The world is now in a post-apocalyptic state after a nuclear war. The world has lost most of its energy supply. Most people live in California and use solar power. Transient tribes now control the remaining oil in the northeast. Poison Oak runs a Raunch-hand tribe that currently controls it. He is an excellent fighter and a good leader. They are going to a yearly trial-by-battle which will determine who will control it next year. Other tribes have other roles, such as the Silos who do repair work, and the Forx, who are followers of Grendel and want to destroy all the oil.
Oak's sister, Ivy, starts a relationship with one of the Forx. Oak does not approve, as her brother and as the current baron of oil that the Forx want to destroy. He beats her.
Oak and Ivy's boyfriend Shiny Fork are then set to fight in the arena. Oak plans to cheat and use a gun.
Ivy turns on Oak and sabotages his gun, and Shiny Fork kills him in battle. Grendel now controls the east coast.