I felt marginally more friendly towards the world in general after about eight hours of sleep and some food. Rusty told me that he had shown Maggie around the Rat’s Nest and that she’d be working to support herself. We even managed to arrange some sort of day care for Daniel.
Not that this matters now. The Rat’s Nest has taken a hard hit, we’re struggling to survive, just so Ares/Knight Errant can feel good about themselves.
We were woken by the sound of helicopters and, I kid you not, Ride of the Valkyries. A couple of choppers flew over the Rat’s Nest at low altitude and dropped CS gas canisters on us. People panicked and started to run, trying to take cover. I managed to close the door of the clinic before too much of the gas could get in and just to be on the safe side, I put Rivet, who’s still unconscious, under the oxygen tent.
Across the street, the kids from the school were all over the place and I helped Miss Patterson to get them all safely inside. By that time, Knight Errant was already moving in with Citymasters, water cannons and troops in full riot gear. We did not know what hit us. Apart from the Knight Errant troops, there were Hard Corps troops, who moved off into the side streets. And let’s not forget the news reporter and camera team who were there to report on the crackdown on this center of crime.
Not many of our people really fought, but those who did went down hard. I saw one Scrapper take a shot at a helicopter with his crossbow and he got gunned down, at least only with gel ammo, but bad enough. I took him back to the clinic, trying to talk people into surrendering quietly on the way.
It didn’t take long for Knight Errant to kick the door of the clinic down (not that it wasn’t open anyway). I was ordered to take off my white coat, which I did, and to let them move Rivet out, which I did not, I wasn’t about to let those thugs move a comatose patient. My refusal earned me a stun baton to the leg, so that was the end of that. I found myself out in the street where I knelt in the freezing mud along with rest of our people.
They brought out Whistler, who didn’t resist and seemed fine so far, he was put in line next to me. A short while after that, I saw them bring Maggie, Liz and Rusty, who had been mercilessly beaten. I had no problems diagnosing the broken leg and probably internal bleeding from across the street. The cops told the reporter that they had caught Rusty while he was raping Liz. The screams of pain and fear from the side streets made it clear that they were discovering many more such scenes. The Hard Corps guys were obviously there for the dirty work.
The clinic was dubbed a drug lab for the camera and fire bombed. The same went for the school. Sorry, for the BTL lab. Miss Patterson was arrested by a Copyright Infringement and Patent Violation unit and by arrested I mean dragged from the building by her hair and slammed into the doors of the Black Maria face first.
Nearly all the members of the Scrappers were arrested as well. They also arrested a couple of people picked at random for being rat shamans. I know everybody they picked and none of them have ever shown any signs of being Awakened. One of the people chosen was Whistler. I lost it when they hauled him away. I simply jumped one of the cops and managed to knock him down, but they didn’t have much trouble overpowering me. I think I got hit by a stun baton again, my legs gave out in any case. After that, they had the chance to demonstrate one of their new weapons for the camera, a Pain Inducer. I have never been in such pain in my life and I would rather face a gun than that thing again. I have no idea how long they used it on me, it felt like an eternity, I was screaming and writhing on the ground. When they finally did stop, I was in no condition to get up, let alone fight. Which didn’t keep them from using it on me again.
I think I blacked out a bit after that, purely from exhaustion. The hell of the Pain Inducer is that you just don’t lose consciousness. I’m told that the reporter called it humane. Professional torturers will love it, I’m sure. Anyway, what was left of our people were then getting medical care, provided by Ares. After hours in the freezing cold, we all needed it, but that didn’t make any of us feel better about it.
When night fell, they left, leaving ten of the Hard Corps guys to secure the area. Yeah, right. One of the doctors asked me if he could be of any help. I slapped him, I just couldn’t help myself. We did get some medical supplies, but that’s just a pittance, especially considering the state people are in after the Hard Corps cops worked them over. Almost everybody has been beaten and many of the women were raped. Oh, and they left Rivet on the side walk, I guess they saw no sense in wasting money on him.
We got to work to make at least a few containers habitable again so that we would survive the night. We crammed as many people as possible into the pub, the bath house of the Viets and a few other places. Splash got the recycler to work again, even though it was badly damaged, so we could replicate blankets and clothes from the scrappy stuff Ares left us with.
During the night, the Hard Corps guys actually knocked on the door of the bath house and wanted to come in because they were cold. I told them that if they came in, people would lynch them, machine pistols or not. They backed down and left. Take a guess what they did to keep warm. They set fire to a couple of containers. The fire destroyed a big part of what was left of the Rat’s Nest, but nothing we can do about it now.
At least we survived the night and we can get to work on rebuilding. Saphira outdid herself and managed to get us supplies that will help with keeping our people alive. As much as I cursed it, the Rat’s Nest is my home and it breaks my heart to see it like this. I lost many friends yesterday and I have no idea when, if at all, we are going to see them again. And Whistler. Damn it, that kid who just walked in from the street a couple of years ago. I feel about him just as I imagine I would feel about my own child. Not knowing where he is and what will happen to him hurts. It hurts.