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The PRT Hotline Is Not A Toy

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Man, today was boring. No new games to play, no jobs on the horizon, and Alec couldn't even fuck around with his housemates, not if he wanted to stay in the clear from father dearest.

Hm, hm, hm. What to do. Alec's eyes glazed over as he mindlessly directed a pixelated snake towards pixelated food on the touch screen of his phone. 

Wait. Phone.

Alec dragged his way out of his slouch and called across the room to the girl typing on her laptop.

"Hey! Lisa!"

Lisa rattled off a string of numbers without even glancing his way. After a brief pause, she did look at him, narrowing her eyes. "Please don't make that call from the loft."

He considered. Okay, yeah, that was fair.

Alec sloped out of the loft.

--

"PRT, what's your emergency?"

Alec tried to project a little panic into his voice but realised halfway through he sounded more radio-play dramatic than afraid. Oh well. "Please, come quickly! Lung is tearing up the Super-Saver storefront!"

"Sir, stay calm. Do you see anyone else? Gang members?"

"What? Oh yeah, like ten of them. And that ninja guy."

There was a pause from the man on the phone. "Young man, you're aware that it's a serious offence to lie to PRT staff?"

Guileless innocence was something Alec could do way better. "Why would I lie about something like this? That would be awful!"

The responder sighed. "All right. We'll have a squad on their way. Please evacuate to a safe distance."

"Oh thank you!"

Alec dropped the line, glanced over at the distinctly un-Lunged Super-Saver store, and then wandered off, whistling cheerfully.

--

"PRT, what's your emergency?"

"Help! Hookwolf and Cricket are fighting a bunch of ABB guys!" Aha, that was a much better 'frightened civilian' voice. Good job, Alec.

"Okay, where are you—hold on, I recognise this number. You're the kid who had us send an entire squad on a wild goose chase."

"What? No! Can't you hear that?" Alec removed the phone from his ear, placed a second phone up to it, and then played a recording of a bloodcurdling scream. Where he got that soundbite was unimportant.

He put the phone back to his ear. The responder took a moment to respond. "If this turns out to be another hoax, you are in all kinds of trouble."

"It's not, I promise!"

Alec never was good at keeping those.

--

"PRT what's—you. Kid keep this up and you're in huge trouble. Do you realise how dangerous it is to lie about cape crime?"

"I'm not lying! Your response teams are too slow!" Alec did not try very hard to keep the sarcastic amusement out of his voice.

"Stop. Now. I'm warning you."

"Well maybe I'll give my important crime reports to an outfit who appreciates them! Say, you don't have New Wave's number, do you?"

The line went dead.

--

"I'm sorry, but this number is not in service at present," said the synthesised voice.

Aw. Oh well. Alec put the phone down then reached slightly further over and picked up a second burner cell, dialed.

"PRT, what's—"

"So I think you guys must have blocked my number by accident or something, but that's fine. Anyway, I have information—"

There was a noise of wordless frustration from the other end of the line and the call dropped.

Alec grinned.

--

"PRT, what's your—" the responder cut himself off with a long, resigned sigh. "Do you seriously not have anything better to do?"

"What could be more important than ensuring the PRT stays on top of the villains of Brockton Bay?" Alec gasped.

"Why aren't you in school?" snapped the responder.

"Why didn't you stay in school? Might have got a better job than switchboard operator."

A muffled bang sounded from the other end of the line. When the responder spoke again, his voice was thick with anger. "Listen you f—. Listen here, kid. You keep this up and some PRT agents to have a long talk with you. The kind that ends in juvie. You understand me?"

"Aren't you too old for juvie?"

Click.

--

"What I'm saying is that it's to your benefit and ours. You can't master your way out of everything."

Brian was talking and Alec was sometimes making appropriate listening noises and sometimes not bothering as they walked down an empty street. He'd heard several variants of the self-defence speech already and it rarely got any more interesting than 'very not'.

Alec's watch beeped and he stopped, pulling his phone out of his pocket. "Hold up, gotta make a call."

Brian raised an eyebrow as Alec dialed a number, glancing up at the nearest street sign as it rang.

"Is this the PRT? Oh thank god! I just saw Grue and Regent walking down Stanley Street—oh look at that, they hung up."

He put the cell away and resumed walking, leaving a perplexed Brian in his wake.

"Anyway what were you saying? I wasn't listening like, at all."

--

"PRT, what's your emergen—uuuuuugh."

"The Undersiders just went past me on those huge dogs, I think they're going to rob Brockton Bay Centra—"

"Stop. Just stop," growled the familiar voice of the responder. "You think you're smart? Guess what, kid? We've traced your last few calls, and they were from the same place. We know where you live, and a PRT van is on its way right now. You want to waste the PRT's time? I hope you're ready for your parents to get a personal explanation of what you've been doing." There was a beep on the end of the line. "And off the record? Serves you fucking right you smug little shit."

Alec hung up, looked around the trash-filled alleyway which was allegedly his 'home'. Grinned.

He calmly disassembled the burner phone he'd used for the past half a dozen calls, stripping out battery and sim and then kicking the pieces into a drain. Pulling on his mask, Regent climbed into the back of the white van, skirting around Bitch's three gradually growing dogs, then leaning over the front seat and tapping Grue on the shoulder.

"PRT distracted. Let's go steal a shitload of money."