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The robber was a black teenager who was much younger than Cadell expected. The age of the criminals Cadell encountered never ceased to surprise him. A fifteen to sixteen-year-old trying to rob a store? At that age, Cadell was probably procrastinating on homework while being immensely gross.

"Who gave that weapon to you?" Cadell asked.

The boy raised his head, frantically wiping his eyes while sniffing. "No idea."

Police sirens blared close by. Cadell tutted. "I don't have time for this. Let's not play this game."

"Are you dumb? I'm no snitch. That's how you get killed around here."

"Hey, don't make me hurt you."

"My life is already ruined. Do what you want."

Don't make me hurt you? The voice said. Pathetic.

Do you have any better ideas? In fact, never mind.

Just torture him, boy.

Here we go...

You know I'm right. Don't be a fool. Even your role models do it. Batman? Daredevil? Even Spiderman!

What are you talking about? They intimidate, not torture.

That's the same thing.

No, it's not!

Cadell groaned. He had always thought that, especially with the mask, the interrogation would be a breeze. Maybe his terrifying appearance had already lost its novelty. Now he was just some dude talking in a costume who had forgotten to activate his voice modulator.

Cadell nodded acceptingly to himself. He needed to work on his Psycho persona. And he needed... something else. Something so intimidating, so ingenious so awesome, so—

"I need a catchphrase!" Cadell said.

The boy frowned. "Huh?"

SLAM! A door blasted open.

"This is the police! Hands in the air! I repeat, put your hands in the air or we will shoot!"

Both boys put their hands in the air. "Wait," Cadell said. "I'm on your side. There was a robbery and I sorted it so there's no need to...."

The two policemen blankly stared at who they probably thought was a delusional masked robber.

"Well, guess you're coming with me kid." Cadell tackled the boy into a portal just before a rain of bullets rang out into the air. They both collided onto a rooftop with a thud.

Cadell quickly stood up, dusting himself off.

"What was that?" The boy yelled.

"A portal. Now, tell me what I need to know or I'll send you to the bottom of an ocean, and I can tell you right now from experience it really really sucks."

The boy nervously laughed. "You're joking."

Cadell briefly paused, taking some time to listen to the voice's perpetual murderous rants. He took a slow deep breath. "Let's find out, shall we?"

Cadell firmly gripped the boy's shoulder with a hand. "It's fishy time."

The fear in the boy's eyes instantly disappeared. A look of confusion turned into howls of laughter.

"You... You're a clown! Oh man... I can't breathe. Was that meant to be threatening?"

Cadell lowered his head, his cheeks beginning to flush. "No... Look, I was just testing something!"

"Yeah, it didn't work."

"I can see that," Cadell said. "What's your name?"

"Jayden."

"Well, Jayden. Listen. This city is cursed. I see it every night. For most of my life, I was oblivious to the chaos on these streets. I never knew that killer knife mobs happen so often that the media ignore it. I never knew that everyday teenagers like us murder each other over money, disrespect, and drugs."

For a while, Cadell gazed at the crimson night sky. "A few months ago, I lost my mind. That's why I'm like this. But I'm a vigilante determined to make London a safer place for everyone. So I need you to trust me. No one will know about this. Tell me what you know and help me save more people."

"Shit, fine!" Jayden said, anxiety layering his voice. "The robbery was an initiation to get into the hustlers,"

"The hustlers?"

The boy lowered his voice which Cadell found amusing seeing as they were both on a secluded roof of a tall ass building. "Shiro's gang. Drug trade, extortion, theft, knife crime, you name it, it's them. They control all the blood money in Croydon."

"You, uh, happen to know where they are?"

"No. For obvious reasons, they're secretive."

"Who gave you the gun then?"

"A friend of my cousins. Milo Palmer. Before you ask, I don't know anything about him apart from the fact that he goes to MiddleGround high school. You know, the one where that crazy dude murdered his parents?"

Cadell grimaced, glad his facial expression was concealed from view. "Yes, I know of the place."







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