On January 11th 2012, the city of Pittsburgh explodes in a frenzy of malignant supernatural phenomena. Massive riots, murder sprees, and catastrophic destruction on an unprecedented scale are reported, as a mass psychosis grips roughly 30% of the populace. The rest of the nation is quickly inundated with horrific imagery emerging from the city: occult symbology painted several stories tall on mirrored skyscrapers, blood-soaked maniacs in business suits shooting people in the streets, grotesque monstrosities overwhelming hastily-erected barricades. Early reports are fractured and rife with apocalyptic terror, but across the board, there is agreement: in the eyes of the afflicted, there is no trace of love or compassion left. They move in the grip of a sadistic ecstasy, powered by an vicious drive that close friends would swear was alien to them. They would say, it was as if they were possessed.
To their credit, the government’s reaction is swift and unilateral: take back Pittsburgh at any cost. The city is quickly quarantined and the National Guard sent in, instructed to put down anyone or anything that presents resistance. Survivors are tallied and placed in the surrounding cities, but security is lax and paranoia rampant, and many of the refugees abandon the makeshift camps. The world watches as daring residents post footage of skirmishes between the Guard and the abominations that conquered Pittsburgh, and TacSkul, MarkEMun, LohanFan4Eva, and others become household names for their continuing coverage of the incredible struggle between man and monster.
After a week of street to street fighting and at least one aerial bombardment, Pittsburgh is declared pacified. Although many known terrorist groups approve of the devastation, none step forward to take credit. Attempts to reframe the crisis as a chemical disaster or mass hypnosis fall flat in the face of widespread video and photographic evidence of gross physical and mental transformation. Academics with a passing interest in the occult are featured on CNN and Fox News as “expert analysts” to interpret the bizarre vandalism recorded at the site. Traumatized witnesses describe being attacked by formerly loving wives and husbands, watching their friends and relatives shriek as they were twisted into inhuman fiends. All but the most diehard rationalists and obfuscators (including the government) agree: the incident in Pittsburgh was a case of mass possession, and the term “demon” becomes commonly adopted.
As expected, supernatural phenomena of this caliber shakes the religious and political landscape. Church attendance skyrockets, finger-pointing and “demonization” is rampant, and superstitions become faddish and fashionable. However, after no distinct culprit is found and no further attacks are forthcoming, the incident fades (but never forgotten), overtaken by other national crises of the moment.
On November 26th 2017, Black Friday, the busiest day of the commercial season, the Bloomington, Minnesota “Mall of America” is enveloped in what was described as “an infernal glow.” In several videos, shot by unrelated witnesses in the Mall of America parking lot, a glow can indeed be seen, along with spectral forms emerging from within the mall and whirling around the structure in an ever-increasing mass and velocity. For two weeks, the top viewed clip on YouTube features a panicked bystander attempting to enter the Mall, instantly collapsing as he reaches the glow. As he lies there, a white spectral form rises from his body and joins the others swirling in the air. The video is constantly reposted for months after, highlighting the emanation and with titles resembling “Mall Ghost” or “EVIDENCE OF SOUL?“
Ten minutes after it begins, the phenomena collapses upon itself. Inside the Mall, shoppers and staff are found, physically intact but completely lifeless. An ornate circled pentagram smolders in the geographical center of the mall. It does not cease smoking until the last of the corpses have been removed from the Mall. Early reports indicate the casualty rate at 100% and the death toll ranging in the 900s.The infernal attacks continue, and it becomes evident that 1/11 was only the beginning. Unknown to the general public, diabolic infiltrators masquerading as survivors of the Pittsburgh Event have each begun campaigns of terror against the American people, through means both conventional and occult. To counter the demonic threat, a select few individuals have been chosen by The Next America Project, a shadowy think-tank with ears at the highest level of government. These individuals are imbued with superhuman powers and given government authority, tasked with hunting down infernal organizations, neutralizing their capabilities, and capturing the diabolic mastermind at the top. If they fail, the world is doomed. To succeed, will they become one of the Damned?
So the key conceit of this game is the moral ambiguity of 24 (interrogation, expediency) + gritty supers (body armor, tactical consideration) + oldskool metal demonic imagery (thrones of skulls, human sacrifice).