When San Paro City Authority built New Cross Skatepark back in 1996, it looked like a win-win. There was gang trouble in the neighbourhoods south of Havalynd, a low background crackle between the G-Kings from Gresty and the Barbarians out of Border. The noise coming in from the left-leaning press was: the kids are bored, where have they got to go? NCS was a populist measure designed to lock into the skateboarding fad that swept through youth circles on a semi-regular basis; it was cheap to build and it gave the kids something to do that wasn't shooting each other. At the very least it gathered all the troublemakers in one place away from the voters and the lobby groups. That was the theory, and the plan almost worked for a while. NCS was virgin turf, and everybody was having fun.
The kids were already taking their skills on the road, gliding through Memorial Park on Sundays, past the twitching security on Shianxi. They were hunting for cash, swooping like hawks onto the rich old ladies out walking their rats, then back to base to tally and divide. Snatches were easy and the beat cops couldn't catch them on foot, couldn't chase them in cars. At the same time it afforded the tribal firefights a certain momentum. Kids who eyed each other warily across the half-pipes were peppering each other with small arms fire in the ugly wastes either side of the South Loop. Back at NCS, the truce couldn't hold forever.
Who started it? Depends who you talk to. The one they all remember was Deadbolt, in a pissy mood and looking for trouble. Ran straight and low, right at the Barbarians. He kicked up off the pole, nice and fluid, caught Maklin round the head, full force. He'd already hit the boy 3 times, swinging his board like a baseball bat, when Flossy drew a piece and shot him through the hoof. There was the signal, and the battle was joined.
From then on NCS was territory, like any other street in the near hood. No deeds, no cover, no means to secure. That concrete drank up a lot of young blood and car spray. The place had become a symbol of authority, changing hands every few days, until at last it was a symbol of one authority only, the Barbarians all spent, without the hands to fight on, and the G-Kings freewheeling up and down the pipes, pumping 8mil rounds into the darkling skies.
All that exchange didn't fly too well in the neighbourhood. Scared locals were hanging on the automated emergency lines, waiting for the SPPD to intervene. But by that time the cops were easy; fat fucks almost weren't trying anymore. You couldn't buy a tail. Even with Derren's shoot-to-kill, there was nothing you could call a threat.
Instead they were picking up heat from some new military stooges hired in by the suits to mind the front porch. The G-Kings weren't political, but they figured that when special forces mercenaries were out in Gresty and doing home visits, they were already in someone else's mess. So when Grayson Fell turned up emissary, regurgitating the old man's revolution bullshit from behind those dead shark eyes, it seemed the wiser course to listen. It was the guns that sealed the deal. Fell showed with corporate-grade hardware. That meant two things, friends and money, and Zombie was happy to have more of either.
All of a sudden the stakes were higher, the Skate Park just a small part in a much larger picture. They had started out with nothing, united as outsiders, trying to make a place for themselves. Now they were learning that the world's feigned indifference masked an active hostility. It didn't faze the G-Kings. They were on top of their game, Havalynd was theirs, and if those fuckers wanted it, they would pay in blood.