Let me tell you about this place, stranger.
When enough villains destroy enough places, city planners just don’t care about rebuilding any more. There are better places to spend your money, places where the vote matters more for example. So people fill in the blast craters of the latest super-battle with whatever they can find, and the Crates is the result.
There are people who think this place is all poverty and crime. Well, there is poverty! They’re right about that part. But there is crime everywhere. The smart men in the room steal everyone’s pensions, or the old perverted man gets the Russians to help him get elected, or a mayor is arrested for extortion against drug dealers, once they are legalized in his state. These are the crimes that make people shake their head and make soft disapproving sounds through their teeth. They aren’t the crimes that make people afraid enough to act.
The Crates is where the powerful gave up on the poor. So the poor now do things their own way. Bad actions are punished. Good actions are rewarded. The people of the Crates do not have the luxury of soft or gentle punishments, so their idea of punishment is also called crime. That is why the police come, from time to time, to pretend like they mean something. They are the state’s preferred gang. They do not come with money, or medicine, or assistance. These are the things that would actually stop the crime.
We supply our needs by ourselves, in our own way. Through robbery, yes. Violence, yes. But we are compassionate. We take care of our widows, our elderly, our sick, as best we can. We build infrastructure out of whatever we can find. We share our discoveries and our skills and our secrets. If there is not enough food to go around, that is natural, but we see to it that those who need it most receive it first.
When you come here, you will be one of us. We will watch what you do, and we will enact our justice if you hurt us. If you do nothing for us, we will do nothing for you. But if you are our friend, well, we will be your friend too.