Sirens echoed throughout the streets and swirling lights flashed off towering brick buildings, sending warning signs of distress into the surrounding regions of the sprawling city. A thin stream of red light filtered up from the buildings of the area in question, warning all who came close that whatever was found there would not be pretty. Four beacons stood on each corner of the territory, making themselves clear to any within sight of them. It was quite rare that any territory had to use this system to alert the nearby areas that something was amiss, but everyone knew that when they were in use, something had to be wrong.
Miles away, Patrick stood in his normal position on the rooftop, nine stories above the ground. He was alert in his vantage point on the spacious roof, leaning on the brick barrier that separated him from the long drop down. He stared out over the tops of the surrounding buildings, hoping for an inkling of anything that could explain the commotion. Whatever the reasons, it was just too far away for him to see. Something strange was happening this humid night, and he was certain he wasn't the only one aware of it.
"Come on, Jobro." He ran a hand through his thick, sandy hair as his pale blue eyes darted back and forth, surveying the city. "Where are you?"
The buildings stretched out in all directions as far as he could see. From his vantage point, he could pick out the openings between each rooftop, forming a rough grid. Some buildings jutted out further than others, offsetting other blocks to hide territories from their neighbors. Patrick could pick out faint streaks of yellow light coming from between some the buildings as well. These lights marked the boundary between territories, warning trespassers to keep their distance. On clear nights, he could follow the lines for miles and wonder what kind of people and gangs lived out on the horizon.
Looming in the distance, skyscraper lights filtered through the haze. The towers never slept, it seemed. He hoped he would never discover what or who lived inside. The bigger the building, the bigger the threat- that was the code the city lived by. More resources required more space, which was always manifest in taller structures. Patrick shivered. As he focused on the flickering lights, he wondered if those in the skyscrapers were also paying attention to the commotion. Regardless, he was becoming increasingly aware that everyone within several miles was sure to have their eyes fixed on the same disturbance. The tension would grow with each passing hour, and he wondered how long it would be before something snapped.
A massive slam sounded from behind him, but Patrick didn't move. From what little specific training he had, he knew to keep his eyes where they were supposed to be.
"Betcha thought I wasn't gonna make it, eh?"
Patrick grinned. "Took you long enough, you bastard."
"Yeah, yeah." Jonathan sidled up, looking around the rooftop as he did. "Where's Troy?"
"Dunno," Patrick shrugged. "He was supposed to be up here an hour ago. But I guess with all the curiosity going around, he probably forgot."
Jonathan blew a steady stream of air from his lips. "I'll let that slide for tonight," he muttered. "Don't tell anyone. You're not supposed to be up here on your own yet."
Patrick just smiled.
Jonathan turned his attention to the flashing lights in the distance. He stood almost a full head taller, but Patrick was, through the eyes of their competitive world, rather small. Height was typically not a main factor of effectiveness, but Patrick's height coupled with his thin frame did little to instill fear when he came up against other members of neighboring territories. He refused to let it bother him, though. It didn't matter much to be smaller than the rest of the Raptors, minus the rare occasion when he'd get roped into a wrestling match. There was little he could do against their sprawling arms. Being nimble as he was couldn't account for much there, no matter how much strength or flexibility he had.
A dark patch moved in the corner of Patrick's eye, and he inhaled sharply as he whipped his head to the side. He held his breath for a moment as his eyes darted back and forth. With this section of the city in a higher alert than normal, he couldn't be too careful.
"Anything?" Jonathan asked quietly.
"No," he said after a moment. "Just imagining things." Patrick glanced over at his friend's angular face to try and pick out any hints of worry or other emotion, but received no such indication.
As usual, he thought.
His gaze wandered over Jonathan's determined face, the tousled hair that stuck up ever so slightly in the front. Patrick took particular note, as he often did, of the symbol below Jonathan's ear, just below the jawbone. It was the Raptor's mark – a tattoo of a red circle with a falcon wing through the center – the honorary marking for the group of which Jonathan was the leader. He rubbed the unmarked area of his own neck. Soon, he hoped, he would have one of his own.
"So what's happening out there?"
"Nothing yet. So far, standstill as usual. Though granted we're on the further edges of it... but if you can hear it, it applies."
Patrick nodded. Standstill. Only for emergencies.
Jonathan rubbed at the brown sideburns that spread down past his cheekbones. "Sent a few guys to edge in on the side to see if we could pick anything up from the Sharks, but we haven't heard back yet. so we need to make sure they can hear it."
Trust them the least, Patrick thought, amused. He kept his eyes trained on the lights, hypnotized by the swirling motion. "Do you know who they are?"
"The group with the alarms going? No. They're a couple territories over, and I only know the ones directly around us."
"Any hunches on what happened?"
The captain snorted. "Your guess is as good as mine, bro."
"Just thought I'd ask."
"Well I just thought I'd tell ya." Jonathan shifted his weight to his other foot, leaning against the wall in similar fashion.
They continued to observe the eerie shadows from the lights in silence. Patrick was supposed to be watching the streets, but in that moment he couldn't find it within himself to focus. He was too enthralled with the spinning rhythms of the lights in the distance. The sirens continued to blare, but they were too far away from the Raptor's home to make any real commotion. Tonight, it merely proved to be background noise against the unusually still city.
"Keep sharp, bro," Jonathan said suddenly, as he moved back a few steps towards the open door. "Until we hear back about the Sharks, they might still try to do something… stupid."
"And if they do?"
"You'll know what to do."
Patrick bit his lip. His stomach lurched, turning itself into a twisted mess of convulsing knots and butterflies. Initiation.
"Hey, don't have a panic attack!" Jonathan clapped Patrick's back, startling him. "You'll be fine. And all the kids are rooting for you, if that makes you feel any better. "
"Kids?" Patrick smirked, thinking of the other members of the Raptors. "They're all older than us."
"Yeah, well, don't tell 'em I said that. That's basically what they are though, eh?"
Patrick shook his head as Jonathan left, the door closing behind him. Funny.
The knots persisted as the thought of initiation continued to take hold in his mind. He knew it would allow him to have the full trust and protection of his Raptor family – not that he had to try very hard. He'd been around the Raptors for most of his life, climbing in and around every nook and cranny within their territory. He thought about what other territories must go through for their rituals, their rules, and their laws. Sneaking into a foreign territory for a night or so had its own challenges, he knew that well. Making it back alive and without detection was difficult at best, but success resulted in their own initiation. Others had different regulations and expectations. With differing rules, however came differing endings within each territories if they were ever caught. Imprisonment, beatings, and ransoms were all too common. Payback especially was frequently sought. Territories directly surrounding Patrick's home, though, knew all too well the consequences for taking their chances in the Raptor's area.
But only when caught.
For Patrick, Jonathan, and the rest of the Raptors, they had to kill. It kept their numbers high and their members on top. And very few enemies made it through the Raptor's lines alive. Patrick had seen enough from within their own ranks to know initiation always had to come from outside. There was no other possible way. And though it made his stomach flop in several directions at once, he was firm in his resolve. There was no way he was going to let any of them get through with their petty games.
He looked at the lights again, determined to make his time count. Bring it on, he thought. I'm ready.
A/N: The new and improved Sirens is on it's way. I'm re-uploading over what I'd already posted, so if you'd read this before it's probably changed by this point.