A chapter that may or may not become a story. You choose!


He supposed that it was after what came to be known as "The Frying Pan Incident" that Commander Root finally realized his feelings.

It was a routine pickup for the nightshift: big gnome, bigger gun, still bigger ego. His name was Franz Vino, and he had a track record that was comparable to Mulch Diggums'. Vino was a nasty fellow, and had already taken out an officer with his customized, illegally obtained Neutrino 3000. Now, he was hunkered down behind an overturned desk in the conference room in Police Plaza, shouting profanities and waving his gun at any officer that attempted to get nearer to him.

Julius Root palmed his blaster. He aimed it over the makeshift barricade—these desks are going to need replacing; there goes another chunk of the Recon budget, he thought—and trained the barrel on Vino's hefty skull.

A second later, Vino ducked behind his desk and swore violently as the blast soared over his head, singeing his trademark come-over. He fired in a rapid arc above the metal desk, nearly hitting more than one LEP officer.

"Commander!" Major Trouble Kelp yelled over the sounds of gunfire, "The door is at his back! If we don't do something quickly he's going to make a run for it!"

Julius nodded sharply in understanding and fired off his Neutrino again. "I'm well aware, Major. Where in hell is backup! This is a firefight in the middle of the goddamn Plaza, for the Gods' sake! Isn't anyone available?"

"The only people in the building at this hour are the techies, and they're at the other end of the building! Not to mention, none of them can hit the backside of a troll with a mud-man Bazooka!"

Julius swore under his breath, and then shot another dirty glare at the elf who had failed to notice Vino picking his handcuffs with a paperclip from his pocket. The officer withered, and then returned his attention to his comrade, who had also been escorting the criminal, and proceeded to heal another burn on the man's arm from the blaster.

The Commander growled. "We need to secure that door. He has shot an LEP officer with an illegal blaster, and I will not let him escape. Understood?"

The three other able officers in the room—exempt the afore mentioned officer due for a swift ass-kicking as soon as this whole ordeal was over, and his unconscious partner—nodded their understanding and simultaneously leveled their guns at the overturned desk. They proceeded to fire as many times as possible, strategically weakening the metal with the heated Neutrino blasts. Julius joined in, and soon Vino had been pushed away from the door he had been slowly heading towards, and the table was warping and twisting.

Julius could see the growing desperation in Vino's murky eyes every time he poked his head over the rim of the desk to get a shot off at them. Though his gun was bigger and quite a bit more powerful, it was quickly overheating. In addition, pieces of the desk were now chipping away, so warped were they from the repetitive blasts. Every time he attempted to shove the heavy desk closer to the door, a renewed assault of blasts halted his progress.

When Julius felt his trusted weapon begin to overheat—mental note: dock Foaly's budget and get him to improve coolant performance—he made a quick hand signal and his men ceased fire, their own overheated weapons still trained on the overturned desk. It was in this lull that Vino made his move.

Before any of the officers could react, Vino shot out from behind his source of cover, jumping over debris and fallen furniture and racing towards the open door.

To the right of this door there is a tiny little breakfast nook that the higher-ups use when they have to come in to work early to do Gods-knows-what. So, coffee-starved, they stumble into the nook and grab some steaming liquid caffeine, and maybe a pancake or two when some merciful soul decides to cook.

It happened that that morning, Captain Short arrived early and set about getting herself some coffee. Since the break room for the regular officers didn't open until 7, she decided the risk of getting caught was worth the reward of a steaming-hot cup of hazelnut coffee, her favorite. When she passed the conference room and saw the firefight, she ducked into the nook, and as much as she wanted to join the fray she knew that without her jumpsuit and gun—it was an office day, and she had left everything in her cubicle—she was about as useful as a troll in a glass factory.

So, she waited. And when Vino happened to show his terribly ugly mug in the doorway, Captain Short put all her weight into her swing, with her years of Crunchball training only adding to the force, and whacked the criminal soundly in the face with an iron frying pan.

It connected with an audible CLANG, closely followed by a crunch—that'd be his nose, Julius assumed—and Vino dropped like a stone, completely unconscious.

Holly checked once to make sure that Vino was, in fact, out for the count, and then glanced around the room, twirling the frying pan in her right hand. She flashed her trademark grin, placed her left hand on her hip and said in a jaunty tone, "How's it goin', boys?"

It was then Julius Root finally realized that he had fallen in love with Holly Short.