless, leaving it to Klara to deal with them. A former soldier, he knew that sometimes it was wise to let the others do the fighting.

When both kidnappers were just motionless bodies on the stone floor, he addressed Klara in a dull, dreamy voice.

Are you a ghost?
I have been thinking about you all the time. Do you know what your hands can do?
Yes. I heal the ailing.
You transform their blood, Klara. You can turn an Adherent into something more powerful than Simon. I don’t know how it works, but your arms enrich human blood with bodies that don’t exist in common people. This blood can fight the disease.
This is possible...
Now, listen to me. Burakh has discovered the secret of his father’s Panacea. But he didn’t have enough blood – he left no stone unturned in trying to find a man whose blood would combine all the needed features. Blood that would help stop the propagation of bacteria and kill the plague.
So, my hands can create such blood?
Yes. Simon, an almost-perfect man, had blood like this. But it was weakened. Simon was very old. In all other respects, his blood was just what Burakh is looking for.
What does it mean?
It means that if you agree, we can save the town both from the plague and from artillery fire. Here is what we can do. You will alter the volunteers among Adherents. Then their blood will be used to produce panacea. It is cruel, but I’m sure some of the Adherents will consent to this.
Like who?
Those who have nothing to lose. People like me.
What about the rest of the population? Can non-Adherents volunteer?
I believe that this predisposition was the reason people were chosen as the Adherents in the first place. Perfect people with perfect blood. Random people from the streets won’t do, that’s for sure. We must find Adherents willing to lay down their lives.
So we can turn the town into a sacrificial altar in constant need of human offerings?
This is even poetic. Many of them will agree to make up for the evil they had caused this town. So many transgressors here. Griff, Julia, the Saburovs, Anna... yours truly. We are everywhere. You can easily name half a dozen yourself.
I need to think it over. It’s too ghastly, too jeopardous.
Go then. I need a rest...
You need to get out of this place first.

As I had gone over people earlier, I now went through all parts of this town. I have come to the end of my path. How earlier in the most malicious abysses I could see roots of good, I now cannot find a single place here deserving death and destruction. What shall I do? Shall I return those who have been condemned by me? Shall I save those who are already dead because of me?
Is it within my power to perform a true miracle?
Why experience everything once again if the outcome is already known?
Why did they say that I was the only one who could get out of this trap?
The keys to victory and to freedom are in the path that I’ve walked.
Act, here are my hands.

She thought she could become a force of good, while everyone expected her to be the force of evil.
She became a different person, literally turning into a separate human being from somebody whose job was to do Nature’s dirty work.

...And still at the end of her path, she would have to accept the necessity of killing.

[Anna Angel just looked at her silently. If she only knew what was going through Klara’s head]

Sure, she had already caused deaths of many people.
But those were accidents or cases where she had no choice, or where she had to protect the innocents. She never would have imagined having to prepare people methodically for slaughter.

What was she to do? Accept her role as a part in a mechanism that kills a few to save thousands?
Or reject it in disgust, turn to Dankovsky and Burakh to see if they have any ideas that are not as terrible as Rubin’s?

The imagery she added to her drawing that night was not pretty.

REEL14: That night at the theatre...

Q: Is there more to the underground area than the chamber with Rubin?
A: Yes, but I didn't go there, because it isn't part of Klara's tale, and because well fuck that place.

Q: Well, can Klara save everyone like Authority Boy thinks, Town and Adherents included? Or are tough decisions going to have to be made? No, really, I never played this path so I'm curious.
A: Well she can save everyone... just not in the medium-long term. It is of course possible to opt out of becoming fucking Mengele at any moment, by choosing someone else's ending, but I'm assuming we want to see this play out the default way...

Q: Though it has been suggested to her to use her own, could she not sacrifice the Adherents of the Bachelor or Haruspex?
A: Theoretically she could, but most of them would tell her to get out with this shit. And like half of them are still kids. Even our own guys are not all that bad, but they're humble and trust us to know what's best. Thankfully, I'm not gonna be the one to choose who we're gonna kill!

Q: Do you get any kind of reward or bonus for saving everyone's Adherents?
A: Yes, the more Anherents you cure, the more content and endings you get access to.