The Sword of Rebellion


erim_icon.gif karl_icon.gif melinda_icon.gif

Scene Title The Sword of Rebellion
Synopsis PARIAH spent a week warning people. Now they get their hands dirty.
Date November 16, 2008

Near CitySoft, Inc., Financial District

In spite of itself, New York's financial district has weathered these tough times like it has other crisis' in the past. The neighborhood and it's people certainly aren't a strangers to them. The Financial District has its own scar, and it's own Ground Zero, though from an admittedly earlier tragedy. While the memorial to the September 11th attacks stands out amidst the skyline of this hub of New York's commerce, it is a wound that the city learned to survive, just like the events of November 8th.

Despite it's proximity to the fallout area and the Red Zone, the Financial District has bounced back onto its feet well. Public and private corporations funneled billions of dollars into the economy of the neighborhood to ensure that Wall Street didn't collapse along with the remainder of New York's heart. This multi-billion dollar effort was not without obvious results, and this neighborhood of New York is almost exactly as it was before the Bomb. While the western edges of the borough at Battery Park City were temporarially evacuated during the initial fallout scare, this region hasn't seen the dive in property values or spike in crime as strongly as other similarly hit areas such as Staten Island and Queens has.

Buildings in the area look well-tended, the city streets are kept clean, and the NYPD has a strong presence here. Overall not much has changed in the local attitude since the Bomb happened, save for the jagged northern skyline, and how the neighborhood slowly begins to degenerate in condition the further away from City Hall and Wall Street you go.

A brisk breeze stirs the evening air, overcast sky rendering the sunset nothing more remarkable than the gradual recession of natural light. The replacement of diffuse sunlight by the harsh vibrancy of artificial illumination. It's still light enough that the streetlamps haven't fired up quite yet, and the Financial District of Manhattan is still in full swing, albeit with a last burst of activity before the end of the business day.

Even here, in this day, three youths loitering on a corner are not all that remarkable. That all three are dressed in long black trenchcoats and project an air of firm confidence causes the few curious souls to rethink their curiosity. Better not to ask — just to keep walking.

"They're all just sheep. Stupid, brainless sheep." The young woman with the white-blonde pixie-cut hair throws a half-finished cigarette down onto the sidewalk in disgust, automatically stamping the ember out. "Do we really have to bother?"

Leaning against the gray concrete wall of an office building, his arms folded casually across his chest, Karl watches Melinda stomp on the hapless cigarette with a small, amused smile. He doesn't have the hat today, and PARIAH's leader ignores the breeze that picks at his short hair. "It's all politics, Mel'. That's what it all comes down to; everything people ever do. Politics and psychology. Which, you can argue, are basically the same thing."

"Oh, you and your mind games. I gotta say one thing about Cameron — at least he did, you know, stuff!" A broad, forceful sweep of Melinda's arm punctuates that profoundly elegant statement. "Not just send people here and there and everywhere like so many game pieces."

Rendered immune to Melinda's forceful expression of opinions by long experience — they all know she's venting, nothing more — Karl chuckles quietly. "And what, my dear, do you think we're doing now?"

"One minute to phase one," Erim pipes up. The third member of the posse is seated on the sidewalk, his back against the building wall. Long legs sprawl out into the walkway no one's had the nerve to actually walk down since the trio set up shop here a short while ago.

"Waiting," Melinda grumbles, sulking. Patience is decidedly not one of her virtues.

Straightening, Karl steps away from the wall, setting his hands on Melinda's shoulders and steering her around to look down the street. "Witchy's right in one respect," he says quietly. "I've said it before; I'll say it again. We have to remember who the enemy is. That means planning. It means patience.

"And today is the first payoff. So just watch, Melinda. Watch them burn."

Erim also rises, standing slightly off to one side, looking down the street. All three are focused upon a distant structure of concrete, steel, and glass, its many floors stretching up into the sky and crowned by the logo of CitySoft, Inc.

The seconds tick on. Ten. Five. Two.



…Nothing visible happens. But that's not the same as nothing at all — and the klaxon of fire alarms going off inside CitySoft, floor upon floor of them, can be heard even these several blocks away. People boil out of the doorways, herded by the conscientous to get themselves farther away from the building. Out onto the sidewalk. Down the street.

Sirens scream in the distant air, first responders alerted to the alarm.

Karl waits. Erim, a small, dark smile unconsciously tugging at his lips, also waits. Even Melinda is still, her blue eyes bright.

One minute. People huddle in knots of friends and colleagues on the sidewalk, discussing the interruption to the work. Is it a drill? Did something go disastrously wrong?

"People expect a warning," Karl says quietly. "It's traditional. Patterned into the psyche by the society we're raised in."

Two minutes.

"And they've forgotten the lessons of our forefathers. That rebellion and revolution are rights of the people. That government comes from the people of the country — not the other way around."

Three minutes, the sirens becoming louder. It's like driving through molasses, working their way through the traffic to get to the CitySoft building — but any other vehicles would hardly be moving at all. Small favors.

Very small.

"So we remind them. But most people don't like learning, after a certain age. They are sheep — locked into the molds of their raising. We've given them a week of warnings. The challenge. The messages."

Four minutes.

"This is the last one. The very last. After this…" Karl smiles.

Erim speaks up again. "We should probably move, guys." And they do. Multiple blocks away or no… well. Cover is always a good thing to have.

Five minutes.

A deafening boom rocks the buildings around CitySoft, overwhelming the more delicate sound of shattering glass, as gouts of flame suddenly burst forth from one side of the building on the lower five floors. Concrete cracks and steel warps, supports weakened by fire and fury; with surprising slowness, an entire face of the structure folds in on itself.

"Bare the sword of rebellion," Karl paraphrases, as he steps out in the wake of the blast to survey the damage he orchestrated. Brushing a bit of dust from the front of his sweater, he and his cohorts walk away down the street.

"At about 4:30 this evening, just prior to sunset, the Financial District was rocked by an explosion at the headquarters of CitySoft, Inc. One side of the building collapsed from the effects of the explosives used; many of the windows in nearby structures were shattered by the blast. Glass and falling rubble is estimated to have injured hundreds of people; the casualty rolls will be coming in for some time yet. Casualties are expected to be comparatively minimal, as the building was evacuated for a fire alarm just minutes prior to the explosion. It is believed the alarm and the explosion were connected.

"A video file was received by all major news networks simultaneously with the explosion, sent from an anonymous email account accessed on a public computer. In this prerecorded message, a spokesman for PARIAH — the same individual who preempted the memorial service at St. John's Cathedral — explains the act of terror committed today."

Karl is again dressed in his rebel outfit of glossy black trenchcoat and black broad-brimmed fedora, seated at a table in front of a very nondescript wall. Lacing his fingers on the tabletop, the expression he turns upon the camera is grave and somber.

"Studying history tells us nothing more than that we are doomed to repeat it. America is in the process of repeating history at this very moment — as we require the Evolved to declare themselves publicly, restricting where they can work. Homeland Security imprisons people without regard for habeas corpus, indefinitely, for no crime save the very act of breathing. How much longer, people of America, will you allow this to endure? How far will you let Homeland Security stretch out its reach?

"Once that power is in Homeland's grasp, it will not be returned to the people of America without a long and bloody war. It took the Civil War to free our slaves. It took World War II to prevent the Nazis from exterminating an entire ethnic group and dominating the rest of the world. We stand on the horizon of an era just as antithetical to the very principles on which this nation was founded.

"We will not allow this to happen without a fight. If blood must be shed to open the eyes of the populace to what's happening under their very noses, then so be it — we will draw that blood, even if we must shed our own in the doing. CitySoft, Inc. is the corporation hired by Homeland Security to operate and maintain the Registration servers; today, its main office has fallen. While we know better than to believe this will do more than cause a hiccup in Registration, rest assured PARIAH will not just stop here.

"If you deal with Homeland Security, if you aid and abet their crimes against the Constitutional liberties of all people, then you are a traitor to this country. You have betrayed every principle on which America was founded. This is your reminder, and your last warning. Today, we were generous. But the penalty for treason is death."

After a week's worth of graffitied warnings on federal and corporation doorsteps, it seems PARIAH has moved into action.

This scene occurs concurrently with Echoes of Fire.

November 16th: Echoes of Fire

Previously in this storyline…
Echoes of Fire

Next in this storyline…
What a Lovely Way to Burn

November 16th: Terror at Tea-time
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