Note: this one was a bit of a bear to recap clearly ... I'll do my best to not be too obtuse.
A family - father, mother, young daughter - stagger down a road in the Adirondacks, hungry, thirsty and tired. They've heard that a military unit has gone missing in the area and they're hoping to scavenge food/water/weapons from them. First, though, they stop at a lake and drink. That night, a mob of people approach them and there are doubles of the father and mother among them.
Turns out that Santiago's right hand guy, Waters, and his squad are searching for that missing unit ... and so are Tom, Pinnochio and Florence, who are also after possible food/water/weapons. As they search the woods, Florence finds the little girl, Lindsey; Waters's men also find a Lindsey. Tom and Pinnochio find the missing unit who claim to have lain down their weapons (deserters) and joined this peaceable camp where there's plenty of food. Meanwhile, back at the car, that mob of people - with Lindsey's parents - collect Florence and a frightened Lindsey and take them to the camp. (Dexter stays in the car.) The other Lindsey leads some of Waters's men to the lake but there's nothing there, except for a strange reflection of the soldiers that lingers after they leave.
The deserters bring Tom and Pinnochio to the creepy, well-appointed camp where they are reunited with Florence and Lindsey. After they surrender their guns, they are given big bowls of soup. Pinnochio notices that all the folks in the camp are all Stepford-y, plus no one is eating the soup. He knocks Tom's and Florence's bowls out of their hands. When the contingent of Waters's men show up and don't care about Tom and Pinnochio, the latter is all this place is right F'd up and we're leaving in the morning. That night, outside the camp, Waters finds a Lindsey who tells him that his men are in the lake. Then she digitizes and disappears. Also that night, a restless Pinnochio follows a camp woman down to the lake; his reflection gets caught in the still waters and that mob of people approaches.
In the morning, Pinnochio is all Stepford-y too and Tom finally clues in that something weird is going on. He leaves camp to try to get the car - while he's gone, Florence goes to the lake and gets her reflection caught - and he overhears Sgt. Exposition telling Waters that there's a code glitch in that lake which is part of the Harsh Realm game's 3% error rate. When Tom returns to the camp, he doesn't notice that Florence has been cultified (since she doesn't speak) and she manages to get him to the lake. It turns out that the glitch in the lake scans its victims and creates a new, weaker copy - all the zoned out campfolk - while the real people are dragged off and locked up, growing progressively weaker as their copies suck the energy out of them. Also, the real people are being hacked into pieces, limb by limb, and cooked into that damn soup. EEUW. Waters invades the camp with the remainder of his men and discovers all this, but not before one of his men eats some toe soup.
The real Tom rattles his cage. When the real Lindsey shows up, she steals the keys and lets Tom, Pinnochio, Florence and her parents out. They figure out that they have to kill off the copies to get their strength back. Tom picks a gun off of one of Waters's men and shoots his own copy, as well as his buddies' and Lindsey's folks' copies. They steal a Humvee and make their getaway as Waters's men annihilate the rest of the copies in camp. Our heroes go back to Pinnochio's car and split up the boxes of food, water and ammunition that were in the Humvee with Lindsey's family, Pinnochio grouchy at having to share. And then off to the next adventure!
Previously on Harsh Realm / next time on Harsh Realm
12 hours ago