The Pulaski Birdmen are a group of savage tribals that have carved out a distinct culture living on The Aerie, a 1,000 foot steel truss bridge that once was the Passaic River crossing of the Pulaski Skyway. The truss stands an imposing 135 feet high, giving the Birdmen a fortifiable, isolated territory to develop. Riding on large, trained avians, they terrorize locals.
|Type of Government:||Tribal Raiders|
|Leader Title:||First Wing|
|Motto:||Death From Above|
|Enemies:||Wastelanders, Garden State Shipping|
Construction on the Pulaski Skyway began in 1925, to provide a direct route to the newly opened Holland Tunnel, the first direct roadway crossing between New York and New Jersey. Construction standards at the time called only for 35 feet of coverage over the Hackensack and Passaic Rivers for ships to cross, but years into construction, those standards were changed and called for additional coverage. Not wanting to completely remove the recently built bridges, the steel tresses and roadway were raised, rising an imposing 135 feet in the air. The Pulaski Skyway officially opened to traffic in October 1933, but some fifty years later, was declared structurally obsolete, thanks to issues that arose during the planning and construction periods of the roadway and more modern highway bridge standards. Tearing and removing the massive structure would be nearly impossible and would be a waste of money, so in the early 2014s, efforts to rehabilitate the roadway began. The project took about a decade to complete, but once again, luck was not on the roadway’s side. By 2060, nuclear-powered vehicles, such as the Corvega, once again made the roadway structurally obsolete. The state government began looking into the best way to deal with the issue at the end of the decade, but before any real solutions could be found, 2077 arrived and the bombs fell from the sky.
Much of the Pulaski Skyway was destroyed in the nuclear destruction. Like other roadways, portions of the skyway survived, among them a bridge that ran over the Passaic River. As society slowly began recovering from the nuclear annihilation, the bridge was mostly ignored, due to its imposing height and difficulty reaching. Wastelanders periodically made their way onto it, but outside of offering a very fortifiable location, it offered nothing more that would make survival in the wastes easier. The presence of raptors and vultures- including A'quila, large raptors descended from eagles- living on the bridge did not help much, either.
Sometime shortly after the turn of the 22nd century, a roaming band of wastelanders climbed the abandoned bridge, looking for a safe place to stay before moving on. One of the men of the group, a mysterious figure known only as Bedoe, had some kind of innate connection with the hawks and vultures that made their home on the desolate roadway trestle. For whatever reason, they did not attack him like they did most others, and with minimal training, he was able to command the birds to perform various tasks. When other members of the group moved on, Bedoe and a handful of others stayed on the Pulaski Skyway ruins to live with the birds that Bedoe tamed.
Those men and women would go on to become the Pulaski Birdmen, as Bedoe was the founder of the tribe and the stretch of bridge, The Aerie, their home. Mostly hostile towards others and living in isolation, the Pulaski Birdmen developed a somewhat unique culture. They developed a pidgin tongue, based on English, Spanish, and bird noises. Men adorned themselves with feathers and bones, despite the cool weather in the winter and fall, while women covered themselves from head to toe.
The current leader of the Pulaski Birdmen, known as the First Wing, is a middle-aged man called Skarae’ee. Like his predecessors, not much is known about him, but based on the actions of the group he leads, he is surmised to be particularly violent and aggressive, as the Birdmen have increased the area in which they raid from and have become more bold when attacking larger, armed convoys.
The Birdmen are a xenophobic and isolated group, and rarely tolerate outsiders, let alone accept or befriend them. Generally speaking, the only way to become a Birdman is through genetics, being born a Birdman. Periodically, when Birdmen raid wastelanders, they abduct infants. These children are raised as if they were part of the group, and face no discrimination because of their origins. Over the decades, individuals have attempted to infiltrate the Pulaski Birdmen, but most attempts met in failure. There is only a single case of an individual infiltrating the group, a wasteland explorer and adventurer known as McTaggart- and as ‘Braggart’ McTaggart by his detractors. Disguising himself as a woman and covering himself in the all-encompassing dress that Birdmen women wear, he lived among the Birdmen on the Aerie for almost two weeks, before being discovered, fleeing, and somehow living to tell the tale- though many details of his adventure are certainly exaggerated, if not completely made up.
Activities & Interests
The Birdmen are almost fully dependent on raiding to fulfill their general needs- it is hard producing everything a society needs on a narrow tress 135 feet in the air roughly the size of three football fields, known as the Aerie. The 100 or so Birdmen live communally, with every member chipping into the survival of the group with whatever skills they have to offer.
Raiders first and foremost, wastelanders have no love for the Birdmen and the feeling is mutual on their part. The Pulaski Birdmen are extremely xenophobic, having developed their distinct culture in semi-isolation and interact as little as possible with outsiders. When they do encounter outsiders, the interaction is generally initiated by the Birdmen, and is violent. In other words, the majority of their encounters with fellow residents of the Jersey Wastelands involve them leaving the Aerie and raiding. In particular, Garden State Shipping has a special dislike for the Pulaski Birdmen. The shipping outfit has lost thousands of caps worth of products and business over the years thanks to Birdmen raids.