[[April 26, 1986 -> Who are you?]]
You are a nuclear reactor operator in the Soviet Union's first nuclear energy facility: [[Chernobyl. -> Your Position]]Your position has landed you a comfortable living and a home for your wife and child in the posh city of Pripyat nearby. Shopping districts, beaches on the scenic Pripyat river, even an amusement park are available for any resident. Everyone who lives here works at the power station.
[[Next->The Test]]Tonight, your team will perform a test on the Chernobyl Reactor #4 authorized by the local head of the Communist party in Pripyat.
[[Next->The Simulation]]You are to simulate low energy conditions that may occur if the enemy bombards the area and knocks out the power lines to Chernobyl.
[[Next->If you fail]]If you fail to follow orders from your superiors, you and your family will be exiled to a remote outpost in Siberia.
[[Next->Ready]]When you're ready, [[enter the control room]].
(set: $power to 1000)00:00 - (print: $power) Megawatts
[[Akimov]] glances over warmly at you.
"Greetings, Toptunov. Are you ready to [[begin the test]]?"Aleksandr Akimov is the head engineer of the night crew in Chernobyl's Reactor #4. He has always been kind to you, he even brought some Stuffed Cabbage Rolls when your wife was going through labor. He wants everyone in his facility to be safe and feel cared for.
[[Back to the control room.->enter the control room]] 00:00 - (print: $power) Megawatts
"Of course he's ready," [[Dyatlov]] cuts in gruffly. "[[Get to your station]], Toptunov. We need to lower our energy intake down to 200 Megawatts for our test tonight."
Tonight Akimov is outranked by Anatoly Dyatlov.
Dyatlov is the deputy chief-engineer at Chernobyl, and one of the top nuclear engineers in the Soviet Union. He is not usually present but has been asked by the reactor's director to sit in on tonight's test.
(link:"Next")[Everyone knows he's ambitious to prove he's leader material - he ran away from his fishing village at 14 to begin his education and career as an engineer in the Soviet military.
(link:"Next")[He began installing reactors on submarines back in 1959 and was promoted to his position at Chernobyl for his efficient work and domineering attitude toward inferiors.
His son recently died of Leukemia.
[[Back to the control room->begin the test]]00:20 - (print: $power) Megawatts
Dyatlov smiles at your obedience.
Everything seems to be running normally.
Akimov gives you a thumbs up.
[[Next->Power too low]]00:00 - (print: $power) Megawatts
You are aware that it is unsafe to drop below 700 Megawatts.
(link: "Lower Power" )[(set: $power to 750)(goto: "Lower Power")]
[[Tell Dyatlov it's dangerous to bring the reactor that low]]00:10 - 1100 Megawatts
Dyatlov scowls at you, his grey brow furrowed in anger.
"What the hell do you think you're doing. I said [[lower the power->Lower Power]], fool."
If you [[don't->Continue resisting]] I'll be more than happy to arrange a trip to Siberia for you.
00:27 - 530 Megawatts
You notice that the power in the reactor has fallen below the standardized safety level of 700 Megawatts.
[[Say nothing]]00:28 - 523 Megawatts
You point to a section in the worker's manual that clearly states that 700 Megawatts is the lowest the reactor should be run at.
"Hmmm, you're right, this is concerning. But I remember Dyatlov told us that the test is to be run at 200 Megawatts. Maybe he had the number wrong. I'll go ask him."
[[Next->Alert Dyatlov]] 00:29 - 512 Megawatts
"You don't need to tell me anything. It's not your job to think. I make the decisions here, just do what you're told.
Where did you get such idiots, Akimov?"
[[Do what you're told.->do what you're told]]00:29 - 512 Megawatts
You decide to stay silent. Nobody else is aware of the dangerous power levels.
[[Next->do what you're told]] 00:31 - 190 Megawatts
An alarm starts beeping. Winding the reactor down has led to the power dropping too much!
"What's going on?" Dyatlov shouts. "You idiot, you've let the power drop too far! You incompetent fool! Akimov, help him out."
[[Next->help him out.]]00:32 - 150 Megawatts
"Just stay calm, Leonid, it's alright. Let's start from the beginning."
Akimov turns off the alarm.
[[Next->water danger]]00:36 - 70 Megawatts
Power is still dropping rapidly.
Another alarm starts blaring from the water control system. You can hear Dyatlov shouting at the water systems operator,
"Turn that damn racket off!"
You and Akimov sigh in relief, no longer under the direct scrutiny of your superior.
[[Next->halt]]00:38 - 0 Megawatts
The reactor has completely halted.
Your short-lived relief has come to an end as your station starts blaring another alarm and Dyaltov comes dashing over.
"You stalled the reactor, you complete moron! Remove the control rods and power up now!
[[Remove the control rods->Power up now!]]
[[This is dangerous...->Resist]]00:42 - 30 Megawatts
You've flipped the switch to pull the control rods. You no longer have any control over the reactor's power, but at least the energy is rising again and Dyatlov is appeased.
[[Next->160 MW]]00:39 - 0 Megawatts
You inform Dyatlov that your safety training instructed you to shut down the reactor if energy reaches 0 Megawatts.
[[Akimov agrees.]]00:43 - 160 Megawatts
You alert Dyatlov that 160 Megawatts of power have returned to the reactor.
He grins, "Perhaps you have one bone of reason in your body, Toptunov."
[[Next->200 MW]]01:03 - 200 Megawatts
"Wonderful," Dyatlov remarks. "Now we may finally begin the test. [[Turn off the turbine.]] Let us see how this reactor will do on back up diesel power.
[[Make a plan with Akimov]]"If we pull out the control rods and raise the power, we will have no control over the reactor. We need to shut it off."
Dyatlov's face turns tomato red in rage.
"I've had enough delays from you cretins. This test will be done TONIGHT! Pull those control rods NOW!"
[[Pull those control rods->Power up now!]]
[[Don't pull them->Continue resisting-control rods]] 01:05 - 300 Megawatts
You switch the turbine off, restricting the flow of water to the reactor. Dyatlov, delighted, gives you a pat on the back.
You notice the power is quickly rising.
You tell Dyatlov where he can stick his test parameters, you're not going to bring the power down to a potentially unstable level. Akimov smiles, nodding with you.
Dyatlov's eyes fill with flame. He says nothing and starts striding towards the phone on the wall.
[[Make a plan with Akimov]]
[[Lower Power->Lower Power - Angry]]Nervously, you turn the switch to lower the power before Dyatlov reaches the phone. He stops mid-walk as he hears the switch's click, and looks at the monitor displaying your compliance.
"Now that wasn't so hard, now was it, Toptunov? You're still on thin ice."
Akimov lets out a sigh of relief.
[[Back to monitoring->do what you're told]]Dyatlov picks up the phone and starts dialing.
You turn, terrified, to Akimov and start whispering your need for an ally. He agrees that this situation is dangerous and offers his support. What do you want him to do?
[[Distract Dyatlov while you escape]]
[[Wrestle the phone from Dyatlov's hands]]Akimov grabs whatever papers he can find in his reach and sprints over to Dyatlov. Akimov tells Dyatlov to take a look, as the papers are of the utmost urgency, then flings them in his face.
[[Try to escape]]
Miraculously, you catch Dyatlov by surprise with a hook to his temple. He drops the phone into your waiting hands.
[[Talk to the director->Pick up the phone]]Unfortuately the room is not very large and several personnel notice you trying to escape. Salivating at the thought of promotion, they tackle you to the ground and pin you while they call over Dyatlov.
[[Convince them to help you]]
[[Don't struggle, it's probably for the best that you give in]]You explain to your captors that what Dyatlov wants to do is incredibly dangerous, and could bring the whole facility to the ground. This offense could lead to Dyatlov's suspension if the director would hear their side of the story, and leave an opening in his position for them to fill.
Their eyes glaze over at the possibility. They weaken their grip and help you up.
You hear Dyatlov greet the director on the phone, you need to act quick.
[[Time for a mutiny]]Dyatlov turns his head to see you on the ground.
"Well, well, well. Looks like you're a bigger idiot than I thought. I've got the director on the line right now, and my case to send you to Siberia has just gotten a lot easier to make."
You slump your head, ready to [[take whatever is coming to you.]]
Akimov slams Dyatlov's head with a stool, knocking him to the ground out cold.
Your captors, stunned by the fall of their leader, weaken their grip on you enough for you to escape.
"Run, Leonid! You don't have much time!"
[[Get the hell out of there!]]You sprint out the control room door and make your way through the corridors of the power plant towards the exit. Shouts of personnel can be heard echoing through the shafts, and an alarm starts blaring.
You come to a fork in the path, and in your state of confusion, you have forgotten which way is out.
[[Take the left path]]
[[Take the right path]]00:39 - 0 Megawatts
You tell Dyatlov where he can stick his control rods, you're not going to bring the power back on now, it's far too dangerous. Akimov smiles, nodding with you.
Dyatlov's eyes fill with flame. He says nothing and starts walking towards the phone on the wall.
[[Grab the phone before he can->Wrestle the phone from Dyatlov's hands]]
[[Try to escape]]
[[Make a plan with Akimov]]01:05 - 600 Megawatts
The power hs doubled in a matter of seconds. You call over Akimov.
[[Next->power rising higher]]01:05 - 1600 Megawatts
The energy in the reactor is rising exponentially! Akimov's face turns sheet white as he watches the power gauge.
Low rumbling can be heard from outside the control room.
[[Tell Dyatlov the test is going wrong]]
[[Call the director->explosion]]
[[Get the hell out of there!]]You sprint down the lefthand corridor past several confused personnel. You run like the wind towards the exit.
[[Next->false exit]]You sprint as fast as you can down the righthand corridor, your legs screaming out to you to slow down.
Behind you, you hear a low rumbling begin.
[[Keep running!]]01:06 - 3200 Megawatts
"Are you serious, what the hell is happening!"
You point to the energy gauge and explain that the reactor is malfunctioning.
"That's impossible. Just get back to monitoring."
[[Make a plan with Akimov->explosion]]
[[Try to escape->explosion]]
[[Call the director->explosion]]
Before you have time to do anything, a massive shockwave rocks the entire control room. The lights flash on and off in a strobe, and the steel door to the corridor outside bends in and out like a piece of paper in the wind.
[[Pray to God]]The deafening cacophony of shrieking people, bending metal, and resounding explosions fill your ears as you pray to every saint you know that you will survive.
Battery powered lights turn on, illuminating the control room in a dim red haze. Smoke is seeping in from behind the door. The noise begins to quiet down.
[[Next->explosion aftermath]]Dyatlov turns to you, face twisted and terrified.
"What have you done, Toptunov?!"
He starts lumbering toward you before collapsing in a coughing fit.
"Akimov," he struggles to rasp, "Go inspect the damage, or I'll have your head."
[[Stay with Dyatlov]]
[[Go with Akimov]]You leap up and volunteer to join Akimov in his investigation. His face turns up in relief that he won't have to face to unknown alone.
Dyatlov accepts your proposal, "It would be best, you should get away from the controls."
[[Next->A ghost]]Your group of reactor personnel make their way over to Dyatlov, and before he has a chance to react he is pinned to the ground, yelping. The phone clatters onto the floor.
[[Pick up the phone]]
[[Get the hell out of there!]] You grab the phone and bring it up to your ear. You start explaining that Dyatlov is trying to force his workers into a dangerous test, but trail off as you realize you aren't speaking to the director.
Multiple voices speak to you through the phone multiple pitches, all in unison.
"You must [[complete the test]], Leonid Toptunov. It must be done."Your hand lets go of the phone, letting it hit the ground with a crack. The voices echo over and over in your head, worming their way through all of your thoughts.
(text-style: "shudder")["It must be done."]
[[Next->it must be done]]You punch Akimov in the mouth, feeling teeth break and dig into your fist.
Akimov crumbles to the ground screaming in pain, blood pouring from his broken jaw.
"How could you, Toptunov?!"
The voices fill your head with laughter. The energy gauge is increasing exponentially. A low rumbling fills the room.
[[Sit back and watch]]A shockwave rocks the control room. Screams of operators fill your ears as the infrastructure outside crumbles to the ground. The steel door separating the control room from the rest of the facility bends in and out like paper in the wind.
You laugh maniacally as the chaos swirls around you, and the voices bounce in your head with glee as the main lights go out. The room is bathed in red emergency battery-operated lights.
[[Leave the room]] Your legs carry you over to the door as the sounds of explosions die down. As you turn the handle, your hand burns but you don't flinch. You only have one drive now, you must see what you've done.
Opening the door a gust of burning wind blows in your face, tanning your skin. Pain sears over your body, and you can still hear Dyatlov cackling from behind you.
"Oh thank you, Toptunov, you've made this really easy for me!"
You walk down the destroyed corridor. Charred bodies of maintenance workers litter the ground, some still alive and struggling to move in shock. Electricity arcs from detached cables around you.
Your skin starts peeling, but you must keep moving. You must see what the voices are promising, you must see what Dyatlov was planning all along.
[[Onward]] You arrive at the reactor core - or where it used to be. The room has been completely blown out, debris and body parts strewn around the wreckage.
Inside you notice something shimmering.
[[Take a closer look]]As you make your way into the reactor room, your skin and muscles start sloughing off. You're not surviving this, you know, but you need to see what has happened. You have no choice.
In your final moments, you collapse toward the ground and drag yourself closer to the mysterious shimmering object.
It appears to be the shape of a small human. How could this be here? Who could have survived this explosion?
You have no time to answer the question as your eyes melt out of your head. You pass on as the voices reverberate through your mind, cackling congratulations. You've brought back our vessel.
[[START OVER->April 26, 1986]] You're frozen in place, terrified of what has just transpired. Akimov trudges to the door and looks back at you, face white as a ghost. He opens the door and begins his journey to the outside.
Dyatlov turns, eyes boring holes into you.
"How could you..."
[[Next->A ghost]]Akimov struggles to pull the door open, and as soon as it cracks a gust of hot wind blows through the room, blasting everybody back. Akimov is quickly tanned and burned by the draft, falling over squealing in pain.
The entire room fills with fear and unease as their comrade writhes in agony on the floor.
A glowing figure of child size steps through the door, over Akimov, and slowly makes its way towards Dyatlov.
[[What the...]]Horror and bewilderment fill Dyatlov's eyes.
[["My boy..?"]]The figure gazes down at Dyatlov, then reaches its hand out to him.
Dyatlov raises his hand to touch its cheek.
"Pasha, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry. I didn't know this would happen. Pasha, Pasha..."
[[Next->ghost 2]]As soon as Dyatlov's finger touches the cheek of the ethereal being, a light fills the room, burning your eyes. You quickly shield your vision, but your arm starts melting. Pain sears through your entire body as it breaks down in the tremendous energy waves.
[[This is it...]]The light dies suddenly, as had most of the men in the room. In your few last moments, you can see Akimov, your loyal friend, in a heap by the door, smoldering. You notice Dyatlov, your boss for the night, the reason for all of this, has completely disappeared, only a shadow of ash on the floor outlining where his body once was.
You slump over, the light of the control room quickly fading from your perception. Your final thoughts are filled with regret.
[[START OVER->April 26, 1986]]
Your legs move on their own, bringing you over to your control station. Your hand jerks and brings the power level all the way down to 0. You switch off the turbine and pull out the control rods.
Dyatlov laughs hysterically from underneath the hands of his captors.
Akimov flashes a look of dread and stumbles over to you attempting to turn the turbine back on.
[[Laugh with Dyatlov]]You spot the exit door!
[[Look back upon your place of work->Look back]]You leap through the door and keep running back to Pripyat. Running, running, running till your legs give out.
You take a short rest under a tree on a hill overlooking the majestic city and the reactor plant.
[[Next->outside explosion]]This was a mistake. Fire fills the corridor, rushing towards you faster than your legs can move.
Quickly burning, your skin starts melting off your bones.
[[Next->agony]]You gaze back over Chernobyl. A glorious marvel of modern technology, steam billowing from its towers.
You gaze over Pripyat. It's time to go pick up your wife and child and [[flee to safety.]]
You pick yourself back up and stride down the hill towards Pripyat. Behind you, the earth shudders and the sound of a steam explosion fills your ears.
There's no looking back now.
Your final thoughts are filled with possibility.
[[START OVER->April 26, 1986]] Your final thoughts are filled with agony.
[[START OVER->April 26, 1986]] 00:05 - 1000 Megawatts
Dyatlov glares at you. "It's not your job to think, just do it. I'm in charge here you do what I say."
[[Raise Power]] A heavy steel door sits at the end of the hallway. That must be it!
[[Open the door]]You swing the door open only to realize (text-style: "italic")[THIS IS THE CORE].
You gaze upon the core of the reactor and hear a hiss of steam as the large graphite control rods slowly lift out of it.
[[Oh no...]]The ground starts rumbling like an earthquake. Bits of the ceiling fall and pipes full of cooling water burst around you, drenching you to the bone.
All at once, the reactor room is filled with a blinding light. Everything around you is incinerated instantaneously.
You are left floating in white nothingness.
[[What...]]You can't tell how long you've been floating in this place, or where you are. You're stuck here, presumably forever, with your thoughts.
What happened to Chernobyl?
Why did I run?
Is there anything I could have done?
[[...]]You drift into meditation, becoming one with the nothingness. Really this is not much different than sleeping. You give one final thought to your decisions before closing your mind.
Is there anything I could have done differently?
[[START OVER->April 26, 1986]]
<span style="font-size: 300%; vertical-align: center;">MELTDOWN</span>
by: David Winstein-Hibbs
[[START->April 26, 1986]]