Act One – Escape from New York
In New York, five unlikely heroes are thrown together: Jaidyn Scott (Navy Seal), Dany (local hoodlum), Rosa Diaz (New York cop), Emily Chen (MI6 agent on leave), Father James Callahan (a doubting cleric) and Eric (a tribal shaman). They are all aboard Harlem’s elevated subway when Earth is invaded by the Living Land, an immense maelstrom bridge of vines slamming down into City Field. At least they have a good view. As reality transforms around them, they find themselves connected to a primal energy that seems to well up from the Earth itself in response to small acts of heroism to save others and defiance against the invasion. Using this energy to nudge reality in subtle ways – healing injuries, enhancing abilities, thwarting attacks by weird lizard creatures – they survive the subsequent subway crash (along with local politician Loretta Lamar, her personal assistant Tyler, and others of lesser importance) and emerge into a world gone mad.
Seeing that New York is being overrun by reptilian invaders – and that many humans seem to be succumbing to savagery as a strange new reality sweeps across the city – the group commandeer a pair of abandoned military Humvees and make a break for it. They are attacked by a terrifying winged reptilian that snarls “Stormers!”, then hurls lightning at them before flying off. Our heroes drive the humvees deeper into Manhattan, attempting to reach an apparent rendezvous point at Marcus Garvey Park. Of course, it’s overrun by some really horrific spider monsters. And, if that weren’t enough, a shambling horde of freaky plant zombies lurches into view. The group turn Boris and Doris (perfectly normal names for Humvees) around and head for the NYPD Harbour Unit, splattering zombie parts in their wake.
There they find Officer McGee – the only harbour cop not to abandon his post and go charging into the mist shrieking like a baboon. With his help, they fire up a police patrol boat and set off down the Harlem River. A flock of monstrous pteranodon-like beasts assaults them as they flee, but Dany steers the boat like a seasoned pro, avoiding the aerial assault and blazing hulks of other wrecked vessels alike. Father Callahan finds his own flagging faith bolstered by the spiritual nature of the new reality and finds his prayers to calm the attacking beasts answered. The pteranodons are overcome by a supernatural lassitude and return to their perches, buying the group enough time to reach the East River and the safety of the Atlantic Ocean.
Act Two – Beach Bums
Actually, calling it “safety” is probably somewhat premature. Heading south, our heroes witness the aftermath of a mid-Atlantic battle between US forces and an unknown enemy – boats sinking and burning, fragments of fighter jets strewn across the waves. This enemy shortly reveals itself when a war zeppelin from the Nile Empire cruises into view. It disgorges waves of fighters that are essentially Spitfires covered in weird hieroglyphics. With only a single .50 cal machine gun and small arms, our heroes are hard-pressed and their police boat takes numerous hits. They nevertheless manage to deal with all the fighters and find refuge in a fog bank. The airship lets them escape – for now – in order to deal with a fresh assault from US jets that come streaking from the mainland. Also, Tyler spills his orange juice.
Rosa and McGee both agree that the engine is fucked. The boat drifts in the fog for hours before the group attracts the attention of Vincent, a local fisherman. He takes them to Walker’s Cay, northernmost of the Bahamas. There the group discovers that Nile forces have already been to the island looking for them and have killed Vincent’s uncle and abducted his cousin Isabella. If the islanders turn our heroes over to the Nile troops when they return, they’ll release the girl. Our heroes offer to rescue Isabella, so the villagers agree to offer them refuge. There’s also a weird encounter with an old dude called Yucahu who wanders out of the forest to offer beer and cryptic pronouncements about Earth choosing her defenders and his even older mother Atabey offering the group a valuable pearl for no apparent reason. Our heroes aren’t quite sure what to make of this, but Yucahu’s beer is quite nice.
While the group is getting ready to dive for Atabey’s pearl, the Nile zeppelin returns. Our heroes abandon all thoughts of the pearl and ambush the Nile troops (and their commander with his kooky electro-belt), then charge aboard the zeppelin to find Isabella. On board the vessel, the axioms of the Nile Empire hold sway, and the group is soon in the grip of the pulp heroism of that cosm. They thoroughly trounce the Nile forces, who manage to crash the zeppelin while trying to escape. Twice. Jaidyn personally rescues Isabella and behaves entirely appropriately for the genre. For which he is rightly rewarded with several slaps to the face. The zeppelin’s captain tries to escape in his personal fighter, but receives a sound thrashing for his efforts. And there was much rejoicing.
While the dust is settling, a woman dressed like someone out of Game of Thrones arrives on a dragon and info-dumps all over the place. Introducing herself as Tolwyn of House Tancred, she explains that she is en route to bring messages of peace to the interim government in Hoo-Stun. One of the invaders, it would seem, has turned against the others and now pledges to fight for Core Earth. The fantasy cosm of Aysle has joined the fight against the other High Lords. She invites our heroes to meet her there and help Earth coordinate its defence. Naturally, they agree. They’re getting quite good at this hero business…