The dynamics were easy to see from atop The Peak, looking over the bay.
The Blue had been driven back to the shoreline. They took up maybe 5 or so percent of the city at large, but since it was an important 5 or so percent, that's as far back as they would go. Controlling the docks, as The Blue did now, meant they had enough influence to prevent any further degradation in their position.
The Orange had been careful in their pushes, and now controlled 90 percent of what was left. They had the numbers, but they were still having issues with the various organisations that had come into their fold during their expansions. Despite that, numerical superiority and the idea that The Orange held the most ground was incentive enough for cooperation, for now.
What was interesting was The Black. They came out of nowhere; probably from outside the city limits, and held the remaining area of the city. They didn't care for alliances or treaties, they wanted to burn everything. At least, that's how it seemed. They had cut through The Orange on the western grounds, and had even crossed the minor river to gouge out a chunk of The Blues foreshore holdings.
If The Black managed to get the dockyards on the major river, then this war, or whatever it was would change overnight.
“We can’t get involved,” it wasn't the first time these words had been said, but it was certainly the most insistent he had said them. “We’re outsiders, and whatever we did would spur one of the gangs to side against us and we cannot stand up to any of them.”
“We have the capabilities to fix the city, we can’t not get involved,” the younger man said stubbornly, completing the only argument they ever had.
“Fixing the city isn't a click your fingers and it’s done deal, you know.”
“Well, if they would stop fighting, it would make it a lot easier.”
“Hey, you're right, it would. But that's exactly what we can’t do. We’d need to stop all the fighting everywhere at once. The city is big. We physically can’t do that.”
“We can’t just sit here and watch them burn it all to the ground. That makes us no better than they are.”
“Then give us details. We’ve heard your ideology for weeks now. We need an actual plan. How do we stop the fighting?” there was silence from across the table, as always. “Exactly. We can’t. If you start this fucking argument again, without a plan, then you’re out. Understand?” More silence. “Understand?”
“Good. Now get out of here.”
The patrol had made camp on the roof of a 12 story building, a block back from the rivers edge. It was one of the taller buildings in the area and gave them a decent view over the blacked out neighbourhoods between them and the water.
There were five in the group. Three of them were laying down, trying to sleep while the other two kept watch, walking around the edges of the roof. None of them expected trouble. There had been an informal truce in effect in this area for the last few weeks and they weren't going to be the ones who broke it.
Somewhere, off in The Orange direction, a clock struck 12.
“Cocky bastards,” one of the watchmen said.
“We’d be doing the same in their place.”
“Yeah, and then we’d be cocky.”
“Still, it’s pretty stupid doing that when the blackouts keep stretching like that. If there are Orange nearby, the Black will grab them.”
“You don't believe that shit about The Black being monsters or whatever do you?”
“Hey, man, I don't know who or what they are. The point is they're not us, and they're not The Orange, which means they're above our pay grade.”
“Ha, you do believe it. They're just people. Like those freaks up the hill,” he waved his arms vaguely towards The Peak. “They're just not our kind of people.”
“Do you think they'll take The Spire?” the second watchman said, looking towards the largest building The Blue controlled.
“Maybe one day. Long time from now. They have to deal with The Orange before us.”
“Or maybe they'll deal with us first, after all there are fewer of us.”
“Hmm, could be. Doubt it. I mean, look, how many fights did we see in this part of town before The Black showed up?”
“Fuck, a...Oh. You think The Orange are pulling out of this area to take The Black on?”
The other man shrugged. “It’s possible.”
“That could give us a chance to take more of the river.”
“How about we take back the harbour first?” he pointed to where the Blue and Black bordered. It had only been a week or so since it was all Blue.
"How about you two shut the hell up and keep the rest of us alive?” the tired voice of their patrol leader called out.
The two continued their walk around the building in silence.
Coming into this neighbourhood had been a mistake. The burnt out street lights and boarded up windows on every building, along with the black spray paint graffiti everywhere made every instinct tell him to leave.
He was alone, which may or may not have been better. He knew they were watching him, and somewhere, someone was talking about what to do with him. He wondered whether he would be shot quickly from an unseen blind or whether they would capture him and take him somewhere where they could deal with him at their own speed.
He jumped as a sharp whistle penetrated the night air.
“Who are you?” a voice asked. Neither male, nor female, and no sign of where it came from.
“N-no one,” he replied.
“Well, we don't like no one,” the voice said, growing to a whisper, right in his ear. “Leave now, no one, or stay and see what its like in The Black.”
A fluttering of leathery wings came out of nowhere directly above him and he shrieked and ran. Ran deeper into The Black, followed by broken cackling and the sounds of many feet chasing him.