Sarajevo, 1994, and Lt Tom Hobbes runs into a soon-to-be-bombed building to save one of his comrades. Back in the present day, he and his fiance are planning to leave the army before Hobbes is summoned to a special meeting with Frank Black... well, okay, with Lance Henriksen playing a different character in a Chris Carter show... where he's asked to go into a special soldier training game called Harsh Realm and take out Santiago, who is holding the top place in the game against all comers.
A bounty hunter, on the trail of Pinnochio, turns up at a farmhouse where a former partner of his lives with his family. Threatening that family, they get a location on Pinnochio, and then capture him with a really feeble set-up. The bounty hunter intends to turn him over to Santiago. Back in the real world, Sophie, Hobbes' fiance, is told that he's dead, but at the funeral a woman comes up to her and tells her otherwise.
Sophie continues to pursue the truth, following the mysterious woman who hinted at the truth. The woman goes to an army depot, where she enters Harsh Realm. In the program, she meets with Santiago, whose as concerned about finding the leak as the council on the outside are. Hobbes and Pinnochio go to a Zip Fight to see Freddy The Forger to get ID chips so they can enter Santaigo City. Meanwhile, Waters is planning to lead an assault on New Jersey (where the Zip Fight is).
Guy in cottage playing music. Shooting starts outside and he appears to know exactly what will happen as it proceeds. Hobbes and Pinnochio are searching for a guy names Wolf, who was one of the first assassins sent into the game to kill Santiago, and apparently got a shot off at him before he disappeared. Out in the woods, they pass through some sort of glitch before getting captured by German and then American soldiers, in World War 2 uniforms.
Columbus, Ohio - no-man's land - and Hobbes is revisiting the family homestead. Finding it deserted, they're set to leave before being captured by guys with nets. Back in the real world, Sophie is visiting Tom's mother, who's dying of a brain tumour in hospital. In Harsh Realm, Tom and Pinnochio are taken to a logging camp run for Santiago, where they put a drilling thing in their heads to keep them in line. Tom's mother is there, dying of the same cancer.
Middle of nowhere, a man, his wife and daughter, are walking along a wooded road (pretty much like every other wooded road in this show as they appear to film the whole thing on the same mile stretch), when the wife and daughter complain of thirst, wanting to go back to the lake to get a drink. The husband gives in, and they drink the water. Sleeping by the lake that night, they're sick, shivering, and their daughter is missing. Then a group of people appear out of the woods, and three of them appear identical to the family. Waters is in the area, looking for a squad that went missing out there, as are the dynamic trio of Tom, Mike and Florence. Finding the little girl, they're subsequently led to a very strange village where no-one eats the food.
The Florence episode. Well, that's how they start it, until Hobbes and Pinnochio end up stuck in a minefield when chasing after her. An anti-personnel mine injures Hobbes and does worse to Pinnochio (but then, he was the idiot who stepped on it). Florence is captured when trying to heal someone, and Pinnochio is taken by a whole bunch of healers. Hobbes, having been healed in the mine-field, subsequently has to hide from a Republican Guard who appears out there. Somehow they manage to get stuck lying on top of a mine. The Guard are hunting "The Sisterhood," a whole bunch of healers, who Santiago has taken a dislike to.
Santiago controls five states, and he's faced no organised resistance in taking them, until he reaches Cincinnati. Fortunately, it's a bunch of native americans with a big stick (hey, it's got feathers on it!). Fortunately for our heroic trio, the Republican Guard member that Hobbes helped out of the minefield in the last episode (Escalante) turns up and tells them that Santiago himself is going to go and kill the tribal leader. Obviously, the indians plan to move the tribal leader to safety, and Santiago will hit him during the move. Hobbes and team set up an ambush on the ambushers, the tribal leader gets away, and Santiago goes missing. Fortunately, a bit of deus ex machina (or a digi-wand, whatever one of those is) allows Santiago to change his appearance so no-one will recognize him, and lets him infiltrate the indian nation.
Back to the beginning - we get a little insight into those first few hours when Harsh Realm came online, and the nuclear terrorist attack that changed everything and set up what should have been the perfect military simulation. And now, here are Hobbes and Pinnochio, being hired for a protection job, right at the heart of ground zero, New York City.They subsequently set things up with a Romeo and Juliet love story between two feuding families, but the priest that the terrorist talked to at the beginning appears to have survived, and he seems to be able to tell the future.