The air was heavy with the smell of chicken broth and used cooking oil. Justice Vivian Mercer came in through the back entrance of the Asguardian soup kitchen ignoring the acid that rose in her throat. The stench in here was overwhelming. She kept her weapon holstered but tapped the charge button powering up her Kirillian Disruptor. The blaster made a tiny whine as it came to life but no one around her seemed to notice. She walked past the volunteers as they served soupy portions onto sectional trays and placed them on the line where the dregs of the galaxy picked them up. She allowed a moment of pity for them then moved on to an emotion she knew much better: rage.
Vivian slipped into the main hall and scanned the crowd. She ignored the few aliens in the large group and focused instead on the human women. Amazing the toll a hard life had on the face. Most had skin as wrinkled and supple as old leather. Aisle after aisle, Vivian looked into the faces of dozens of women, their hair streaked with gray, and their mouths full of discolored, broken teeth. Some looked up from their meager meal to watch her with dead, watery eyes. At the end of one table, quick movement caught her attention.
And there was her target, Mary Joe Craft, slave trafficker and narcotics peddler. Mary Joe may have been sixty-plus but she was no docile old lady. She'd been wanted for over ten years, making the transition from petty crimes to felonies without missing a beat. Mary Joe had become a special project for Vivian right after her last crime spree. Memories of Mary Joe's last victim came unbidden--a young woman chained to a wall and forced into prostitution. A small wave of nausea turned Vivian's stomach. It was hard being this close to evil. The sight of Mary Joe ignited a blistering fury in Vivian's belly. You're going to prison for the rest of your miserable life, scum.
Mary Joe jumped from her seat and pulled a small blaster from her waistband. She leveled the muzzle at Vivian and discharged a volley of fireballs. Vivian ducked just as the balls exploded onto the wall behind her setting the drywall on fire.
The soup kitchen erupted into pandemonium.
Vivian pulled the Disruptor and returned fire, but with all the people running and screaming her shots missed Mary Joe and skimmed the table instead leaving long burn marks along the surface. I'll be damned if you're going to get away from justice this time, you fucking scumbag.
Mary Joe ducked behind two fleeing men then sprinted for the exit. Vivian jumped onto a table and stalked forward fixing her sights on any part of the escaping felon she could target. When Mary Joe's back was visible through the crowd, Vivian fired. The fireballs skimmed the felon's back leaving a long, nasty burn mark. Mary Joe screamed and fell forward as the sea of fleeing bodies parted around her. In desperation, she let loose more fireballs, shooting at anyone unlucky enough to be nearby. Three men and one woman went down yelling from the fiery holes that burned through their chests. Wounded, Mary Joe crawled toward the door.
Vivian pointed her blaster at the woman's head. "Freeze or I'll torch your head off!"
The felon rolled onto her back and pumped the trigger several times. Three shots whizzed past Vivian's cheeks. They came so close, she felt her flesh heat up. She resisted the urge to return fire. She wanted Mary Joe alive to enjoy her lengthy prison sentence.