The G.I.S.S. (a.k.a. the GUARDSMEN)
“Delivering interplanetary security excellence across the human frontier”
When the Free Colonies decided to discard their Protectorate charters, there quickly arose a problem dealing with interplanetary crime and security. Each major colony was fiercely independent, and all of them wanted their own, unique, sets of laws. There were disputes on extradition, smuggling, intellectual property rights, piracy, and a host of others. That is when Guardsman Interplanetary Security Services (GISS) stepped in.
The GISS, or Guardsmen as they are commonly known, was founded by a group of Protectorate Magistrates whose jurisdiction had once consisted of the territory now known as the Free Colonies. With backing from Protectorate financial sources, who were worried about stability in the newly independent worlds, the GISS made an offer to the Free Colonies. They would be an independent, interplanetary law enforcement agency, whose job it was to tackle interplanetary crime.
The GISS achieved this by having all colonies that would benefit from their services sign a charter of generally accepted interplanetary laws, which gave GISS operatives fairly expansive powers. They were successful in pushing this charter by getting key politicians to tie it to trade treaties between the colonies and the largest colony, Bifrost. No Guardsmen charter; no trade charter. The Guardsmen convinced Bifrost officials, and officials on several other colonies, that you couldn’t have trade without security. Many people see this as reasonable, but some believe the GISS bullied themselves into power and resent their operatives “meddling” in Free Colony affairs.
The Guardsmen have been successful at controlling interplanetary crime since their inception. They have hunted down fugitives, stopped interplanetary smuggling rings, and even quelled a multi-planet uprising by a religious fanatic. The only major problem they have not been able to quash is interplanetary piracy. The star pirates have a lot of assets and a lot of power, striking from secret bases in unpopulated systems at the outer edges of the trade routes. The Free Colonies need to settle new worlds and find new resources to grow, and putting an end to these rogue pirates, who sometimes have entire fleets at their command, is a top GISS priority.
The Guardsmen, by charter, are strictly prohibited to dealing with major crimes of an interplanetary nature. They do not handle domestic crime in any way; that is the job of planetary authorities. But as soon as a suspect in a major felony leaves the atmosphere, or as soon as something has legal implications on more than one world, the Guardsmen step in.
This sometimes puts them at odds with local law enforcement, as the Guardsmen tend to foster a view that interplanetary jurisdiction trumps local jurisdiction. What’s more, the Guardsmen wrangled extraordinary police powers for their operatives, similar to Magistrates in the Protectorate, and that can sometimes anger local police.
Some planets are, of course, more friendly to the Guardsmen than others. Bifrost is, by far, their largest support base, and some colonies even insinuate that the Guardsmen are little more than another arm of Bifrost’s influence. On the other end of the spectrum is New Tortuga, where Guardsmen tend to be stumped at every turn, and must sometimes operate under cover to ensure their own safety.
Major felonies are defined by the GISS Charter as:
Embezzlement of amounts over 20,000 credits
Theft of amounts over 20,000 credits
And similar capital crimes.
Things that are not covered by the GISS charter include:
Assault and Battery
Embezzlement or theft of amounts under 20,000 credits
Escorts into the Orion Expanse.
The Guardsmen have a special relationship with the Terran Protectorate. They have no charter, nor will they ever receive one, to enforce law in Protectorate territory. However, the Protectorate Magistrates do cooperate with the Guardsmen on the apprehension of suspects who have cross into, or out of, Protectorate space and into, or out of, the Free Colonies. The Protectorate grants Guardsmen extradition powers, after a suitable and fair hearing, and receives the same courtesy from the Guardsmen.
The Guardsmen also perform convoy escorts, interplanetary search and rescue, and prisoner transfer services.
The most well-known Guardsmen are the GISS Operatives. In their distinctive padded armor and HUD-equipped sunglasses, they are pretty much the face of the Guardsmen. Working individually, in pairs, or in small units, the Operatives take on the most dangerous assignments and the most dangerous criminals. They are somewhere between U.S. Marshal, secret agent, and Bladerunner.
They have a lot of autonomy, often work undercover, and are highly trained and well-equipped. Like the old Canadian Mounties back on earth, the Operatives have a reputation for always getting their man.
The Operatives are the elite of the Guardsmen, and some of the best-trained law enforcement agents in history. They are also given a tremendous amount of power, that can easily lead to corruption and abuse. This makes the GISS very watchful of its Operatives, and Operatives must always watch their step on investigations, or possibly face expulsion from the Guardsmen. Most of those operatives who are expelled from the organization have a permanent black mark on their employment record, making it very hard to prosper on most planets in the Free Colonies or even in the Protectorate.
Besides the operatives, who are the most well-known of the Guardsmen, there are also the Prisoner Transfer Specialists (PTS; self-explanatory); the Aerospace Defense and Interdiction Corps (starship crews and fighter pilots); and the Personnel and Property Security Team (security guards and body guards); as well as administration and support personnel.
See Specific O.C.C.s and vehicles below: