The Tobo Drug War
Chapter 2: A Fair Fight
January 10, 1990
After the Jade Force had been on the base for about a month, tensions on the base were running high. To say that the Amran soldiers were not happy about having the Jade Warriors in their midst, would be an understatement. Getting forced off of what they considered to be ‘their’ beach at gunpoint had started things off on the wrong foot.
Things had gotten worse, with time.
There had been the chewing out by the Colonel about the lax security at the base. Strangers had walked around the base for an entire night without being challenged. They had been on the base long enough to draw a detailed map of it. Then they had walked onto the base in the middle of the day without being challenged once. It is only human nature to blame the individual who points out your faults rather than yourself for having them. The Amran soldiers were displeased at the Jade Warriors for getting them into the trouble, despite the fact that they had been the ones who had been lax in their duties.
The Jade Warriors, more or less, ignored the Amran soldiers. They treated them as not being worthy of much attention. Attempts by Amran soldiers to get friendly with Jade Warriors were rebuked with statements to the effect that they didn’t fraternize with outsiders, unless they had proven themselves worthy of respect. Statements like that went over like lead balloons.
As was their normal practice, Jade Force had fenced in the area with a canvas fence to make it impossible to observe what was happening inside the camp. They had clearly marked zones of trespassing with white, red, and black paint. They had signs out, in Amran, stating that crossing into the white zone would get a warning shot, crossing into the red zone would get you a wound, and that crossing into the black zone would get you killed.
The Amran soldiers thought the whole trespassing warning thing was a joke, but at least they weren’t so stupid as to test it. However, it did increase the resentment felt by the Amran soldiers. The Jade Force camp was inside their camp and the no trespassing signs were interpreted by the Amran soldiers as an insult.
It was the soccer ball incident that had really angered the Amran soldiers. Deciding to reclaim half of the beach, a dozen Amran soldiers decided to play a game of soccer right next to the Jade Force camp. The fact was, that the Jade Force had made no claims on the other half of the beach, it was just that anyone who approached the camp from the beach too closely had to put up with rifles being pointed at them. To the Amran soldiers, that was equivalent to saying, “Stay off our beach.”
The soldiers ran around kicking the ball around in a kind of informal ‘keep-away’ game. Deciding that there was too much activity for one Shield to track, a second Shield was brought into each guard tower facing the game. One Shield on the guard tower watched the action with his or her normal degree of attention while the second Shield watched the rest of the area with his or her normal degree of attention. The Shields on the other towers went to a higher degree of alertness.
Everything was going smoothly for more than twenty minutes. Then one of the Amran soldiers kicked the ball on a trajectory that would take it over the fence erected by the Jade Warriors. Both Shields who had been watching the action shot the ball before it reached the fence. From inside the camp, another half dozen shots rang out sending the now shredded ball back to the Amran troops. The ball never reached the fence.
The Amran soldiers gathered around the dead soccer ball as if mourning the passing of a dear friend. It was obvious that every shot fired had hit the ball. There were even little shreds of it scattered on the beach. Shooting their soccer ball was viewed as an act of war. The soldiers were angry, particularly the owner of the soccer ball.
It was unfortunate that the soldiers involved did not realize the significance of what had just happened. They were too focused on the ball to think about how the ball had been destroyed. If they had thought about it, they would have realized that the shots from inside the camp had come from people whose only warning that something was wrong had been the shots from the guard tower. They might have put together the fact that more than one Jade Warrior, having had only a fraction of a second from the initial shots to seeing the soccer ball, had reacted by shooting at it and hitting it.
The owner of the soccer ball proceeded to march on one of the guard towers to give the person on it a piece of his mind. He crossed into the white area. A warning shot was fired that kicked up sand right next to his foot. He slowed down, but didn’t stop. As soon as he stepped into the red area, a second shot rang out hitting him in the buttocks. Now, he stopped. He dropped to the ground holding a hand over the wound on his butt.
Seeing what had happened, the other Amran soldiers who had been playing with the soccer ball headed towards their fallen friend. Their action was motivated with the intention of helping him. After all, he had just been shot. They did not realize that they were making a very serious mistake.
The reaction from the Jade Warriors was immediate. Two lines of bullets strafed the white area as a series of warning shots well before the Amran soldiers reached it. Three Jade Warriors, all of whom were Shields, flew over the seven foot high fence with rifles at the ready. They landed and took up defensive postures. All of their rifles were pointed at the advancing soldiers.
The Amran soldiers came to a screeching halt upon realizing that they were unarmed, but were now facing five armed people who had killed their soccer ball and shot their friend. They had no doubts that these folks would fire upon them. Their anger had turned into fear.
Once it was clear that the Amran soldiers had stopped their charge, one of the Shields bent down and took care of the wounded man. While she worked, a full field surgery medical kit was tossed down from one of the towers. Before the wounded man knew what was happening, the area had been injected with an anesthetic and the Shield went to work cleaning the wound with water from a squirt bottle.
Another Jade Warrior flew over the fence. This one was a Hearth. She arrived by the side of the wounded man and examined the wound. She went through the cleansing process again. While she was doing that, the Shield who had been helping the wounded man started laying out surgical instruments in a tray. She poured alcohol into the tray.
While she worked, the Hearth explained, “We understood that you were upset about your ball getting destroyed and probably didn’t mean to trespass. However, once you stepped into the red area, you had to be wounded. Rules are rules. Fortunately for you, the Shield who shot you is very good. It is just a minor flesh wound, nothing to be too worried about.”
“They killed my ball.”
“Nothing goes in or out of the camp, unless it is brought in or taken out by a Jade Warrior. Rules are rules.”
The Hearth treated the wound, superficial as it was. After the wounded soldier was carried out of the trespass zone, his friends took him to their medical center. The medic looked at the wound and pronounced that it had been treated as good as the hospital in town would have done.
The exchange between the Hearth and the wounded solider was unfortunate because it led to the next major problem between the Amran soldiers and the Jade Warriors.
The Amran soldiers showed back up on the beach later that afternoon with the intention of showing those Jade Warriors that they weren’t going to take things lying down. Nothing went into or out of the camp without being carried in or taken out by a Jade Warrior? That was a challenge if they’d ever heard of one. They arrived on the beach carrying a large trash can filled with empty soda cans.
The soldiers started throwing the cans over the fence unaware that was one of the exams required to achieve a master rating in rifle and pistol. The Shields on the guard towers had ratings of expert. It was barely a challenge to shoot the cans out of the air. It took only a few seconds for word to spread around the Jade Force camp about what the Amran soldiers were doing.
Hearths seldom held a master rating in the rifle, although they did have to have a master rating in the pistol. However, all of them had a master rating in the shotgun. This was sufficient to get them into a field position since their role in defense was more one of a last ditch fight where a shotgun would be a more effective weapon than a rifle. Several decided that participating in shooting the cans tossed over the fence would be good practice. Jade Warriors took every opportunity to practice that arose.
Several Hearths lined up and started firing at the cans. Their shotguns were loaded with buckshot. Now the cans were getting shredded upon being tossed over the fence.
At this point, the Amran soldiers started tossing multiple cans at a time getting frustrated at the lack of success in getting a can across the fence. The Jade Warriors were a little disappointed in the childish behavior of the Amran soldiers, but they weren’t frustrated or angry. They just treated it as a training exercise while remaining fully aware that it could turn deadly if something more threatening than a soda can was tossed.
Things might have come of a reasonable conclusion except for the fact that what goes up must come down. The Shields in the guard towers were shooting downwards and their bullets were kicking up sand when they came to an end. The Hearths were shooting upwards and no one thought about where the buckshot was landing.
One of the Shields in the tower noticed that sand was being kicked up at the far end of the beach where other Amran soldiers were laying out in the sun and watching the action taking place at the Jade Force Camp. She called out to the Hearths to cease firing. It was too late, a sunbather had already been hit. It was none other than Lieutenant Jimmy Daniels II.
Things got messy for the next several hours. Lieutenant Daniels was operated on, the buckshot removed, and put into a bed to recover. Colonel Byrd was yelling at everyone about irresponsible behavior. It was hard to tell who he was angrier at, the soldiers throwing the cans or the Jade Force for shooting at the cans. Sword Flavia was not permitting the Jade Warriors take any of the blame in the incident, adamant that the Jade Warriors involved were acting to preserve the security and integrity of the camp.
Things simmered for a few days.
Hearth Bill walked into the mess hall and looked around. He spotted a couple Shields and Swords sitting around one of the tables. He went over to them and said, “I need a Shield.”
“Why?” Shield Wong asked.
“A truck with supplies is over at the gate of the Amran base. I have to inspect it before we let it in the camp.”
It was standard practice that no Hearth, or Cart was to leave a secure area without a Shield or, if no Shield was available, a Sword escort. This practice was not adopted because it was believed that a Hearth or Cart was unable to protect himself or herself. The assumption was that the Hearth or Cart would be busy with work and not alert to potential threats. The fact was that Jade Warriors seldom traveled alone. It was common for a Hearth or a Cart to be accompanied by both a Sword and a Shield.
Shield Wong said, “I have nothing to do.”
Sword Nia said, “I’d like to come along. I haven’t spent much time outside the camp.”
“Let’s find a Cart,” Hearth Bill said.
“There’s no need to find a Cart. I’m rated sufficiently high enough to drive a truck across the base,” Sword Nia said.
“That’s fine with me,” Hearth Bill said.
The three left the base with Sword Nia taking the lead, followed by Hearth Bill, and Shield Wong bringing up the rear. The basic route from the beach to the front gate of the base took them past the front door of the barracks for the Amran soldiers. The fastest route from the beach to the front gate of the base took them through the backyard of the barracks.
Sword Nia asked, “Are you in a hurry?”
Hearth Bill answered, “I’ve got a lot to do, particularly with new supplies coming in.”
“Let’s go the short way,” Sword Nia said.
They had gotten a quarter of the way across the backyard of the barracks when Sword Nia realized they had made a mistake. Several dozen Amran soldiers were moving to surround them. Her hand dropped to the pistol she wore. Shield Wong’s hand shifted over to where it was resting on his sword.
“You’re trespassing on our territory.”
“I apologize. It was not marked and there are no signs,” Sword Nia said hoping to calm things down.
One of the soldiers, Private Chuck Nelson, stepped forward and said, “You think you’re better than us.”
“We are,” Sword Nia replied as if stating a fact.
“I’d like to see how you’d do in a fair fight,” Chuck said.
“What’s that?” Sword Nia asked.
“A fair fight.”
The Amran soldiers laughed. They thought she was joking. She wasn’t.
“A fight that is fair.”
“What does that mean?” Sword Nia asked.
“It means that you fight without an unfair advantage, such as your weapons and armor,” he replied.
“There’s no such thing as a fair fight,” Sword Nia said. Sword Nia looked at the name on the man’s uniform. “You should know that, Private Nelson.”
Shield Wong said, “I think he’s talking about unarmed combat.”
“That’s right. Face to face with no weapons. The last man standing is the winner,” Chuck answered earning approving noises from his fellow soldiers.
Surprised, she asked, “Let me make this clear. Are you, Private Nelson, challenging us to a duel by unarmed combat?”
“Just one of you,” the soldier said. “Like I said, I want a fair fight.”
“Which one of us are you challenging to a duel?” Sword Nia asked.
Chuck looked at the three Jade Warriors. One was a woman. No one would respect him for beating a woman. One of them was a real short guy. No one would take a fight with a guy that much shorter than him seriously. That left the last guy who was of average size.
Chuck pointed at Hearth Bill and said, “You.”