Chapter 14 – Riot In The Street
I called Professor Edgren to join me so that I could determine the meaning of this situation. I had my men take custody of the guard and get him some medical attention. When the Professor entered, I had him ask the shopkeepers what had happened. He conversed with the men for several minutes then turned to me.
“It appears that these gentlemen have caught our arsonist.” He said. “The beaten guard apparently had a little too much to drink and began to brag. The owner of the establishment was a member of the democracy movement and he got word to these men, and the rest is obvious.”
“Tell them, thank you and that we will handle the case from here.” I said to the Professor.
He told them what I said. The Shopkeepers bowed then exited the room, satisfied that we would take the proper actions.
“Let’s go see how our prisoner is doing.” I said. With that, Professor Edgren and I went to the jail to see how Miss Linton was faring with the man. When we entered the room, she was just finishing up with bandaging the man’s head, which had a nasty laceration. We moved off to one side so that we were not directly in his sight. I then asked Professor Edgren to address him by the name on the medallion found in the burnt out shop.
This he did, and upon hearing the name, the prisoner turned toward us. That’s when I knew we had the arsonist and not some unfortunate city guard that was in the wrong place at the wrong time. With that, I began questioning the man.
“Mr. Maytik, what brings you here from Palamnus?” I asked.
“Work.” He replied.
“What kind of work?” I continued.
“I am a guard. I was protecting my client.” Maytik said.
“I know you will not give me the name of your client, but perhaps you can give me the general location within Ceraunius that you were performing your duties? I asked.
“You are correct that I will not divulge the identity of my client. However, I will tell you that we were in the government district.” He said.
“Did you make any stops in any other part of town? I inquired.
“No.” he replied.
“The men who brought you here, waylaid you outside a tavern in the commercial district, correct?” I asked.
“Yes.” He said. “It is an establishment frequented by the city guard, many of whom are my friends. After my shift was completed, I went there with my friends.” He said.
“Why do you suppose those men, who would hold more animosity toward the local guards, singled you out?” I asked.
“I really could not say. Perhaps they wanted to grieve my friends by assaulting me. Perhaps my employer’s business was damaging theirs and they needed to remove his protection before attacking him. I do not make friends outside of my station, so I could not say what prompted their actions.” Maytik said.
“What do you know about the fire that occurred yesterday, a few blocks from here?” I asked.
“I know nothing about it. My only concerns within this city are those that affect my employer’s security.” He replied.
“So you have absolutely no knowledge of that event?” I pressed.
“That is correct, not even its location, other than what you just said.” He retorted.
“Then perhaps you can explain how I found your identification bracelet in the ruins of that fire?” I said.
The man turned pale and instinctively grabbed his wrist where the missing medallion should have been. His eyes darted around the room, looking for a means of escape as he got up to a crouch from the chair he was in.
“Sit down Mr. Maytik!” I ordered. “You cannot escape. And if you did make it out our door, you would be torn to pieces by the mob waiting outside. You see, those men brought you here because they know that they will not get justice from Reytik’s government. They do not know what they will get from us. But, you can be assured that if you set foot outside of this building by yourself, you will not make it ten yards down the road.”
Maytik slumped back into the chair a defeated man. “I suppose I am a dead man either way.” Maytik said.
“On the contrary, Mr. Maytik,” I said, “American justice is firm, but fair. It can be lenient if you cooperate, though rest assured you will atone for your crime.”
Then, there came a knock at the door. I opened it to find our orderly there saying that Mr. Reytik was here to see me.
I went into the other room and greeted the Mayor. “Good afternoon Mr. Reytik, what can I do for you?” I asked.
“Mr. Roosevelt, you have a man here accused of a crime that I would like to take to our jail for interrogation.” He said.
“I am afraid I cannot do that Mr. Reytik. If I let you walk out that door with Maytik, neither of you will make it to the end of the block.” I said.
“You didn’t bring a company of soldiers with you, did you?” I asked.
“Indeed I did. So you can see that I have nothing to fear.” He said.
“You are a fool Mr. Reytik!” I said. “You have just started a riot that will only end with blood in the street.”
“I think you over estimate the general population of this city.” Reytik said.
At this time, my lookout burst into the room. “Colonel! there’s a bunch of angry civilians outside facing down some city guards!” he shouted.
“Good lord!” I exclaimed. “This is going to get messy quickly.”
I ordered Lt. Griffin with ten men to take Reytik back to the Mayor’s offices. They went out the backdoor. I then ordered our Colt machine gun up to the roof. I too went up to survey the situation. I saw maybe half a hundred civilians screaming and brandishing makeshift weapons blocking the door to our station. Opposite them were twenty city guards nervously handling their rifles.
From somewhere, a loud report sounded. I could not tell where the sound came from, but it was the starting signal for the melee to begin. There was a moment of stunned silence. Then the civilians found out that they were not injured. In that instance a hail of stones flew at the guards. Many connected causing the guards to duck, fire wildly, or reel from the impact. The civilians then rushed the guards.
The melee was a confused mess. I heard several gunshots and saw a few men drop. The civilians were on the guards so quickly that they had no time to draw their swords. I saw swinging rifle butts and flailing clubs. There was punching, kicking, and biting. Due to their training, the guards were holding their own against the mob, but just barely. Then a cry went up in the side street as a new group of civilians joined in the fray.
I could see that this was going to turn into a massacre if I did not act soon. I went over to the Colt crew and ordered them to fire a burst over the heads of the combatants. The shots tore into the wall across from our position, raining bullet fragments and masonry chips down upon the combatants. The noise and sting from the flying debris halted the battle while unengaged civilians began to flee.
I had Professor Edgren shout out, “Disperse to your homes or you will be arrested!”
The remaining civilians then gave way. Many of the guards began loading their rifles as if to give fire.
The Professor then called out, “Drop your weapons or be fired upon!”
I ordered the Colt to be trained upon the guards to reinforce the point. They dropped their guns to the ground and moved off towards the Government Quarter. There was a score of men left on the ground, some moving and moaning, others not. I took a squad of armed men out to attend the wounded and round up the weapons left on the field.