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 war, the city and populace were in ruins.
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, the Ryanist philosophy created a "law of the jungle" based society in which the strong thrived and the weak were left to their fate. In a highly stratified society such as Rapture with high levels of inequality between the rich and poor, a substantial amount of class conflict was inevitable, especially when so many left behind lucrative careers on the surface to live out a utopia several fathoms under the sea. 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." Moreover, despite the Objectivist intent that any man could rise to the top based on merit alone, political and economic power was largely confined to the hands of Andrew Ryan; he was the driving force behind Rapture's construction, he financed the project, and Ryan Industries was a seemingly unassailable economic powerhouse within the city that could largely crush all competition (until the discovery of ADAM, at least). Ryan had created Rapture, and thus, he determined the rules by which the city operated, leaving the rest of the population in relatively-impotent advisory positions or politically and economically marginalized.
Also, many of the citizens of the city toiled under considerable psychological strain due to their isolated location. For his part, Ryan recognized this issue and invited a psychologist named Dr. Sofia Lamb to Rapture to help mitigate any potential psychological problems. 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. Moreover, there was no means available with which to bring about a political compromise or mediate disputes between the haves and the have-nots. Ryan's absolutist values were such that even the slightest measure of moderation or compromise to his vision was intolerable, and threatened the survival of the city and all those who lived within it. Ryan could not have reacted to Fontaine's, and later Atlas', actions any other way, as the demands of his ideology trumped everything.
The Rise of Frank Fontaine Edit
If there was a single event that helped plant the seeds for Rapture's decline and collapse, it was when Ryan passed what came to be known as "the one law." This single law prohibited any contact with the surface. Ryan feared that the "parasites" would come to destroy his utopia. He believed that secrecy was the only way to allow Rapture to "build an economy that they would not try to control, a society that they would not try to destroy". But in doing so he created a demand for surface goods that could not legally be met, which led to Frank Fontaine, a small time fishery owner, organizing an illicit smuggling ring to fill that demand. In doing so, Fontaine gained considerable wealth, wealth that would be used to expand his commercial operations.
Another turning point in Rapture's decline was when Brigid Tenenbaum, at that point a little-known scientist, 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 and 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 completely failed to understand the threat that Fontaine and ADAM represented to his city. When the problem was small enough that it could have been nipped in the bud, Ryan did nothing. At first he refused to even listen to people like Rosenberg who tried to warn him of the ramifications of ADAM. When he finally did start to see the significance, he still refused to take any solid action. Doing so, he believed, would be a betrayal of his free-market ideology. Even when the increasing number of negative side-effects resulting from ADAM-usage became clear, he still refused to budge. He believed that the Great Chain of industries 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?"
Eventually, Ryan finally understood the threat to his city that Fontaine posed, marking him as "someone to be watched". He realized that he missed the boat on the ADAM market, and lamented his rival's foresight in purchasing "genotypes and nucleotide sequences" while he was investing in "fish futures". He felt "the Great Chain pulling away" from him. His effort to "give it a tug" resulted in his use of Sullivan and other members of his security team to investigate Fontaine and his crew of smugglers, even using torture and other harsh methods to gain the information he needed, such as the Timmy H. Interrogation at Fontaine Fisheries. Despite public protests, Ryan ordered that those convicted of smuggling would be subject to capital punishment, increasingly relying upon naked force to ensure his economic control.
The Fall of Frank Fontaine Edit
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 Gatherers, or Little Sisters, the lynchpin 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 men 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!" Fontaine's death 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 War Edit
Unbeknownst to Ryan, reports of Fontaine's death proved to be highly exaggerated. With Ryan closing in on him, Fontaine 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." Although Frank Fontaine was dead, out of his ashes emerged Atlas, an adversary that would prove much more dangerous than Fontaine ever was. Though Fontaine was correctly looked on as a fearsome thug by much of the Rapture public and mourned by few, Atlas was beloved and for many represented a legitimate alternative to the increasingly tyrannical Ryan.
In the aftermath of Fontaine's perceived death, Ryan took a step that proved to be yet another betrayal of his own philosophy, the nationalization 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 economic stability. This move shook Rapture to its core, and proved to be a turning point in the decline of Rapture. At this point, even without Atlas, civil war may have been inevitable. Even his long time friend Bill McDonagh resigned from the Central Council in protest of this move.
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.
The Battle of Kashmir Restaurant Edit
Rapture, in late 1958, resembled a powder keg, ready to ignite at the first spark. All the class conflict and frustration that existed just below the surface was ready to light an enormous conflagration that would soon consume the entire city in its wake. Ryan's betrayal of his ideals with the nationalization of Fontaine Futuristics created a useful recruiting tool for 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.
Rapture's high-water mark can be traced to nearly an exact moment, 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. Alas, it was not to be. Just moments after his broadcast, the citizens of Rapture were alerted to an "incident in the Kashmir Restaurant." This incident marked what most Rapture historians believe to be the official start of the civil war. On this night, a masquerade ball was organized for Rapture's elite. During the festivities, a group of Atlas revolutionaries launched an attack on the restaurant. 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 here 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!"
In the aftermath of this attack, combat Plasmids like Incinerate! and Electro Bolt saw a huge jump in sales. 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 in the name of self-defense, the city as a whole was growing increasingly mentally unstable and addicted to ADAM. As Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, one of the participants of the Civil War, had put it, "wonderland had gone to war".
The Civil War Deepens Edit
As Rapture was intended to be a peaceful utopia, very few weapons were allowed into the city. When civil war broke out, citizens found creative ways to fashion new weapons for themselves. Weapons like grenade launchers and chemical throwers were created out of various things found around the city. Makeshift defensive structures like Turrets and Security Bots were created the same way. Citizens of Rapture turned their energies away from making money and expressing themselves creatively to simply survive.
To attempt to impose order, Ryan imposed new laws against public congregations and a strict curfew. He also instituted de facto martial law in Apollo Square, which had been the primary hotbed of Atlas supporters. Many people were summarily hanged at a gallows which was hastily constructed. Suspected Atlas loyalists and other law breakers were sent to Apollo Square to be dealt with. Trying to conceal the scope of the atrocities being committed there, Ryan set up a military-style checkpoint that would only allow authorized personnel in. Ryan also used the power of propaganda through a series of public service messages broadcast over Rapture's speaker system. Even bathysphere travel was locked down and the security system was keyed to the genetic frequency of Ryan and his closest followers.
The war affected the normal citizens of Rapture in myriad ways. After the New Year's attack, Diane McClintock was completely consumed with anger. She thought that perhaps visiting Apollo Square firsthand might offer her some mental relief. After bribing a guard to be let in, she was appalled at what was happening and 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 attempts to assassinate the despotic Ryan.
The Genetic Arms Race Edit
- "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 after the nationalization of Fontaine Futuristics, to develop an armed protector nicknamed the Big Daddy. Yi Suchong sought to genetically imprint the Little Sisters on unfortunate subjects stuck inside armored diving suits. A prototype of these Big Daddies, in the ADAM ecology, was the Alpha Series. These prototype Big Daddies retained their sense of free will and were granted 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 ready, nobody cross 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 one of the largest Plasmid developers in the city. His company Sinclair Solutions attempted to profit from the civil war by luring citizens into a pyramid scheme of sorts that promised free Plasmid rewards to people who tested their products in the field. Several citizens of Rapture such as Jacob Norris and Zigo d’Acosta participated in this program. Since testing the products in the field involved engaging in actual live combat with other people, it's likely that this program caused unnecessary death and destruction.
Another key 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 for people to purchase. The success of this program led them to create an all new machine called El Ammo Bandito which offered only ammunition.
The Turning Point Edit
In the early days of the war, the forces of Atlas seemed to have the upper hand. Their surprise attack at Kashmir set the tone for the brutal war that was to follow. This concept of open warfare was foreign to Ryan and other Rapturians who only knew the genteel competition of the marketplace (though Ryan soon learned to become as brutal as anyone). Things seemed to be going well enough for Atlas that McDonagh urged Ryan to seek a negotiated peace, offering Fontaine Futuristics to Atlas. Ryan refused, however, and was determined to fight on, even if it destroyed all of Rapture. This caused McDonagh to turn on Ryan, attempting to kill him in the name of saving the city. He was unsuccessful though, and his corpse soon hung on Ryan's "trophy wall".
Yi Suchong proposed an unconventional means of breaking the stalemate that currently divided the city. He proposed altering the structure of the commercial Plasmid line to make citizens susceptible to mental suggestion by pheromones. This represented the ultimate betrayal of his objectivist philosophy, to deny citizens even the ability of free will itself. Yet Ryan agreed to this with the justification that Atlas and his supporters would make them slaves and free will would vanish in any case. These pheromones proved decisive in turning the tide of the Civil War in Ryan's favor. With the situation now desperate, and with only a few unspliced followers who weren't susceptible to Ryan's pheromones such as Johnny, Atlas was now forced to turn to his ace in the hole.
Events of BioShock Edit
Once again showing his gift for foresight, while still under the identity of Fontaine, Atlas made arrangements to purchase the embryo of Ryan's illegitimate son, currently being carried by Eve's Garden exotic dancer, Jasmine Jolene. Realizing that Ryan now had much of Rapture's security and infrastructure coded to his genetic frequency, he realized that Jack, as the child was named, could be a powerful ally. He had Yi Suchong use their genetic technology to implement fast growth which let Jack reach adulthood in just a couple years, as well as a control phrase, "would you kindly" that would force him to obey their every whim. Jack was sent to the surface as a sleeper agent until he received a package that called him down to Rapture.
Fontaine, sensing the war was lost, attempted to use Jack to organize an escape using a small submarine located in the former smuggler's hideout. As Jack explored Rapture, he received transmissions from Atlas over the shortwave radio. Atlas portrayed himself as his 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. Atlas realized that if he was going to get out of the city, he had to deal with Ryan once and for all. 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 learned Jack was his son, and only a slave of Atlas. Using the control phrase, Ryan ordered Jack to kill him with a golf club. Jack was forced to oblige. After Ryan was dead, Atlas, sensing victory was at hand, revealed himself to be Fontaine.
After waking at Tenenbaum's safe house, Tenenbaum helped Jack break some of Fontaine's mental conditioning. Fontaine had a fail safe called Code Yellow implemented that was meant to slowly stop Jack's heart, but Jack managed to find two samples of the antidote, called Lot 192, before the full effect of Code Yellow could be felt. Jack met Fontaine at Point Prometheus. Fontaine then escaped, and Jack was forced to turn himself into a Big Daddy to follow and confront him. In a secret lab overlooking the Proving Grounds, Fontaine injected himself with a massive amount of ADAM, becoming a terrible physical force but only a shadow of his former self mentally and was soon defeated in battle by Jack and some Little Sisters. Thus, both Fontaine and Ryan were finally brought to an end by the same man. With both leaders out of the picture, the civil war was brought to an end. Jack escaped Rapture with Little Sisters via a bathysphere. (Or, if the "evil" ending is chosen, becomes the king of Rapture).
The civil war brought a city, which was at the height of civilization, to complete ruins. The blame for this war has to be laid primarily at the feet of the two principal belligerents, Ryan and Fontaine. Ryan, through dogmatic adherence to his philosophy at first and then complete abandonment of his philosophy and embrace of brutal despotism, is largely to blame. Fontaine was a man without a conscience and a nihilistic thug bent on complete power. The citizens of Rapture have to take some share of the blame for their greed, vanity, and hubris in embracing Rapture's Utopian ideology and the ADAM-based culture which proved to be so destructive.
With Ryan and Fontaine dead, and most of the Little Sisters gone, Rapture went into a dark period, in which infrastructure continued to decay and numerous areas flooded. Surprisingly though, the city did not die. Players of BioShock are given the impression that there won't be anyone left in the city after about six months, but the citizens developed a survival strategy that allowed the city to continue to exist eight years later for the events of BioShock 2 and even rebuild to some extent.
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, which perhaps made it attractive to a war-weary populace. Ryan, once Rapture's leading figure, saw his philosophy become discredited and his reputation tarnished. 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.
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.