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Beating Crime Soundly


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Deptford Docks,




August 31st, Near Midnight...


The sky was not as dark as a costumed nocturnal crime fighter would have likes. The stars, and moon, where out in force. 


The summer heat was ablated somewhat but the Thames, swirling dark through London. The air was dry, and for many it would be a night of music and love. 


But not for Osprey. 


Smuggling in London was controlled by one man. The middleman. Who he was, nobody knew. Few even knew of his existence. But he had his finger in every pie. The gangs of London knew exactly who they had to go through to get 'product' in. Or, in some cases, out. 


And a major haul of drugs was coming in. The superdrug Max, by all accounts. On a small freighter docked in the pier, being unloaded by a gang of heavies. 


As Osprey looked on, he saw the five men being approached by two policemen, who started asking questions...

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'Uh-oh. Might need to step in sooner than I thought. Poor bastards don't know what they're getting into'


The eerie figure perched high above the earth crouched down, his gloved hands splayed flat on the concrete with no more than a whisper, cold yellow eyes peering over the roof's lip. Every muscle tensed, waiting for the inevitable explosion of violence.


Alden had been on a roll lately. His contacts had been wholly accurate, the few people he'd had to question had looked at him with fear in their eyes from the moment he appeared, even the brisk run to the waterfront had been uninterrupted. The waiting was the hard part but Osprey's dealings with smugglers had taught him to always wait until they had the goods on land before you struck. Otherwise getting rid of the evidence was rather simple.


'Some Bobbies though...didn't plan for them stumbling across this lot' He gnawed his lip anxiously. The last thing he needed was people caught in a battle with potential Max-users, even if they were police. Sighing deep in his heart, the fishing eagle swept his ballistic cloth wings into readiness. 'They deserve a fair shot, at least. No need to play glory hound when there's honest coppers to put 'em away'

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As Osprey watched, the confrontation got heated. First a push. Then a shove.
The police officers started to back off, knowing the heat of the situation. There instincts, whilst correct, were not sufficient. It a flash, a gun was pulled. Then a sap. A knife. A knuckleduster. 
And then the beating began, sudden explosive, and dirty. The policemen where no pushover, but against these odds, two could not hold back five. The dockyard thugs were no strangers to violence - big - strong and possessed of a brutal thuggery blended with experience and skill. 
It was still dark, and the policemen had not been quick enough to raise the alarm...
Nobody else had seen or heard anything.
Nobody else but Osprey!
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'Well, so much for that' Osprey murmured under his breath, standing to his full height before launching off the rooftop and soaring down onto the humid streets with a rush of air, landing elegantly with his cape sweeping about him. The yellow eyes glaring from behind his mask however, had no such grace, only an anger that burned.


"Evening, gentlemen. You had your last chance to surrender to the forces of law and order. Now..." he walked forwards, arms clenched and swinging with easy power "Now is your last chance to surrender to ME!"


'With luck, this will be the hardest part'

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"Blinking heck! It's the Osprey!" gulped one, hefting his gun in his sweaty palm. 


For a moment, the gang paused, uncertainty and fear gripping them. 


"Well we will have to show him who rules the docks. How its done Deptford style..." said one more convincingly. 


"Yeah, I heard he ain't so tough" squarked one in an anxious voice. 


"That's right. Its five against one, anyhow..." said a heavy set man, thumping his club into his hand. 


As the tide of confidence turned, the five men launched themselves at Osprey. They were little more than street brawlers, throwing telescoped punches and kicks, and getting in the way of each other. 

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Osprey gritted his teeth in frustration "You pack of-" but he got no farther, as suddenly the steamy air was filled with the various limbs and weapons of his adversaries flailing at him. Ducking the club of the more imposingly-built man who'd been banking on their numbers, the avian adversary of injustice snapped "Five of you. One of me. And I've trained"


Darting forward as the smuggler's attack swung him a perilous few inches to the left, Osprey lashed out with a quick, fluid punch that slammed into his opponent's side like a sledgehammer. Without waiting to see how well the man took the hit he slipped backwards and whirled on the man with the gun. Yellow lenses glared from the dark alley as Osprey growled "You think you can hit me? Try it"

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"Damn it!" shouted one thug who accidentally clobbered his mate with a cricket bat. 


The force of his fist sent the man flying, and Osprey was pretty sure he felt the tell tale crack of ribs under his fist. The man sank like a sack of potatoes when he hit the ground. 


The other four thugs stopped, assessing the man on the ground and their inability to touch the masked crusader. 


"Stuff this!" said one, throwing down his gun. 


"The middleman ain't payin' enough for the Osprey!" he said, before turning heel and running off, closely followed by his three friends. 


In the dark, the man Osprey had downed groaned in pain, still flat on his back and firmly incapacitated. 

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Watching with grim satisfaction as the the smugglers realized their doom and took to their heels. Suppressing a grimace at the mention of his frequent nemesis the 'Middleman' which threatened to break his stoic glare,  the costumed cavalier swung his bi-colored cape back over his shoulders and stooped quickly to look over the man he'd brought down; Alden knew from experience how dire even a little injury could be to someone who did physical labor, and people dying because of his carelessness would be horrible.


'Damn it, somebody else to watch over' thought Osprey as he saw the result of his punch, his mental 'voice' tinged with frustration. Still examining the unconscious man he almost absent-mindedly drew out a mess of black wires from his belt and swung like a whip, his boot scraping on the moistened pavement as momentum carried him one hundred and sixty degrees and the entangling wires flew from his grip and spun down the alleyway!


In a moment it had wrapped itself tightly around the man slowest to escape, bringing him down with a *thump*. Crossing the distance between them with a bound, the Osprey dragged his quarry over to the wall where the smuggler's pal slumped, stood him up with a gentle but meaningful hold on his collar, and looked into the man's eyes. "You are abandoned. Resist and you'll join your chum. What do you know? " he said crisply.

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  • 2 weeks later...



"Whaaa! Not the face! Not the face!" screamed the thug as Osprey approached menacingly. 


"Please please! I'll tell you everything!" he sobbed, clutching Osprey's dark brown cape with both hands, hugging it like a blanket. 


"I don't...I don't know much..." he sobbed "you gotta believe me...please...don't hurt me. I heard about you. You gotta believe me!" he whimpered. 


"Its the Middleman. Its all his gig. Max comes in from America, via Africa, up to here. Sold on the streets of London. Apparently there is some crazy underground fighting, guys all souped up on it. Gets real nasty. Down in Soho, I think. Guy by the name of Big Nelson. He runs the shows. But, you know, the Middleman, he controls everything. Gets a cut from it all. Anybody messes with him, they end up in trouble, one way or another..." he gulped. 


"Nobody knows who he is. But he knows everybody..." he said, for once his eyes slipping off Osprey and into the shadows, left and right. 


"We never seen him. We just got hired but some guy we know. A hard case called Bullet Tony. Ex-con, got a real rep. Apparently he got shot in the head. Only Tony didn't die. He just got angry. Got a head full of metal and a mood like sin. Hangs around the Dog's Tail..."


Pretty much everyone in South London had heard of the Dog's Tail. A large pub, built in the worst part of town, with the worst type of customers. It was a mystery it was still standing. The police didn't go near it without a riot team, and the word was that the chipped red paint was chosen to the splattered blood didn't show up so badly. 

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Watching his informant's face with great care, Osprey allowed himself a quick, horrible smile "Thanks," he said quietly as his voice deepened, "you've served Justice for once, was it so bad? Try and make a habit of it". He then swung the man around, cuffed his arms together before repeating the procedure on his legs, gagged him and bound the two crooks together with his lasso line to the bollard their boat was moored to. It was important to make statements like that in vigilantism, helped clear things up. Making a quick tour of the boat, he nodded grimly as a box cracked open to reveal bags of the deadly powder.


At last he saw to the two officers, eyes narrowing as he surveyed the damage they'd sustained, and propping them up on a nearby bench before he took one of their radios and made a quick call


"Hello, police station? Osprey speaking. Two of your men were just attacked by Max smugglers at Pier 20 on Deptford Docks. I've taken care of the situation and am pursuing the ones who fled. The officers aren't badly hurt, but better make sure. Good night." Putting the radio firmly back on the constable's jacket, he turned to the river sparkling before him. He knew Dog's Tail all too well, and had broken at least two teeth there before he'd taken the mask. It was the kind of place you warned tourists about, and made sure friends who were already drunk didn't stumble down its path. If there were any answers to be had, they'd be there all right.


And with no more thought, he turned, fired his grapple gun at a nearby ledge and swung off southwards, landing in a roll on a roof and leaping to the next in a smooth motion, settling into the now-familiar routine of running and jumping his way across the city. The cape flowed well despite its weight, and in the moonlit gloom Alden became just another shadow in the night.

Edited by Arichamus
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The Dog's Tail


Bullet Tony's haunt was an old pub near the Thames. It was neither exceptional big, or exceptionally small. 


But it was exceptional. 


Even as Osprey approached, a fight was going on outside. To drunken brawlers, with just enough strength and skill to hurt each other but not enough to be called fighters were duking it out in an ugly scene. All to quickly it was over, as a swift knee to the groin was followed up by a headbut and a broken nose. It was bloody and dirty, and the straggle of onlookers raised a cheer and a glass at the victor before heading back inside. 


The Dogs tail was two floors of drinking and a top floor where who knows what happened. Drinking and gambling probably. This was where "meetings" happened, and Bullet Tony was a regular on all three floors. He was nothing special, other than being a hard man in a hard pub. A seasoned streetfighter who had links and respect. Legend was, he was shot five times by a would be assasin, and refused to have the bullets extracted. 

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Watching from a nearby slick rooftop above the bar, Osprey suppressed a murmur of distaste at the brawl. This wasn't the time, and barely the place, for casting judgements. When people could afford little enough as it was being surprised at what they turned to for distractions was a bad idea. 'Besides,' he reflected, as a deft movement sent him tumbling off the roof and leaping from wall to wall on his way to the ground 'it's not as if a place like Dog's Tail attracts the best and the brightest of our generation'


Sparing hardly a glance at the loser of the fight as he landed, Osprey briskly started on his standard theatrics. Passing like a wraith under the front window, he paused at the peeling door just long enough for the tell-tale scrape of chairs and stools to fade, and then opened the it. Pausing in the doorway for a moment, gathering the eyes of the patrons as he surveyed the smokey room he seemed to fill the frame, and with a little turn of his head caught the lights so that his eyes seemed to glow of their own power.


Then, with an easiness and relaxed air that was almost totally unaffected despite the high likelihood of illegal guns hidden in the crowd, he walked slowly up to the bar, fixed his cold eyes on the bartender and said with a deep voice "Evening. I'd like a little chat with Tony. Some of his boys crossed my path and I'd like to see to it that doesn't happen again."

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A hushed silence fell across the crowd. Stopping at least one other half-fight and several drunken amorous encounters. Silence did not fall in the Dog's tail often. 


Even the Juke Box, playing the Sex Pistols "Anarchy in the UK" died down after Johnny Rotten finished his last wail. 


Its the Opsrey...


I heard about him...


Don't mess...


The faintest of whispers came from the corners of the dingy pub. 


The bartender was a tall and strong man, no doubt used to wrestling out the worst of his customers. He had a broken nose and grey hair, and looked like he could hold his own against the worst of them. Or the best. 


"Bullet Tony?" he asked, trying to keep a level stare. 


"You come to the right place. But even the Dog's Tail can only handle so much blood and broken bones. I don't want carnage here. I don't want the police..."


A jeer came from a few braver corners of the pub at the word "police"...


"...marching in here with a SWAT team. And bullet Tony, upstairs is his castle...A man don't go into a castle without being invited, see...."

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'You only make one first impression' Alden thought to himself, resisting the urge to smile in relief. His ploy had worked, but now he had another obstacle between him and Tony. Sizing the fellow up, Osprey remained at ease, his arms tucked under the folds of his cape, giving every impression that he was in total control of whatever was about to happen. The guy was big, too big for intimidation to work properly, most likely used to that tack anyhow. He'd need to wait for a good opening, something like...



"Bullet Tony?" he asked, trying to keep a level stare. 


"You come to the right place. But even the Dog's Tail can only handle so much blood and broken bones. I don't want carnage here. I don't want the police..."


A jeer came from a few braver corners of the pub at the word "police"...


"...marching in here with a SWAT team. And bullet Tony, upstairs is his castle...A man don't go into a castle without being invited, see...."


'There it is, perfect' Leaning forward on the bar Osprey remained impassive, his voice low and quiet as he replied "And that's just what I want. I'm here to make friends, not enemies," 'If I can help it' "so how about you ring up your boss, tell him the Osprey wants to make sure things stay civil, and wants to have a quick talk to smooth things over." He smiled, almost humanly "Could you do that?"

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"As long as its civil" answered the bartender, cracking his knuckles and giving the Osprey a meaningful look. 



"Show's over folk. If you want to see some blood, go donate your own to the hospital" he said to the sighs of the crowd who obviously liked a good piece of unconventional entertainment. 


Upstairs at the Dog's Tail...


Bullet Tony was playing cards with two other heavies, both bruised and experienced thugs by the look of it. Not your regular brawlers either, from the looks of them. These were experienced enforcers, veterans of more dust ups than you could easily count. 


Bullet Tony looked up. He was missing one tooth, bald and had a nose that had been smeared over his face from the fists of years. But he looked rather handsome despite it. For all his ferocity, or - in a few cases, because of it - he had a way with the ladies. 


"You got some serious brain damage if you stupid enough to walk in here dressed like that" he said to Osprey in a droll verse.


"Impressive enough for me to ask why, instead of adding to the mush in your head..."

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It was hard to remain at the right level of aloof and implacable when confronting somebody in their own fortress, reminded by the simple force of another's will that you are(at the moment) just some weirdo in a costume. 'Lighting's wrong for any kind of "I am the night" act, besides if I try and make him nervous, can't know how he'll react but it won't be good' Osprey thought behind his emotionless mask, eyes flicking about the room for possible ambush points.


There were a few, but none looked likely or occupied. Bullet Tony was expecting him after all.


"Not stupid, Bullet, just optimistic" came his soft reply, the vigilante gliding over to the table and halting across from the gangster "You sent some lads down to get Max powder into the docks. Working for a chap named 'Big' Nelson I hear" he cocked his head suddenly, which looked very unnatural on a human "Don't suppose you'd care to explain why? Tell me about what Nelson's game is, I might just let you off this once and let bygones be bygones. Keep mum..." he shrugged, his cape flowing about him.

"Mind if I sit?" Osprey added mildly, gesturing to a free chair.

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"Why the Hell not!" smiled Tony, gesturing to the chair. 


"I can't say I like what you do. But I like the way you do it" he said, pouring Osprey a very generous, and very stiff drink. Gin and Tonic, he noticed. Which was to say, a large slosh of Gin and a whisper of tonic. Over some cold ice, it was a throat burner but Bullet Tony seemed to like it. 


"I'll even deal you in..." he said, chucking five cards Osprey's way. 


"Big Nelson? I can't say I like him either, but he's the Middleman's right hand man. Closest thing the octopus has got to a friend, they say. Not that anybody has even seen the Middleman. Well, Big Nelson might have"


"You heard of Big Nelson? Guy must be pushing 60, used to be a fighter back in the day. Ran some black gang back in the seventies, all civil rights movements, you know? only they busted kneecaps instead of handing out leaflets. He just rode the wave, consolidated power. As the blacks got more rights, he moved into crime. Hustling into Soho. Damn near owns the joint now..."


A trace of envy came into Bullet Tony's voice. 


"Tell you the truth, Osprey, I would love to have Big Nelson taken down a peg or two. Maybe even the whole damn ladder, you know what I'm saying?" he said. 

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Osprey nodded in silent thanks and took a stiff drink, looking as cool as if it was orange juice he was sipping.  Alden was grateful for the ice. Even if only a smidgen it helped fight the powerful stuff burning its merry way down his throat and into his stomach. "Good stuff" he said "the kind of drink that wakes you up."


With his free hand he took up the cards, fanning them out and looking them over. 'Oh damn, three fours, a Jack of Spades and an eight of Diamonds?' And he didn't even know what the thugs across from him had...except what he didn't.


Alden had been too young to have any memory of the civil rights movement, and its later reverberations were to him just the accepted way of the world. But he had grown up among people who remembered the world as it had been, and knew what bigotry and prejudice looked like.


"So Nelson's a parasite, huh?" the masked hawk tossed one of his threes into the discard pile "Then it makes sense why he'd be the sort to run a fighting ring. Lots of eager young men who want to prove themselves, lots of energy to feed off, make money out of and then throw away. I'd be happy to take him down Tony, even if it didn't please you." Osprey punctuated the statement with a sip of the liquid hellfire. Putting down the glass he added quietly


"But I will do it. You know where he is. And I want you to ease up on the smuggling a mite. So how about a street address and a rundown of what he's got?" 'Hope you don't get no ideas about price, Tony. Be a bloomin' shame.'

Edited by Arichamus
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"I'm beginning to like you" smiled Bullet Tony, showing more than one golden tooth. 


"So here it is, Osprey, I can show you the way to Big Nelson. He runs Soho. And he packs some serious heat. So this is going to get ugly. Real ugly. I got some muscle myself. Some boys who know a thing or two about the street and can handle a cricket bat...and I'm not talking about hitting a six..." he said with a wink. 


"I want Big Nelson taken out of business permanently. So you and me both end up winners. We both end up with one thug off the streets. And make no mistake, Big Nelson is a thug. No matter what you think of me, and I guess I'm not on your Christmas card list, at least I got some old school code. Big Nelson, he don't give two hoots to any code. He just takes what he can and stamps on the rest..."


"So that being said, If I give up Big Nelson, he needs to be stopped full stop. Don't get all melodramatic. I don't mean killed. Although I for one have no objection to that. I just mean him and his operation need to be totally dismantled, and Big Nelson ends up behind bars and finished. No comeback. And that means me and the boys are coming with you. "

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Taking a replacement card with a gloved hand, Alden looked at it briefly: the King of Spades. 'There's a joke 'bout buryin' in there. Blessed if I know it.'


"So you want to make sure everything goes your way, hm?" Osprey shrugged "A small price. You know what happens if you turn on me."


For all the cold meaning in those words Alden wasn't too sure what could happen. 'Talks about a code of ethics, but I doubt it'll weigh on him any. Few better choices, though' From a momentary reverie Osprey awoke, and nodded once to Tony. His cold eyes gleamed through the yellow lenses, watching the other man's face as he said "We're agreed. I go in first though, not letting you or your boys take any time to settle private scores or silence witnesses. Kill anyone and both of you are finished."


His gaze turned back to the cards "Your turn I believe."

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Soho, after midnight...


Bullet Tony had chosen two of his best men - loyal and experienced. They may have been a little longer in tooth, but they were seasoned criminals and seasoned fighters. And, despite Ospreys protest's armed with guns. 


"We won't shoot. Unless we are shot at first"


That was the deal. 


So the thugs each had a cosh. And each knew how to use one. 


Even at this time of night, Soho was busy. It never completely stopped. It was a mix of glamour and seediness. Drugs were dealt, and prostitution was evident. The gay scene - in its most flamboyant and overtly sexual - was out in force. Coffee and liquor and scents of world cooking lingered in the air. 


And across the rooftops, Bullet Tony, Osprey and two men, in black, clambered until they reached Big Nelson's building. 


"Nelson's Columnhissed Tony in a whisper, pointing downwards as his friends unscrewed the air vent down to Nelson's Column, the base of Big Nelson's building. 


"Ladies first..." he said with a grin, indicating Osprey should go down in the lead. 

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"Didn't peg you for the jealous type" Alden said as he dropped in. Wincing as his fall set off a faint metallic *clunk*, he quickly got to his hands and knees, beginning to set off into the warehouse's vent system.


'Must have been somethin' really hazardous, with shafts this big' Osprey pondered, his movements slow and graceful to minimize and noise he made on the hard steel. It was slow going, every sweep of the arm or edging of the leg had to be checked against the ground, his cape soon got in the way and the cramped space had him sweating and itching.


There was one consolation 'At least I can make sure this goes smoothly, instead of trusting that Bullet to do this right'. Nodding in satisfaction, Osprey's eyes swept right past the small electronic sensor...

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The outside rumblings of Soho faded into the background as Osprey and Tony crept into Nelson's column. The interior was expensively done up, but not tastefully. Like somebody who grew up with nothing and then splashed out simply because he wanted to show off how much money he had. 


As they crept onwards, Tony grew increasingly nervous. 


"I don't like it, I don't like it mate. Me gut don't like it, and neither do I. Something's off...something's well off...."


They crept into Nelsons office, opening the door slowly and silently. 


And there was Big Nelson, facing them sternly behind his desk. 


He was Big, that was for sure. He was probably sixty, maybe even seventy. But still well over six foot. He had put on some weight over the years but he was still powerfully built, a good hundred kilograms. Bald as you like, but with that killer look. Nose twisted up from fight after fight. 


And two either side, three guards all with submachine guns at the ready. 


"Bullet Tony! and Osprey! How nice of you to drop by!" he smiled, the smile of a shark. 


"Girdle and Bit" swore Tony, under his breath. He was partial to a bit of Cockney rhyming slang. 

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A powerful sense of unease had come over Osprey as well as "Bullet" Tony, the masked vigilante urging the gangster to be quiet as he wracked his brain over the tense seconds the quartet spent tiptoeing into the main office, trying to figure out what he had forgotten. Coming up blank just made it worse, and he all but sighed in relief as they sprang the trap...for themselves.  Suddenly the lack of resistance made sense.


Straightening up as smoothly as he could, calmly stretching his hands out before him to show his peaceful intent, Osprey raced through the things most likely to happen in the next few minutes...no, that was too hopeful. 'We'll be shot down in seconds if we can't make him think we have something he wants, and right now that's a bit of a small list. What he wants is to know how much we know, who we've told, and who expects us. Also his shipment recovered an' on its way in. Come to think of it, how much does he know?'


"Easy there, Nelson" Osprey said with the same quiet, piercing tone he had used before, making his face as smooth and cold as a sheet of ice "we just wanted to come in here quietly, keep from raising Hell and scaring your boys. Lower the guns if you want to hear something worth your while. And I hate to ask, but when did you know we were here?"

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"Well you came in here quietly enough, Osprey. Bar the alarm you triggered. Thanks for that, by the way" he chuckled. 


"And from what I heard about you, I'll keep my guns up and ready. But I won't call the police. Yet. Lets have ourselves a little Mexican Standoff, for a while, at least..." he smiled, and poured himself a drink, a rum, Osprey noticed. 


"Now then, I have to say its a pleasure to meet the man who has been playing havoc around London. I can't say the same about my friend Tony, here. There really is no honor amongst thieves, is there, tsk tsk?" he shook his head. 


Bullet Tony had clearly been in some serious situations before, but he was stone cold frozen and sweating. Fear had gripped him, and that was a bad sign. 


"You already know me, of course. I am Big Nelson. I own this part of London. Some of it, even legit" he laughed. 


"But above us all, is the middleman. That's who you came for really, isn't it? Don't lie, I got a nose for it. Truth is, I'm the biggest cat in London right now, but I'm still small fry compared to the middleman. He has his finger in every pie, knows everything about everyone. Probably knows exactly what's happening right here, right now..." he said, more seriously. 


"I ain't gonna say I like it, but the middleman knows even that. He got everyone in under his thumb, even Big Nelson. I be the only guy who even seen him. But if I tell a soul..." he shook his head, and downed his Rum in one go. 


Despite it all, even Big Nelson appeared petrified of the Middleman. The man, it seemed, was the very definition of big brother, inspiring paranoia in every crime lord in the city. 

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