|“||Each of us has a moral duty to increase the common joy and ease the common pain. Alone, we are nothing, mere engines of self-interest. Together, we are the Family, and through unity we transcend the Self.||„|
|~ Sofia Lamb|
The Rapture Family is a religious organization created by Father Simon Wales on the orders of Sofia Lamb in order to recruit the Splicers of Rapture to her cause. Initially one of the many underdogs of the city, following the events of the first Bioshock game, the Rapture Family has exploited the power vacuum left by Andrew Ryan and Frank Fontaine to effectively take over Rapture.
Now, they keep the decaying city as close to working order as they can manage, continuing ADAM harvesting, medicating Splicers, and ensuring the safety of the Little Sisters - all in preparation for the day that their messiah, Eleanor Lamb, becomes the first true Utopian. As such, they form the bulk of Subject Delta's enemies in his attempts to rescue Eleanor over the course of the game.
The Rise Of Altruism
Like Frank Fontaine and the rebellion he engineered, the Rapture Family would never have risen to prominence had it not been for the particular social conditions Andrew Ryan had fostered within Rapture: thanks to Ryan's obsession with individual achievement and open contempt for charity, the construction workers who'd built the city were left unemployed and unsupported, relegated to slums and shantytowns like Pauper's Drop. Places like these were only intended to serve as temporary housing until the residents could find work, but opportunities for sustainable employment were rare, and the exploitation of the residents by Rapture's upper class only ensured long-term residence.
It was around this time that Sofia Lamb began providing counselling sessions for the people of Rapture; though dismissive of psychiatry and those who needed it, Andrew Ryan had reluctantly conceded that the claustrophobic quarters and lack of sunlight had wreaked havoc on the minds of his citizenry, and allowed Sofia to provide therapy - if only to quiet those he saw as the weakest links in the Great Chain. However, Lamb's efforts quickly drifted away from calming mild environmental concerns to addressing the social anxieties of Rapture's underprivileged. In them, she saw an opportunity to remake the city in her image and make her beliefs the norm; to that end, she began subtly preaching her collectivist ideals to her patients in every session, discouraging individualism and promoting the worship of the group. Relieved at finally having a sympathetic ear and often never realizing that they were being indoctrinated, many of these patients became Lamb's supporters - particularly during her work among the residents of Pauper's Drop. In the depths of the economic depression, she offered free counseling sessions to the impoverished inhabitants, and encouraged any of the patients who were interested in her ideas to wear a butterfly pin - later to become one of the most revered symbols of the Rapture Family.
One notable patient of Lamb's was local jazz singer Grace Holloway: over the course of their sessions together, the psychiatrist preyed on Grace's longing for a family by encouraging her to unite the downtrodden of Pauper's Drop under the banner of her growing cult. Later still, she exploited Grace's frustrations over her inability to bear children of her own by giving her temporary custody of her own daughter, Eleanor, knowing that the jazz singer's long-thwarted maternal drives would make her the perfect caretaker for a child who would one day become the Rapture Family's messiah.
Also among Lamb's more notable patients was the architect Simon Wales: Simon and his twin brother Daniel had been commissioned to help design Rapture, only to lose face among Ryan's elite when leaks began to appear throughout the city - technically the result of poor maintenance by local administrators, but the truth mattered little to the fashionable upper class of Rapture. Unable to find work, Simon was consumed by guilt over the perceived failure of his designs, and sought advice from Dr Lamb; as with Grace, she encouraged him to speak for the Family and shun the worship of the self, instead focusing on devotion to the people. Under her guidance, he abandoned his career as an architect, became a priest of the Rapture Family and adopted the title "Father Wales." He began conducting services out of a pumping station-turned-church buried in the depths of Siren Alley, initially with the promise that all faiths and creeds were welcome; however, as the Civil War consumed Rapture and the Family became more powerful, persecution of other religions became common - indeed, by the events of Bioshock 2, Siren Alley is littered with the bodies of nonbelievers, often accompanied by graffiti proclaiming "Nonbelievers are not welcome here anymore."
However, the Family was not limited to the recruits drawn from the impoverished and underprivileged: Lamb also lured in a great many willing converts from Rapture's intellectual stratosphere via her commune at Dionysus Park. Hosting a regular celebration of "Unconscious Art," she recruited frustrated artists who'd grown tired of Andrew Ryan's domineering aesthetic vision and hypocritical censorship; because admission to the Park was free and no topics of conversation were forbidden, she also drew in citizens from all walks of life, united by the grievances they were finally allowed to air. One way or another, she had a happy audience to her sermons on the evils of the self.
Unfortunately, the authorities also began to take notice of her at this point: following a series of public debates with Lamb in which Ryan found himself publicly defeated and humiliated for the first time in years, he initiated plans to remove the troublesome psychiatrist from the spotlight. Charging a reporter from the Rapture Tribune, one Stanley Poole, with infiltrating the Family and gathering evidence against Lamb, he demanded any tangible proof that could discredit the organization and its founder. Having presented himself as a disenfranchised journalist frustrated by censorship in the newspapers, Poole was able to delve into Dionysus Park and gather all the information he required.
In the end, his report allowed Ryan to order Lamb's arrest and imprisonment in Persephone. For good measure, he also instructed Persephone's owner, Augustus Sinclair, to destroy any memory of her in Rapture: under Ryan's command, records of Sofia Lamb's work were destroyed all over the city, and her name itself became unwelcome among the inhabitants of Rapture's upper crust. However, though dozens of prominent Family members were arrested, the Family itself survived in secret, left in the hands of Dr Lamb's most trusted followers: Grace Holloway kept an eye on the Family's interests at Pauper's Drop and remained a capable nanny to Eleanor; Father Wales presided over the church in Siren Alley; and Stanley Poole, having never been found out as a spy, was given control of Dionysus Park.
While Lamb kept herself occupied as a therapist for the other prisoners in Persephone, the Family remained in the shadows. However, Stanley Poole once again proved a disruptive presence in the cult: he spent most of his time throwing decadent parties at Lamb's expense, wasting his ex-patron's finances on drugs and prostitutes. He also made the mistake of posing as "Uncle Stanley" to Eleanor, which only gave her an uninterrupted glimpse of Poole's mismanagement of the park; when she threatened to tell her mother what he was up to, Poole sold Eleanor to a Little Sister's Orphanage, where she was promptly converted into a Little Sister and bonded to the Alpha series Big Daddy Subject Delta.
The Civil War And The Aftermath
Eventually, Sofia Lamb was able to inspire her fellow prisoners to revolt, seizing control of the prison from within and remaking it as her base of operations. However, she was careful not to tip her hand too soon, only venturing out of Persephone on New Years' Eve 1958: using the rioting as a cover for her activities, she was able to kill Subject Delta and capture Eleanor. Though Lamb was seen several times throughout the civil war, Ryan was quick to dismiss her and the Family as credible threats, being too preoccupied with the threat Atlas posed to his leadership; thus, Lamb was allowed to wait out the war in Persephone, slowly and painstakingly removing the conditioning that had imprisoned Eleanor's mind.
In sharp contrast, Stanley Poole panicked, realizing that it was only a matter of time before someone in the Dionysus Park commune told Lamb everything about what he'd been up to in her absence. So, taking advantage of a structural flaw in the park, he sabotaged the main drainage pipe and allowed the faulty pressure seals to lock in the populace, ensuring that every possible witness to Poole's crimes was drowned in the ensuing flood. Unknown to him, Lamb already knew the truth and had forgiven him: the few hundred artists and free-thinkers he'd just murdered were easily replaced and of limited utility anyway; the gross wastage of her finances was of little concern, given that the Civil War had left the Rapture Dollar virtually worthless; even selling Eleanor to the Little Sister program was forgiven - especially considering the unexpected side-benefit her condition later offered to Lamb's master plan.
For the remainder of the civil war, Lamb and the Family remained in seclusion within the poorest areas of Rapture, consolidating their power and gathering new recruits. Eventually, Ryan was assassinated by Jack, and Fontaine eventually died at the hands of his own custom-designed assassin, allowing the Family to emerge from the shadows and take over Rapture - also inspiring Father Wales to enshrine Jack as a saint. The Family's ranks swelled to encompass most of the city's surviving populace, including even the renowned scientist Gilbert Alexander; for good measure, with the few remaining Little Sisters in Rapture under the Family's control, they were also able to ensure the loyalty of the Splicers with regular fixes of ADAM. Any citizens who resisted were either imprisoned or forcibly conditioned with electroconvulsive therapy - as was the case with the unfortunate Spider Splicers; those who attempted to actually leave Rapture were simply torpedoed on their way out.
Meanwhile, those Little Sisters who'd grown too old to gather ADAM from corpses were also put to practical use: as their programming broke down and their minds degenerated into feral hysteria, Lamb and Dr Alexander applied new mental constraints in order to transform them into the Big Sisters, a new line of Protectors for their younger counterparts. These acrobatic killers were put to use all over Rapture, hunting down rogue Splicers and delivering swift retribution to any who'd made the mistake of stealing ADAM from the Family.
As Lamb returned to the philosophical roots of her movement, Fontaine's WYK conditioning of Jack provided an unexpected source of inspiration. For several years, she'd been considering methods of creating a collectivist messiah for the Rapture Family, an individual who could act without thought for the self and serve according to the common good - the first True Utopian, as she called it. Now, it seemed as though Jack's mental conditioning and ADAM's ability to carry the memories of past users provided the perfect solution: the Utopian being would be created through an ADAM-based infusion of all the memories and personalities of Rapture's citizenry, resulting in a hive of minds contained within a single body, allowing the cult's messiah to be whoever or whatever the situation required it to be; governed by a set of mental constraints engineered through WYK conditioning, this savior would live to promote the common good, favoring no citizen above any other.
Initially, Dr Alexander volunteered for the role: deeply devoted to Sofia Lamb and anxious to atone for making Eleanor into a Little Sister, he looked for any opportunity to impress her. However, the vast influx of ADAM only mutated him into a hideously-disfigured monstrosity, and Lamb abandoned him in the basement laboratories of Fontaine Futuristics to live out the rest of his days in isolation and insanity. Despite this failure, she was not discouraged: for all his enthusiasm, Glibert Alexander had been only a prototype for the real Utopian - Eleanor.
Ever since Lamb had conceived of the idea, her daughter had been the only logical candidate for the role of the first True Utopian, having educated Eleanor in the great destiny she was expected to fulfill from the moment she was old enough to walk. The plan of ADAM injections and WYK conditioning was simply an expansion on Lamb's original idea, and thanks to Dr Alexander's failure, she now had the ideal means of correcting the flaws of the program and tailoring them to Eleanor's specifications. Best of all, Eleanor was still symbiotically bonded to the sea slug that had made her a Little Sister, and though she lost the ability to harvest and store ADAM as she reached adolescence, the slug provided her with an immunity to the genetic distortion and maddening addiction ADAM-usage commonly caused.
However, for the project to work, the Family would require vast amounts of ADAM. Unfortunately, there simply weren't enough Little Sisters left in Rapture, the overwhelming majority having either died in Splicer ambushes or simply matured into Big Sisters. So, Lamb charged the Big Sisters of Rapture with a mission of unprecedented importance: they were to journey to the surface in submersibles and scour the Atlantic coastlines for replacement Little Sisters. Despite the numerous sightings and the panic the string of kidnappings generated throughout the world, few connected the abductions - the notable exceptions including conspiracy theorist Mark Meltzer and the members of Orrin Oscar Lutwidge's International Order of Pawns.
As the children were slowly processed, brainwashed and set to work throughout Rapture, Eleanor Lamb looked upon the process with fear. She'd seen what had happened to Dr Alexander, and even if she was immune to the mutations that had overwhelmed him, she had no overwhelming desire to play host to the minds of everyone in Rapture. So, secretly rebelling against her mother, she used her rapport with the Little Sisters to secure a genetic sample from Subject Delta's corpse and resurrect him via one of the vita-chambers - thus setting the stage for the events of the game.
The Rapture Family encompasses the majority of Rapture's declining population by the time of Delta's resurrection in 1968, and by extension, the majority of his opponents. Years of mutation and survival in the dog-eat-dog world of the Rapture Civil war have empowered them even beyond the earlier variants encountered by Jack, making them formidable threats even to an Alpha series like Delta. A few rogue Splicers still remain loose in Rapture, easily recognized by the absence of butterfly insignia, and though they are no less resilient than their counterparts among the Rapture Family, the defenses of next-generation Big Daddies like the Rumblers and the Lancers makes short work of even these hardened Splicers, and the appearance of a Big Sister sends them running for cover.
It is the Big Sisters that form the basis of Delta's first contact with the Rapture Family: shortly after he emerges from the vita-chamber in the Adonis Resort, a Big Sister can be seen leaping down the hallway, later kidnapping a Little Sister caught in the act of trying to help Delta. Along with the handful of Splicers loose in the building, this Protector does battle with the Alpha series more than once in the Adonis Resort, though she never remains on the battlefield long enough to risk death; on the second encounter, this particular Big Sister goes so far at to shatter one of the Resort's windows in an attempt to kill Delta in the ensuing flood. Though this naturally fails, it's not long before Sofia Lamb herself receives word of the Big Daddy's revival: confronting her daughter's old bodyguard over the PA system, she swiftly turns the entire Rapture Family against him.
Over the course of the next few acts of the game, Delta is pitted against each one of the Rapture Family's leading operatives, all of whom possess resources necessary to progress to the next chapter: to begin with, after teaming up with Augustus Sinclair at Ryan Amusements, he is forced to take a detour into Pauper's Drop in order to retrieve a rail access key from Grace Holloway. Having never learned of Poole's role in kidnapping Eleanor and having earned a broken jaw in an abortive attempt to rescue her from Delta ten years previously, Grace has been harboring a grudge against the Big Daddy ever since then; so, within minutes of his arrival in the drop, she mobilizes almost everyone in the Drop against him. After Delta finally reaches Grace's inner sanctum at the Sinclair Deluxe, she angrily surrenders the access key - and players must decide whether to kill her or let her live. The latter choice results in Grace reconsidering her opinion of the much-despised Big Daddy, eventually providing him with aid during his escape from Pauper's Drop, and again in Siren's Alley. Her ultimate fate remains unknown: it is possible that she survives the story unscathed, though it is just as likely that Sofia Lamb eliminates her for betraying the Family.
After being torpedoed en route to Fontaine Futuristics, Delta is forced into Siren Alley and into battle with Father Simon Wales. Over the course of his exploration of Rapture's red-light district, Delta ends up killing Daniel Wales in an attempt to gain access to Hedone Plaza - drawing Lamb's right-hand-man into a revenge-fueled battle to the death in the heart of Siren Alley's church: now a Spider Splicer, Father Wales is easily the most physically aggressive of all Lamb's lieutenants, and even goes so far as to engage Delta in hand-to-hand combat. For good measure, Lamb herself follows up this grueling battle by remotely overriding Siren Alley's pumps, flooding the entire district and killing everyone left in the area - partly as an attempt on Delta's life but mostly as a demonstration of how little she cares for Ryan's city.
The next two levels, Dionysus Park and Fontaine Futuristics, force Delta into confrontations with the dregs of the Rapture Family - Stanley Poole and Gilbert Alexander. In the first case, Poole is still attempting to keep his crimes a secret and wants to prevent the Little Sisters from providing Lamb with the genetic material - and memories - of his victims, and enlists Delta's help in releasing or harvesting the Gatherers. Unfortunately for him, Lamb decides that Poole's temporary alliance with he enemy is the final straw, and informs Delta of the role he played in handing Johnny Topside (Delta's human self) over to Ryan for arrest, imprisonment and conversion. Once again, Poole's fate is up to the player. Meanwhile, in Fontaine Futuristics, the now-insane Gilbert Alexander has been terrorizing the Splicers left under his command, styling demented governorship of the building as an extended corporate roleplaying game - with himself as the CEO and ultimate disciplinarian. Once again, players are forced to either kill Alexander (as he'd requested in audio diaries from his pre-splicing days) or letting him live on as a monstrous sea creature (as his current self requests).
The Rapture Family's ultimate fate is decided in Persephone: here, Lamb finally discovers the role that Eleanor has been playing in Delta's return, and realizes that her mission to create the Utopian has been an abject failure. After a final attempt to sever the pairbond and kill Delta - foiled when Eleanor takes up the armor of a Big Sister and rescues him - Lamb's desperation drives her to catastrophic measures: she orders her remaining followers to detonate explosives in Persephone's foundations, threatening to send the entire building plummeting into the crushing depths of the trench below - and taking her daughter with it. For good measure, she is also able to capture Sinclair when he attempts to rescue the two of them, transforming him into another Alpha series Big Daddy and pitting him against Delta.
However, despite Lamb's best efforts, Delta and Eleanor are able to launch Sinclair's bathysphere and escape the prison complex with the Little Sisters in tow. Depending on the players' actions throughout the game, Lamb - having attempted to stow away aboard the lifeboat - can either be rescued from the flooding ballast chamber or drowned by Eleanor. Thus, by the end of the game, the only surviving members of the cult are those that Delta has spared in the previous levels, the rest being drowned or crushed to death in the destruction of Persephone. One way or another, the game concludes with the cult effectively dissolved.
A collectivist faith since its inception, the core belief of the Rapture Family is that every citizen owes each other a sense of unity and brotherhood, in sharp contrast to Andrew Ryan's objectivist philosophy, which was well-known for extolling the virtues of one's own happiness or rational self-interest. As the city degenerated and the self-esteem of its inhabitants fell with it, the cult grew to embrace a prevailing theme of rebirth: a popular symbol of the Family is the Blue Morpho Butterfly, representing metamorphosis - perfectly encapsulating the cultists' all-encompassing desire to be released from the self and reborn as a selfless being in service of the family. Live butterflies were cultivated in the Family's centers of worship, and graffiti butterflies decorated the walls of Rapture, often accompanied by slogans like "we will be reborn from the cold womb of the ocean." They even appear on the cover of Sofia Lamb's book, Unity and Metamorphosis, adopted as a religious document by the Rapture Family.
Given that most of its membership is comprised of recovering Splicers, the Rapture Family's post-civil war ideology was remade as simply as possible so that the debilitated congregation could understand it: as such, it draws much of its belief system from Christianity, including Simon Wales' demonstrable reverence for a single deity and a Jesus-like messiah. However, in deleted audio diaries Wales also draws upon Gnosticism, specifically in the concept of the "Demiurge": in keeping with the notion of the Demurge being a malevolent sculptor of the physical world existing in opposition to the spiritual and immaterial, the Rapture Family's demiurge is the sea slug that produces ADAM, also a personification of pride and thoughtless ambition. Conversely, Sofia Lamb is the subject of a cult of personality, adored as a Virgin Mary-like figure for embracing the immaterial and discarding the worship of the self; audio diaries even indicate that her followers have gone so far as to capture her likeness in stained-glass windows - artworks that Eleanor Lamb took great delight in smashing during one of her many periods of open rebellion.The cult has also adopted a strong theme of redemption, in that the greatest saviors of the Family are those born of the profane and purified by denying individuality. For example, Father Wales himself speaks of his time as an architect with great shame, proclaiming himself "blind" and "arrogant," sanctifying his therapy with Lamb as a time of religious epiphany and enlightenment. Meanwhile, Jack is revered as a saint for ending Andrew Ryan's tyranny, with numerous shrines and murals throughout Siren's Alley depicting the events of his journey through Rapture - including his chain-tattooed wrists in the act of injecting a hypo, and the plane crash at the Lighthouse.
Similarly, Eleanor is worshiped as a messiah through which the voice of the Self will be silenced forever, having been corrupted by ADAM in childhood yet purified by the Family, her nature as a Utopian resulting from ADAM but cleansed of the Demiurge's pride through reverence for the common good. Similarly to Jack, items from Eleanor's time as a Little Sister have been enshrined in Siren Alley as holy relics, including her dress, her ADAM extraction needle, and even a Big Daddy plush toy (here demonized as "her vanquished captor's effigy"). In turn, Eleanor is depicted in paintings and graffiti throughout Rapture, often as an angelic women in a flowing dress, her face hidden by the wings of a butterfly.
Members of the Rapture Family show particular reverence for the Little Sisters and often decorate their vents like sacrificial altars. Family-aligned Splicers that wish to sacrifice themselves for the greater good go to these vents and offer themselves up to the Little Sisters, who harvest their ADAM and donate it to Splicers in need of a fix or the creation of the Utopian.
Members of the Rapture Family
- Sofia Lamb (Co-Founder)
- Simon Wales (Co-Founder)
- Grace Holloway
- Stanley Poole (Only as a sleeper agent.)
- Gilbert Alexander
- Nigel Weir
- Gideon Wyborn
- Earl Manley
- Mike Novak
- Jackie Rodkins (Likely convert)
- Numerous anonymous splicers