…To All of Luna City
Det. Russel Compton had already given up on his theory that the noxious gases reported by the LCFD had caused hallucinations in his fellow officers. After all, he had seen the building come alive with the same twisting cables which had thrown him out.
And then it proceeded to bury its own bottom floor.
The Crime Scene Recording Device had pretty much confirmed the craziest stuff they had found. Even had a audio recording of Civitas’s immortal line: “Either I’m a time-traveling sleepwalker…or something really weird is going on.”
Getting read the riot act did not serve to improve his mood. And now he was facing a blustering Bauhaus corporate executive named Markus Peterson.
“My brother tells me that my niece, Sandrine is missing and that you think it is something to do with bloody von Hölle? If anything happens to her I will have your badges!” the suit shouted.
Det. Compton noticed Ambrose showing a memo pad to Civitas. Covered with complex mathematics with the word “Erich” in the center. The CSI officer explained it as highly unorthodox quantum theory. But he had no explanation for the name in the middle.
“What have you discovered so far? As CEO of this corporation and a Bauhaus citizen, I demand to know.”
They also found a printed requisition order signed by von Hölle for common electrical equipment, control systems, generators, heavy duty cabling, and assorted mechanical apparatus. Seemed significant to a group of police officers who had recently been attacked by electrical equipment, control systems, generators, heavy duty cabling, and a variety of mechanical creations.
“What are you going to do about our stolen equipment? Von Hölle stole some very valuable prototypes and we need them back.”
Russel definitely wanted to know more. “What kind of prototypes? Just what are you working on here?”
The suit was demanding they turn over the investigation to Bauhaus Law Enforcement, but he did admit they do unorthodox and advanced communications devices.
“I have no idea what Operation Looking Glass is. It was a project that started before my tenure. I’ve only just found out about it. All I know is that it was apparently a cross-venture with someone within the Capitol Entertainment Network. Completely unacceptable to Bauhaus now that they own Jaeger Corp.”
“When I challenged the employees here, they denied all knowledge. I think they may have been telling the truth. I’m not sure Erich and Fabien were sharing everything they were doing.”
After conspicuous bravery leading the children to safety, Officer Civitas followed the finest traditions of Capitoline citizenship and freedom and asked how many of the students were carrying weapons. Encouraged by their enthusiastic and patriotic response, Officer Civitas recruited them into a ragtag militia which distinguished itself by securing the nearest school as an island of stability in the chaos which ruled Luna City in the first hours of The Fall. As other students arrived at the school, the militia organized them into squads which proceeded from school to school, spreading stability. This became the foundation of The First Children’s Brigade which later distinguished itself in the Corporate Wars.
— from the commendation of CSI Officer Civitas
Det. Ambrose Hab had to park the patrol car when the crowds got too thick. He could see the traffic was jammed solid. They were going to have to travel the rest of the way on foot.
Several hundred meters above their heads Ambrose could hear the roar of huge engines. Looking up, he saw a huge Bauhaus freighter and what looked to be a Mishiman Attack Ship attempting to maneuver around each other, though what either ship was doing so low over this part of the city he could not imagine.
Det. Hab was riveted in place when it became clear they were going to have a head-on collision. The pointed prow of the Attack Ship smashed into the skin of the Bauhaus freighter, piercing it like a blade.
The impact triggered a series of explosions on both ships, causing cargo pods, escape pods, and huge chunks of spacecraft to be expelled from the freighter.
At first, it appeared they were too far away to fall on any of the officers, although plenty of civilians in the crowds were going to be crushed. Then Ambrose realized — with a sudden horrific revelation — that some of the pieces had been expelled from the ship so explosively that they were falling their way.
All four officers made a run for the nearest overpass, barely making it before the rain of debris fell on the street. Det. Hab wanted to go for the subway, but Russel Compton found a sewer entrance and was arguing for an alternate route.
It did look like the crowd was going to mob the subway entrance.
I deputized the Stainless Steel Rat, fer Chrissake. That did as much good as The Children’s Brigade in the long run. Did I get a friggin’ commendation?
— Lt Pierre Vordach, on his deathbed
Harry Harrison was not sure about the sewers. He had heard things.
But he did have to admit that there were no crowds in Det. Compton’s “alternate route” through the sewer. “Nobody else is crazy enough to try the sewers,” he thought to himself.
They made good progress towards the Capitol Entertainment Network (CEN) tower — at least, Harry thought they were going the right direction — before Harry’s misgivings were confirmed: The crashing space ships had apparently broken an oil pipe carrying bio-diesel.
The thick brown oil forced them to emerge from the tunnels, where they found a crashed school bus, already covered with oil. Harry knew it was only a matter of time before the spreading fires would get to the bus.
Det. Compton forced the door open — the driver was already dead, killed by a light pole knocked over by a fall piece of the Mishiman spacecraft — and Officer Civitas asked the kids how many of them were carrying weapons.
Five of the older students showed their weapons, — they were Capitol corporate citizens after all — whereupon Civitas immediately deputized them all and marched those who could walk off to safety.
Harry helped the other officers carry the injured students along behind — he was still having difficulty thinking of himself as a Police Officer and not as the good, old Stainless Steel Rat — and they got them to safety.
Looking up, the Rat could see the gigantic edifice of the CEN tower just ahead. But a firefight was about to break out between them and their goal: Some Imperial Gendarmes were facing off against what looked to Harry like a group of Mishiman Samurai who are forming a human wall between the Gendarmes and a crashed lifepod from one of the two ships that crashed earlier.
Harry was guessing it was from the Mishiman Attack Ship, though he couldn’t tell for sure from where he was standing. Officer Civitas then demonstrated his diplomatic side, something the Rat was not used to seeing in the LCPD: He tried to convince everybody to calm down and respond to the obvious chaos which was developing in the area.
As soon as the CSI officer began to make headway, Harry noticed one of the Samurai trying to sneak around behind the Gendarmes. One of the Gendarmes noticed it too.
And opened fire.
Both sides blamed the LCPD, thinking they had been betrayed. They turned to attack the officers.
The smoke was going to provide some cover, but it looked like they were going to have to fight their way through the ones who thought they had been betrayed.
Harry pulled out his assault rifle.