Night in the stinking streets.
Look at them all – like insects on a corpse.
Here comes the Jake Street Breakers, they’ve been creeping in lately, chewing at the fringes of the Hilltops, mostly from Dogshit and the west side of Crud, where the gaps appeared after the last war, and the Hilltop Hoods were butchered almost to a man. I heard tell of a few escaping, but I don’t know that I believe that.
They come and go so fast, you know? It’s hard to keep track of them all. Oh I don’t mean the OG – The 59th Street Jump, Black Skullz, The Killers of Boggin Hill, The Rekt Kru, Jack’s Bloody Bastards, The Thunderstomp, The Red & Green Army, and the ancient G-Unit. They have old and well established territory, and, more importantly, support from the locals, who shelter them from the Watch and raise their children in the Thug Life culture, providing new recruits with every generation. Their hatreds run deep. Their wars are political now.
But out here? It’s open season, mate. They are killing each other almost as fast as they can come up with stupid names for themselves. And if they do get lucky enough to rise to any kind of real power, the OG just stomps them into the dirt as soon as the new crew starts making real moves. A few get out, get into some other game – mugging, and burglary sometimes or maybe prostitution if their options run out. But most die out here. In the dirt. By the hundreds some years. Close to a thousand dead crew lay stinking in the summer heat 10 years ago or so – a long-simmering turf war that blew sky high, and 2 weeks of terror and mayhem ripped these parts of the city all to hell and gone. They are warriors, all the crazy crew, warriors of the alleyway, the rooftop, the sewers – warriors of the block.
Thug Life: The Machine
The Terror is the first game they play. It’s not a game to them, it’s a culture, without thought, without mercy. Only the strong survive here. No one escapes without scars of every kind. The Terror is a Hell Night, where the new meat must run as the hunted prey he or she most certainly is. Those caught by the Wilding are subjected to the lowest the human mind can achieve. You might not believe this, but I caught tail of a Terror when I was working for that bastard Y’Sikes in West Metal. In Coppertown, I knew this girl, and anyway, one night I was trapped there. I had waited too long and some of the bribes I paid off had turned. I heard it rising through the narrow streets, and the I heard the ratty tower block where this girl had her rooms, slam shut, doors in every room were closed and barred, every shutter locked and furniture pushed around as barricades. The girl yelled at me to hide, to hide now, and she beckoned at me from under the bed.
I sounded like wind at first, I thought, or voices carried on the wind. Then it was, the throaty roar of a large crowd, and the bubbling sound grew and in moments I could hear individual peaks and troughs in the static roll of the crowd’s constant noise. Words came to me. Gods forgive me, I heard what they were screaming, laughing, chanting, raging, taunting, rhyming, and babbling as they swept up the streets, like a rat swarm the girl told me later, and sometimes they went up and over buildings, can you imagine? They didn’t this time, thank Lodis, but I was too busy shaking in terror and the girl had gone dead silent, eyes shining, like a deer or a rabbit would, and my terror redoubled. The building shook when the Wilding passed us, its vile need for blood and pain somehow overlooked us, and I remember the girl cried silently and prayed after they had gone, some many minutes later, and I felt my heart go out to her, and I asked her to pray for me too, and she looked up and me, and smiled and said, “Are you a slave to The Blood Lord too? I already gave thanks for the sacrifices to His Eternal Hunger, but I can put a word in for you too, if you want?” And she smiled again.
If I had known she was an old lady of one of the Black Hands, I never would have been there. I ran.
They are worshiped as fervently as any of the Shining Ones, like the Lifebringer or Lord Justice. Their temples are driven by greed and murder and blood. They are protected only as long as they are needed in the larger schemes.
- Abohar: The Black Hand, the Destroyer, the Lord of Fear
- Baklah: The Lady of Screams, Lord Despair, the Suffering One
- Caina: The Whip, the Hive Queen, Lady Pain
- Golovkin: The Prophet, The Gibbering Shadow, the One Mad God
- Malbog: The Scavenger, the Lord of Shadows, the Night Rogue
- Nathrak: The Red Fist, the Bloody Lord Avenger, the Murderborn
- Shakendul: Lady Pleasure, Lord of Desire, the Freeborn Lord
- Umbruk: The Petty Lady, the Redeemer, The Lord of Vengeance
- Wedic: The Rotting Lord, the Plaguebringer, Lady Entropy
There is one Unknown. There are whispers. Nothing solid. But I have seen things. Things I can’t explain. Things I don’t want to explain.
Life has no meaning here but to serve in the endless cycle of violence, betrayal and suffering.
Every street in every corner of the Great City is gang territory. The one exception being The Owl’s compound, and all the Jumble, of course, no one goes near that stuff. Every street has its own identity. Every street has a name, doesn’t it? Every street has an identity. Where you from? What’s your set? What’s your set? That’s something only the new meat yells to one another. The established gangs know each other on sight. Always ends in bodies in the streets.
Territory is squabbled over street by street. Each street ponies up a tithe to it’s crew. Sometimes they don’t and small uprisings will blossom all over a crew’s territory (which is constantly in flux). Sometimes collecting the rent is all a young crew will do, itself being quite difficult against generations of people who are not simple folk. No one here is weak. A city of predators. The prey are always outcasts from one or more spheres of protection. Age, gender, sex, position does not matter. To be outcast is to be thrown to the Vagrants, a changing gang of outcasts who has no territory and constantly moves, mostly hiding and scavenging, and to be taken by them means disappearing from the known and entering a hidden existence. Underground and Shadowlife is your future.
Thug Life. Trail Signs.
Graffiti is the secret language of the rogue. Look around you. You see it everywhere, and yet you don’t see it any more, yah? It’s become background noise. Meaningless smears of color and shape. These are the sigils of the rogue. Each crew has its own marks, but they all basically tell the same information. This place is safe, this place isn’t, this place belongs to us, this place is off limits, this place is friendly, this place is an ally, beware of X (usually a highly stylized picture), be on the look out for X (usually a highly stylized name), fence (merchant), underground access, and death threat towards X.
The marks change over time, they follow their own whims and evolutions, according to subtleties no one can predict. There are recruits who have not been jumped in yet who’s job it is to daringly dash into enemy turf and paint over enemy marks. A game who’s only penalty is death, and war. And yet… All the crew’s new meat does it. It’s a mark of respect and pride to get away with it and get away clean.
The signs are everywhere, if you look. Trail signs in the jungle. What’s your crew throw?
Thug Life. The Maze.