Ryan Cawdor and his companions take the mat-trans gateway to territory that was known as Wisconsin in the days before America became the devastated Deathlands. They quickly find themselves in the middle of a savage battle between warring tribes of muties. J.B. Dix takes several arrows before his team manages to extricate themselves, and, while the wounds themselves are not fatal, Dr. Mildred Wyeth worries with good reason that the arrows may have been tainted. J.B. soon shows symptoms of a deadly infection. Their best chance is a journey of several days to where there had once been a hospital when Mildred trained there a century earlier, in the desperate hope of finding the drugs that J.B. needs to survive. When the companions make it to Mildred's old stomping grounds, they find the hospital still standing, more or less, but it has been transformed into a twisted temple at the center of an insular ville, whose “surgeon-priests” bestow the surviving medications with arbitrary cruelty.