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Rapture Storyline

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Rapture, a metropolis built at the bottom of the sea.

What's happening here?
― Diane McClintock[src]

The Rapture Storyline details the different events evolving around the universe of Rapture, from the city's foundation to its demise and later fate.

1946-1952: The Rapture ColonyEdit

Andrew Ryan began the construction of Rapture in 1946. Using his own private steam-liner, the Olympian, he transported building supplies to the coordinates where the city would be built, roughly located at 63° 2' N, 29° 55' W (between Greenland and Iceland) in the North Atlantic ocean. A building platform, nicknamed "the Sinker", was lowered from the Olympian to bring the supplies and crew to the site. Rapture was designed to be entirely self-supporting, with all of its electricity, food production, water purification and defense systems powered by undersea volcanic vents. In Rapture, Science, Industry and Art would thrive undisturbed by intervention from governments, religious institutions or other social agencies. People from around the world emigrated to the hidden city during the years between 1946 and 1952, sparking conspiracy theories on the surface about mass disappearances that came to be known as "The Vanishing". Rapture's population was composed of the people Ryan viewed as the "best examples" of humankind.

The city plans did not include sustainability for the jobs of the construction workers, and they would have to adapt once the building projects ceased. Many workers were left out of work in leaking, crowded, and what was meant to be "temporary" housing in places like Pauper's Drop. Ryan and his Central Council took little notice of the destitute and mostly ignored the issue, assuming they would manage to find work. As per Ryan's philosophy, unfortunates were left to find their own way to prosperity. Ryan did, however, listen to advice that the citizens were becoming anxious from the isolation of the city and the lack of sunlight.[1] Sofia Lamb, a psychiatrist from the surface, was invited down to Rapture by Andrew Ryan to help citizens cope with life in the undersea city. Lamb's utilitarian beliefs largely clashed with the free market ideals of Rapture. She devoted much of her efforts to indoctrinating poorer citizens, and in this way became a political rival to Ryan. Her conspiring to overthrowing Rapture's government and philosophy eventually earned her exile.

During that same time period, between 1949 and 1951, Dr. Brigid Tenenbaum happened to be passing through the docks in Neptune's Bounty when she noticed an individual, whose hands she knew had been paralyzed in the war, was playing catch. After inquiring as to the reason behind the restoration of his damaged hand, she was told he had been bitten by a Sea Slug.[2] Tenenbaum asked the man for the sea slug, suspecting that she had discovered something amazing, and began to search for a sponsor who would fund her research.

Scoffed at by all other scientists in Rapture, Tenenbaum approached Frank Fontaine, a ruthless businessman in Neptune's Bounty.[3] He agreed to fund Tenenbaum's research and development, as long as he was given full rights to profit from the findings. He funded her research using the fortune he had acquired from his smuggling ring, which brought contraband items down to Rapture from the surface.[4] Tenenbaum's research quickly began to produce results. She discovered the substance the sea slugs secreted behaved like stem cells, and by using it she could manipulate DNA.[5] She was able to "bend the double-helix", cure diseases, and give organisms changed and amazing powers.[6] The substance was called a "rebirth" for humanity, and it was dubbed "ADAM".


Sometime after the discovery of ADAM, the scientists made another breakthrough: research to increase generation of ADAM had led them to implant slugs into the stomachs of various test subjects. With an appropriate host, the slugs could generate twenty to thirty times their normal production of ADAM. It was discovered young girls were the only host type which successfully worked.[7] If they were going to mass-produce ADAM consumer products as Fontaine wanted, there would be required a great many of such hosts. Taking inspiration from Sofia Lamb's earlier charity work,[8] Fontaine set up the "Little Sister's Orphanage", advertising it as a place where financially pressed families could send their little girls for care and schooling. The transformed girls eventually came to be known by the orphanage name "Little Sisters".

1952-1958: Rapture's Golden Age and Beginning of the Civil WarEdit

BioShock2 2010-02-27 17-38-29-84

The Elite of Rapture Society: Brigid Tenenbaum, Sander Cohen, Gil Alexander, Andrew Ryan, Sofia Lamb, and Yi Suchong.

When Ryan initially noticed Sofia Lamb's political influence, he agreed to a series of publicized debates with her, hoping to ruin her popularity by exposing the weaknesses in her philosophy. This was a miscalculation on his part, as it only gave her a public forum to increase her base of supporters. When he finally began to fear her effect upon Rapture, Ryan commissioned Augustus Sinclair's company "Sinclair Solutions" to monitor Lamb and her followers, hoping to find a legal excuse to take her into custody.[9] Stanley Poole of the Rapture Tribune acted as an undercover spy for Sinclair, becoming a member of the "Rapture Family"—Lamb's followers. Ryan, supplied with proof,[10] eventually had Lamb arrested and imprisoned indefinitely at Persephone, a prison complex run by Sinclair.

Once Fontaine Futuristics was able to produce ADAM on a massive scale,[11] the marketing of Gene Tonics and Plasmids (developed by Dr. Yi Suchong) went mainstream, being sold to any individual that could afford them. These Tonics and Plasmids bestowed individuals with superhuman abilities, such as creating fire at their fingertips (Incinerate!), releasing a swarm of bees from their arms (Insect Swarm), or increasing muscle tissue and movement speed (SportBoost). Andrew Ryan initially admired the success of Frank Fontaine, citing him as a prime example of the type of individual that Rapture was built to propagate.

As years passed, however, Ryan began to suspect Fontaine of various crimes, ranging from smuggling to murder.  Fontaine's criminal influence and monopoly of ADAM threatened the current social structure and order within the city. Andrew Ryan attempted to arrest Fontaine for smuggling, but Fontaine decided that he wanted to go down "guns blazing" and arranged to fake his death during the resulting shootout[12] in late 1958. After this, Ryan assumed control of Fontaine Futuristics for the city[13] and began to produce Plasmids and Tonics within his own company, Ryan Industries.

Rapture became filled with civil unrest in those following months, as Fontaine stepped into the persona of his alter ego, Atlas, rallying people who had flocked to Fontaine's poor houses, starting a subtle guerrilla war against Rapture's security personnel. The serious violence began on the New Year's Eve of 1958, when Atlas supporters attacked various key locations in the city, including the upper-class Kashmir Restaurant. This event was the first large-scale battle of Rapture's Civil War. Tightening control within the city, Ryan began instituting harsher punishments against "problem citizens" who worked against Rapture's ideals and survival, arresting many of Atlas' and Dr. Lamb's followers.

Mass addiction to ADAM had already become a problem. Now large numbers of citizens started using ADAM to defend themselves. To handle this increased demand, Ryan adjusted the Little Sister program to send the little girls out into the streets to gather ADAM from corpses. Ryan had commissioned Dr. Suchong to develop protectors for the girls, using many prison inmates, including Lamb's imprisoned followers in Persephone, and modifying them into prototype Big Daddies. To supply even more ADAM for the growing conflict, there began kidnappings of young girls, to turn them into Little Sisters. Like Suchong's work, the Protector Project was also pushed forward under the control of Dr. Gilbert Alexander, another brilliant scientist from Fontaine Futuristics. He continued Suchong's work by bonding Eleanor Lamb, daughter of Sofia Lamb who had been abducted and turned into a Little Sister, to Subject Delta.

Just prior to the New Years riots, Sofia Lamb had escaped from Persephone and was searching for her daughter. On New Year's Eve, she and some loyal Splicers finally took Eleanor from her protector. Delta was incapacitated by a Hypnotize Plasmid, with which Sofia Lamb forced him to kill himself in front of a shocked Eleanor. Lamb then retreated back to Persephone with her daughter, avoiding the conflict of the war.

During the Civil War, Splicers learned to take down a Big Daddy, to retrieve the ADAM from the Little Sisters, harvesting the slugs embedded within them, resulting in the girls' deaths. Brigid Tenenbaum, having recognized her crime when confronting a Little Sister in Farmer's Market, developed a Plasmid which would kill the slug inside the Little Sisters, restoring their humanity. Tenenbaum then began to collect girls she rescued, hiding in an underground safe room in the sewers of Olympus Heights, keeping herself and the girls safe from harm.

1958-1959: Burial at SeaEdit

Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 1
Main article: Burial at Sea - Episode 2

Episode 1Edit

On December 31, 1958, Booker DeWitt, a private investigator in Rapture, is hired by a mysterious woman by the name of Elizabeth to find a lost girl, Sally. The detective believes Sally is dead, but his new client claims otherwise. Elizabeth already knows the connection between him and Sally, and to motivate him says that this is the kind of job he could take for free.

Episode 2Edit

After Booker was killed, Elizabeth was chased by the Big Daddy around the Toys department and eventually cornered. He punches her through a wall where she gets impaled on a metal rod, killing her. She is later brought back to Rapture from the Sea of Doors by Rosalind and Robert Lutece, and wakes up in the now rampaged department, in front of the vent where Sally was hiding and next to the Comstock's lifeless corpse.

As she regains consciousness, she witnesses a man grabbing Sally out of the vent while Lonnie is playing Russian roulette against her head. Atlas appears and orders Lonnie to finish her off. A vision of Booker,  who once saved her, suddenly appears, and instructs her with the right words to make a deal with Atlas, saving her life and helping Elizabeth to get back Sally. Following Booker's instructions, she poses as Suchong's lab assistant and promises Atlas and his men to get them back to Rapture. Atlas accepts, having nothing to lose if she fails, and leaves her a radio to stay in touch. Elizabeth is then knocked unconscious by Lonnie.

1959-1960: The Fall of Rapture (BioShock 2 Multiplayer)Edit

Main article: BioShock 2 Multiplayer

Throughout 1959, a full-scale decline of Rapture took place, with many large battles occurring between the armies of Andrew Ryan and Atlas. Ryan had many of Ryan Industries' new Plasmids and Gene Tonics tested by citizens in the streets through Sinclair Solutions. Early 1959 also saw great advances in the technology of Big Daddies under Dr. Gilbert Alexander's influence.

Ryan used Rapture's Press to gain support of the citizens for action against Atlas and his terrorists, declaring Atlas a "parasite" and an enemy of Rapture. After final tests of the Alpha Series of Big Daddies were completed for the Protector Program, Ryan Industries began to release the first functional Big Daddy "protectors" (Bouncer and Rosie models) into the streets to keep the splicers away from the Little Sisters during their work. Many accidents involving citizens and protectors happened, and were reported by the press. Their aggressive nature was already known by Ryan's people and the scientific community, as Dr. Suchong himself had been one of the first victims even before their first public appearance. Unfortunately, the protectors weren't enough to keep Atlas' people from attacking Little Sisters for their ADAM. These incidents earned Atlas the label "child killer" in the newspapers. Ryan continued to use the press to encourage the citizens with reports of his progress against the rebellion.

As the conflict escalated, the harmful side effects of ADAM became more recognized among the population. Dr. J.S. Steinman, a well-known surgeon in Rapture, became addled by ADAM's degenerative effects, and committed acts of butchery during his operations. Atlas used these incidents to fuel the hysteria of the population about ADAM shortages, leading to riots. During the same period, Brigid Tenenbaum, who had vanished after renouncing the Little Sister Program, began to abduct Little Sister Gatherers to save them. Her acts were reported to Ryan, who immediately began a campaign to discredit her, using the newspapers to reveal the truth of her past in the German concentration camps.

More and more districts of Rapture began to be affected by the war. Apollo Square was used by Ryan's authorities as a detention camp to isolate Atlas supporters, while Persephone Penal Colony had fallen under Sofia Lamb's control and was cut off from the rest of the city. Arcadia was forced to close because of incidents involving an ADAM-addicted pagan cult called the Saturnine. Rapture's famous artist, Sander Cohen, was finally forced to close Fort Frolic, although he promised the citizens a "Final Frolic." Rapture's Memorial Museum, located in Point Prometheus, was closed to the public and converted into the Proving Grounds to train the new Big Daddies. Even Dionysus Park was flooded during the war by former Rapture Tribune reporter Stanley Poole in an attempt to hide his treachery from Lamb's followers. Siren Alley, whose residents previously suffering from disruptions in the economy, had become the city's red-light district, now lost that livelihood.

The violence escalated and the conditions in the city continued to deteriorate, and even members of the press began to turn against Ryan. An editor of Rapture Standard, who had spoken out against Ryan's policy of controlling the press to his advantage, was finally imprisoned under suspicion of conspiring with Atlas. With Splicers becoming more and more effective and attacks more organized, Ryan Industries' response was to create "Elite" versions of the new Big Daddies, more adapted to fighting than to protection, and to ask McClendon Robotics for new deadlier models of Security Bots. Rapture Central Computing was also commissioned to design components for a new model of Protector called the Lancer, intended to use  new Ion Laser weaponry. These bots and protectors were ultimately never involved in the war, as Minerva's Den, the center for advanced-technologies in Rapture, was isolated from the rest of the city by Reed Wahl.

Andrew Ryan had attempted to maintain control by instituting wartime measures: enacting harsher laws, limiting the movement of the population, imprisoning Atlas supporters, shutting down the Bathysphere network, and enforcing the death penalty for anyone who broke the smuggling law. Eventually, even the newspapers were forced to cease publication as Ryan issued Security Order 217. The Splicer attacks, destruction, and public disorder continued to escalate. In the end, Andrew Ryan was "seeking solutions in seclusion" within Rapture Central Control in Hephaestus (earning him the label "Hephaestus Hermit" by the press). In an act of desperation, he introduced into his Plasmids a pheromone control, which gave him sufficient control over all of the ADAM addicted citizens. Though initially reluctant to effectively strip away the human quality he most valued, free will, Ryan believed the alternative was the end of Rapture. Once Ryan had neutralized Atlas' splicers and stabilized the city, Atlas went into hiding. Normality still had not returned for the remaining sane citizens, as many Splicers still roamed the streets of Rapture, and the war's destruction was widespread.

1960: BioShockEdit

Main article: BioShock

1960-1967: Rapture's MetamorphosisEdit

Jack's influence became less direct in Rapture, and Tenenbaum soon left with most of the remaining Little Sisters. The removal of the Gatherers would, however, have a chaotic effect on the surviving citizens of Rapture. Without them to collect and recycle ADAM from corpses littering the city, this genetic material became even harder to find, and the Splicers became more violent, unbalanced, and monstrous due to severe ADAM withdrawal. The strong soon started preying on the weak, and only the most brutal and spliced-up individuals survived.

In this period of great turmoil, an old political adversary of Andrew Ryan's, Dr. Sofia Lamb, took control of the city. She started recruiting more and more Splicers through her "Rapture Family," a cult she created along with her lieutenant Simon Wales, with bold promises of security, deliverance, and eternal life. She also revived the Protector/Gatherer Program with former Fontaine Futuristics' head scientist Dr. Gilbert Alexander. To respond to fiercer Splicers, he created a new type of Big Daddy, the Rumbler. His research also led him to create the Big Sisters, adolescent Little Sisters too old to carry out their function, but still under the effects of their mental conditioning. Lamb used that opportunity to create an army of Big Sisters to enforce her rule and to establish fear in the minds of Splicers not already devoted to her.

In order to create the first "Utopian," Lamb and Alexander conducted new experiments based on Jack's mental conditioning. Alexander agreed to be the subject of the experimental operation, and would be imbued with the entire collective genius of Rapture via ADAM infusion (collected during the last seven years). He would then lose his own personal identity, allowing him to serve the common good without bias or self-interest. The plan failed, and Alexander was heavily mutated by the enormous amounts of ADAM he was imbued with and, most likely, because of too much genetic material from the people injected into him. Deserted by Lamb, he was left in Fontaine Futuristics' laboratories, but could still control the entire facility through electronics. Before ADAM drove him completely mad, he left a series of instructions for anyone sane enough to kill the insane mutation that he would become.

1967-1968: Sea of Dreams (There's Something in the Sea)Edit

Main article: There's Something in the Sea

As ADAM was running short in Rapture, Lamb used the new Big Sisters to kidnap girls from the surface to create new Little Sisters, in order to bring ADAM back to Rapture, but also to conduct new experiments on her own daughter, Eleanor Lamb, and create the first real Utopian. This resulted in the phenomenon of red lights appearing all over the Atlantic coasts and little girls being abducted by what some investigators thought was a single beast coming from the sea's depths.

Mark Meltzer, a father living with his family on the American east coast, was the first to notice the similarities in these abductions. He began following the cases, but then his own daughter, Cindy, was kidnapped as well. Meltzer began a long investigation to find his daughter and the rest of the missing girls. Helped by various contacts, he uncovered common points between the abductions and "the Vanishing", and thus began to search for Rapture. He eventually found evidence of its existence in clues left by Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, and in coded messages from his daughter left by Big Sisters.

Late in the autumn of 1968, he embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean on a boat, the SS. Nelly Bly, to find the hidden city. However, as he approached his final destination, the boat was attacked by Splicers under Lamb's command. The crew was slaughtered and the boat was left adrift. Mark escaped and entered the Lighthouse, finally reaching Rapture with one of the Splicers' bathyspheres.

Meanwhile in Rapture, Eleanor was kept in a sedated existence by her mother, so that her genetic experiments could finally succeed. Dreaming of the surface and of her lost Big Daddy, Eleanor still maintained some mental links with the new Little Sisters and the Big Sisters. Using some of the Little Sisters as intermediaries, Eleanor contacted Dr. Tenenbaum, who had returned to Rapture after spending the last eight years on the surface. Tenenbaum wanted to end her own creation, the Little Sister Program, which had been revived by Sofia Lamb, and also to create a cure for the effects of ADAM with the help of the Thinker, the most developed computer in the fallen city. With Tenenbaum's help and the Little Sisters, Eleanor reconfigured the disused Vita-Chamber in Adonis Luxury Resort in order to resurrect her bonded Big Daddy, the prototype Subject Delta.

1968: Rapture's Nightmare (BioShock 2)Edit

Main article: BioShock 2

In the middle of this chaos, Subject Delta (Δ), the first Big Daddy to have been successfully Pair Bonded, is resurrected at a Vita-Chamber under mysterious circumstances, and struggles to adapt to the current state of affairs. Searching for Eleanor Lamb, the Little Sister he was bonded with before his death, Delta confronts Sofia Lamb, to whom Eleanor is also of great interest. In his journey, he encounters Brigid Tenenbaum, who has returned to Rapture to rescue the new generation of Little Sisters. He also meets Augustus Sinclair, the shady head of Sinclair Solutions, who guides him throughout his quest to find Eleanor.

1980s and Onward: Rapture's Later FateEdit

Nothing is known of the ultimate fate of Rapture and its last survivors since the events of 1968. By the 1980s, the American television channel PHE broadcast a two-part episode of Fact From Myth, titled Rapture: A Modern-Day Atlantis?, centered around the few proofs and stories of the city's existence to the surface. Rapture remained undiscovered to the rest of the world, for at least at the time of the release of this documentary.


  1. Andrew Ryan's Audio Diary: The Great Chain Rattles
  2. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: Finding the Sea Slug
  3. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: Fontaine's Smugglers
  4. Sullivan's Audio Diary: Smuggling Ring
  5. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: Adam Discovery
  6. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: ADAM Explained
  7. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: Why Just Girls?
  8. Frank Fontaine's Audio Diary: An Empty Niche
  9. Andrew Ryan's Audio Diary: Lamb the Problem, Sinclair the Solution
  10. Stanley Poole's Audio Diary: Mole
  11. Brigid Tenenbaum's Audio Diary: Mass Producing ADAM
  12. Bill McDonagh's Audio Diary: Fontaine's Army
  13. Bill McDonagh's Audio Diary: Ryan Takes F Futuristics

See AlsoEdit

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