Umbrella Surveillance System
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Buck Rogers The city late at night burns. The distress started in Clichy-sous-Bois, a poor commune in the eastern part of the city occupied mostly by poor immigrants of North African descent. The accidental deaths of a few teenagers in a police confrontation triggered an explosive wave of anti-police sentiment among youth populations and, in retaliation, a triggering of anti-immigrant and Islamic sentiment as the troublemakers imposed on the otherwise fine people of the city. In our timeline, the city has not yet declared the state of emergency it would; indeed, through the machinations of fortune and fate, the tension did not erupt until a little later. But even so, the details are largely the same-- fire, death, attacks, wrapped up in racial and religious hatreds and disaffection over poor employment opportunities.

As is the way of such things, when the trouble starts, those with unrelated but intense grievances piggy-back off it. Such is what happens here, in a small neighborhood in the northern parts of the city, near one of Umbrella's European holdings; anti-corporate agitators have fallen in with the rioters. It becomes madness in the blink of an eye; a car window is shattered and a fire engulfs it, while the previously peaceful (if threatening) crowd of predominantly young men scream and hoot and holler obscenities in French. There's a mix of signs and face-concealing masks, molotovs and two-by-fours, bricks and fists-- indeed, a handful of kids are simply walking down the street smashing in windshields and breaking car windows, tipping them over for the fire-starters to have their way.

It isn't a good night.. especially since these particular rioters don't seem to be of the Muslim variety -- they're one of the counter-groups that have been inflamed. The area is filled with broken glass and car alarms and shouting as the crowd swells and moves.
Isabel It's been a busy evening for Isabel Welsh. She'd come down this way to talk to someone. Someone rather shady who insisted on a public meeting after a hasty internet contact. She didn't have much to give, though, and Isabel had parted company quickly, exiting the seedy cafe after only a few minutes.
She still feels like a bath would to her plenty of good, honestly. Some parts of this city make old-movie New York feel classy.
Such is her preoccupation with her own affairs that she almost misses the signs of trouble ahead. It looks like a riot is under way, the kind that makes the news back home if it's any network but CBS. And they're making plenty of a mess.
This is /not/ what she wanted to see on her way home. She glances around for someplace to duck into, edging back into the shadow of a building column.
Emma Emma was out, near the Umbrella building. She wondered if they knew what information she had, and felt a shiver of fear run down her back. Having had enough she turns to head home, but finds herself now facing chaos. Jaw tenses, having seen the horrors that people can do, and create, this just.. piles onto that. With things getting out of hand, the lass looks around to see if she can get out of the way.
Buck Rogers The riot police are notified; it will take them time to mobilize. Time that those caught in the crossfire of the riots don't necessarily have. As the cars are smashed and moved, a gang of rioters begins to push them across the streets. There are leaders here and there-- bravely-masked men who leap up on the hood of one or move into the street and yell, urging them on-- "Push, push!", come the French cries, "Make a wall!" The streets and sidewalks begin to be walled-off with the cars, cans of petrol held at the ready to douse them and ignite them. The walls of fire and metal will obstruct police vehicles and fire trucks.

Emma looks around to escape. There's a mass of bodies around her. All alive, fortunately-- this is not a mass of zombified limbs and torsos like she recently was exposed to. This is something altogether worse by virtue of its humanity; gangs of teenagers and twenty-somethings attacking the world. Two kids near her, one with his face exposed -- he's a boy! his mustache barely grows -- begin to spray paint the side of the Umbrella building, working together to slowly create a bright red icon of the company logo and make a giant X through it. One shoves her aside when she gets in his way.

Isabel, for her part, is sneaky-sneaky, hiding in the shadows.. but when a garbage can rolls along the sidewalk, swings in a crescent, and then stops near her column, the handful of young white French kids that chase after it, mean-eyed, all but their eyes concealed, stare at her. "Muslim," one spits it like a curse. They slowly fan out around her-- but she's not trapped.

And, with a grunt, Buck Rogers awakes, sleeping off a nasty headache in the back of a car a crowd of kids are shoving. He blinks the fatigue away, and it takes a long moment before his adrenaline is pumping through his veins. As the car tilts, almost all the way over, he growls, "Motherfuckers!" and stomps with one massive boot, forcing the passenger door open and catching one of the tippers in the face with the edge of it. The kid's nose is bleeding. "Can't you see my god damn blanket!"
Isabel Isabel, seeing the garbage can, blinks at the sight of it. Oh, fudge...
And sure enough, there are a bunch of kids following it. And they're all glaring. At her. She tries to remember what little French she knows. "Parlay anglay? Juh neh parlay fransuah... parlay anglay?" she tries, backing away and moving so they can't surround her.
Surely there's a way out of this... wait, is that Emma over there? "Emma!" she calls, waving her hand overhead. "Over here!"
She can't see what's going on with the cars very well, but the sound of a door smacking someone is pretty audible. Maybe it'll distract her new friends, too...
Emma Emma stares at the boy a second, making a point to burn his face into memory. Hearing her name and looking over her shoulder, the lass spots Isabel. "Oh - oh no." With growing worry she goes to hurry her way.
Buck Rogers "Lazy fucks," one of the boys spits, glaring down at Isabel. "Come over, laze around, shit up the city, and now you're attacking people?" There's been a few injuries-- while Isabel is certainly not guilty, it's clear she's being treated as a scapegoat for more broadly xenophobic attitudes. He reaches out to give her shoulder a hard shove as she backs off and side-steps, narrowly missing thanks to her clever feet. "Get the hell out!" His anger is arrested by the sound of breaking glass.. which is hardly unusual this night, but accompanied by something new: the screaming of a person in pain.

The camera slides, turns, and refocuses down the street from where the brave miss Welsh is being accosted. Buck's clambered out of the car that's now tilted on its side, and is standing, shoulders rising and falling as he sucks down wrathful breaths, beneath the limp, kicking body of one of the rioters. Mere moments ago the giant choke-slammed the kid face first through a car window when he got up in his business, and as the boy's face is torn apart by shards of glass and blood streams down his tear-stricken face, the brute shoves his way through the crowd and walks down the sidewalk. "Fuckin' moron kids," he grunts, as two wide-eyed rioters pull their friend from the car before it tilts over onto its back. When their pal is safe, they reach down and pick up some heavy rocks, testing their weight and eying Buck's back, lit by the city lights and flickering fires.

When Emma dashes over toward Isabel, Buck catches sight of her. He doesn't know Isabel's nearby-- the angle makes it hard for him to see through the crowd of bodies.
Isabel Isabel gasps softly as she narrowly avoids being shoved. "Dammit, do you speak English or not?! I don't even know why you're mad at me!" she fumes, barely holding herself back from giving him a well-deserved kick in the pants. She keeps moving, trying to edge around the little group into clear space so she can make a dash for it. Not that she'd be averse to finding a convenient fire escape ladder, or something else to climb on top of.
Really, what is this about? It'd be hard to find anyone who looks less militant or combative than Isabel, with her shabby denim chore coat, faded Levis, and old hiking boots. Were it not for her looks, she might be mistaken for a peasant seeing the city rather than one of a group of wobble-headed fanatics.
She hears Emma coming, and there's some relief in that. "Emma, hurry! We need to get out of here!" she says, probably needlessly.
The sudden crash nearby draws her attention like a laser beam. Is that..? "Buck! Oh, fudge..." He's right in the middle of them! And she doesn't even have a gun with her. What in the universe can she do?
Emma Emma came shortly after the guy spoke French, else she'd of known what he said. An arm goes to wrap around Isabel's arm, if allowed, to keep her close and safe. Sure she has no actual fighting talent, but it's in her nature to protect. "Yer alright?" She asks her, with full concern and then at crash eyes move that way, and there is a long string of likely curses in Gaelic. "Go, hide, get away now, I'll go get Buck. Yer safe, if ya just run."
Buck Rogers The French hooligans continue to hurl verbal abuse at Isabel, but, at least at the moment, they don't seem ready to escalate-- it's one thing to vandalize cars and set a few fires, another to assault an innocent young girl. Which isn't to say she's safe, no; she wisely continues to back away, keeping an eye out for escape routes-- and as she does so, she can see a small path between buildings, leading down the nearby hill to the fenced-in parking lot for the Umbrella office. The footpath is lined by clustered shops and a few apartments, a handful of which will surely be looted before the night is through. Rushing that way might trigger a pursuit, but she could climb the fence and lose them, surely.

Emma, for her part, seems to be providing Isabel a distraction. One of the men looks at her. "You're protecting the Muslim?" The word's like a curse. "They fire-bombed a fuckin' synagogue! My brother burnt his arm! They need to go!" His friends nod. Emma could run for it, too, same as Isabel.. or even take a different route, up one of the nearby fire escapes, or simply into the streets and hope to get lost in the crowds. After all, she's a pretty white girl. But she best decide quick, because one of the men is trying to grab at her.

And there's Buck, reaching a hand up to grasp the back of his head, bleeding from a rock that struck it. Another bounces uselessly off the vastness of his back. Isabel's shout is hard to hear over the WEEE, WEEE, WEEE of car alarms and the squealing rabid ribbits of the crowd, but it does draw his attention through the anger building up inside him. He walks toward the group, slow and steady, as the ones behind him get a second set of rocks.
Isabel "Emma..." Isabel hastily points out the path of escape. "We've got to run, now!" She won't make the first dash, not with her friend in danger, but...
Is that guy /grabbing/ at Emma? Oh, /hell/ no! Isabel steps forward in a lunge, pushing the mouthy hooligan back from her friend. "Back off, jerk!" she snaps, plainly in English, not Arabic (which she also speaks, but she has a feeling that would be a bad talent to display right now).
Trouble is, she stepped /forward/... almost into the group. One quick step by another of them would leave her completely surrounded. And it's barely half a second before one of them takes it.
This is /so/ not her night... "Run, Emma, run!"
Emma Oh hell! Emma goes to reach for Isabel, to pull her back and get in the way. "Isabel yer not safe GO!" She says, eyeing the man who tried to grab her. "Don't talk ta my friend like that!"
Buck Rogers The man Isabel shoves is caught off guard and trips over his own feet, falling onto the garbage can. The aluminum crushes into his side and bruises him, knocking the wind out. His hand rises to pull his face mask down as he rolls over off the dented thing, organic trash sticking to his jacket. "Bitch," he says, and that is in English -- the Parisian youth know some English, and everyone loves English curse words. He rises to his feet, flush with embarrassment and rage, and around him spills the contents of the container, pouring from a ripped-open black bag.

The other two flank the girls, whose moment to run was squandered by their understandable and well-meaning attempts at mutual protection. They'll need to wait for another opportunity or muscle their way out now, though with the way the one's limping, it might be he twisted his ankle in the fall. Both girls, canny survivors of Raccoon City, detect that sign of weakness.

And in the distance, closer now, is Buck Rogers, who has stepped off the sidewalk and is about twenty feet away, watching it all. "Hey girls," he says with a smile, a knife in his hand.
Isabel "Emma, he's limping... bet they'll get in each other's way," Isabel hisses hurriedly, seeing their predicament, but also the problem that first thug now has. "But we both have to run for it at the same time."
She snatches up the lid from that fallen garbage can, swinging it in a wide arc at the goon on the left. "Now!" she shouts, hastily stepping back so as to run for their lives... and nearly tripping over her own feet as her swing misses.
This is /definitely/ not her night!
The sound of someone else calling to them arrests her motion, and she glances back. "Buck..? Oh, thank God..."
Emma Emma can't protest quick enough, Isabel is doing her thing. The guy with a bad ankle is at a disadvantage. Going to run, feet skid to a halt, eyes widen when Buck is seen.
Buck Rogers Isabel's valor opens up an opportunity to run-- but Emma, in a cruel twist of fate, is sufficiently stunned by the sight of Buck and his knife that she pauses like a deer in headlights. This results in one of the irritated goon's smacking her hard enough that her lip splits and she falls, hitting her head on the ground and temporarily knocking her out. "Dumb slut," the teenager spits, staring down at the red-haired nurse with pure, lustful disdain. "We're gonna have fun with you and your little brown friend," he says, voice all full of cruel implication. The other one that dodged Isabel's garbage swing laughs at her and reaches to seize the lid and disarm her with superior strength. The third, the one that held back with the twisted ankle, has followed the girl's attention to Buck.. and sees what's in his hand. "Knife!" he screams, alerting his friends, and twists around-- all his weight goes on the bad ankle and he falls to the ground. The friends turn and tense, not understanding, and Buck's slashed them both in one jagged backhanded motion-- a cross between a cut and an icepick stab, hard enough to put them both in shock as the blood pools around them from their torn-open chests.

"Call an ambulance," he suggests to the thug on the ground, panicking, pissing himself. The bloody knife is tucked in his waistband and he kneels, scooping Emma up in his arms. "Come on, sweetheart. Cops are coming."

The sirens make that clear.
Isabel "Emma!" Isabel cries in despair, seeing her friend go down. It's all her fault, too. She should've just run when they both had the chance. She watches the one with the trash-can lid that was formerly hers, waiting to dodge another blow, trying to stay close to Emma...
And that's when Buck makes his entrance, and what an entrance it is! She jumps back, giving him room to work. She'd feel more sorry for his two victims if they hadn't been hell-bent on beating and raping herself and Emma, who were just passing through.
Buck's words remind her that the worst is yet to come. "Right... will she be okay?" she asks hurriedly, moving to follow Buck.
After the last few seconds, it's doubtful anyone will favor him with more than a dirty look. They wouldn't want what the two goons got!
Buck Rogers When the one conscious thug remembers this event, one image above all others will stand out: the grotesque figure of Buck, cast half in shadow from the columns, back-lit by the fires of the burning cars, with a knife dripping his friend's blood. That smile full of teeth, and those eyes that didn't look at him like he was human.

--

"We'll bring her to the hospital," Buck says, as the pair move through the crowd. A few of the rioters have a heart-- they move out of the way. Others book it when the police sirens come, along with the shrill cry of fire trucks. But enough remain that the police will have their work cut out for them. Hopefully, an ambulance can get through to the injured kids off the main road. Buck, Isabel, and the unconscious Emma, however, will be long gone, cutting around the car barricade in the direction opposite the police arrival, descending down the street as it slopes downhill toward the parking lot Isabel saw earlier for the Umbrella building. When they've made it about a block away, though the sounds of the clamor abound, it's quieter, more peaceful, though the occassional flash of red and blue from police vehicles passing by is still seen. "She hit her head, but I don't see any blood.. think it just shocked her." The hospital is a bit of a walk away, but not too much.. though carrying Emma like a bride, unconscious and limp, certainly draws attention. "What the hell," he grumbles. "Dumb kids. What're they so pissed about? Torching cars, chucking rocks and bricks.." An irritated grunt. "Glad you're okay, sweetheart."

It's more than he's said to her in.. some time. They haven't spoken at all since he, ah, ditched her at the bistro.
Isabel Isabel stays with Buck, knowing that in his shadow lies safety. She makes sure they're not followed. "I don't know what they were saying to me, or to Emma," she confesses. "My French isn't good enough to know. But it's like they hated me at first sight. Emma wasn't in trouble 'til she came to my rescue."
She looks up at him. "Gonna dash out the back door while I'm dealing with the doctors?" she asks, her tone wry and knowing.
Buck Rogers "I've got a bloody knife tucked under my shirt," he replies, voice a gruff as ever rumble. "I shouldn't even go in the front, let alone the back. Just asking for trouble." The two of them pass in front of a long-closed flower shop named The Royal Rose -- but, being in French, Buck can't read it at all. He just pauses, Emma sprawled out in his arms, and looks through the glass at the arranged bouquets in the darkness of the interior. "I don't like how you look at me nowadays," he says after a long moment of silence. "Like I'm one of those monsters from the city." A shrug of his broad shoulders and he starts walking again, boots thumping along the sidewalk. "Lillian left, Caldwell's doing his soldier boy thing.. you're the only one around who remembers me bein' a good man." Thump, thump, shift Emma. She's weightless in those massive arms.
Isabel Isabel stops at that, her mind flying over familiar ground. "Buck..." she says, sighing softly. "You scare me sometimes, it's true. You're bigger and stronger than before, and you've /changed/. And sometimes, when something happens..."
She shivers. But she still looks up at him once the moment passes. "But I also owe you my life four times over. I don't think any of us would've gotten out of Raccoon City if it hadn't been for you. Maybe you scare me sometimes, but I'll never forget what you did for us."
Buck Rogers "I know," Buck replies, and there's a small smile lifting the corner of his mouth. It doesn't reach his eyes. "I'm gonna go away soon, and I don't plan on coming back." The flower shop is left behind them now, and the air assumes the scents of fried goodies-- there's a little street stall up ahead, beneath a light post, near a marble statue of a man with a plaque at his feet. "I see how you get all googly-eyed at Chris. He was always a workaholic, so don't compete with his mission. Find some way to work with him. And hell, do somethin' with your hair-- he and Jill always had this low-key flirt going. Think he likes them short boy cuts. His sister had 'em, too."
Isabel Isabel turns beet-red as Buck points out the obvious, shaking her head. "He doesn't know I'm alive, Buck. I'm not sure he ever will. And I can't be Claire. She was her own unique self. I miss her, too. I'll try to help him, but more than that..."
She edges a little closer to him. "If things keep going the way they are, I'll have to do some traveling of my own. Umbrella'll know I'm in town sooner or later, and between the unrest and the bombings..." She shakes her head. "Just... Buck, even if I'm not with you, I'll always be there for you. Even if you don't believe it now, don't forget it. And don't lose my number."
Buck Rogers Buck snorts. "He's a workaholic, not a faggot," the big man replies, entirely politically uncorrect. "You're one hell of a looker, sweetheart. Why do you think I kept tryin' to get a threesome with you and Lillian?" A shake of his head, and in his arms Emma stirs, making a slight noise-- she might be awake, but she's sufficiently tired and stressed that she just stays where she is. "Trust me. Ain't nothing that makes a man feel better than a good girl. He's just thick as a rock, so you gotta be a little aggressive." He pointedly ignores the second part of her statement, passing around the stall and the statue, and noticing, with a bit of surprise, the fountain attached to it at the other end. He pauses. Leans over. Dips Emma's face in the cold sprinkling and holds it there for a moment, watching, waiting. She coughs, splutters, and does nothing else. "... mm. Thought that'd work."
Isabel "Let's just leave Emma's care to the hospital," Isabel suggests. "She's got more than unconsciousness to worry about."
There's a long silence as she processes what he's said, and especially what he hasn't said. "Buck, I might never have liked you that way, but I /do/ like you. Why are you trying to push me away?"
Buck Rogers "There ain't a damn thing we got in common to be friends over," Buck says, glancing down at Emma's now-wet face with a furrowed brow. "And I'm not the man who makes friends in the first place." He flashes Isabel a smile, jolly and good-natured -- the sort of smile he has for magazine covers and fans. "You're not fit to be around me, sweetheart. This place is safe -- find someone safe, settle down. Being around me's unhealthy, and I don't want you around, anyway."
Isabel Isabel shakes her head. "If I didn't have Emma to get to that hospital... Buck, you are so damned /stubborn/. I'm not one of the book bunnies you can wave off with a cheesy line and an autograph! I'm your /friend/. At least, I thought I was. Maybe it's just from my end now."
She turns and thumps the automatic door button on the hospital wall, opening the doors with a hiss. "I can live with dangerous. If I couldn't, I wouldn't be making videos about the world's most evil company. I guess that's not the issue, is it?" She looks him in the eye. "Are we still friends, Buck Rogers? Or am I just fooling myself?"
Buck Rogers "You were just some girl I kept safe in Raccoon because you needed it," Buck says, that crowd-pleasing smile fading. The doors open, but Buck leans in and leers down at the pretty little expatriate. "And because I thought you'd be fun with Lillian. See which one of you looks prettier in white." He leans back, straightens his spine, and *looms* in a fashion men aren't meant to-- an impression of size and strength fit for a wild animal. He glares down at her, distant and disdainful. "You annoy me, sugar. Always whining, always clinging, don't even have the decency to put out. All the nagging of a wife and just as much sex." He laughs, loud-- a rough, stacatto thing, like the barking of a dog. He tightens one arm to support Emma, reaches into his pocket, and pulls out a wad of local currency. He tosses it on the ground. "Find a cab and go home."

He walks through the doors.
Isabel Isabel stares after him through the open door for a long, long moment. The door won't close with her standing there. The pain on her face is plain enough, but the steel in her eyes would come through, were he looking.
"Liar," she says at last, and walks away, the door hissing shut like a delayed punctuation mark.