Here is the latest in our series of short background vignettes, selected from those that will appear in the Blue Planet RPG. This one is for the the John Woo fans among you ; ). ______________________________________ It was not starting out to be a good day. The scene that greeted Peter Church as he climbed out of his patrol hover was less than encouraging. There were seven Patrol multi fans parked on the deck in front of the warehouse, and a green and silver GEO VTOL darted nervously through the air a hundred meters above. Church searched the confusion for his lieutenant. Spotting a shock of red hair crouching behind a skimmer, the Marshal-In-Charge for District V parted the crowd with a glare as he jogged across the sun bleached plastic. The chief Patrol Officer saluted as best he could while stooped behind his vehicle. "Hey, Boss! Just in time for the fun I think. It looks like it's going to get interesting." He started to explain, but an unfamiliar voice on the radio cut him off. "Okay, Dillon, what you got is two options. Either these kids is leaving here in a skimmer that you're gonna put on the roof in thirty minutes, or they're goin' home in sandwich bags, understand? Now, to show our good faith, we're sendin' the youngest one out." Church raised an eyebrow. "Kids on a field trip, got grabbed off their transport when these screw heads botched some cargo job. Shot the teacher dead, right in front of them . . . the kids I mean," explained the Patrol Officer . One of the large overhead doors in the center of the warehouse began to open, and the patrol officers all dove for cover. Church, however, remained standing, and so had a clear view of the small frightened child standing alone in the middle of the doorway. As the child looked over his shoulder and then began to run, Peter had a momentary premonition, but too late for action. Before he had run more than a few meters, the child's head exploded as a loud crack echoed out from inside the warehouse. As the sound of the gunshot disappeared into the humid sky, a part of Church's mind went with it, taking him light years and decades away. . . . I, Peter Anton Church, do hereby swear to uphold the laws and edicts of the GEO. May my left arm always be raised as a shelter for the weak . . . The radio spoke. "I told you, Dillon, the only way they're going home is in a skimmer or in boxes . . . the only way! Now, either there's a skimmer on the roof in twenty-five minutes, or we start sendin' them out, one at a bloody time!" . . . May my right arm always be raised against the wicked. . . Without looking around, Church reached into the open cabin of the parked Patrol hover and grabbed the autoshot from its bracket. With the weapon held loosely in his fist, he stepped around the front of the gently bobbing vehicle and strode out over the open stretch of plastic. . . . I swear to defend the GEO and it's citizens against all foes. . . The mid-afternoon sun beat harshly down on his balding head as Peter bent and picked up the limp, hideous wreckage of the toddler. As he continued to walk towards the warehouse, he could feel the child's knees pressing into his chest even through his body armor. By the time he reached the door, his entire back was wet with the child's blood. . . . I swear allegiance to the Charter of the GEO, and to the Principles for which it stands. . . Church brought the autoshot up, and held down the trigger. The door exploded off its track. The tough just inside the warehouse was cut from hundreds of tiny pieces of flying plastic, but that didn't prevent him from taking aim at the Marshall. His first two rounds thudded into the heavy armored vest protecting Peter's torso. The third drove white-hot irons of pain into his arm. Gritting his teeth, Church shifted the autoshot and felt it kick three times against the crook of his elbow. The gunfire left rather less of the thug than it had of the child. . . .Liberty for all humankind, equality for all. . . Peter turned to face the stairs that led up to a row of glassed in offices and an open conference area. A greasy-faced teenager, wearing combat fatigues and waving a pistol came barreling down the steps. When Church tossed the now-empty autoshot at him, he instinctively caught it. In one smooth motion, the Marshall drew his sidearm and fired. The autoshot clattered to the floor, followed quickly by the teenager. As the Marshall reached the top of the stairs, he quickly noticed several things. There were two people guarding the children, both of whom had automatic weapons, and the bearded man glaring out of a window and yelling into a radio was almost certainly the leader. As one of the guards raised his weapon, Church dove across the hallway and into an empty office. . . .I dedicate my mind to the search for truth, my body for the defense of the GEO. . . The guard came cautiously around the corner into the office, searching for the madman who had managed to get past two of his companions. Spying a child's shoes sticking out from behind a desk, he fired a burst into the furniture hoping to hit the Marshall behind it. Church, however, had a different idea as he stepped from the utility closet behind the gunman and stuck his combat knife sideways through the man's head. Peter stepped around the desk and retrieved his small, limp companion. . . .I dedicate my heart to the preservation of life . . . Peter stepped into the hall, and strode purposefully towards the open conference area at the end. He could hear the frightened cries of the children. Rounding the corner, Church saw the last guard on the far side of a huddled mass of pre-schoolers. Hearing the Marshall's footsteps, the guard looked up. Peter promptly shot him in the chest, sending him crashing into the wall behind. Church turned towards the bearded man with the radio, stepping between him and the children. His wounded arm screaming in agony, he nevertheless held aloft his grisly burden. "I am Peter Church, GEO Marshall. I accuse you of kidnapping, murder, attempted murder, assault on a GEO officer, and conspiracy to commit same. I find you guilty. Your sentence is death." The man dropped the now quiet radio, and went for his weapon. Church brought up his sidearm, and slowly, deliberately, shot the bastard in the forehead. As the body toppled backwards and slid down the wall, Church set the dead child gently on the floor. . . . and I dedicate my soul to the service of Justice . . . copyright 1996, Jason Werner.