Disclaimer: I don't own Watchmen or Discworld, Alan Moore and Terry Pratchett do, and no, I get not paid for this.
In this chapter, the young vigilantes patrolling without Rorschach.
Sorry for the title of this chapter but I didn't have better idea.
I'm back ! I hope all of you had a happy summer holiday.
Sorry for updating that late but I wanted to work better on the chapters to come and on the general storyline, especially the end.
Chapter 12: Patrolling
Fredson was alone in the streets this night, not even this annoying little dog was here.
Normally, he should have been patrolling in this district with Grey Wolf, as they agreed, while the Phantasm teamed up with Dragon. He thought that he had been patient enough, waiting for him an hour and half, what Rorschach would have never even consider doing.
Moreover, he was really getting bored: not a single crime in sight in this rather calm district of the city, if only he could have gone to the Shades like the two others, lucky bastards, there was always something happening in the Shades.
Then he saw a crowd gathered around a house, something interesting must be happening, or something criminal, which made no difference for Morporkians since they loved all kind of street-theater, including accident, robbery, crime and so on.
It amazed him to see how easier it was to made his way through the crowd as Fredson than as Oliver. When he was unmasked people didn't even noticed him so he had to remind them he was here by elbowing them, as Fredson, when people saw the mask they all instinctively made a way for him, because they fear his reaction if they don't move away fast enough and also because the arrival of a mask would make the show even better in their mind.
Then the vigilante discovered what they were all looking at.
A little chubby man was on a roof, shaking with fear, but that wasn't him who interested the crowd, it was the man who kept a knife near his throat. If the man wanted to attract attention there was however no need to threaten a man for that, his look was enough: he wore a purple suit, his hair was tinted green and he wore a rather spooky clown greasepaint, plus his large smile appeared to be more due to scars than red greasepaint. He also had a bag slung over the shoulder. Thief and kidnapper, good.
"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the show of the amazing Riktus ! Glad to see you are so many to admire my performance. When I think this stupid Dr White said I would never have success !"
A clown, that explained everything thought the hero, some of them tended to become more or less crazy after the harsh and cruel apprenticeship in the guild.
"And well, well, well, what have we here ? Is that one of the famous masks I've heard about ? Fredson, that's it ? Pleased to meet you," he added with a bow. "I would have liked to see the others, but hey, you can't always get what you want, ain't that true ?"
"Release this man now and I promise you won't suffer much. If you've heard about me, you know what I can do."
"No, no, no my little inkblot friend. It won't be that easy, if you want fatty, come and get him, little clown !"
On these words, he jumped from the roof after launching a dagger who went into Fredson's hat (1) and made it fall, before running away.
"Your hat, sir," said a little boy as he extended the hat with the knife still stuck in. "Sir ?"
"Fucking little clown, eh ?" grumbled the young mask as he took off his hat the knife after taking back his hat without even look at the kid. "You're right it'll be damn funny but not for you," he added as he ran after the clown.
The clown stopped in an alleyway not so far away and began to speak to his terrified and quite exhausted hostage.
"Ah, oh, ih, oh, eh ! Did you see the little lad's face when I launched the knife at him ? Wasn't he funny ? Answer me !" he added on a more threatening tone as he put the knife closer to the man's neck.
"D... Difficult to say with the mask sir," stammered the man
"You didn't find it funny ? Cannot smile perhaps ? I could make you a smile just like mine, you know ? And you would always be smiling, just like me ! So whadayya say ?"
"P... please, I'll give you everything you want, but please, spare me !" begged the fat man
"By the way, wanna know how I got my scars ?" asked the clown who obviously didn't paid attention to what the man had just said.
"No he doesn't !"
It was Fredson that had charged at the clown, forced him to drop the knife by a first kick and forced him to release the hostage with a second kick, this time in the family-jewels.
"Go !" simply ordered Fredson to the hostage who ran quite fast for a man of his corpulence.
Riktus tried to take back his knife but got his fingers squashed by Fredson's shoe before he could reach it.
"Don't even think about it."
"You got no sense of humor, ain't you ? Maybe I should make you a big smile like mine, and two eyes and a nose now that I think about it.
Fredson just punched in the face the clown who collapsed.
"Talk too much."
The clown looked unconscious. The young mask came closer, cautiously but didn't touch him or bent over him. And he was right to do so, because in all the multiverse you can be sure that if an adversary looks dead or unconscious, you better don't get too close to the bod, because he's just waiting for that to attack you in surprise and thus take advantage of it, but he wasn't right to look into his bag that had fallen just near him: as he opened it, a greenish smoke went out and made him cough.
"Tss, tss. You can't hold strong odor my little friend ?" asked Riktus as he picked himself up.
He then knelled towards the unconscious vigilante and took his knife very close to the fabric-mask.
"Now, I'm gonna put a smile on your face my little friend." He sighed. "What a shame the others were not here, I hope they will be as funny as you were when I meet them, sooner or later."
"What about now ?"
And he got punched in the face and found himself pinned against a wall rather brutally.
"Grey Wolf ? Glad to see you too. When are Rorschach and the others showing up ? Aaarg !..."
"What have you done to him ?" screamed at him the masked hero as he nearly strangled the clown. "If he's dead, I promise you'll pay for it," he added in a growl, the kind of growl that reminded to the monkey part still present inside each human being that it was time to flee or die in front of a predator, or pray any god you know.
A little sanity re-emerged in Riktus's mind right at that moment, reminding him he might die right now: after all he was between the hands of the only mask known to have killed someone (2) and on top of it his adversary was a freaking werewolf.
Suddenly a grunt was heard.
"Fred ?" exclaimed the young werewolf as he released the suffocating clown to turn towards his friend who was trying to pick himself up.
"You're alive ! For one minute I feared you might be dead," he said as he hugged the shorter vigilante against his torso a little to close.
"Arrrg ! I won't be alive for long if you don't let me go !" he managed to answer
But as his partner let him go he collapsed.
"Looks like the little one still cannot walk alone, eh ?"
He looked towards the clown, still here and looking quite amused by what he saw.
"You..." growled the mask
"Fredson, you're still weak," said Grey Wolf who tried to stop him
He punched the clown on the nose, which cracked.
"That's what you call weak ?... Wait, he's laughing ?"
Indeed, despite the blood running down his nose, Riktus was laughing like a maniac.
"Why the fuck are you laughing, you bastard ?"
"I finally put a smile on this face !"
"Crazy... why are you looking at me that way, Grey ?"
Grey Wolf, smiling, wondered if he should tell his partner the pattern of the inkblots looked now like a clown greasepaint with two blue stains for the eyes, a red one for the nose and the black ones looking like eyebrows and a big smile.
The two vigilantes were about to go home after handing over the psychotic clown to the Watch.
"Listen Fredson, I'm sorry I've been late and that you might have been killed and..." began the werewolf
"What took you so long to come?" asked sharply the shorter mask to his partner
"My little sister, she entered into my room when I was about to go out. Some nightmare and she wanted to see me, not our mother for some reason. You know how siblings are."
"No, I don't. Don't have any."
"You're an orphan, and possibly an only child. You mean you're really all alone ?"
"Hey ! Don't make it sounds like I was the little matches girl or something. I'm fine, really. Plus, I'm not alone, there's you and the others."
"And your little sister took you that long ?"
"No, someone had been attacked on my way and I had to rescue him, after that I've found you, thank to your smell."
"You're telling me I stinks ?"
"Er... No, I..."
"Just kidding. Thank you for coming, even that late."
In the Shades, almost at the same moment, a man was running away and after him was a young man in yellow and purple clothes, he managed to escape to the mask when the little bastard heard a scream and decided to see where it came from was more important than pursuing the man.
The man in question ran a little longer and then, realizing with relief that there was no one after him now, leaned against a wall to catch his breath: he was safe now (3).
Suddenly, two arms caught him and he found himself handcuffed in no time, he just heard: "Gotcha !"
He didn't dare to look back. Was it Rorschach ? He knew the psychopath hadn't been seen in town for a while but who knows.
"Commissioner ?" said Dragon who had just arrived and had managed not to say "Dad". "Thank you very much."
Commissioner ? Thought the man. That was not comforting too.
"You're alone ?"
"No, the Phantasm is still taking care of the others. It's the only one who escaped. By the way I should join her now, help could needed."
"Please ! Bring me in jail right now if you want but please don't take me back there !" exclaimed the prisoner
"Don't sound like she needs help to me," pointed Vimes
"She doesn't, but these guys will, if there's anything left to save," answered the mask
"Miss, please could you release him ?" asked a tall watchman in shining armor. "I understand why you're so mad at him and I can ensure you they will all be punished for that."
The Phantasm stopped punching at the man she had grabbed by the collar, whose face would be hard to recognize know, but hesitated some minutes before releasing him, what she hadn't accepted to do until captain Carrot asked her. The man ran towards the watchmen, like his partners had done before him, they also looked terrible.
"What did these guys do to your girlfriend to deserve such a beating, kid ?" asked Vimes looking at the wounded scums handcuffed near an impressive pile of burning paper.
"She's not my girlfriend. And they deserved it, well she maybe overreacted a bit by making them eat some of the magazines but still."
"What kind of magazines ?"
"The kind with no words printed in and ladies wearing practically nothing who are doing rather indecent things. Except she was the "heroine" of these papers. I burnt all of them."
"You mean the kind of papers that would make The Shuttered Palace looks like the Book of Om ? By the way, you're lucky I found it in your room before your mother."
"Yes this kind of book... Wait, what ?"
Then, he saw the Phantasm leaving the place after talking a little with Igor, which distracted him from what the commissioner had just said, and stopped her.
"Phantasm ? You're leaving that early ?"
"Yes, I'm going home," she answered as she freed herself quite brutally from the young man's grip.
"I'm coming with you."
"Do I look like I need protection ?"
She still was red with anger and there even was a little blood on her costume, not her of course. She indeed didn't look defenseless.
"Er, no. Wait !"
As she left, walking faster, he turned towards the commissioner before going after her.
"Sorry, but I must leave. I can't leave her alone."
"Amathing thif young lady," said Igor after the two masked-heroes had left
"For what she did to these men ?"
"No commissioner, she defcribed me very precisely the wounds she made to these men. Wif all the bones and muscles names. She could become a forensic one day."
"Listen, please. Earlier I didn't mean you were defenseless. Not at all. I just thought you shouldn't be left alone after seeing this kind of things. That's all. Can I stay with you ?" he added seeing the girl was still silent.
"Yes, of course."
After they had walked a few minutes, she added, sounding more calm:
"Sorry for screaming at you earlier, but this really hacked me off. These drawings of me doing all these disgusting things."
She shivered from disgust.
"Well, at least they won't be able to do it again, it will be a miracle if they can still use their fingers after what you did to them."
"Yes, and there will remains nothing from this. Thanks to you."
"Thanks to Phoenix more exactly. He put fire to the magazines, I was just holding him."
"Don't be that modest. You also hit some of these thugs."
"I leave you here, I'm almost home now. Thank you Sam," she said as she kissed him quickly on a cheek just before going.
Sam, who was still Dragon for the moment, remained still. That was quite unusual. Her partner had kissed him and called him by his name. That was a first. And she had kissed him.
Finally, Sam came back home, using an underground passage ending in one of the Ramkin's house numerous cellars that Gavin had shown him when they were kids (4). There, he hid his costume carefully, even if no one went in that cellars that, like many rooms in the big and ancient house, hadn't been visited for at least three centuries, and put on some civil clothes.
He came to the kitchen, and found there his father who, like he did after all night-patrol, was eating a sandwich with bacon salad and tomatoes, well you could see little green and red bits in the bacon that could be tomatoes and salad more exactly.
"Hello son, couldn't sleep too ?" he asked, smiling
"How did you recognized me, Dad ?"
"You're my son, do you really think your old man won't recognize with just a domino-mask and your attempt at changing your voice ?"
"First of all, I want you to know that, concerning The Shuttered Palace, it's not what you think. It was purely cultural..."
"Of course son, of course."
"Okay, maybe, not entirely cultural. Does it bother you ?"
"That you've read this book ?"
"No, the fact I'm a mask."
"From a legal point of view, why should it ? You do nothing illegal since Carrot has found some old paper making masked justice okay, you're even member of the City Watch in a way second the same papers. As a father though it does worry me, that's why I keep an eye on you when I'm on patrol. Like this night."
"That explains why you always find us that quickly when we catch someone."
"Just curious about one thing, why do you do that ?" asked his father as he lighted a cigar
"It looked like a good idea to show my D-food worked, and a training for the Watch since I can do nothing for the moment. Can I have one too ?" he asked pointing at the cigar.
"No, you've stolen enough from me. So, you still wanna become a watchman ?"
"Of course. Why are you asking that ?"
"Your mother told me you preferred taking care of the dragons."
"I can conciliate being a watchman and a dragon care-taker, the dragon's potion really works now."
"True I have seen no smoking crater, and no burn-victims, how did you do that ?"
"The melange just make the dragon's flame hurts, they can't burn, except if you maintain it too long."
"And you made this potion entirely by your own ?"
"No, an alchemist helped."
"You came to see an alchemist ?" asked a bewildered Vimes
"He has a rather good reputation and the prices are reasonable. Oh, and his lotion rarely explode."
"Well, looks like you've found one of the few competent alchemist in town then. But that's not a reason to be careless, you're aware of that ?"
"Bingle, bingle, bingle ! Your Grace, Samuel Vimes, Duke of Ankh, you have 50. 588 messages you haven't read yet," said a quite irritating high pitched voice
More precisely the voice was coming from a little imp who had came out of a little black box that had been through a lot judging by all the bumps and scratches that covered it.
"I've already told you, stop
"Is that the new Dis-organiser Mom bought you ?"
"I thought you finally managed to get rid of it."
"Well, looks like the publicity of the blasted wizards who did it was true: "If lost, it will find you."
"It's been quite hard to walk all the way from Borogravia to Ankh-Morpork but I finally found you," said happily the imp
Vimes glared at the imp, he still didn't understand why his beloved wife had insisted in offering him the last model of Dis-organiser, he had told her he was happy with the Gooseberry, that was at least a little competent contrary to his predecessors,. She retorted the new model could perform a lot more tasks than the Gooseberry: the problem was that he was more incompetent than the others since that he could perform the various tasks it's been designed for only after reading the manual, that was even bigger than the Book of Om and lost anyway (5). But the worst thing was that the imp had been enchanted so that he could find his owner anywhere, no matter how far it was: the blasted thing came back from Borogravia where he "lost" it during some diplomatic reception.
"Your Grace ? Will you read your message ? Or see the offers the Merchants Guild proposes to you this day, perhaps ?"
"How can I get rid of this thing ?" moaned Vimes
"If he just follows his owner, why don't you just give him to someone else ?"
"Good idea. It's yours, son," he said as he gave the godsdammed thing to his son
"Hello, I am proud to tell you that you are the owner of the Gooseberry New Generation...," begins the imp
"Thank you, Dad... thank you very much," said Sam Jr, making it sounds like if he was drinking poison.
"You're welcome," answered his father as a pigeon entered by the opened window, it had a message tied to its leg, Vimes unfold it and read it. "You can say all you want about new technology but the good old pigeons remains the best way to send message for me."
"What does it says ?"
"I'll tell you later, I must go now. Tell your mother I couldn't stay, that it was an emergency."
"Sir ? Sir ? You haven't entered your name yet," reminded the imp to Sam as his father had gone
"How can I get rid of this ?" said to himself Sam, wondering why the hell he didn't shut up.
(1) Who was quite glad at that moment he had chosen a top hat.
(2) He of course didn't know about Rorschach's past on Roundworld.
(3) Well as safe as you can be in the Shades of course.
(4) One of the advantages of having a dwarf (even if he is only technically one) as a friend: getting some interesting tips about the passages, tunnels and rooms under the city
(5) By "lost" you must understand "used as food for dragons": the paper was a good combustible so it was an acceptable food for them and Vimes had finally found out that the little buggers could be useful not only to light a cigar.
I hope I didn't make Vimes too OCC, it's one of my favorite characters but I really find it difficult to handle him, that's why I won't use him much in the fic, unless of course if I change my plans meanwhile.
By the way, I've made an illustration of the encounter between Rorschach and Fredson in Chapter on my DA account (you can see the address on my profile) if you want to see, it is entitled "Rorschach in Ankh Morpork", I precise it because I'm not sure the link works.