April 23, 2016. That was the day our lives changed forever. That was the day of The Event. No one has any idea what really happened, but suddenly, at thirteen-fourty-eight, there was a light. A blinding blue flash. It radiated outward from the approximate centre of North America, and expanded to wash over the whole continent. Not long after that it disappeared, leaving only horror in its wake. On the outer edges of The Event's area of effect, were the survivors, everyone at the centre was dead now, and those far enough away not to die, but still close enough to feel the blue light wash over them, were now horrible mutants. Some, mostly the children, have psychic powers. Most of the rest were rendered into a kind of zombified state. They retain basic motor control and muscle memory, and are capable of using weaponry to some degree, but have no memories of their lives, feel no pain, and a relentless hunger. Only destroying their brain seems to kill them, though severing the spinal column is just as effective. The animals in the aptly-named "Mutant Zone" became all kinds of horrible. They all crave flesh, preferring that of the unafflicted, and most can shrug off injuries that would drop a much larger creature. Elongated teeth and claws are common. Increased strength and heightened senses are not unheard of. Some can even pull off a chameleon-esque active camouflage. Further mutations, like extra limbs and things described as "magic powers" are not exactly rare. The world is now a dangerous place.
Even more dangerous because of the ammunition shortages. With all the fighting going on and the lack of manufacturing, ammunition is all but gone. Now there are people roaming the streets with all kinds of guns, but you never can tell who has bullets to spare and who is bluffing. And to top it all off, the light from The Event hasn't gone away. Every so often there will be another flash, more blue light. It's usually a sphere about ten feet in diameter. They show up anywhere, out of nowhere, and anything inside is dead when the light fades. For the most part, though, the danger lies in those looking to exploit this apocalypse, especially the ones who actually have ammunition, as well as with the myriad of beasts unleashed on the world. At least, that's the way it was, right up until a few days ago.
Six days ago, the radio broadcasts started. On all frequencies, the same message was repeated once each hour for the first twenty-four hours. Since then, it plays every six hours, the same message: "Come, experience the re-birth of man. The New World Order awaits you." This immediately triggered a rush of survivors toward the beacon. Everyone wanted to see the new world order, and get the hell out of this wasteland. That quickly turned into a battle royale. Everyone suddenly turned on one another, everyone. No one was safe, it was as if they were being mind-controlled. Whatever the New World Order was, it wouldn't be very large, that was clear. The remaining survivors, scattered, tired, traumatized, and running low on supplies, are all seeking some escape from this wasteland. Some head toward the beacon, others head for the coast, but even as they travel, hope is the thing in shortest supply, and with each passing day there is even less. There are some smaller groups are determined to stay where they are, however, content to scavenge from the dead, believing that someone or something with be able to rectify the chaos. To each their own...
James groaned. It was yet another day to suffer through, and it wasn't going to be pleasant. He awoke, as always, to the radio telling him about the supposed "New World Order". What a load of crap... he thought, looking around before he got up, Probably terrorists with military tech fucking with people's heads... he was convinced that's what it was, what other explanation was there? Magic? He chuckled, the coast was clear. He slowly stood up, moving quietly. He was pretty sure there was a rat nearby, and he would really like some breakfast. Jim silently extracted the wire from his pocket, and strung it between his hands. This was something he'd figured out pretty quickly once push came to shove, and it worked for just about anything. The web of steel could catch rats, and other small animals for food, or mess up someone's face while he gave them a good beating with his knee. He wasn't worried about other people right now, though. He was more concerned with breakfast.
Unsurprisingly, the smaller animals had flourished in the wake of the apocalypse, rats, mice, squirrels, bugs, really, anything smaller than a cat. They were also carnivorous now, but that was all part of adapting and flourishing. This rat, however, was rather unfortunate. Clearly it had not adapted as well, since it was letting Jimmy O sneak up on it. He grinned and decided to do this a slightly easier way. It was not as kind to the animal, but he didn't care about kindness, he cared about living. Slipping one hand free of the web of wire, he pulled out his Crater, before stepping on the rat's tail. It tried to run, and then it tried to bite him, neither worked. The survivor then crouched and neatly impaled the poor bastard, sticking it right at the base of its skull. It died instantly, and felt no pain. "Eh, maybe it does matter a little..." he muttered. In any case, here was breakfast! He grinned, and set about skinning his meal. It didn't take long to cut it open and dump out the bits he didn't want to eat. Then he just peeled the skin off, and tossed the carcass into the can that had housed last night's dinner. The can went into the still smoldering fire he had built in half an old oil barrel. After tossing some more wood on it, James figured he would be able to eat in just a few minutes. There wasn't much meat there, and the flames were hot, so it should cook quickly. As he waited he looked around.
Fucking shithole... he thought. He was in a basement, though it was more of a hole in the ground than anything else. The two-story house above him had collapsed in on itself, and looked like someone had torched it. Soot and ashes covered most of everything, and there was nothing worth saving in the house, but this one corner of the basement was safe and dry enough. The roof was stable, and didn't leak, and there were lots of small holes further over, so he could have a fire without tipping others off with a column of smoke. Combined with the fact that the house was burnt to the ground, it was pretty safe. At least it had been, until last night. As he had drifted off, Jim had heard a sound. It was far off, but it was a distinctive sound, one that everyone had come to fear in the last few months. It was a sickening cross between a wet leopard roar and a sad howl. It was the sound of a monster.
Unlike the wild variety in humans, mutations amongst animals were relatively regular. This mutation, however, made it almost impossible to tell what animal the thing had once been. Jimmy O had never seen one, but he had heard tales. Two to four heads, six limbs terminating in wicked claws, teeth like swords, scales impervious to even small-calibre bullets, eyes that burned with some unseen fire, and some could even breathe real fire, based on the tales it seemed that was just the largest ones. Regardless of size though, a machete wasn't going to kill one, and James was moving on.
He shook his head, as if disapproving of the ash-coated, rubble-strewn basement he was hiding in, and he fished his breakfast out of the fire. The can was too hot, so he left it to cool for a moment. "Come on motherfucker. I need to move." he said louder than he meant to. He winced and pulled out his machete. He made sure everything else was packed up, and got his backpack on. As soon as he was done scarfing down what he could of the rat, he'd get right the fuck out of here. Maybe he'd find those Marines. He chuckled at that, that was probably the most fantastical tale he had ever heard. What the hell would a fireteam of Marines be doing way the hell out here? He supposed you had to be able to hope for something, and Marines probably made the most sense realistically. Still, he didn't think any of the military made it, not after the rampant rioting, combined with all the mutant attacks. "Maybe I'll find a dead one with some ammo on him..." he whispered hopefully, reaching for his breakfast...