The Viral Outbreak
Russia maintained it's status as the largest country in the world even after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991. It had been contending with that past ever since, unable to revive it's economy… and it never would.
At the onset of the Resonance, Vladimir V. Putin who had reclaimed his presidency offered little hope against adversity. He was among the first of the populace to fall victim to the dreaded Zombie-virus and his 'demise' was covered up to maintain order, but all they did was cloud people's judgement with false hope. Zombies were kept alive by loved one's who believed the government was in the process of distributing a cure. Caring for them, protecting them, getting infected by them.... then... it was too late.
At the onset of the NEVUS Russia's population was an estimated 142,946, 800 persons by February of 2013 it had been cut to an estimated 50 million. Over half of Russia's people had been infected, their undead remnants hunting the streets. The Russian winter leant it's frigid hand to the survivors, freezing the older and starved aberrations. People had a chance to escape but do little else, the country was lost. Only the three most populated cities remained intact: Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk (actually in Asian Russia). These three major cities organized a cleansing and were able to slaughter the infected unfortunately they soon learned that Zombie-virus was part of a trio of super-viruses.
In March of 2011 Russia had gone from slaying mindless undead to battling Lycanthropes. It would seem that the Slav's in general seemed highly susceptible to contracting the first wave of the super-viruses but for the most part the transformations had been retroactive. Two months after the RESONANCE, the new menace emerged, vying for power and blood in true Russian fashion and what remained of Human and Altered Human alike were lost in the strife of war.
Nuclear meltdown is the accidental melting of the core of a nuclear reactor. It occurs when the heat generated by a nuclear reactor exceed the heat removed by the cooling systems to the point where at least on nuclear fuel element exceeds its melting point. Once fuel elements melt, the primary containment is breached resulting ultimately in radioactive contamination and fallout.
Due to loss of personnel only three of Russian's thirty six nuclear reactors were able to be shut-down. Some designed with passive nuclear safety features were able to cool down and avert contamination, but twenty-five reactors still leaked radiation into the atmosphere.
By May of 2012, Russia was on the verge of becoming a radioactive hot zone. It seemed hopeless and indeed it would have been if it would not have been for the untimely arrival of The . This new power for a new age lent their talents and knowledge to the three remaining cities. With their assistance the allied forces were able to reduce the population of the Lycanthropes.
The Order implemented their powerful magic in the form of wards placed all over each city to repel the fallout. Well into the year 2015, these wards still held true creating a save zone amidst a radioactive wasteland. A dome, reaching five thousand feet above each city and spanning one mile beyond the perimeters keeps the radiation at bay, but their is a noticeable side effect to this 'mana-field'.
Approximately 90% of Russia's entire area is radioactive but it's spread was mercifully contained by an event caused by the Nevus. It can't be explained but for the most part, Russia's radioactivity is contained. The Radiation is mysteriously localized to Russia and some of it's bordering countries.
It is surmised that the fundamental nature of the radiation was altered by magic. This causes certain areas to give off a faint luminescence. It can even affect the look of storms, generating lightning with a spectacular range of colors (but green is predominant), a phenomena referred to as 'Spectral Storms' (more information after the heading 'Green Skies').
The toxicity ranges from levels causing chronic to acute radiation sickness or poisoning. The most severe of these conditions is known as ARS (Acute Radiation Syndrome) a constellation of health effects which present within 24 hours of exposure to high amounts of ionizing radiation, and may last for several months. The term refers to acute medical problems rather than ones that develop after a prolonged period.
The onset and type of symptoms depends on the radiation exposure. Relatively smaller doses result in gastrointestinal effects such as nausea and vomiting and symptoms related to falling blood counts such as infection and bleeding. Relatively larger doses can result in neurological effects and rapid death. Treatment of acute radiation syndrome is generally supportive with blood transfusions and antibiotics.
Similar symptoms may appear months to years after exposure as chronic radiation syndrome but the Russian radiation has no lingering effects. Once a person is removed from the 'exposure' their bodies will normalize after a few weeks, sometimes as little as a few days, depending on the level of exposure.
For the most part the majority of Russia is so toxic that prolonged exposure in it's wastelands will lead to certain death. A mammal can endure the radiation for roughly two to four days and the third day is the point of no return.
Green Skies — 'The Mystical Aurora'
Whether by the grace of God, the Nevus, or perhaps even the Magus known as 'Poryadok Pervogo Sveta' (The Order of First Light) some of Russia's major cities were spared from the radiation. It is kept at bay by unknown force that can be seen when it manifests itself in cloud cover and storms at night, taking on an eerie greenish hue.
The strange form of radioactivity throughout the region causes this phenomena as well. In the cities, however, the intensity varies with the speed of the winds acting on the barrier. The stronger the winds the more green the sky appears.
Swirling green rays rush across the night sky on windy nights which locals refer to as the 'Ghost Wind' or 'Phantom Aurora'.
The term is used to describe the 'green' storms that from time to time occur over the cities. While this phenomena occurs in Russia's radioactive wastelands intense versions also form over the cities. The magically altered meteorological phenomena that are primarily green in colour are particularly intense over the cities due to their overall energy being increased as they pass over or through the protective barriers.
Spectral Storms are charged with the 'radioactive-mana' that pollutes the wastelands, increasing their intensity. Over the cities, the radioactivity is filtered out but their magical intensity actually increases.
While all of these storms have the potential to become incredibly violent, most are in fact no more dangerous that natural storms. The main difference is their spectacular display of colorful lightening, dominated by their characteristic green hue.
At their worst they can have three times the strikes of an average storm. They retain the 'mana' as they cross over the city and can carry for several kilometers after. The mana-charged lightening exhibit normal behaviour except for the fact that they are also 'magical', often rendering vulnerable any empowered individuals able to control such an element, causing strange effects, and making magic in general go awry.
Spectral Storms are a spectacular display, some have even traveled to the isolated cities just to witness one. They occur most often in the months of June and July. Beyond the mana-field in the wastelands radioactivity increases to frightening levels within these storms and there are no suits able to stave off the effects. Survival can only be ensured by remaining in the specialized vehicles designed for travel through the wasteland but the intensity of the lightening is so great that there is a constant threat of the power systems being shorted out, stranding a group in the middle of nowhere.
The 'Russian Badlands' is dangerous territory. Altered creatures able to survive the radiation stalk the land, an constant threat to transports and supply caravans. While the three cities have learned from the example of New York City and turned many of their roof tops and vacant space into farmland they are still reliant on imported goods.
Caravans are heavily armed and quite often successful in their travels but there is still the occasional raid that it successful. A common problem that still occurs are Zombie hordes blocking the road like cattle. These 'Wasteland Zombies' are a mystery since they should have expired but they still appear here and there. Their flesh is irradiated actually giving it slight glow. On those dark, cloudy, moonless nights when all is black they have the appearance of ghosts marching across the landscape.
The radioactivity does not extend past the country's defined borders and in some places the land is inhabitable miles into the interior.
While a variety of trucks and vans have been modified to endure the wastelands people commonly travel via train. The Russians have adapted old military locomotives to transport citizens and visitors to and from each of the cities. Each is equipped with armored military cars, heavily armed with anti-artillery weapons used to bring down larger predators. A precaution, but there have been incidents.
The windowless locomotives use night-vision cameras, heat-vision and even sonar to alert them of oncoming obstacles which is why they have no lights. Lights attract zombies and predators on night trips so the trains are kept dark, betrayed only by their noise as they stream across the barren steppes.
Russians are already quite complacent in regards to the danger of the travel. There have been no serious attacks and whatever they have come up against the train's weaponry has been more than ample to deal with it. A low frequency of zombies are usually just bashed aside.
The trains are extremely luxurious. They want to inspire travel and tourism and have thus brought back that old extravagance when trains were the main means of travel.
Each of the cities are independent of one another. They are each headed by a Minister and ideally are thought of as the Russian Council of Ministers. Beneath them are 'Deputies' that form a house.
The cities of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk are all that remains of Russia but populations are dwindling. Every month more people and leaving (or rather trying to leave) the isolated cities fearing that one day the protective wards may fail, or that the Lycanthropes might rise up once more. As it is, those creatures are still a constant threat and many of the people strive to escape before they become yet another victim of what many believe is a shadow government influencing their Ministers.
The Order of the First Light ('Poryadok Pervogo Sveta') has an advisory role with what remains of Russia. For the most part, people do not trust these sorcerers but there are some who believe them responsible for protecting the three surviving major cities of Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Novosibirsk.
The following numbers are based on former estimations.
Moscow: 11,514,330 in 2010 now less than 3 million.
Saint Petersburg: 4,662,000 in 2002 now less than 2 million.
Novosibirsk: 1, 473, 737 in 2010 reduced to less than 1 million.
While these are the last remaining large cities supporting large populations there are in fact other settlements in Russian that were spared. In the wastelands there are some isolated communities in areas void of radiation that continue to survive. Some keep in contact with cities, others are completely cut-off.