A Guide to Post-Invasion AmericaBy Senior Pathfinder Cameron Wake
I've put together this guide to share my experiences roaming the length and breadth of what our country has turned into. I won't pretend that any of the information I have can make your next trip safe, because it's gotten really ugly out there. But, if you have the knack for finding your way around, and you just have to hit the road, any little bit of information could save your life.
All Turned Around
The first thing you need to know, really know and accept, is that geography just doesn't work the way it used to. Now, some of you are shaking your heads and thinking I'm a nutcase, but hear me out, ok?
First off, don't bother with a compass anymore. If you're not in denial, when the little needle points toward the sunset, that should be your first clue that something's wrong. Road maps can't be trusted anymore either, and when you're standing at the intersection of interstates 15 and 95 just north of New Orleans, that's more than just a clue.
There's no point making a map anymore, even if you could reasonably explore the whole country, because that 15/95 intersection probably won't be there tomorrow, and it definitely won't be there next month. While places seem to be staying in their same rough relationships to each other from month to month, with LA for instance mostly always west of Chicago, the routes between them aren't nearly so static.
The Pathfinders have done some research into this, and what we're dug up from some Invader writings seems to explain this problem. According to them, during the invasion America, and all of Earth, were overlaid with parts of another place that they call the Paths. The Paths are sort of a non-place, an in-between realm that leads not just from Bangor to Miami, but between worlds too. It's like you can walk down a dirt road and, before you know it, you're in hyperspace, but it still looks like a dirt road. Or a mountain path, or an ice floe, or whatever.
The Paths are tricky for another reason, too. If you try to move large groups of people through them, you tend to get split up. The rule of thumb seems to be that, if I try to lead a group that's big enough that everyone can't see me, before too long some of the folks that couldn't see me have fallen behind. Some of them I've never found again.
Some people just seem to have a knack for guessing which direction they should go to get where they're going. A lot of the time, it's the sort of people that always had a good sense of direction in the first place, or traveled a lot before the invasion, but not always. I used to drive a truck for a living, but Pathfinder Cassie was a dental hygienist. You never can tell.
The Paths can be dangerous for another reason too, aside from getting lost. We're not the only ones that use them. At least some of the Invaders used the paths to get here from wherever they came from, and they still use them to get around now. There are plenty of natural hazards too, like freak storms, floods, and even earthquakes and volcanoes.
If you really want to get yourself lost though, you could try jumping into a gate. The paths seem to form these things naturally. They're glowing, door-sized holes in the world that lead directly from one place to another, even bypassing the paths. They can lead anywhere on Earth, or off it. Some of them even lead to the Underworld, and you for sure don't want to go there unless you know what you're doing.
Places of Interest
First off, don't expect much out of major cities anymore. Pretty much anyplace that more than a hundred thousand people used to live, these days is either irradiated, burned down, blown to rubble, filled with zombies, or any combination of all that. Not to say that you won't find people still living together and ok, but mostly it's not in the big towns anymore. Places like that were just targets after June '06, and they fell hard. In between the big towns are often little villages of survivors that're getting along as well as they can, and if you're lucky you might find some that are still public spirited enough to lend a fellow human a spot in the barn for the night.
Now, for some more specific info. These are some of the places I've either been to in the past year or two, or that I've heard multiple agreeing stories on. If you're trying to get someplace that used to be familiar to you before things went to hell, you might want to check it out on this list before making the trip. You don't want to end up in New York or LA these days.
The good news is that, in addition to the little villages and other survivors, there are at least five town-sized settlements that have not only survived, but have declared themselves against the invaders, and have managed to survive so far. Now, none of these places are exactly where the names might make you think, but they're close enough to call themselves by them. I'm not going to tell you exactly where, since they're gone to some trouble to keep the exact locations secret for fear of invaders or collaborators, but if you want to get to one of them you'd do worse than to ask a Pathfinder to take you there.
In no special order, these towns are San Francisco, Cheyenne Mountain, Detroit, Ithaca NY, and Cooper's Lake Pennsylvania. All of these places might be willing to take in more survivors if they're willing to pull their weight, or at least give them a place to stay for a bit before they go on their way.