Author : Julian Miles, Staff Writer

“Let me get this straight; The slum kids were tagging you with paintballs of bioluminescent gel, so you took the decision to lift our forces into orbit and firestorm the planet?”

“Yes sir.”

Major MacLachlan looked up from the miniscule desk in his tiny office aboard EMFS Bad Moon at the soldier who filled the rest of the free space. He leant back as he activated the disciplinary recorder and the officer defence system before continuing: “Why did you commit such an atrocity?”

“It was not an atrocity. It was the only reasonable response, sir.”

“Really, Strike-Lancer Peters? I am all ears and so is the recorder. Take us through the reasons why we are currently orbiting the biggest crematorium in history.”

“The children of Hesta had taken to ‘counting coup’ on occupying forces. This was tolerated even when they switched from paint to biolumins, despite the latter compromised our cloaking, making us vulnerable to insurgent snipers.”


“Since the United Planets intervention, we have been ordered to strictly obey their directives and rules of engagement.”

“Again, agreed.”

“Under ROE, I cannot take direct action unless fired upon by insurgents with weapons of Class C or better. I cannot respond to threats less than that without issuing three verbal warnings. However, being painted by four or more biolumin blooms is recognised in UP directive ninety-four as giving an eighty percent chance of fatality from first hit, thus preventing me from proper response by being dead.”

Major MacLachlan smiled and gestured for Peters to continue.

“As such, under UP directive one-fourteen, quadruple biolumin bloom is a pervasive threat to my health. Out of one hundred men deployed at my base, seventy-eight had received at least four biolumin hits. Therefore the level of danger is calculated to be epidemic according to UP directive two-ten. As epidemic danger is an indirect threat, it has to be met by containment rather than direct action. I queried orbital for statistics and was informed that at the moment I received my sixth biolumin bloom, sixty-eight point four percent of our forces worldwide were painted in a similar way. This meant that a clear epidemic threat was spread across three continents. UP directive sixty-three defines a pandemic as being an epidemic that has spread across two continental landmasses or more. When that information was revealed to me, it became clear as to the only response possible to save our forces from this deadly threat. I requested that all records and information be crystallised for UP scrutiny, then issued a Class B pandemic withdrawal alert in accordance with UP protocols. After that had been actioned, and in record time may I add, I consulted with UP delegate A.I. Hiroshi twenty-oh-one as to the correct way to address a threat of this nature. It responded that such a pandemic was obviously beyond remedial measures and as such should either be left to burn itself out or sterilising measures had to be applied. As UP directive eleven states that occupied territory cannot be abandoned for more than four hours, the burn-out option was obviously contrary to ROE, so I ordered a Type Six wipe, sir.”

Major MacLachlan sat and stared at the ceiling before responding: “Are you telling me that you have committed a war crime by adhering to United Planets protocols?”

“Question, sir: How can it be a crime when the body that regulates warfare mandated my decision by their own rules?”

Major MacLachlan looked directly into the untroubled, guileless blue eyes.

“That is a question they will be debating for decades to come, I suspect. Dismissed.”


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