Umbrella Surveillance System
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Isabel Evening has once again fallen over Raccoon City... or what's left of it. The survivors are counting their blessings at having lived another day. The remainder, now the vast majority of the city's population... well, they don't notice it so much.
There look to be a lot of them uptown tonight, shuffling along in aimless herds. A few seem entranced by the lights that are still on in a few windows, but the rest just seem to be going someplace. Or no place. It's all the same to them until the dinner bell rings.
Watching this from a fire escape across the street from Jack's Bar, Isabel Welsh makes a few notes on her uPhone. She's got the sound turned well down to avoid notice. She could be any survivor, really, but probably a badly-prepared one: Her old green Carhart jacket and the layers of black legwarmers over her well-worn jeans are a pitiful effort to protect herself from undead teeth. Even the .357 in its tactical holster on her thigh is underdoing it for a problem of this magnitude. But like the armor, it's all she has.
The map of the street on her uPhone screen now boasts a small collection of notes, and two of the buildings are now marked with bright icons. Even if she wasn't prepared enough at first, she's learning fast.
Jack Roark Up on the rooftop of Jack's Bar, a lone sentry keeps watch over the place, sniper rifle propped against the low wall slung around the asphalt to keep people from falling off. A glimmer of light runs over the rims of his blood-red sunglasses while the faint glow of a cigarette sputters near his lips.
Down below, Jack's Bar is something like a shell of the joyous gathering place it once was, with a homemade sign reading 'Still open to non-looting, non-biting sons of bitches' scrawled on cardboard and slapped up in the window of the front door, right before it was boarded up. All the windows are boarded up, now.
Buck Rogers It's been over a week since Buck's had a drink and that pisses him off. When he escaped his apartment during the outbreak, he didn't have time to pack all his shit and empty his cooler, and so somewhere out there in a small fourth floor apartment lies a bunch of warm beers chilling in long-melted tepid water. The thought's sad enough he'd cry, if he weren't so thirsty already. There's a wound in the big man's spirit, and he's in need of healin'.

The black-sheathed giant is near enough to Jack's bar that he can see him watching. In the dimming light, the cigarette embers are a beacon, a pretty pinprick of red-yellow spots against a horizon full of muted grey buildings, grim, and the violet oranges of sunset. Masked, covered in blood, and sporting a wicked-toothed saw, it's only the fact he can still speak that can quickly convince most he's not one of the monsters. "Hey!" His voice rises in rough cry as he makes his way out of an alley, kicking a can of Umbrella-brand diet soda. It rattles entertainingly, hits the raised curb of the sidewalk, and falls quiet. He's near enough that sign now to read it. "You got anything left gets a man pissed?"
Isabel Hmm... zombies don't smoke, or so Isabel's learned. Zombies don't even know how to use doorknobs. She quickly toggles the camera function on her uPhone, popping the map to the background, and zooms it in to get a better look at whoever's on the roof of the place with the homemade sign.
Zombies don't use rifles, either. Looks like this place is inhabited. Good thing she made up a new sign after she found the church earlier today!
See? Learning!
She returns to the mapping app and labels Jack's Bar with her new 'Occupied' icon. But her thoughts on a text caption are interrupted by a yell and the rattle of a can hitting concrete. She blinks in surprise and looks down into the street near the bar.
That huge figure can only be one person. Isabel smiles in spite of herself, and almost waves. Instead, she looks quickly up and down the street, just in case the noise might've caught something's attention.
Jack Roark It's hard to remember exactly when it became clear that shit had hit the fan in an irreparable way, a way that no amount of elbow-grease would be able to scrub clean. It's been at /least/ a day since then, though, Jack knows that much. Still, when Buck comes can-kicking, the pretty-much former barowner glances down over the edge towards the big man. "Depends!" he calls back, a little quieter. "You got anything left knockin' around your head, or are you /tryin'/ ta bring the whole horde-a biters down on ya?" The ex-Marine snorts to himself, flicking his cigarette butt off the rooftop, letting it fall in a tiny halo of spent carcinogenic beauty and puffing out the last bit of smoke through his nostrils. "Hang on," he finally decides, leaving his nest to head for the stairs.
Buck Rogers Buck cracks a grin behind his masking faceplate. There's probably six or seven of those things within a hundred feet of him. Some chew on dead animals or people, or themselves; others seem catatonic, walking aimlessly and pausing for sporadic bouts of listlessness until something triggers the violent reflexes that still linger in their brain-dead heads. The others, the clumps that move and break apart in herds, push past abandoned cars and deli stands, or make their way inside buildings through sheer dumb luck, or smash themselves against glass and brick and steel in fits of pique. Who can truly understand zombie psychology? Whatever they're doing, a few are slow-shambling their way through the darkening city to him, all festering with wounds and atrocity. "Alright," he calls back, quieter now. He's watching those stumbling fucks, even if he's acting casual. "I'll be quiet." Don't want to offend the potential quencher of thirst, after all.
Isabel Isabel is watching them, too... and by her calculations, if she doesn't move /now/ she'll be cut off from the bar. It's safe up here, but hardly comfortable.
Besides, she really should meet the bar's owner. He's survived this long in a neighborhood full of shambling undead. That alone is a good reason. He also might have heard something about what's caused this mess.
Packing away her uPhone and drawing the Python, she makes her way quickly and quietly down the ladder to the alley below. Peeking around the corner to make sure she's not going to rush out into a pack of wandering shamblers, she hurries across the street. "Hello again, Buck!" she hisses. Something tells her that surprising him would be a big, and possibly final, mistake.
Jack Roark When the door to Jack's creaks open, a spiky-haired head pokes out to peer back and forth, making sure there are no zombies about to descend on the entry. His red leather jacket and the broad, spread wings of his flowered collar are at violent aesthetic odds with his track pants and combat boots. Nothing about this goes together, from the big orchids to the little EGA emblems on his boots. The handle of his own Colt Python sticking out of the elastic waistband probably does little to calm the nerves of his visitors, especially when he steps out onto the street with a nasty-looking axe dangling from his hand. "Welcome to Jack's Bar, best bar in town, I am Jack, and this is my bar," he quietly intones in a vastly abbreviated version of his usual spiel, nudging the door open and nodding them inside. "In or out, just like Momma always told ya."
Buck Rogers Isabel's movements are cat-like scurries in the corner of his eyes, quicker and more deliberate than the undead ever seem to move. Well, unless they're trying to give you a love mark, anyway. Buck turns, bright blue eyes peering from raised-up NVD goggles, and nods his head. "Glad you made it back to your aunt, miss Welsh," he says, moving in through the offered door. He appraises Jack, his arms and his build, the way one might size up any immediate threat: openly, a slow look up and down, before grunting approval and getting into the bar. "Heard about this place," he comments, reaching gloved hands up to unhook his helmet and facemask. "But always stuck to my own dives. I liked Salazar's, down by Motel 6." Jack probably knows his rivals, but Salazar's was a total shit heap known for cheap prostitutes and a surprisingly competitive Wednesday dart tournament. "God bless you, Jack, for keeping on in times like these. Good works dry a man's tongue." A grin at Isabel. "You following me around, miss?"
Isabel "There wasn't much in that locker room," Isabel confesses to Buck over her shoulder, watching the mini-horde coming their way. "If it hadn't been for meeting you, and that gift shop I found on the way back, it would've been a wasted trip." Even packaged snacks are food, after all. "But at least there's a place to hole up on long scavenging runs in this neighborhood."
She glances back at Jack, mostly at his face so she doesn't have to look at his outfit. Even cymbals don't clash like that. "Nice place. You keep good hours, too," she says wryly, her own take on the fact that he's still technically open despite the fact that most of his customers likely are well beyond Last Call. She's the last inside, taking one last peek at the zombies before she clears the door, shivering as she turns away from the sight.
Jack Roark "Three to three," Jack replies proudly, the hours he's long boasted of maintaining every day of the year without fail. And there IS no last call at Jack's Bar. "Salazar's is a shit-hole," he comments unapologetically as he closes the door behind them, locking not one, not two, but three deadbolts behind them. Paranoia finally paid off, apparently. The axe swings lightly in his grasp as he heads over to the bar where the liquor is probably the best remaining option, letting himself behind it to pull down a handle of something brown. "Bourbon feels right."
Buck Rogers "Absolute shit hole," Buck agrees, voice thick with a warm nostalgia. "But I loved those wings." He watches the deadbolts slide and lock, rapping an armored knuckle on the door in idle ritual before peering between two of the crossing boards over the nearest window. Through the smudged glass and awkward lines of sight, he watches countless feet in the distance press on, a steady progression down the streets. "Gift shop, huh?" He motions for Isabel to move with him as he pivots and walks, making his way to the stool that looks sturdiest-- his estimation proves accurate when, despite the vast bulk of his body and the reinforced combat armor coccooning it, the thing groans in protest but otherwise carries out its responsibilities admirably. "Not a bad idea. You want my advice, start checking apartments-- a lot of folks saw the signs and went stocking up the last few weeks, then went and died. There's a few lil treasure chests just waiting for the girl who knows where the X is." A grin, well-meaning, and then he's focused on Jack. "Bourbon it is. You think those things get a buzz if you're drunk enough when they taste ya?"
Isabel "Apartments... good idea!" Maybe Isabel just retains the property-rights consciousness of her rural roots, but that hadn't occurred to her. She follows Buck along, pausing to take a seat on a stool of her own, not so carefully chosen. Then again, it doesn't need to be. "I'll have to peek in a lot of windows, though. People who decided to stock up and hide out probably died in their places." And everybody knows what's like to happen after you die, these days.
Her attention returns to Jack. "Do you have any soft drinks left? I have a feeling I'll have to be the designated watcher, if you're both indulging."
Jack Roark Jack pours out a few shots for them, talking all the while. "Well, you gotta be at a blood alcohol of point zero eight for it t'be 'drunk' drivin', and this here is forty percent alcohol, and it's gonna take you three shots to get a buzz," the bartender muses, glancing over at the big fellow, "and I'd expect it they probl'y eat about five shots worth-a your blood, so mathematically, no, seems like a long shot at best." There's a cheerful smirk to go along with the postulating. "Boxes of coke syrup in the back," he advises Isabel, "You gotta mix it with your own water. I got some filled up in the sinks still." And the tub, but that's need to know. Leaving the handle on the bar, he starts heading for the stairs again. "I'm goin' up to keep an eye out for any other customers. You two help yourselves, drinks are on the house tonight." Oh, what a wonderful bar. Pity, really.
Buck Rogers "Appreciate it," Buck says to the withdrawing Jack, one heavy mitt wrapped 'round his glass and lifting it toward the man's back. Then he slams it down, swallows, pours himself another. Guzzles it. There's no slow enjoyment here-- just the pursuit of pure, utilitarian function. "Yeah. It got in the water, to start. Not all of it. But enough people got sick that they died in their homes. Still, when you need to eat, danger's not so bad." Given his size, it's likely he eats quite a lot, under better circumstances-- so if anyone appreciates the need for food, it's Buck Rogers. "Well, go make your drink, miss Welsh. One of us has to drive after. You can borrow my license if you don't have your own."
Isabel "Be careful," Isabel calls after Jack, though she doesn't raise her voice too much. There are still zombies out there, after all.
She gets to her feet, watching Buck slam back bourbon like it's going out of style. "Designated driver... I can live with that. This should just take a minute," she promises, turning for the back.
She pauses at a thought strikes her. "Come to think of it, apartments wouldn't make bad staging areas for scavenging parties, even if the power doesn't stay on. At least you can sleep comfortably in one, once you clear it out."
Buck Rogers "They're not bad at all," Buck agrees. "Get a nice fire escape access, block off the stairs. Clear out the top floor you're on. Take a bit of work to get to, but you can sleep at night without worrying." He eyes the bottle of bourbon, eyes the shot glass... and, perhaps surprisingly, sets the bottle aside, rotating in his stool and leaning back against the bartop, chainsaw blade poking at the floor. "You in some place like that with your aunt?"
Isabel Isabel shakes her head. "Our house is at ground level. It just has an iron fence around it," she replies. The posts are evidently well sunk, as it hasn't been pushed over yet, though it's been reinforced in a few places. "I was thinking that if this goes on for very long, it wouldn't be bad to have someplace more secure. I'd better get mixing. I've kinda missed Coca-Cola since we ran out."
She slips into the back with a little wave over her shoulder.
Buck Rogers "The military's gonna roll on through soon enough," the man nearly growls, almost frustrated by that fact. Thumb and forefinger curl, tense, and flick with a loud pop against the side of his helmet, discarded on the bar's scarred and weathered top. The grain of the wood is stained with enough alcohol spilled over the years that the dark swirls of it can get you drunk if you stare long enough. The spirals and the curls fascinate his eyes. "Mark my words, little lady. We'll have tanks rolling down the streets soon enough."

As she wanders off to mix her drink, he rises, wandering around too. Whatever backup generator Jack might be running -- does he even have one? Buck wonders -- isn't being used to power the neon lettering saying BOURBON, nor the pinball machine tucked away in a corner, beneath a list of handwritten high scores pinned to a corkboard. The heavy cadence of his footfalls makes his presence an aural constant to the girl even when he stops talking. He soaks in the ambience. He soaks in the memories that live here. It's a strange feeling when the whole world's a graveyard.