Part 9 – On Patrol.

Adelaide was alone, outside and freezing. How was it even this cold? It was the summer! This, of all the times of the year, was when the sun was supposed to shine down from the sky, bathing all below it in its beneficial rays. Well apparently the sun had taken one look at the day, said ‘yeah, like hell I’m sticking round this dump’ and wandered off behind some cloud to play poker with Jupiter or whatever it was the sun did in its spare time.

All of this ran through Adelaide’s mind as she walked through the streets, wishing she was inside, or at least wearing a coat. She’d met up with the others in the morning for some more training and suggested that they might have a shot at patrolling the area in the evening. She had been met with general unwillingness, which in retrospect was not surprising. Emma apparently had better things to do, and while Lydia had been a lot more polite about it she probably did too. Francis, who had come bereft of Lee had explained that somehow Lee had managed to get himself a cold, and as such it was his duty to nurse him, an act that mainly involved bringing him food.

So it was that Adelaide was out here, scouting out crime. All by herself. It suddenly struck her that this whole hero team thingy was utterly pointless. It wasn’t like any of them listened to her. The only one with any real interest was Francis and occasionally Lee. Lydia… it was hard to tell. She was terrified during training, and mostly surrendered pretty quickly, yet she was so polite, Adelaide was worried the only reason she’d joined was peer pressure, or just the weird thing she seemed to have about Emma.

Ah, Emma, the eternal thorn in Adelaide’s side. She evidently wasn’t interested in any of it. When she had first joined Adelaide had been a little star-struck, but it was definitely beginning to wear off. It wasn’t that Emma wasn’t trying. She wasn’t, and she still did it. Every single time she beat Adelaide, which was becoming quicker and quicker with each practice, she’d just shrug and wander off home. It was infuriating to say the least, and every time she watched Emma’s departing back Adelaide vowed that next time she’d keep her there all day.

Adelaide’s musings were suddenly broken into by a noise. It was faint and distant, but it made her stop in her tracks. It was a conversation, drifting to her ears from a nearby alleyway. Had the street not been empty she would have entirely missed it, but the cold of the weather had forced everyone else in doors. Only Adelaide wandered the streets.

Half on a whim, half out of simple curiosity, Adelaide slipped over to the alley’s entrance. She knew it was wrong, eavesdropping on someone else’s private conversation, and yet the feeling that she had to be doing something was very strong. She was out on patrol for goodness’ sake, if she just wandered around she’d never get anything done. Straining her ears to make out the sounds from the alley, she was able to make out the conversation.

A thin reedy voice spoke: “So tomorrow it is.” It set Adelaide’s teeth on edge. “I’ll admit I’d prefer a little more time, but… I suppose we’ll have to make do.”

“Yes I suppose you will,” the second voice was smooth, like soft velvet “it must be tomorrow. I’ll pay you handsomely for it, provided it’s not damaged.”

“What do you want with this old lady’s brooch anyway?” A third, rough and gravelly.

“It holds a certain sentimental value,” the silky tones explained, “besides, the sight of the old bat bedecked in it each time I meet her is a blow to my heart indeed. It is rightfully mine, by inheritance.”

There was a harsh, barking laugh and then footsteps. Adelaide jerked backward and did a desperate and tangled leap into someone’s front garden, where she quickly secreted herself behind some shrubbery. Three people walked out of the alleyway, two men and one woman.

“Pick up is to be here,” the first man said. He was the silky voiced one, tall and well dressed with a jaw that looked like it had been drawn with a ruler, “same time tomorrow. I sincerely hope I can trust you. Avoid hurting anyone if you can, but ultimately I don’t care what you do, as long as you remain discreet. Get the brooch.”

“We certainly will,” the woman was the one with the sibilant, hissing voice. She was tall, dressed in grey. Her face was angular and her smile, when she flashed it, cruel.

“You can count on us sir,” the second man was short and incredibly ugly. His face was covered in boils and spots of varying size and shape. His leer was accompanied by a blast of fetid air and a display of a few huge, cracked and yellowing teeth.

“I really hope I can,” the smartly dressed man opened the door of a car that had been parked in a drive and started the engine. He pulled out smoothly and within seconds was gone.

The other two watched him go. The woman looked down at the man and he shrugged and did his disturbing cackle, then they headed off down the road.

Only after she was sure they were gone did Adelaide poke her head over the top of the fence. Cautiously she stepped over it, and then she was running down the road as fast as she could, stopping at the end only to memorise the street name.

She had found some crime! Just like that! The chances of it happening on her very first patrol were… well they were tiny. It wasn’t even like she’d really been looking for it. This could be the best chance they had. Adelaide only just refrained from cracking her knuckles. It was time to get this show on the road.

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