The Rapture Civil War was the most destructive conflict in the history of Rapture. It was to pit the will of two titans — Frank Fontaine and Andrew Ryan — against each other. By the end of the hostilities, the city and its populace were devastated.
Rapture did not collapse in a single day, as there was a long chain of events that made the Civil War possible. From the outset, Ryan's philosophy mandated a "law of the jungle" based commercial environment in which the strong thrived and the weak were left behind. In a highly stratified society such as Rapture, with inequality between the rich and poor, a substantial amount of class conflict was possible. Frank Fontaine saw this more clearly than most when he remarked, "These sad saps. They come to Rapture, thinking they're gonna be captains of industry. But they all forget that somebody's gotta scrub the toilets." Fontaine set out to exploit those inequalities to gain power for himself. Despite the Objectivist intent that any man could rise to the top based on merit alone, political and economic power started largely in the hands of Andrew Ryan; he was the driving force behind Rapture's construction, he financed the project, and Ryan Industries was an economic powerhouse within the city. Ryan had created Rapture, and thus he determined the rules by which the city operated. Those rules were thoroughly communicated to those who came to Rapture. Unfortunately, many of the people who came did not believe that they now had to live by those rules. Under Rapture's philosophy the 'have-nots' had no right to demand what the 'haves' had created for themselves, and compromising on that fundamental position would lead to the ruination of Rapture, similar to what Ryan had seen in the surface world.
Many of the citizens of the city toiled under considerable psychological strain due to Rapture's isolated and confined environment. For his part, Ryan recognized this issue and had invited a psychologist named Dr. Sofia Lamb to Rapture to help mitigate the psychological problems. It did not help that almost as soon as Lamb arrived she started conspiring to overthrow Raptures founding philosophy. Nonetheless, a condition known as "confined environment psychosis" exists which has a tendency to create conflict in closed locations such as Rapture, and when combined with the hyper-competitive economic system of Rapture, violence was a logical progression.
On the discovery of ADAM, a power balance shift occurred. Fontaine's previous criminal and power seeking ambitions were multiplied. ADAM destabilized people mentally and put great destructive force into their hands. With Fontaine intentionally increasing tensions, Rapture was ready to implode. Fontaine (later as Atlas) eventually tried to seize Rapture by force, using ADAM-wielding thugs to overpower Rapture's minimal police authorities and to terrorize the population. Economic collapse then resulted.
Ryan's philosophy of freedom and minimal government interference meant he was slow to interdict Fontaine's growing power and criminal actions. ADAM production and use was left up to the individuals choice. Later Ryan was hamstrung in taking the required war measures to fight Atlas' war to seize control of Rapture.
The Rise of Frank FontaineEdit
An important event that helped plant the seeds for Rapture's decline and collapse was when Ryan passed what came to be known as "the one law." This single law prohibited any contact with the surface, as Ryan feared that the "parasites" would come to destroy his utopia. He believed secrecy was the only way to allow Rapture to build an economy and society that the parasites would not control and ruin. In doing so he created a demand for surface goods that could not legally be met, which led to Frank Fontaine, a fishery owner, organizing an illicit smuggling ring to fill that demand. In doing so, Fontaine gained considerable wealth, wealth he would use to spread corruption and expand his commercial operations. It gave him the money and power to exploit the discovery of ADAM by Brigid Tenenbaum, at that point a little-known scientist.
Tenenbaum witnessed a fisherman with crippled hands playing a game of catch on the docks. The fisherman experienced the nearly immediate healing of his hands after being bitten by a mysterious sea slug native to the area around Rapture. The natural properties of this sea slug allowed Tenenbaum to eventually develop the revolutionary genetic substance known as ADAM. When the mainstream labs turned her away, she was forced to cast her lot with Fontaine, funded by his smugglers.
Fontaine, recognizing the potential that ADAM offered, created Fontaine Futuristics, a company whose purpose was to harness the power of genetic modification that ADAM provided. In addition to Tenenbaum, he brought in a more classically-trained geneticist named Yi Suchong. Suchong was to spearhead the development of products known as Plasmids, commercial products that provided their users with various genetic modifications.
Soon the ADAM-culture took hold of Rapture. Tennis events became sponsored by the Telekinesis Plasmid. Dentist offices advertised a free Plasmid sample with a root canal. Products like Fresh Hair, SportBoost and Instant Piano Prodigy offered citizens an easy way to a full head of hair, physical fitness or musical genius. Cosmetic surgery was changed irrevocably when doctors like J.S. Steinman realized ADAM's potential. Even spas like Adonis Luxury Resort used various Plasmid treatments to pamper their guests. Fontaine Futuristics reaped the lion's share of the windfall from these new technologies and Frank Fontaine saw his power rise considerably, rivaling that of even Ryan himself. As a Rapture Central Council member Bill McDonagh quipped at the time, "he's got the ADAM, and that makes him the guv'nor."
Ryan failed to understand Fontaine's intentions and the threat ADAM represented to his city. He heard from people like Rosenberg warning him of the ramifications of ADAM. Ryan did nothing because his philosophy put responsibility on the individual and not a government. Ryan refused to take any solid action as it was not his place. To do so, he believed, would be a betrayal of his free-market ideology and the individual's freedom Rapture was founded upon. As increasing number of negative side-effects resulting from ADAM-usage became clear, he still refused to interfere. He believed that The Great Chain of society would correct the issue, telling business owners who hoped Ryan would intervene simply to "offer a better product", and asking, "What use is our ideology if it is not tested?" In an earlier period, Ryan thought he missed the opportunity on the ADAM market, and lamented his rival's foresight in purchasing "genotypes and nucleotide sequences", while he was investing in "fish futures", and felt "the Great Chain pulling away" from him.
Eventually, Ryan finally understood the threat to his city that ADAM in the hands of Fontaine posed, marking him as "someone to be watched." His effort to "give The Great Chain a tug" resulted in his use of Sullivan and other members of his security team to investigate Fontaine's businesses to expose his criminal activities and his crew of smugglers. Standard persuasion proved fruitless as Fontaine's often coerced or even murdered any witnesses who even considered revealing his crimes. Ryan's men eventually turned to torture and other harsh methods to gain the information Ryan needed to judiciously prove Fontaine a traitor to the people of Rapture. Despite public protests, Ryan had previously ordered that those convicted of smuggling, an act imperiling Rapture, would be subject to capital punishment, increasingly relying upon naked force to protect his city.
The Fall of Frank FontaineEdit
Even as Ryan carried out his war on smuggling, Fontaine fought Ryan on a different front with what he called "the charity angle". Inspired by Sofia Lamb's Rapture Family and the vacuum left behind by her arrest, "Fontaine's Home for the Poor" sought to exploit the lack of a social safety net for those who fall on hard times. As Fontaine recognized "You don't have to build a city to make people worship you, just make the chumps believe they're worth a nickel". McDonagh correctly referred to these poorhouses as "recruiting centers" and realized that if Ryan did not take decisive action, they would have to deal with "an army of Splicers". People in these poor houses, like Roland Wallace, were often subject to testing new combat-based Plasmids that Fontaine Futuristics was starting to develop. The other half of Fontaine's charity consisted of the Little Sister Orphanages. These orphanages would provide housing for young girls who would be forced into becoming Little Sisters, the linchpin to creating ADAM since the sea slugs alone did not provide enough for commercial purposes.
With the advent of the Little Sister Program, Ryan's war with Fontaine grew more and more violent. In many ways these incidents represented the true start to the civil war. The battles between Ryan's security team and Fontaine's Plasmid-enhanced "Splicers" would foreshadow the nature of warfare between Ryan and Atlas. McDonagh relates the experiences of non-spliced individuals trying to confront some of Fontaine's men who were using some of the new combat-based Plasmids "We were done over. Them Splicers come screaming out the woodwork. Burping fire, spitting ice, demons out of the Bible they were. Never seen nothing like it." These early raids against Fontaine's criminal operations already showed the power of weaponized Plasmids in armed conflict.
Ryan and Sullivan did manage to have success in breaking the back of the smuggling operation. Yet Fontaine remained elusive until Peach Wilkins, one of Fontaine's smugglers out of Neptune's Bounty agreed to cut a deal and "flip" Fontaine. McDonagh suggested that they had valid grounds to arrest Fontaine, but realizing they were on dangerous ground, he wanted Ryan to make it clear that they wouldn't touch his business interests. Fontaine, on the other hand, signaled that he was going to make one last stand and "go down like John bloody Wayne" rather than allow himself to be arrested.
On September 12, 1958, Ryan's men ordered a final all-out attack on Fontaine and his remaining supporters. The event was immortalized the next morning in the Rapture Standard with the famous headline "Ryan takes down smuggling operation. Fontaine and thugs killed in fiery shootout!".
Over the next two months the supporters of Fontaine who survived the shoot out and those who held an allegiance to him were tracked down and arrested. With no place to keep the large number of prisoners, the council decided to convert Fontaine's Department Store into a makeshift prison. This also provided Ryan with a place to lock up Splicers who had become too insane to be allowed in public, under the guise that they were working for Fontaine. After the Department Store had been hastily prepared with security devices, it was separated from the city and sunk to the bottom of an ocean trench. Supplies were sent to the inmates but the prisoners were mostly left to fend for themselves as the structure slowly weakened under the ocean's pressure.
Fontaine's death and Ryan's actions afterwords was supported by some of Rapture's populace, but others began to question exactly how much power Ryan should have. Some citizens compared Fontaine's Department Store to a gulag, while others simply complained about having to feed the inmates. The end of such a turbulent year may have caused some who sensed the deteriorating state of civil society to breathe a sigh of relief, but peace would be short-lived for the people of Rapture and soon a much larger-scale conflict would come.
Atlas and the Coming of Civil WarEdit
Unbeknownst to Ryan, reports of Fontaine's death proved to be highly exaggerated. With Ryan closing in on him, Fontaine had conceived of a plan to fake his death and come back as a revolutionary known as Atlas. As Fontaine was later to relate in one of his Audio Diaries, "Ryan wanted Frank Fontaine dead, I just gave him what he wanted. As Atlas, I got a new face, a clean record, and a fresh start."
In the aftermath of Fontaine's perceived death, Ryan took a step that to some seemed contrary to his philosophy, the seizing of Fontaine Futuristics. Although building Rapture to escape the sort of "big government" that would take over private industry, he now engaged in precisely the same behavior, justifying it as necessary to maintain stability, as the largest source of ADAM to the heavily addicted public. This move troubled many in Rapture, and proved to be a turning point in the decline of Rapture. Ryan's long time friend Bill McDonagh resigned from the Central Council in protest of this move, having oddly thought that Fontaine's criminal partners should retain its control.
Tenenbaum disappeared from the scene around this time period due to a crisis of conscience. The Little Sisters awakened a maternal instinct in her that she had thought she had long since buried. She started a safehouse beneath the streets of Olympus Heights for Little Sisters and developed the Rescue Plasmid, which would allow the ADAM slugs to be removed from the girls' bodies safely. She began a secret campaign to rescue as many Little Sisters as possible. With Fontaine "dead" and Tenenbaum underground, this left Yi Suchong as the only known individual who knew the inner workings of ADAM, Plasmids, and the Little Sisters.
The Assault on the Kashmir RestaurantEdit
Rapture, in late 1958, was stirred up by class conflict and frustration that existed just below the surface, and was ready to light an enormous conflagration that would soon consume the entire city. Ryan's actions were portrayed as betrayal of his ideals, the seizing of Fontaine Futuristics creating a useful recruiting tool for Fontaine's new persona 'Atlas'. Soon posters asking "Who is Atlas?" sprouted up all over Rapture. Many of the same people who were part of Fontaine's poorhouses were some of the first recruits to his new army to overthrow Ryan and to seize Rapture.
Rapture's high-water mark would be New Year's Eve, 1958. In a televised broadcast that night, Ryan acknowledged "trials" in the previous year, but offered a toast to the city that 1959 may be Rapture's finest year. Just moments after his broadcast, the citizens of Rapture were alerted to an "incident at the Kashmir Restaurant." This incident marked the recognized start of the civil war. On this night, a masquerade ball had been organized for Rapture's elite. During the festivities, a group of Atlas organized terrorists launched an attack on the restaurant. Explosives planted in key locations, including one inside the restaurant's centerpiece statue of the Greek Titan Atlas, went off and thugs stormed the premise, killing or wounding many in attendance. One of the victims was Ryan's own mistress, Diane McClintock, who was injured in the attack.
The masquerade ball proved to be an opportune moment for Atlas and his supporters to launch a surprise attack. Atlas correctly assumed that most of the people there would be part of the upper-class, and most likely loyalists to Ryan. As the attack began, an explosion rocked the building, and party-goers heard Splicers storming in, yelling "Long live Atlas! Death to Ryan!" as they began slaughtering party-goers. In the panic, those who weren't killed by the explosions or by Atlas terrorists were trampled as the crowds clamored to get out of the area.
In the aftermath of this attack, combat Plasmids like Incinerate! and Electro Bolt saw a huge jump in sales, creating an ADAM shortage which prompted Ryan to begin kidnapping young girls to convert into Little Sisters for ADAM production. As McDonagh was to once again correctly observe: "Strikes me that Fontaine wasn't overly inconvenienced by his own demise. On New Year's Eve, his wretched Splicers came streaming out of the poor houses and stormed the proverbial barricades! The dead rot in the streets, and Johnny and Janey Citizen are lined up round the block for Plasmids... anything to help fend off the rabble."[src] The Civil War brought a huge increase in ADAM usage, and with it, a significant increase in the unpleasant side-effects of excessive splicing. As citizens spliced themselves for their own self-defense, the city as a whole was growing increasingly mentally unstable and further addicted to ADAM. As Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, one of the participants of the Civil War, had put it, "wonderland had gone to war".
Although Frank Fontaine was dead, out of his ashes had emerged Atlas, an adversary that would prove much more dangerous than Fontaine ever was. Though Fontaine was finally looked on as a criminal by much of Rapture's public and mourned by few, Atlas was mysterious and for some represented an alternative to the increasingly dictatorial Ryan. In an effort to silence Atlas, Ryan had Atlas' followers rounded up and sent into detention in Apollo Square. Ryan hoped that this would put an end by isolating the dangerous trouble makers.
The Genetic Arms RaceEdit
- "There's an arms race on here in Rapture, but it's not about who can build the best guns and the biggest bombs. It's about who can become less of a man and more of a monster..."
- ―Bill McDonagh[src]
Plasmid technology reached new heights during the civil war. As Plasmids showed their effectiveness as weapons of war, new Plasmids and upgrades to existing Plasmids were developed and with it, the demand for ADAM increased. With ADAM becoming an increasingly scarce and valuable substance, Ryan Industries began to use Little Sisters in the role of ADAM gatherers. Instead of just producing ADAM harvested from sea slugs, they would also walk around Rapture, extracting ADAM from the corpses of Splicers through long ADAM extraction needles.
This proved problematic however. As Little Sisters often carried substantial amounts of ADAM within them, they became targets of an increasingly desperate and ADAM-addicted populace. Increasing demand for ADAM and growing numbers of Little Sisters lost while on gathering duty forced Ryan to outright kidnap girls right from their homes, telling their families that they were needed to save the city.
The desperation of this situation led Yi Suchong, now in the employ of Ryan Industries, to develop an armed protector nicknamed the Big Daddy. Yi Suchong sought to genetically imprint the Little Sisters on subjects placed inside armored diving suits. A prototype of these Big Daddies was the Alpha Series, who retained their sense of free will and had the ability to use Plasmids. After problems with these models, a new series of Big Daddies were developed that were physically stronger, but without free will or the ability to use Plasmids.
These Big Daddies represented a considerable threat to anyone who attempted to engage them in battle. Armed with either a gigantic drill or a powerful rivet gun, anyone who sought to harm one of the Little Sisters was brought to a quick end. As Yi Suchong triumphantly crowed in one of his diaries "Once the Big Daddy [is] ready, nobody cross[es] the Big Daddy". Nonetheless, this did not stop desperate members of Rapture from attempting to do so. Often, entire raids by teams of Atlas revolutionaries were centered around bringing down a Big Daddy in order to gain access to a Little Sister's ADAM. As Diane McClintock recorded, "We went on a raid outside the wire today. We snagged 31 rounds of buckshot, 4 frag grenades, a shotgun, and 34 ADAM. We lost McGee, Epstein and Vallette. We got one of those goddamn Big Daddies in the bargain, though."
A colleague of Suchong's who helped build the Vita-Chamber named Augustus Sinclair became a major ADAM developer. Ryan sought to arm his forces and Rapture's citizens for the upcoming battles by supplying them with weapons, both conventional and genetic enhancements, and to avoid being blamed for the deaths of test subjects, Ryan Industries commissioned Sinclair Solutions to test their new line of plasmids and tonics. Sinclair's company Sinclair Solutions lured citizens into a scheme that promised free Plasmid rewards to people who tested his products in the field. Citizens of Rapture like Jacob Norris and Zigo d’Acosta participated in this program. Since testing the products in the field involved engaging in actual live combat with Atlas supporters, it is likely that this program added to the death and destruction.
Another beneficiary of the ongoing civil war was Circus of Values Vending. As the conflict deepened, in addition to their usual complement of pep bars and potato chips, Circus of Values machines began offering ammunition, including EVE, for people to purchase. The success of this business led them to create an all-new machine called El Ammo Bandito which offered only ammunition.
The Civil War DeepensEdit
As Rapture was intended to be a peaceful utopia, few weapons were needed in the city. Some were brought in for protection or for entertainment at the Rapture Firing Range, and the city's Constables were armed with basic weaponry. When the civil war broke out, citizens found creative ways to fashion newer, stronger weapons for themselves. Impromptu weapons like grenade launchers and chemical throwers were created out of various items found around the city. Defensive mechanisms like Turrets and Security Bots were similarly assembled. Many citizens of Rapture turned their energies away from making money and expressing themselves to simple survival.
In an attempt to impose order and combat Atlas' followers, Ryan imposed new laws against public congregations and a strict curfew. He also instituted martial law in Apollo Square, which had been the primary hotbed of Atlas supporters. Suspected Atlas loyalists and other law breakers were sent to Apollo Square to be interned. To conceal the scope of the unrest and monitor activities within the district, Ryan set up a military-style checkpoint there that would only allow authorized personnel in or out. He utilized the power of propaganda through signs and a series of public service messages broadcast over Rapture's speaker system to counter Atlas' supporters, and to hearten Rapture's citizenry. Publications supporting Atlas' rebellion were shutdown. Bathysphere travel was locked down, and access was keyed to the genetic frequency of Ryan and his closest followers.
The war affected the normal citizens of Rapture in myriad ways. The economy was disrupted a large number of citizens pulled their money out of the banks and basic necessities became harder and riskier to obtain. Business operations were curtailed and citizens feared to go out in the streets. After the New Year's attack which damaged her face, Diane McClintock was completely consumed with anger at Ryan for ignoring her. She sought to vent her frustrations by confronting the people firsthand who ruined her face, and visited Apollo Square. After bribing a guard to be let in, she was appalled at the living conditions and treatment of the people. She soon joined the ranks of Atlas' revolutionaries herself. Other citizens like Kyburz and Anya Andersdotter, once productive members of society, lost their lives in ill-fated, desperate attempts to assassinate Ryan.
The Turning Point Edit
In the early days of the war, the forces of Atlas got the upper hand. Their surprise attack at Kashmir destroyed the citizen's confidence in their safety and set the tone for the brutal war that was to follow. Open warfare to gain power was foreign to Ryan and other Rapturians, who only wanted open competition of the marketplace (though Ryan soon turned to war measures to defend his city). Atlas' ADAM-powered guerrilla war destroying and disrupting the city proved effective enough, such that McDonagh urged Ryan to seek a negotiated peace, even to handing Fontaine Futuristics to his enemies. Ryan refused, being determined to fight on, knowing that handing power to Atlas would mean the end of Rapture. This caused McDonagh to turn on Ryan, attempting to assassinate Ryan in the name of saving the city. McDonagh was unsuccessful, and his corpse soon hung on Ryan's "trophy wall" of betrayers.
Yi Suchong proposed an unconventional means of breaking the stalemate that currently divided the city. He proposed altering the structure of the commercial Plasmids to make Splicers susceptible to mental suggestion by pheromones. Some considered this a betrayal of Ryan's philosophy, to deny citizens their free will. Ryan agreed to this measure, with the justification that Atlas and his supporters would make everyone slaves and free will would absolutely vanish. The pheromones proved decisive in turning the tide of the Civil War in Ryan's favor. Atlas, with his situation now desperate, with only a few unspliced followers not susceptible to Ryan's pheromones (such as Johnny), was now forced to turn to his backup plan.
Events of BioShock Edit
Before faking his death and becoming Atlas, Fontaine made arrangements to purchase the embryo of Ryan's illegitimate son, currently being carried by Eve's Garden exotic dancer, Jasmine Jolene. Realizing Ryan now had much of Rapture's security and infrastructure coded to his genetic frequency, Fontaine realized that Jack, as the child was named, could be a useful tool to destroy Ryan. Fontaine had Yi Suchong use genetic technology to implement fast growth which let Jack reach adulthood in just a few years, and conditioned Jack with a control phrase, "would you kindly", which would force him to obey their commands. An unknowing Jack was sent to the surface and returned to Rapture after receiving a package containing his conditioned command.
Fontaine, now Atlas, and losing his Splicer war, appeared to use Jack to organize his escape, using a small submarine located in the former smuggler's hideout. As Jack explored Rapture, he received transmissions and more conditioned commands from Atlas over a shortwave radio. Atlas portrayed himself as a friend, and talked about trying to escape with his family. When Jack and Atlas finally reached the sub, it was destroyed by Ryan's splicers, allegedly killing Atlas' non-existent family. Atlas, portraying Ryan as 'their' enemy, directed Jack to kill Ryan for him. Using the "would you kindly" control phrase he led Jack through various parts of Rapture until he reached Ryan's Office. Ryan revealed that he had learned Jack was his son, and a mind-controlled slave of Atlas. Ryan with his city on Self-Destruct, using the control phrase himself, ordered Jack to kill Ryan himself with a golf club. Jack was forced to obey. After Ryan was dead, Atlas, victoriously revealed himself to be Fontaine. He had Jack cancel Rapture's Self-Destruct, forced Jack to turn over control of Rapture to him, and set the automated security to kill Jack.
Jack awakened at Tenenbaum's safehouse, where she had disabled some of Fontaine's mental conditioning. Fontaine had an additional fail safe called Code Yellow implemented, which would slowly stop Jack's heart. Jack managed to explore and find two samples of the antidote, called Lot 192, before Fontaine's fail safe could kill him. Jack briefly faced Fontaine at Point Prometheus, but the now Splicing Fontaine escaped. Jack was forced to turn himself into a Big Daddy to follow and confront him. In a secret lab beyond the Proving Grounds. Fontaine injected himself with a massive amount of ADAM, becoming a terrible physical force armed with multiple Plasmids. He was soon defeated after a battle with Jack and intercession by multiple Little Sisters. Thus, both Fontaine and Ryan were finally brought to an end by the same man. With both leaders gone, the civil war ended, but it had left Rapture damaged and in chaos. Jack, depending on his treatment of Little Sisters, either escaped Rapture with saved Little Sisters via a bathysphere, or in the "evil" ending, after harvesting Little Sisters, seized control of Rapture for himself.
The civil war brought Ryan's city, which was at the height of civilization, to complete ruin. The blame for this war has to be laid primarily at the feet of the two principal belligerents, Fontaine was a man without a conscience and a nihilistic thug bent on complete power, willing to murder and destroy everything to obtain it. Ryan, through dogmatic adherence to his philosophy could not prevent Fontaine's actions, and then had to take war measures, which went against his base philosophy, to defend his city. The citizens of Rapture were overwhelmed by the social and mental effects of ADAM, a disruption which Rapture's free society was unable to handle.
With Ryan and Fontaine dead, and many of the Little Sisters gone, Rapture went into a dark period, with its infrastructure continuing to decay and numerous areas flooded. Surprisingly though, the city did not die. Players of BioShock are given the impression that there wouldn't be anyone left in the city after about six months, but the remaining citizens developed survival strategies that allowed the city to continue to exist eight years later for the events of BioShock 2.
In the vacuum of power, Sofia Lamb and her religion The Rapture Family gained prominence. Her altruist philosophy of "making the world your family" was the complete opposite of Ryan's, making it attractive to the hopeless population. Lamb discredited Ryan's philosophy and tarnished his reputation to sell her own increasingly deluded and destructive plans. In Ryan Amusements, what Lamb called "Ryan's shrine to the self," anti-Ryanist graffiti is written on the walls and his propaganda pieces defaced. Lamb cultist propaganda was soon covering Rapture's walls.
It is unclear where Rapture is headed at this point, but it is certain that the Civil War's effects will linger indefinitely and the increasingly demented surviving Splicers will continue to search the habitable parts of the city for ADAM.