Once the world's last superpower, the United States of America are no more. Economic turmoil and societal uphevals have broken the US into a patchwork of squabbling territories and corporate city-states. Urban civilization is centered on the east and west coasts in two narrow ribbons of struggling humanity. The central continent is an arid wasteland, full of abandoned treasures and lurking horrors.
When you fly into the Free City of Newark, as you bank over the wreckage of New York City, it is usually quite overwhelming. No matter how many times you see the sight, the rubble and ruins of one of our civilization's largest cities is something that makes your heart pause. Though if you were born in this century, the effect is not quite as profound. New York was once the center of the American culture in many ways, and for those of us old enough to remember, there now sits an irreplaceable void. On January fifteenth, 2005, New York City's life ended. Five years to the day after the disbanding of the United Nations, a terrorist bomb exploded at the site of its former headquarters. The blast started on First Avenue, and quickly covered the city. The Twin Towers were toppled, resting as a scarred and pitted X against a downtown neighbor. The Museum Mile was a firestorm, some of our culture's most precious relics turning into tinder in the fires sparked by the blast that ignited Central Park. Lady Liberty stood strong, surviving the blast with only a barrage of scars. While Manhattan withstood the greatest population hit, percentage wise, it was more fortunate structurally despite being the center. The terrorists, whoever they were, used a dirty nuke. Most of the building damage was caused by fires allowed to rage on, as the firemen died retching in the blast. The concrete and steel used in the building of the city survived, leaving many of the giants as their smaller neighbors crumbled into ash. Queens, the Bronx, and Long Island were less fortunate in the fires that followed. So that is how she stands now. Once the crown jewel of an emerging country, once the proud port of an industrial nation, now a giant scab on our culture's emotional psyche. The hub of the Empire State, a proud and tough city, now a corpse. The 'city that never sleeps' is now the city that sleeps seemingly forever. The next time you fly into Free Newark, take some time to look out the windows across the bay. That glowing pile of rock and metal was once a glorious and mighty megalopolis. - Excerpt from A Historian's Guide to New York City, Professor Richard Goldberg, Amherst.
Even more devastated are the wastes that lie outside the limits of humanity's urban sprawls. Savage groups of nomadic wanderers brave the wastes, scavenging the goods needed for survival. Beasts altered by the environment prey on unwary travellers, and strongholds of those who do not want to be found exist out in the radiated plains. This dead plain of red dust creeps deep into the interior of our continent. This new scarlet death--a disease eating away the memory of Mother Nature, twisting her progeny into grotesque mockeries of primordial beauty.
Full green boughs, deep blue waters, crystal streams over rounded pebbles. All this lost to the arrogance of man and his quest for destruction.
Perhaps there is beauty to be found, hidden beyond the bleached bones and the knotted grey of deadwood. Perhaps. But who shall re-discover?
The western side of the country fared little better than its eastern compatriot, though as refugees flooded the shores in an effort to escape the apocalyptic horrors of the central states cities and city states quickly sprouted, built on the ruins of the old. In South California, New Carthage rose as the dominant power.