The Buzzard Bums

August 28, 2014:

Sara and Paul encounter some familiar foes. Is the Buzzard about to show again? (Emits by Arsenal and Iron Fist.)

Saint Patrick's Cathedral.


NPCs: None.


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

The streets of Manhattan were particularly bustling this weeknight. An odd sight, admittedly, considering that usually Manhattan was far busier during the day. Even odder, considering the crowd at the St. Patrick's Cathedral, on what was certainly -not- a Very Special Holiday weekend.

So when the police were called in, it was with the "There's a -lot- of vagrants hanging around outside the cathedral, get them out of there!" cry.

Homeless removal is not a duty of the EI. Probably fortunately for the homeless. That task falls to the normal uniformed officers. Lucky them. However, some cops do have a finger on the pulse of the city. "Homeless?" Paul wonders out loud. "Going to church? On a summer evening when they're not handing out food?" He shakes his head and glances over at Sara who's driving as usual. "Anything about that strike you as odd?"

Sara hates that question. It always ends with a long, long night. So when Paul asks it, she sighs. "Sure, why not?" she says after a moment. "Steve's out for the week, so it's not like I've got plans." She stifles a yawn with the back of one hand as she shoots across three lanes and around a corner. New York drivers. Lately she's been looking a little rough around the edges, though she doesn't seem to want to talk about it. Or the ever-changing collection of bruises and scrapes.

Well soon it's obvious as to the reason why the homeless are there. There are two rather large gentleman, with very big bushy beards, at the top of the stairs to the church, and one of them starts addressing the crowd gathered. The other one, the one with the red beard, well he just stands there looking just ominous and scary and stuff.

"They once said we were like you. They once said that we were pariahs, two discarded animals. But sometimes…sometimes we still get those urges, urges from a deep dark place. We have are part of the chosen few, the chosen few that have been selected to tell you….These urges are okay to follow. These people…" arms pointing out towards onlookers and the cops that have gathered in the area, "they don't want you, but we do. Look at how they gather when you move up from alleys and the shadows, they come to strike you down. But we, we will always accept you. So give in to those urges that we all have, and take what has been denied to you for so long!" Is spoken by the black bearded guy, hey even without any type of speaker system his voice carries well.

The regular policemen who were out trying to disperse the crowd are radioing in now. It's not exactly vagrancy, given the sheer numbers, but a demonstration, of which there were -no- licenses. Not that they dare approach, as the bums are crowding around and not giving them easy access to the bearded gentlemen. The heat on this summer night is oppressive, and tension is building up, judging from the strained look on the policemen's face as they're unable to clear the crowds.

"Look familiar?" The nice thing about being a cop is being able to double park and as soon as Sara does so, Paul gets out to lean against the hood and listen a bit. "Sound familiar?" Both are rhetorical questions. "So is this the start of more Hollow Ones? I must have missed that day in class when they talked about creating them."

"Someone would probably object if I cut this whole thing short by just shooting them both now, right?" Sara asks Paul as she steps out of the car, grimacing at the collection of people. "Because that would be wrong. Even if it would make everyone's life so much easier. And probably result in fewer net deaths. Help me out here, Paul, having some trouble with the whole not being evil and shooting people thing."

The Large black bearded man continues his speech some more, "Look at what these people here do to you." There is some pointing towards some of the spectators that are still around, "They move into areas where you lived, and forced you out, they raised prices so you could no longer afford to live there. They are the reason you are homeless." Then he starts pointing towards the police, "And once you are forced out of your homes, they attack you. They keep you in the streets, and they attack you there. They kill you, because you don't fit into their plans. But all they have to say, 'It was a crazy homess guy.' And they get away with it! But they get away with it no more!"

And once that part is done, the red bearded guy just stares at the cops that have been gathered and shouts one simple word, "RUN."

The rumbling among the homeless rises. They'd been oppressed by society, pushed around by police, paid pittance by the corporations, forced out of neighborhoods by rising prices. Most of them hadn't done anything but be been -born- in the wrong class. The anger builds, and the police already radioing in for assistance.

The two bearded men…? Nothing feels supernatural or magical about them talking. This is pure emotion they're riding on, pure talking, stirring up emotions, speaking truth to the people that they're pulling. There is nothing untrue about what they say, and that only makes it the harder to refute. All it takes is one trigger-happy fool or one dumb bum to set off an inferno…

"We really can't." Paul tells Sara. "You just can't shoot people because of what they might do. Even if it's what they'll probably do. On the bright side, we do have them for inciting to riot plus whatever we can come up with from the preacher incident. All you need to do is get to them." Through a small army of homeless. He hops up onto the hood of the car and looks at them all. "Ok, folks. We really don't need this. If you let these two work you up, it's only going to lead to violence and people getting hurt. What you need to ask yourselves is what are they getting out of this? Why do they want you to attack the police? None of you are gullible. You all want food and shelter and normal lives. Now look at them. They want violence. Ask yourselves why. I don't know. Do you?"

"These men?" Sara echoes Paul, pointing toward the agitators. "Kidnappers. They took kids, people. And they twisted them. There's a reason they don't want you to trust the cops. Because if you don't trust us, who will you go to when they take advantage of you?" She's not going as far as climbing onto the car, but she's not leaving the car, either. That's the exit plan if this all goes poorly.

Oh they gave the man ammo, don't you know never try to verbally spar with a guy trying to start a riot…"Oh they ask the questions, but we have questions of our own. They ask why we want you to attack the police? We answer, self defense. We know how many of our kind have been hurt and attacked by them. Yet nothing is ever done, because they don't view us as humans. But we tell you, to us, you are humans, we have not forgotten that living out here, does not make you any less of a person. They say we want violence, but they have left us no choice. Others have tried to get us the respect that we deserve, and they ignore them. So we are left with no choice but to do things that can't be ignored!"

"They call us kidnappers, yet we never force people out of their homes. We accept those that come to us willingly, those same people are free to leave if they want as well. They choose not to leave us, they choose to stay with us, because they know we care. We will call them the Kidnappers, they are the ones that change laws, but because of the status that they forced us in, we don't know about these so called changes to the law. They then force us into jails, for breaking these so called laws that they passed that we didn't know about. Their entire existence is about forcing us to lower ourselves, or just die. But we, we are not going anywhere."

The red bearded guy once again just speaks a few words, "We said Run. You should Run."

That there was no supernatural intent might be obvious by the way the homeless vagrants hesitate, as they look towards Paul and Sara. The mood seems to settle a bit, and then the bearded men respond, and the vagrants shift uncomfortably.

Finally, one of the vagrants speak. "Where -can- we go? The shelters are closed, there's no money for them. The church-goers donate money, but we don't see any of it. The food we get isn't enough for us. We're told to find work, but we can't get work. We have nowhere to go."

Another one growls. "Why are we waiting? We have -nothing- to lose. Are all those words you keep feeding us going to fill our bellies?"

The homeless are still unsettled, but you can see a good number of them starting to rise, a ugly undertone as they start moving towards the police, hands up. Not violent, per se, but most definitely moving.

"I don't know." Paul answers, meeting the eyes of the first man who spoke. "I wish I did." He hops off the hood of the car and then sits on it instead. "I'm from Gotham. I've seen things get really bad and I wish I had answers. But this isn't one of them. There's a reason they're behind you all. They'll disappear as soon as the violence starts. They're not here to lead you, they're here to create an incident and then go away." He shifts his attention to the second one who spoke. "I'll fill your bellies tonight. I'll take everyone here to McDonald's. It'll be the dollar menu I'm afraid but you'll be full. Every single one of you." And maybe the department will reimburse him.

"NYPD doesn't run, buddy," Sara replies to the agitator, looking back to the group of homeless. "NYPD is here for the people of New York. When the towers fell, NYPD moved people to safety. Every night, NYPD walks the street not to roust the homeless, but to keep the real criminals from taking out their own fights on people like you. You're right, you don't have a lot of choices, and it's not so easy that we can just fix it for you. But we can make damned sure it doesn't get any worse. That's what we do here." As Paul makes his offer, she looks over the crowd, all too aware of the fine line they're walking.

Once again the bearded man has to offer a counter to the very nice cop. "Yes he will feed you tonight, that is true. But tomorrow? And the day after? Who will feed you then? Will you keep coming back here, day after day, hoping that someone will shed some kindness on you? Are you not people? Do you not deserve better than standing around, hoping that someone takes pity on you? You are not to be pitied! Should you not take your fates in YOUR own hands? Or do you want to leave it to them?" There is a point at the police, "Them who would have so willingly attacked you, if our very presence did not frighten them. We offer protection, we offer the life you should have." Once that is done, he starts descending the steps, walking towards the homeless, and even closer to the police, "They are here, because they know the numbers we have, they are afraid of what we offer you. That is all that brought them here, not concern for you. But we, we came to offer this to you, because we know you deserve better."

That there were some decent people who really did not want to cause chaos was apparent, as several homeless move towards Paul and Sara, giving them a partial path towards the bearded men if they wanted. The thin, the gaunt, the ones with children in tow? They gather around Paul and Sara, saying 'bless you', 'thank you', and such, some with hope in their eyes.

Other remain seated, uncertain, hopeless and passive.

And then there were those who were the hardiest, the toughest, the ones who had lived the longest on the streets. Their eyes were hawkish, defiant, and they were surrounding the henchmen.

The crowd has thinned enough by half, but not entirely, as they shift behind the police, who are slowly approaching in carefully.

And then police sirens, and the SWAT team arrives… and there is rumbling, as the police step out, fully mobilized and armed heavily…

"You do deserve better." Paul agrees. "But there's not a single person here at the moment, including them, who can give it to you. You're all good people, in bad circumstances. None of you except those two truly want to hurt anyone." He slides off the car and looks over at the cops in the street. "Clear a path!" he calls. "We're going to McDonald's for dinner." Much more quietly, he says "Sara, get on the radio and tell them to move their asses. We can at least get some of them out of here." Turning back, he gestures. "Come on. Let's go get some junk food. I'm hungry too." Walking backwards a few steps, he beckons then turns to walk toward the police line.

"What, exactly, are you offering?" Sara calls back to the agitator. "I hear a lot of promises and not a lot of specifics. Be right back, guys," she adds to the crowd as the SWAT team shows up, stepping out between them and the team with badge in hand. "Hey, guys, we got this!" she calls back toward them, hands up. "Let's all stay cool, yeah?"

"We are offering them a way to step out of the shadows. A way to show people that they will not be ignored anymore! We offer them a way to take what they have been denied for so long. We offer them a way to take care of themselves, instead of begging for the scraps of others." There is a pause after that and he starts to point towards the swat, "See how they fear what we offer you? They are quick to send in the heavily armed and defended team. Against a group of people who have not had anything decent to eat in days, who are weak with hunger and all unarmed. We offer them a way out of the fear that you have driven into them!"

The SWAT team are mobilizing, and the person in charge is brusque. "I'll take that under advisement," the SWAT captain says, dismissively waving off Sara. "EVERYONE disperse, -now-!" he barks, as the SWAT team fan out, armed with tear gas canisters and launchers.

There is a bit of bustle as those who were swayed by Paul's argument start scattering, although more than a few stay clinging desperately behind Paul for the promise of food. As to the rest… the undercurrent become harsher, as the seeming confirmation of the bearded men's words hit home.

"And I offer them the chance to eat a meal in peace." Paul calls back. "There are children here who are hungry. You don't seem to care if they get hurt. These people aren't stupid and that says more about you than your words." No pausing in his steps, he points out "You are escalating the situation, Captain. And it's all being caught on bystander's video and will be on Youtube in five minutes. Many of these people were dispersing and you just made things worse." That it'll be in his report goes without saying.

Sara grimaces at the SWAT captain, shaking her head and looking toward the crowd. "C'mon, people," she says, waving a hand toward herself and Paul. "Let's disperse this out to McD's. Anyone need a ride there?" she offers, opening the door on her car. "Pretty sure we can fit four in here." Try to keep it light, try to keep it normal. Treat them all like people. Normal people.

"Oh I care if they get hurt. I do not wish that on them, and seeing what is now against us, I will make another offer." He turns and starts walking out of the crowd, "We can show you a better way people, we can get you food if you would like that, you can follow us. We will leave this place, and out of the way of those that wish to do you harm." And after that he starts to walk away, and doesn't look back as he knows that some of those that had gathered will follow him.

"There. The rest of them are dispersing too." Paul says, leading those that want to follow him. Not ideal since some will almost certainly go with those two but better than a riot. "Well done, Captain. Mission accomplished and without any violence." Asshole.

Sara gently hands an older woman into the car, glancing over her shoulder at the riot squad. "Nothing to see here, folks!" she calls back. "Just a bit of a traffic jam."

The SWAT captain's frustration at not getting to use any of his pretty pretty guns is obvious, but he swallows his pride, holding his hand up. "Hold your fire, gentlemen."

That maybe 1/3 of the crowd is leaving with the bearded gentlemen isn't difficult to discern; the toughest, the roughest, the bums who wear rag-tag military uniforms… Most of the women and children follow Paul and Sara, as do the relatively cleaner-looking homeless.

"You just wait!" one of the military-clad homeless calls out. "We -will- take the country back!"

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