Episode 3: Way Station

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One year has passed since Chicago’s skyscrapers glowed like blown glass upon a smoke-filled horizon. Finding shelter in Port Falmouth, survivors soon discovered it was anything but a safe haven. The outside world, meanwhile, was either silent or dead: Barren landscapes of drifting dust, yellow sunsets, and quiet forests, now, were for the Infection.

In Port Falmouth, the roots of local disorder grew. William Stonepoint and Mongol President Harrison had vanished, despite ironclad stalemates which held the area in a status quo. While espionage and intrigue spawned from differing ideologies and past bloodshed, a mutual enemy emerged from flame and wreckage. The Infection had mutated once more, climbing the ladder of intelligence without somehow becoming monstrous mutations.

The lines between friend and foe were soon blurred. Port Falmouth Mine revealed a nest for violence, and sentient harbingers of bloodshed demanded death unwaveringly. The Super Infected stirred, pursuing those unfortunate to encounter them.

Many Super Infected, despite being conscious, soon descended into insanity and bloodlust. Many possessed warped features, extra appendages, and a darker disposition. Amazingly, some seemed to resist these ailments—only to suffer greatly for doing so. The Infection’s ferociousness, it seemed would not be ignored.

Dr. Bob Bell’s alliance with Dean Adamson was exposed. Rumors suggest the man might’ve had a hand in developing the Infection himself. As time passed, it seemed the doctor was inspired by a new project: Adamson was inherently devilish, but what if his Infection could be perfected? Or even turned into medicine? 

The outbreaks of Chicago and Fairhaven had witnessed mindless, shambling monsters. Before long, however, the Infected had learned to speak—even if the speech, itself, was rudimentary. Some Infected even displayed primitive knowledge. Had the toxins of King’s Mill created a new prototype? While Richard Baez was a monstrosity, was he not stronger, and cleverer, than the Infected before him?

Perhaps, Dr. Bell suggested, the survivors should consider Washington Dam’s approach as a model to derive a cure. While Adamson was certainly wicked, perhaps his goals were not. Stonepoint Manor indeed had the facilities needed for his work, as well as extra resources. Perhaps an answer still existed.

Before long, however, Dr. Bell’s intentions became clear: He, himself, was a Super Infected. Despite this, several thought his response to the Infection was odd. While most Super Infected hosts suffered from cognitive decay and explosively violent tendencies, the doctor’s body seemed to have taken to the Super Infection rather well—which raised more alarm. Meanwhile an unexpected discovery raised concerns about the status quo between the area’s factions.

Well-known philanthropist, William Stonepoint, was an imposter. As a researcher, resource provider, and channeler of Dean Adamson’s intent, he’d welcomed refugees, traders, leaders, and the injured into Stonepoint Manor without bias—and even great kindness. While a conspirator of the Infection’s alleged birth, it is said he died as a defector to Adamson—and as an ally of humanity.

The William Stonepoint existing survivors knew wasn’t the only hidden ally of Dean Adamson. So they say, Adamson was a benefactor of Monty, who was now President of the Mongol’s Motorcycle Club. Their ties, presumably, spawned from the bloody battles of Fairhaven—just before the shadow of Washington Dam haunted those who’d survived it.

As Harrison vanished, Monty consolidated resources quickly—as if he’d prepared for weeks. Despite having the upper hand, however, Monty’s grasp on Port Falmouth quickly slipped. He’d failed to secure the Neutral Economics Zone, and his resources beyond Port Falmouth, likely, had been reduced by an uninhabitable Illinois festering with Infection. Within the month, Monty was captured in a secondary holdout fort in Port Falmouth’s thick southeast woods.

Accompanied by several Mongol leaders, and informed by a redux chapter of The Gulls comprised of scouts and bounty hunters, the ex-President’s ultimate fallback plan failed nonetheless. It was later revealed that Monty’s auxiliary supply chain was exterminated, poached off with the same laser-like accuracy which had helped him secure a week’s worth of supreme control in Port Falmouth.

As ex-Mongols, Pathfinder’s legacy, and a Super Infected closed in, it became clear that recent events had spelled out Monty’s downfall before bullets had begun flying. William Stonepoint’s recent death at the hands of a Gull, until now, was not entirely unsurprising. As hundreds of Infected flocked to the outpost’s fields from many miles, however, the message became clearer: Dean Adamson wanted Monty dead. But why?

What would have happened if Monty had assumed power over the NEZ? Or if the William Stonepoint imposter had lived? The imposter was, allegedly, very valuable to Adamson. Or at least he was. Why would Adamson order Monty to kidnap his own employee, only to eradicate Monty and his forces soon after?

Answers came in several forms. Dr. Curtis Stafford helped prepare survivors for a chemical attack—one capable of extinguishing life upon contact. The toxic gasses were similar to those of King’s Mill, yet they’d likely be enhanced. As survivors explored for vital resources, they stumbled upon several oddities. A tiny item, for one, vanished from thin air—as if it’d never existed at all.

In time, survivors drew more information from Monty’s place in things. Adamson had offered him the means to indirectly reduce Harrison’s line of command. Sometimes, Mongols simply didn’t return from the day’s walk. At other times, it was as if events simply unfolded in Monty’s favor. He acted when he was instructed to act—and he remained silent when questions were asked.

Similar to the deceased William Stonepoint imposter, Monty may not have trusted the mysterious Adamson’s command lightly. He’d been planning to flee the area with his remaining enforcers—as Adamson’s agenda seemed to be one of deep manipulation; somehow, it seemed as if the man could read minds.

In the coming says, Dr. Curtis Stafford and local survivors bolstered their defenses. Toxic clouds emerged, and hazmat suits were worn. Some came across an impossibly effective antitoxin medicine. Allegedly, the medicine’s origin pointed in the direction of Monty and the Gulls.

Now wiped out, however, this route was a dead end. Monty’s hold-out fort in the woods did not have any stocked. The medicine, of course, was sourced from the Washington Dam’s scientists and researchers. Washington Dam wasn’t alone in its development, either. The medicine had a co-owner: Bell Surgical.

The toxins of Port Falmouth persisted, and exposed lifeforms perished. All for not, the toxins of Port Falmouth would soon fade—lacing the landscape with chemical condensation. All was well, except for a new oddity: Grass, weeds, and vines began growing rapidly. Trees became much fuller, and plant life soon scaled walls, windows, and doors. On this day, a sun shower gently blanketed Port Falmouth.

As the earth blossomed in vitality and whispers. The peace was cut short, however, when the Super Infected sprung a surprise attack. Bob Bell attempted to claim Stonepoint Manor for himself—suggesting it was a piece of Dean Adamson’s legacy which needed to be protected. After trying to seduce several to join him, promises of ‘immortality’ soon became dark threats.

Some survivors heard whispers of a project constructed by Adamson called Way Station. Whether Way Station was a weapon or place none knew. In the first hours of Port Falmouth’s final day, only one thing was certain: Dr. Bell would soon slaughter any his path to keep survivors in Port Falmouth.

It was then that something unexpected happened: As the fiend descended upon survivors, all things faded—much as if losing consciousness from a blow to the head. Foggy vision muted the rapidly growing pine forest. Everything was gray.

Or, perhaps everything was nothing at all.

 

Published:
Oct 24, 2018
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