Storm Crows

The world died. The great-grands tell us it died all over, because of the wrongs done by those before. Some parts died by the great nuke fires. Some by the sick that followed. Some by the ash winter, when the sun was lost and many starved. Others died because their machines did, unable to walk the world without them. The great-grands say those that were left were blessed, and cursed. Some saw the signs, they say, and hid away. Some had “the right place, right time”. Some did terrible things to keep living. But, they did keep living, and that was the point. We're told that our greatest-grands, the firsts, saw the world would die, and they hid. They had it right, with water, food, tools and “power”, and secret nests. They pulled together men and women with knowledge of the machines that ran the old world, of medicine, of great ideas. The gathered the hidden library, so many books. And they hid away so that one day, when the world was ready, they could rebuild, make things better. They lived in the ground until the food was almost gone, and then came out to rebuild, but they never really left their nests. The ones after built, too, and kept hiding. That was the way of it, until much was used up. The “power” machines stopped, and so did the machines that pulled the water from the ground. They needed to be repaired. The tools broke. The growing food wasn't enough, and the growing medicines couldn't keep them all strong. The people in their nests keep their ways, still, hidden away from the world, all except for the Storm Crows. We are the only members of the tribe to ever leave. We strip the corpse of the old world for whatever is needed, whatever can be used. We move from place to place and do what we must. Scavengers, scouts, soldiers, we are whatever is needed. We scrounge where we can, barter when it's an option, and raid when we have to. Sometimes we do terrible things. But the tribe keeps living. And that's the point. * * * The Storm Crows are a band of hardened individuals who serve a community in southern Arizona, a hidden tribe that ekes out an existence through farming. The location of the community is a closely guarded secret, and only the Storm Crows ever move in or out of the area. The Crows keep the community supplied with clothes, tools, replacement parts for their machinery, and anything else of value that can be acquired. For the most part, the Storm Crows aren't raiders. They don't take when they can trade or when they can find goods elsewhere. When hard pressed, though, they will always do what they have to and make sure the tribe survives. Preferring stealth over brute force, they travel light and in small groups. When trade isn't an option, they will always choose a quiet “acquisitions run” in the dark of night over armed conflict. Why kill when you don't have to? More importantly, why risk dying? Another favorite tactic employed by the Storm Crows is to wait out a battle between larger, more violent factions and then to scavenge what they can from the battlefield. And if the winning side is weak enough after the fight, and possessed of a vile enough reputation, the Crows aren't above finishing them off and taking everything. On at least two occasions, members of the Storm Crows have actually orchestrated conflicts between groups of raiders just to reap such benefits. At the end of the day, the Storm Crows are not heroes, nor are they despicable villains. They are who they need to be to make sure their tribe keeps living.