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Twenty-four years ago, the war that never should have happened... did. The culmination of the years of madness, of the mutually assured destruction -- our final, irrevocable solution to global chaos. Two thirds of the Earth's population died in an hour. Eighty percent of those remaining died the following year of radiation sickness, violence, and bio-engineered plagues. Then nuclear winter set in, and starvation.

``The honor of America is at stake,'' The Destroyer told us. ``We can not back down. A war is coming; a war we must win. We must strike first; we must strike hard.'' Terrible and swift. No mercy given; no mercy received. Destroyer, we fear and worship. Destroyer, take the fools, not me.

Mankind survived, but at the cost of its soul. The scarcity of uncontaminated food led scavengers to choose alternate diets consisting primarily of human flesh. Today, no longer driven by necessity, some remain cannibals by choice.

The dead are Yours, Accursed Witherer, Destroyer's bride. You sickled us with plague and fed us our children. I hold my sister's body, Your gift to me -- today I will live. Witherer, we fear and worship. Witherer, let my death be honored.

A new religion evolved. Death and terror were its gods, embodied in fragments of pre-war politics. Desparate people, living in fear and anticipation of their own deaths, banded together for survival. Small, close-knit comunities formed -- paranoid enclaves, hostile towards any outsider.

But today, while winter shows signs of thawing, there is the possibility for more. Commander Abraham, bosman of one of the most powerful gangs, has called for the leaders of every rival nation, tribe, and gang to meet. Many have come. Some are hopeful, caught up in Abraham's dream of a united society; some are skeptical, doubting that anything can rebuild the country; some come looking only for individual gain. But amid all the strife and confusion, one man has arrived alone. A figure from before the war, whose name alone inspires and terrifies. Warlock.

Epilogue is being written by Laura Baldwin, Donna Bell, John Conger, Stephanie Tai, and Harry Teplitz.