It had been a week since Clarence had started his personal crusade to fight street crime. During that time he had taken down a dozen muggers, three rapists, and stopped one hold up at a convenience store. He had started out just using himself as bait, taking down anyone that was unfortunate enough to make him their mark. While he did not mind beating down thugs, he just wished there was a way to put them behind bars and get them off of the street. Killing them had occurred to him, of course, but he rejected that. There was no denying that he was a vigilante now, a criminal in his own right, but he was not going to become judge, jury and executioner.
Things changed, though, when he came across a mugging in progress. He came across an old man being held up by a young punk with a knife. A strike to the back of the head with an expandable baton was all it took to neutralize the mugger... the kick to the ribs was to remind the young man to respect his elders. After making sure the old man was alright, Clarence made a quick 911 call and told the old man to wait there till the squad showed up.
In the morning there was a small piece on the local news about what happened. The old man was being interviewed. He talked about how some mysterious stranger had appeared out of nowhere and saved him. Clarence had to laugh when the old guy compared him to the heroes from comics he read as a kid back in the forties.
The important part was that the criminal was going to be going to jail. After that, Clarence changed his strategy. He was no longer waiting for crooks to come for him, he was looking for crimes in progress, he was going back to doing what he was meant to do. After he took down a criminal, he would make a quick call for the police or have someone nearby do it then flee the scene. If he could he was grabbing pictures or video of the crime and sending it to news outlets when he got home. Spreading a little evidence around was helping to push the police to act, even the ones that did not want to.
He patrolled the rough streets of Crown City, keeping close to the shadows. He had become a hunter, a predator on the prowl. In addition to his long coat and hood, he kept a domino mask to throw on if he had time. A close call with a punk waving about a Saturday night special convinced him to wear his old bullet proof vest. He had learned to wear tactical combat gloves to protect his hands, particularly his fits. He kept an expandable baton, OC spray, and a few zip-tie cuffs on hand. He could not ignore the irony that it seemed like every night he added another tool from his old duty belt.
The last thing he carried was .357 SIG Sauer P226 loaded with fifteen jacketed hollow-point rounds. He intended to leave his prey beaten and battered, but alive. However, if it came down to it, he was making sure he was the one that went home at night. This was the one thing that had not come from his duty belt. Part of it was for the practical reason of keeping himself untraceable. A bigger part, however, was he did not want to drag his duty weapon into this mess. He was walking into the darkness, but his duty weapon, along with his badge, were suppose to be beacons of light. He did not want them soiled with what might soon happen.
As he passed under a flickering street lamp, Clarence heard someone shout. He dashed around the corner and peered intently down the street to where he saw two people struggling. Clarence pulled on his mask as he quickly crept down the sidewalk, blending in with the shadows. As he closed the distance the scene became clear. A woman, she looked to be in her mid thirties, had been bringing home groceries. The bags had been dropped, their contents strewn on the ground. A group of young men, four by his count, were dragging her back into an ally.
"No! Please stop!" the woman cried desperately.
"Shut up bitch!" one of the men shouted back before backhanding the woman hard enough to knock her to the ground.
He needed to act fast, but this situation required tactics. He would bet his last dime that they were all armed in some form and that at least one of them had a gun. They would have to be neutralized fast and by surprise if he was going to minimize fatalities. Clarence darted down an alley and pulled out his cell, making a quick 911 call. He estimated the best response time for this part of town, barring a cruiser happened to be nearby, to be at least two minutes away. That would give him just enough time to do something that most people would consider stupid and reckless.
The alley he had run down intersected with another that connected it to the one the gang had dragged the woman. He could hear the men talking while the woman pleaded. A chainlink fence cut-off the intersecting ally, but he was over it without even pausing. It had been a while since he had practiced, but he his body still remembered freerunning as a teenager. He landed as silently as he could and moved swiftly down the alley. He kept to cover provided by a few trash cans and old boxes. He crept forward till he was almost to the building's corner.
The gang had stopped just before crossing the intersection. From the cover provided by the building's corner, Clarence assessed the situation. All of the gang were facing towards the opposite building, meaning he would be attacking from the side and behind. One was standing right at the corner where Clarence could reach around and grab him from where he stood. The next two were standing in the middle of the ally, watching the fourth who had the woman pinned against the wall. Time to act was running out fast.
Clarence reached around the corner and grabbed the first thug by the hair. He pulled hard to crack the man's skull against the wall. He shoved the man to the ground as he moved out into the alley. The others had turned at the sound. One of the two in the middle started to draw a gun from his pants while the one that had pinned the woman threw her to the ground.
Before the gun could be draw, Clarence had already stepped forward with his arm extended. He pressed the button and a stream of OC spray caught the man with the gun in the face. Instantly the chemicals started to react, burning the man's eyes and setting his lungs on fire. He dropped the gun and grabbed at his face. Clarence turned the spray towards the second man as he continued forward.
The spray only glanced the second target, and he made a blind swing. Clarence blocked the punch then stepped inside the man's guard and wrapped his forearms around the man's neck. He brought his knee up in two hard blows to the abdomen then tossed the man to the ground. He then threw a hard kick to the knee of the man that he had blinded. The man went down with a scream. Clarence dropped the spent OC canister as he turned to the final assailant.
The man that had held the woman brandished a knife. He lunged forward, intent on burying his weapon deep in Clarence's gut. Clarence caught the man's forearm in both hands, then twisted the man's arm as he spun under it. The man was forced to bend forward and drop his knife. Clarence drove the palm of his hand into the back of the man's head and forced him down until his face was smashed into the pavement.
Clarence turned to survey the others. The first was starting to get up along with the one that he had only partially blinded. He leapt to partially blinded one, drawing his expandable baton in the process. He extended the baton with a flick of his arm then brought it down on the side of the man's head. The first man he had taken down was reaching for the dropped gun. As he picked it up, Clarence closed the distance and struck the man's wrist with the batton. He followed with a blow to the face that knocked out half of the man's front teeth and a second to the head that dropped him to the ground.
"Are you alright?" Clarence asked as he turned his attention to the woman.
"Y-yes, I think," the woman replied as she tried to stand up.
"Good," Clarence replied as he went from one man to the next, placing zip cuffs on their wrists. The blinded man required a punch to the side of the head. "The police will be here shortly to arrest the men and take a statement," he said in a stoic tone. To prove his point, the sound of a distant siren reached the alley. Clarence dashed down the alley, away from the approaching siren, and faded into the dark.
"Wait, but aren't you going to..." the woman stopped as she realized that he was not going to stay. "Thank you!" the woman called after him.