(Freeze date: 26 April 1986, the moment of explosion)
It’s 1:23:58 AM in Pripyat, Ukrainian SSR and a shockwave has just spread across every inch of the town populated by ~50,000 Soviet citizens. In the sky a bright fireball burns hot white against the stark darkness of the night and the air stands still with anticipation. A massive boom follows, shaking the buildings and alerting the local emergency services. An explosion has just occurred at the 4th nuclear reactor unit in the Chernobyl nuclear plant and the dust has yet to settle. In the control room the technicians are in a state of panic. Somehow they messed up but as of yet no one knows what happened. They were carrying out a test on the RBMK Reactor in unit 4 which makes up their responsibility in the plant; but something has gone terribly wrong. After some moments, reports make their way to the control room that the reactor has exploded. Comrade Anatoly Dyatlov, supervisor of the test, dismisses this report, claiming that RBMK Reactor cores don’t explode. If his fellow technicians are to be believed, if the core has exploded, then laws of the physical world as Dyatlov knows them have been violated. It’s 01:28 AM now and emergency vehicles have arrived at the plant, unaware of the danger they face, five roofs of the plant ablaze. Meanwhile the people of Pripyat gather outside as ash begins to fall like snow from the sky. At the power plant the situation is dire. The fire is burning as hard as ever despite the efforts of the fire brigade, some of whom have already been called away due to mysterious injuries. Technicians within the plant have procured a dosimeter the maximum range of which is 3.6 roentgen per hour and the scale is full. It will take time to acquire a more accurate measurement and the chaos and uncertainty of the situation is setting in. Meanwhile engineers try to stabilize the situation by pumping water into the core and trying to steady the highly reactive uranium by inserting the boron control rods manually. It’s 04:00 AM now and the Pripyat communist party executive committee has been assembled and the news of the explosion has been relayed to comrade General Secretary Gorbachev of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia who is taking steps to contain the situation and prevent the spread of misinformation. Viktor Chebrikov of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti (KGB) is assisting in this effort while also launching a criminal investigation into the causes of the disaster, trying to find those responsible. It is now four hours since the incident and the outside world is unaware. The reputation of the Soviet Union’s nuclear integrity is at stake and response to the disaster lies in the hands of soviet officials, who must find a way to mitigate the disaster whilst also saving face and maintaining the image of the Soviet Union. But will the USSR be able to hide the truth from the rest of the world? As neighboring countries and world superpowers discover more about the situation, who will remain in control, and who will be held accountable?