|“||Welcome to the Miss America pageant. Why do you think you're here? This is a competition. Only one of you crazy kids is gonna make it out of here alive... I'm looking for the best and brightest of your generation... What I need... is a leader... I've already got my army. Or, I will soon, anyway... That's why I'm here, Sam. I wanna give you the inside track. You're tough. You're smart. You're well-trained, thanks to your daddy. Sam – Sammy – you're my favorite.||”|
At St. Mary's Convent in 1972, the Prince of Hell Azazel is able to make contact with the fallen archangel Lucifer who states that in order for Lucifer to be released, Azazel has to free Lilith from Hell and find "a very special child." In order to fulfill Lucifer's orders, Azazel begins making a series of deals in 1973 where in exchange for doing something for the person, they gave him permission to enter their home in ten years. One such person is hunter Mary Winchester with whom Azazel makes a deal after killing her boyfriend John Winchester.
In 1983, when his deals come due, Azazel visits the homes of the people he made deals with and feeds their children demon blood, turning them into the Special Children. These children go on to develop potent psychic abilities. The parents who didn't interfere in Azazel's actions he spares while those who interrupt Azazel he burns on the celling of their child's nursery.
One of Azazel's Special Children was Mary Winchester's son Sam. Due to Mary interrupting him, Azazel burned her on the celling of her home, an event witnessed by Mary's husband John. Mary's murder drove John to become a hunter seeking revenge for Mary's murder. John would train his sons Sam and Dean as hunters as well.
After the Special Children turn twenty-three, they start to come into their powers. Azazel makes contact with Ansem Weems and Scott Carey through dreams to encourage them to use their powers for malicious intent, but both are killed before they can do much.
At some point, Azazel decides to eliminate those Special Children who are too weak to do his bidding and sets up a competition where the Special Children will fight to the death in Cold Oak, South Dakota. Though Azazel's real intention is to have the winner open the Devil's Gate so that Lilith will be released from Hell, Azazel lies to each one he contacts through dreams, claiming that he wants them to be the leader of a demon army that he has gathered.
Azazel begins kidnapping groups of three or four Special Children and dumps them in the ghost town of Cold Oak, South Dakota to fight each other to the death to determine a "winner." One of these kidnapped Special Children is Ava Wilson who develops the power to control demons while fighting for her life against the other Special Children. Embracing her powers, Ava uses an Acheri demon that is under her control to kill dozens of Special Children over the next five months, pretending to each group that she just got there and has no idea what is going on.
Five months after kidnapping Ava, Azazel kidnaps the last surviving group of Special Children and transports them to Cold Oak: Jake Talley, Andy Gallagher, Lily Baker and Sam Winchester. While abducting Sam, Azazel or demons working for him kill a patron and two staff members at the Sunnyside Diner.
The morning after being abducted from the Sunnyside Diner, Sam wakes up in Cold Oak where he finds that he has no cell phone reception and is seemingly alone. Searching through the town, Sam comes across Andy whom he recognizes from their previous encounter. All Andy can remember before waking up in Cold Oak is his fourth bong hit before a really strong smell of sulfur.
Suddenly Sam and Andy hear the sound of shouting and follow it to a locked shed that Ava has managed to lock herself in as part of her plan to ambush the next group of Special Children. Sam is able to break the lock with a rock and is shocked to recognize Ava who has been missing for five months. Ava claims to have only woken up in the shed half an hour before and to have not known that she was missing for five months. While Sam doesn't know why they are all there, he recognizes the fact that they all have something in common: they are members of Azazel's Special Children.
Following the sound of Jake calling, Sam, Ava and Andy find Jake and Lily who have found no one else. Jake and Lily reveal that they have been abducted from Afghanistan and San Diego respectively. Realizing that they are also Special Children, Sam informs Jake and Lily that they are all twenty-three, have special abilities that began a little over a year ago. Sam tells Jake and Lily that he has visions while Ava concurs. Andy tells the two about his ability make people do the thoughts he implants in their heads and then reveals that through training, he has a new ability to implant visions in people's minds. However, Lily angrily tells the group that her touch kills people by stopping their hearts.
Lily states her desire to go home, but Sam reminds the group that they are all in the situation together and must deal with it. Sam tells the group that they have been abducted by a demon for a war to bring on the Apocalypse. Sam admits that he doesn't know why they were chosen and Ava and Jake express skepticism about the existence of demons. Jake decides that he's better off on his own and heads off, suggesting that the others are better off on their own too.
After Jake leaves, Ava secretly sends the Acheri after him. As Jake makes his way through Cold Oak, he spots the Acheri peering through the window of the schoolroom and heads inside to check on her, believing the Acheri to be an innocent little girl. The Acheri stalks Jake invisibly, quickly writing "I will not kill" on the chalkboard. Finally, the Acheri becomes visible between Jake and the door, takes on a more demonic visage and attempts to kill Jake. However, Sam enters the room followed by the others, grabs an iron fireplace poker and swings it through the Acheri, reverting the demon to its smoke form. The Acheri quickly flees out the door in smoke form, witnessed by all of the Special Children. "Just so you know, that was a demon," Sam quips.
Emerging from the schoolroom, Sam states his belief that the demon was an Acheri, a demon that disguises itself as a little girl. However, Sam still doesn't know where they are while Andy is in shock over the fact that demons are real. Checking out the town's bell, Sam recognizes the design on it and identifies the town as Cold Oak, South Dakota, a town so haunted that all of the residents fled. Lily questions why the demon would put them in the town, but Sam admits that he doesn't know.
Lily advocates fleeing the town, but Sam thinks that its a bad idea as it would mean making their way through miles of woods while they have no idea how many demons are out there. While Jake backs Sam up, Lily refuses to listen, stating that she is not a part of the group and has nothing in common with them. A distraught Lily reveals that she accidentally killed her girlfriend with her powers, earning her the sympathy of everyone. Sam admits that he has lost people too and appeals to Lily that "I have a brother out there right now... could be dead for all I know. We're all in bad shape, but I'm telling you, the best way out of this is to stick together." Lily reluctantly agrees.
Leading the group through the town, Sam tells them that they need to find iron, silver, salt and any kind of weapon, surprising Jake that salt can be considered a weapon. As the group enters a building, Lily hangs back and then walks away to find her way out on her own. As Lily makes her way through the wood, she is stalked by the invisible Acheri who taunts her with giggles.
Inside one of the houses, Sam finds a rusty old knife in a trunk. Sam notices Ava rubbing her temples as she is controlling the Acheri and asks if she is having a vision, but she claims that she is just dizzy from hunger and is fine "except for every singly thing that's happening." The two then follow Andy's calls to find that he has found bags of salt that they can use.
Sam then notices that Lily is missing and the group hears the Acheri giggling and the sound of a thud. Going outside, the groups finds that the Acheri has hung Lily from the town's windmill and she is dead. Ava pretends to be panicked by Lily's death, "crying" to Sam that Lily is dead and that he had said they were chosen for a reason. "That is not chosen, that is killed!" Ava "panics." Ava pushes for them to leave which Andy seconds, but Jake states that he doubts that's an option. "Lily was trying to leave. The demon's not gonna let us get away that easy," Sam explains. Sam tells the group that they must gear up for the next attack, but Ava tearfully claims to not be a soldier and that she can't do that. Sam tells her that she has no choice and as the group departs, Jake promises to get Lily's body down.
As Jake and Ava go in separate directions, Sam comments to Andy that Dean would be very helpful and that he would "give my arm for a working phone." Andy suggests that there might be something better than a phone and asks for something that Dean has touched, stating that he's never tried "it" over long-distance. After being given a receipt Dean signed, Andy is able to send Dean visions of first the Cold Oak bell and then Sam standing in front of the bell. After Dean describes the bell to fellow hunter Bobby Singer, Bobby recognizes it and thus Sam's location.
That night, Sam and Jake work together to get iron spokes from the wheels of an old tractor as weapons. Jake is able to rip one off with his bare hands, causing Sam to realize that Jake has super strength. Jake explains to Sam that for him it had started with headaches, but when he was in Afghanistan, one his squad mates flipped a truck over and got pinned. Jake was able to lift the truck off of him effortlessly and dismissed it as a fluke until Jake found that he could easily lift eight hundred pounds while completely calm.
Jake admits that he recognizes and appreciates that Sam is keeping calm and keeping the others calm despite being "freaked to hell" himself. "I've been in deep crap before myself, I know the look," Jake comments. Sam tells Jake that he has a brother that tells him that he's gonna watch out for Sam and everything's gonna be alright like Sam has been telling the group. "I don't know if I believe it this time," Sam admits. "I mean the size of what's coming. Its bigger than anyone's ever seen. Its gonna get bad. And I don't know if.." Sam trails off. "If we're gonna make it," understands Jake. "Doesn't matter if we believe it, only that they do." Sam silently acknowledges the truth of Jake's statement and they get back to work.
Sam and Ava lay down salt lines in a room in a house for protection and Ava wonders why they were chosen. Sam states that its "just luck apparently" and Ava expresses a desire for it all to be over so that she can return home to her fiancé Brady. When Sam fails to respond, Ava realizes that something is wrong and Sam is forced to tell her that when Ava was abducted, Brady was killed. Ava breaks down in tears in Sam's arms.
Later that night, as the group takes shelter in the room Sam and Ava protected for the night, Sam suddenly spots Azazel behind Jake who doesn't react. Sam realizes that he's dreaming and Azazel is visiting him in his dreams. "Howdy, Sam," greets Azazel. "What do you say you and I take a little walk?"
Sam angrily follows Azazel outside where he threatens to rip Azazel to shreds once he wakes up. An amused Azazel brushes off Sam's words and tells Sam that he's there to help Sam as Sam is the one he's rooting for. Azazel tells Sam that what's going on is "a competition" and that "only one of you crazy kids is gonna make it out of here alive." In response to Sam's questions, Azazel tells him that while its true that he's said he needs the Special Children as soldiers in a coming war, he lied. Azazel only needs one and had lied before to everyone he contacted as he had to let them believe they had a fighting chance. Azazel tells Sam that he intends this single soldier to be the leader of an army he already has "or I will soon anyway."
Azazel tells Sam that he's surprised that Sam hasn't guessed already, reminding him that Max Miller and Ansem Weems already "flamed out," something that Azazel attributes to them not being strong enough. "I'm looking for the best and brightest of your generation," Azazel explains to Sam. Azazel admits that there have been other generations of Special Children, but brushes it off as unimportant. Azazel tells Sam that he wants to give Sam the edge in the completion as Sam is his favorite being tough, smart and well trained thanks to his father.
Sam reminds Azazel that the demon has ruined his life and killed everyone that Sam has ever loved, but Azazel dismisses it as "the cost of doing business I'm afraid." Azazel explains that he killed Jessica Moore because Sam planned to build a normal life with her while Azazel needed Sam to remain a hunter, honing and using his skills, his "gifts." Sam asks Azazel about the murder of his mother and Azazel tells him "that was bad luck." Azazel tells Sam that Mary had walked in on them and that it was "wrong place, wrong time." Sam questions what Azazel means and the demon tells him that "it was never about her, it was about you. Its always been about you."
Sam is shocked by this statement and Azazel tells Sam that Sam has caught him "in a charitable mood." Azazel decides to show Sam what he means and with a snap of his fingers, transports Sam into a memory of the night Mary Winchester died. Sam tries to call out to Mary when she enters the room briefly, but Azazel reminds him that its not real and Mary can't hear him. As Sam watches, Past Azazel slits his own wrist open and feeds the baby Sam demon blood. "Better than mother's milk," comments the amused present-day version of Azazel. "Does this mean... I have demon blood in me?!" questions a shocked Sam, but Azazel just chuckles.
At that moment, a panicked Mary rushes into the nursery and Past Azazel turns to face her. Upon seeing Azazel's yellow eyes, a shocked Mary goes "its you!" Seeing this Sam realizes that "she knew you!" As Past Azazel telekinetically pins Mary to the wall and moves her up towards the celling, the present-day version of Azazel comments "I don't think you want to see the rest of this" and ends the dream with a wave of his hand.
In the house, Sam is woken up by Jake and Andy with the news that Ava is missing. Sam and Jake split up to search for Ava with Jake taking the barn and the hotel and Sam the houses. After they split up, Ava emerges from hiding and returns to the schoolroom where Andy is waiting. Andy is surprised and asks if Ava heard them calling for her. Breaking the salt line on the window, Ava coldly tells Andy that she heard him and summons the Acheri who is able to get in through the break in the salt line in her smoke form. The Acheri speeds towards Andy, knocks him to the floor and tears Andy's chest apart with her claws, killing him. Ava watches Andy's death from nearby with a look of satisfaction upon her face before screaming.
Ava's scream draws Sam who finds Ava standing over Andy's corpse, crying. Ava claims to have just found Andy like that and to not know what happened to him. Wondering how the Acheri got in, Sam questions where Ava went. Ava claims to have only been gone for a few minutes getting water from the well, seemingly convincing Sam of her innocence. However, Sam spots the broken salt line and grows suspicious of how it happened. Ava tries to claim that Andy might've done it, but Sam knows that Andy wouldn't have broken it and that the salt line wasn't broken when he left. Ava tries to maintain her innocent act, but Sam finally sees through it, pointing out "five months. You're the only one with all that time you can't account for. And that headache you got? Right when the demon got Lily."
Ava continues to try to play innocent, but Sam makes it clear that he no longer believes her and demands to know what happened to her. Finally seeing that Sam no longer buys her lies, Ava drops the act. "Had you going though, didn't I? Yeah, I've been here a long time. And not alone either. People just keep showing up. Children, like us. Batches of three or four at a time." Sam realizes that Ava killed all of the children, which she confirms. Ava tells Sam that she had no choice and that after a while, it was easy for her and "even kind of fun."
Ava tells Sam that once she stopped fighting what she is and embraced it, she learned how to do more than just have visions. Sam realizes that Ava can now control demons and she summons the Acheri to kill Sam. As the Acheri enters the room in smoke form, Sam prepares himself with his fireplace poker and Ava tells him "I'm sorry Sam, but... its over." However, before the Acheri can attack, Jake enters the room and snaps Ava's neck from behind, killing her. With Ava dead, her control over the Acheri is broken and it departs.
Emerging from the house, Sam tells Jake that he believes that they can get out of Cold Oak now. With Ava dead and no longer controlling the Acheri, it won't attack them anymore. However, Jake reveals that Azazel has approached him in a dream as well and told Jake that only one of them can escape Cold Oak alive and he will kill them both if they don't play along. Jake feels that if he can get out, he can get close to Azazel and kill him, but Sam suggests that they leave together and kill the demon together. Jake expresses distrust towards the fact that Sam won't betray him so Sam disarms himself of the rusty knife that he found and asks Jake to not give into what Azazel wants.
Jake puts down his metal bar in apparent acquiescence, but then kicks Sam through a fence. Jake attacks Sam with his super strength, injuring Sam's arm with a blow and mostly having the upper hand. Finally, Sam dodges one of Jake's blows, resulting in Jake punching through a wooden horse trough, trapping Jake's hand briefly. With Jake incapacitated, Sam lands a few kicks, ultimately kicking Jake through the fence. As Jake gets back up, Sam picks up the metal bar and hits Jake in the face with it, apparently knocking Jake unconscious. Though Sam contemplates killing Jake, he decides not to and drops the bar.
Hearing Dean, Sam turns his back on Jake and makes his way towards where Dean and Bobby are entering the town. While Sam has his back turned, Jake retrieves the knife and charges Sam. Dean attempts to shout a warning to Sam but is too late as Jake stabs Sam in the back, severing his spinal cord. Jake runs off, chased by Bobby and manages to get away while Sam dies in Dean's arms.
After Sam's death, a desperate Dean Winchester makes a deal with a Crossroad Demon to resurrect him. The demon gives Dean only a year before his soul is taken to Hell, something that the desperate Dean agrees to.
At the same time, the Prince of Hell Azazel, having gotten his winner, approaches Jake Talley in a dream. Azazel is able to get Jake to open the Devil's Gate in Wyoming, claiming that Jake will become the leader of a demon army that Azazel has prepared. In Wyoming, Jake uses the Colt to open the Devil's Gate, releasing hundreds of demons, amongst them Lilith which furthers Azazel's plans. In the battle that follows, Sam kills Jake, leaving Sam as the last of the Special Children. At the same time, Dean is able to kill Azazel with the Colt with the help of the ghost of John Winchester. Due to Azazel's lies in Sam's dream, the Winchesters are left believing that Azazel's plan was to release a demon army and that it had succeeded thanks to Jake.
- During the event and afterwards, Azazel claims that he is raising an army and needs one of the Special Children to be its leader. In Lucifer Rising, this is revealed to be a lie with Azazel having been ordered by Lucifer to find him "a very special child" to be his vessel. The demons released from the Devil's Gate are also shown to believe this lie as seen with Pride, Casey and Astaroth.
- While the duration of the contest is unclear, it lasted at least five months since that was the amount of time Ava Wilson had disappeared for.