Carly navigates the sadistic machinations of her sociopathic captor while decay and turmoil tear away the last vestiges of civility. Colonel Sebridge relies on his hybrid pet Ramirez to sow unease amongst the small group of prisoners. Marik’s disgust of Ramirez goes too far as he finds himself made an example of when Ramirez feeds on him to show the consequences of disobeying the Colonel’s rules of conduct. As the infected grow more resilient and intelligent, Sebridge must abandon his stronghold when advanced mutants lay waste to the military base under his command. He secures the artifact in his flight from danger, dragging Carly and Ramirez along for the ride. Sebridge makes himself, and those around him targets for another devastating attack when he brings the artifact and the pseudo-artifact together in one location.
The artifact calls to all infected beings, promising its limitless power to any creature able to reach it. The pseudo-artifact, a quantum computer infused with knowledge gained by analyzing data from the artifact, becomes a nexus of chaotic potency yet to mature. Both objects will shift the course of reality for all time.
Cowboy faces an opponent he can’t defeat. With no memory of the battle afterward, Cowboy finds himself alive thanks to his physiological enhancements. Cormac, an old friend from Cowboy’s distant past, shows up in his life to teach Cowboy how to hunt and kill the Wyrtevore. Together they track the one that stole Cowboy’s memory, finding themselves outside the gates of a veritable fortress holding the artifact and the pseudo-artifact.
Luke and Gavin fall prey to a sadistic gang of vigilantes who force them to fight scramblers to the death for sport. Taking a desperate gamble to escape with only their lives, Luke and his best friend encounter Jacob. Jacob leads a crew of glorified bandits, fancying themselves protectors of justice in a lawless world. Working their way out of Jacob’s debt, the two hapless wanderers find refuge in the well-protected township of Hampton Flats. Things are going well for Luke and Gavin in their new home. They live content and find their purpose in joining the Search & Clear team. Tragedy strikes hard when on a routine S&C shift, their old captor shows up out of the blue. Luke suffers yet another devastating loss, wounding him to the core.
Genevieve and Chloe arrive at The Mountain. To her surprise, she finds an old colleague occupying her fortress of solitude with his daughter. An uneasy truce comes out of their initial conflict. When Conrad and his brother show up to claim The Mountain for themselves, Genevieve and Sal Bernardi’s precarious agreement goes awry.