A/N: This is the "Director's Cut" of my G.I. Joe/Jem crossover event Chain of Command—a must-read for fans of both fandoms. Check it out in the G.I. Joe section. These are bits that I left out of the main narrative as they didn't quite fit, but they were too good to just throw away, and I still think they pass as acceptable stand-alone vignettes, even if you don't know the backstory. For those coming in from the Joe side, I hope this fills in some gaps, and for those just joining us, I hope your appetite was whetted enough to check out the aforementioned.
Call of the Quanta
Mainframe swiped his security card and the electronic lock chimed, granting him access to the the special wing of the Motor Pool. He crossed the threshold, double checking his shirt pocket for the special paper folded inside. He opened the door to the main lab and regarded Airtight, who was hunched over an examination table, on which various electronic parts were strewn.
"Don't mind me, I just came to borrow your UV lamp."
"No problem," Airtight replied absentmindedly.
As Mainframe rummaged through the utility drawer, he became curious enough to ask. "Still trying to figure out Synergy, I see."
Airtight's attention remained primarily focused on the remnants of a burnt out motherboard. He peered intently through his magnifying glass, saying, "I wanted to take one last stab at it before we shipped it off to some dank CIA dungeon, never to be heard from again."
"Did you find out anything new?"
"Not so much what I did find, but what I didn't find concerns me: there's no evidence of a central processing unit."
"Yes, I noticed that too." Mainframe smiled when he found the UV lamp, and he retrieved the paper from his pocket.
"What could that mean?"
Mainframe adjusted the lamp's settings while he explained, "Well, there's two possibilities. Either Synergy is not a computer, or it used some type of transient CPU."
"Something virtual, eh? That would imply volatility." Airtight rubbed his chin. "What possible advantage could that have?"
"Portability, scalability and complexity… maybe even on the order of the human brain."
"You've been talking to Sci-Fi again, haven't you?" Airtight scoffed.
"He's good to bounce ideas off of sometimes…." Mainframe grew quiet as he shined the lamp on the paper.
Airtight finally looked up from his magnifying glass, newly curious as to what held Mainframe's attention. "Isn't that Brad's note from Eagle Records?"
"No," Mainframe said, lying. He turned off the special light and put the folded paper back into his pocket. "Thanks for the use of your lamp."
Mainframe spied Beach Head walking past and decided to follow him so as to not entertain any follow up questions that might pique Airtight's hyper perception.
He caught up to the Master Sergeant as he entered the garage. "Hey Beach, you have a sec?"
Beach Head gave Mainframe a sideways glance. "If this is about your PTO, I already approved your request to get the weekend off."
"Thanks, Beach," Mainframe said. "I… uh, ran into an old friend and wanted to catch up. It's a challenge syncing our schedules."
"I don't need to know the details. Just be back Sunday evening before the Call to Quarters."
Mainframe grinned broadly. "Yessir."
"What's with that dumb look on yo' face?"
"Nothing." Mainframe shrugged. "It's just that I'm proud of you: you're finally starting to loosen up a little…. Between my PTO, and you getting Techrat a job, it makes me wonder if a certain famous rock star was the catalyst?"
"Unlikely," Beach Head replied, unimpressed. "Techrat is too tempting an asset not to keep on a leash, and as for you… PTO can easily be revoked."
Mainframe's grin disappeared. "Shutting up now."
The two soldiers arrived at the VAMP's reserved spot on the floor. With his hands clasped behind his back, Beach Head commanded, "Techrat, front and center!"
The large RV's portal opened with a hiss of steam. Techrat, wearing a regulation ACU, exited the vehicle.
Beach Head presented the civilian an object, saying, "This is your permanent badge: it goes everywhere you go. If you lose it, I will have your ass for breakfast, do you understand me?"
"Understood." Techrat took the proffered object and clipped it on the lanyard around his neck. "Tell me again how this is better than jail? Last time I checked slavery was illegal."
Mainframe grinned. "Last time I checked, prison doesn't give you free access to the grounds, or let you play with future tech."
Techrat frowned. "Your logic is impeccable."
Beach Head continued. "Keep in mind, Techrat, that this is all provisional upon you getting my VAMP, that you broke, working exactly as it did before."
"No way," Techrat said aloofly. "It's gonna work better."
Beach Head snorted. "Carry on." And he left.
Mainframe patted Techrat on the shoulder proudly. "Some of the other tech guys are going off base tonight. You wanna come with?"
"I'm gonna work late. Some other time, perhaps?"
As the computer specialist made his egress, Techrat called out to him. "Mainframe, thank you for believing in me."
Alone again, Techrat retired to the VAMP, being sure to lock the entrance behind him. He resumed his work at the communication station. He pushed a button, and a small dish descended from the ceiling. He flipped open the keyboard cover and typed the command:
run progam RogerBacon
And he stared at the resulting blinking cursor on the screen. Minutes passed until his patience was rewarded: a beam of light flickered from the antenna. A miniature holographic effigy of a periwinkle-colored woman was made manifest, and it floated a foot in front of his smiling face.
She returned his smile. "Hello, Walter."
Walk of Shame
Stormer sat content on the sofa in the media room of Gabor mansion. She was all set to enjoy her post breakfast ritual, watching her favorite show Good Morning LA, when her experience was ruined by what sounded like a dying ostrich. With a frown, she regarded Jetta, who stood in the far corner, struggling to play her new instrument.
Tried as she might, Jetta failed to produce even a semi-steady tone from her generic saxophone as she continued to crack pitches on every note of the chromatic scale, following each up with a string of popular British curses.
Stormer turned the volume up on the television, annoyed. "You actually plan on playing that thing, or are you just gonna squawk all day?"
"It's not my fault." Jetta put the saxophone back in its case. "This instrument that Eric expensed is rubbish."
Stormer smirked. "Sheila, it's the musician that makes the instrument."
Jetta folded her arms with a scowl. "I'll be sure to remember that, as you play your three-thousand dollar keytar, Mary." And she plopped herself down in the plush chair next to the sofa.
Their attention was then drawn to the quiet creak of the opening door. In walked Roxy, hunched over and shuffling sleepily to the end table where she set down her purse.
"Well, look who finally decided to show up, still wearing last night's clothes, no less," Jetta said with a sneer. "What have you been doing, Roxanne?"
Stormer couldn't resist adding, "I think you mean, who has she been doing, Sheila?"
"Get your heads out of the gutter," Roxy said with her hands on her hips. "I was a good girl; and he was a perfect gentleman."
Stormer straightened. "This is the Army guy you told me about, right?" And she beckoned Roxy over by patting the cushion next to her, saying, "Spill the details."
Jetta parroted the sentiment. "Is he well hung?"
Roxy blushed. "Stop it." She sat on the cushion next to Stormer and removed her shoes. "There's nothing to tell. We danced all night."
Jetta narrowed her eyes. "The clubs close at two. What did you do for the rest of the night?"
Roxy yawned and stretched her arms. "He drove me to the desert, and I handled his pistol."
"You slut!" Jetta gasped. "I knew it!"
"No, silly," Roxy giggled. "For real. He let me shoot his gun."
"So, that's it?" Stormer questioned, with a disappointing pout. "Just dancing and gunfire?"
"No, we also laid in the back of his pickup, looking up at the stars, and just… talked." Roxy smiled, and she sighed thoughtfully.
Jetta smirked. "So, he's gay, then?" It broadened to a lopsided grin. "That, or he has standards."
Roxy laughed. "Jetta's so funny, isn't she, Mary?"
"Er, yeah, I guess…" Stormer shared a worried look with Jetta. "Are you sure everything's all right, Roxy?"
Roxy reclined her head on the cushion. "Yeah, why?"
"No, offense, honey, but you're being uncharacteristically magnanimous toward Jetta."
Roxy stared blankly at Stormer. "What does magnanimous mean?"
Jetta regarded Roxy with suspicion. "It means, are you the real Roxy, or one of those bloody robots?"
Roxy rolled her eyes. "Mary, you have a birthmark that looks like an armadillo just below your bikini line, and Sheila… you are an armadillo."
Stormer and Jetta shared a look; satisfied, they shrugged in abeyance.
"Sorry, Roxy." Jetta said. "I guess I'm a little cross over me sax."
Roxy's eyelids were too heavy to broker a reply. "I gotta to take a shower, but I need to rest first." She laid her head on Stormer's lap.
Stormer smiled as she stroked her bandmate's wavy snow-white hair. "Did you have a good time?"
"He sounds like a nice guy."
"He's smart… and beautiful... And he's strong... and gentle..." Roxy drifted off, soon followed by the rhythmic breathing brought on by peaceful slumber.
Jetta curled up on her cushion, hugging her knees. "I give it a month."
"Sheila, behave." Stormer turned the volume down on the television.
Jetta grinned. "Oi, 'ow is it that Roxy knows you 'ave a birthmark under your bikini line?"
Stormer's reply was deadpan. "What happens on a deserted tropical island, stays on a deserted tropical island."
"Can I see it?"
Stormer's pillow hit Jetta in the face.
A knock on the door prefaced the arrival of the head butler. He entered gracefully, carrying a package addressed to Jetta, which she curiously accepted. She set it on the coffee table.
"What is it?" Stormer questioned. Her interest likewise piqued.
Jetta opened the case. Her eyes widened as she pulled out a flawless obsidian colored alto saxophone. "It's a custom Selmer Paris… the same brand as my old sax."
Stormer's brow furrowed in wonder. "Is it from Eric?"
"There's no way Eric spent money on this." Jetta installed her mouthpiece as she regarded the butler. "When did this come in?"
"It was delivered just now at the front gate, Madam Burns," the butler replied stoically.
Jetta left, saxophone in hand, unconcerned with her state of dress. She ran out of the the mansion as quickly as she could, the traction on her slippers permitting, and did not stop until she reached the front gate. She stilled at the iron bars and peered beyond to an empty street.
The guard at the gate approached the raven-haired misfit. "May I help you, Miss Burns."
Jetta frowned. "No thanks." And she started to walk back, but she reversed herself at the last moment to ask, "Er, regarding the delivery man… what color was his hair?"
The guard pursed his lips in thought. "Now that you mention it, oddly enough, his hair was orange."
"Do you know him?"
She smirked. "Not yet…." And she retired to the mansion, playing a beautiful melody on her new saxophone.
My Sister Christy
The intercom on Eric Raymond's desk buzzed.
He pushed the red button. "What is it?"
His secretary's voice sounded over the speaker. "Mr. Raymond, your sister Christy is here to see you."
Fuck…. Eric turned off the intercom and sat in his chair quietly, his hands clasped together with his fingers interlaced. He took in a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He eventually rose from his chair but took his time walking to the large mahogany double doors at his office entrance. He depressed the clicker and the heavy doors parted.
At their opening, a young woman with black hair, wearing a form-fitting grey business suit, greeted him. "Eric."
"Christy," Eric greeted in kind. He met her at the threshold, and they embraced.
"Brother, darling, it's been ages."
"Oh, how I've missed you, dear sister." He led her into office. He pressed the clicker and the doors closed behind them.
Christy kissed Eric's check, and then she whispered into his ear, "Is this room secure?"
Eric held up a quieting finger and went to his desk. He pushed the button hidden under his lamp and said, "We can speak freely now." He then walked over to the bar. "Care for a drink?"
"I'm on duty," Christy said. "As are you."
"Staying in character is part of my duty, dollface." Eric poured two glasses of brandy. "Besides, it's not everyday I get a visit from 'corporate.'"
"I see that you've been undercover for so long that you've forgotten your place, Officer Raymond."
"Officer?" Eric's brow lifted. "Am I being reactivated?"
"No." Christy folded her arms. "Your failure to gain a stronger foothold in the West Coast music industry has left a stain on your record. As a result, your continued standing as an asset is dubious at best."
"Nice try, but I know a shakedown when I see one. My loyalty to the corporation is above reproach. My non-involvement in the Paris Insurrection is proof of this."
"Only because your battle field prowess leaves much to be desired."
"I excel in a different type of battlefield. Or, do I need to remind you that being part owner of one the largest record labels in the country has secured me a position that puts me in daily personal contact with the son of General Llewellyn." He confidently approached, a glass of brandy in each hand. "And let's also not forget that my continued relationship with Phyllis Gabor was recently leveraged to kick-off an operation that I suspect was not sanctioned by the corporate office?"
"Impressive. I can see why the twins personally hand picked you for this post." She accepted the proffered glass. "We may need your continued assistance in the future for there has been a... complication."
"I understand. You will have my full cooperation, of course"—he took a sip—"in exchange for some... assurances?"
"Word on the snake-vine is that the company is in the midst of a reorg; I just want to make sure that whoever comes out on top remembers the risks that I'm taking."
"Of course. Not only will you have the stakeholders' appreciation"—she raised her glass—"you will have mine as well."
He smiled as their glasses clinked. "Hail Cobra."
'Christy' exited the main entrance of Stinger's Sound. She casually made note of her surroundings and walked westward for two blocks, after which she surveyed her surroundings again. Satisfied, she regarded her watch and pushed the button all the way in, causing it to beep once. Thirty seconds later a limousine pulled up. She recognized the driver as he got out, and he opened the passenger door for her.
She entered the car and grimaced at the site of the old man sitting across from her. "Yuck, you're even older this time."
The seeming old man was not moved. "What did you find out, Zarana?"
"Corporate suspects nothing. This Eric Raymond bloke was smart enough to've kept his mouth shut…. I think we may even be able to turn him as a potential asset."
Zartan smiled. "Excellent."
"As you predicted none of this even made the media."
Zartan shrugged. "Who would believe them?"
"So, do we have any remaining loose ends on our side?"
"Zandar was able to cover our tracks: he destroyed the computers and remotely self destructed the HARPys… all except for one."
Her eyes narrowed. "So, one of those things is still on the loose? Should we worry?"
He scowled. "No… that will be a story for another time."
"Destro's not going to like that."
"Destro can eat a dick."
"Have you spoken with Zandar?"
"He's already back in Louisiana. The Joes left Thrasher, Torch, Monkeywrench and Buzzer unguarded as they stormed our base, so fortunately Zandar was able to double back and free them before the Army arrived."
"What about Ripper?" she questioned. "I thought he was right behind me after the fight."
"He got sloppy and allowed himself to get captured. He's in the infirmary at L.A. Army reserve until they can move him: apparently someone beat him to within an inch of his life," Zartan said. "As far as I'm concerned, he can rot in prison."
She grinned. "Couldn't'a happened to a nicer bloke."
"I take it you're not flying back with me?"
She snorted. "No offence, but I've been wearing granny panties all week… I'm done."
"Thank you for help, sister. I figured you could've used the distraction."
"It was fun, brother."
He moved to her side, sitting next to her. "You are my greatest asset." And he took her hand in his.
"You're sweet." Zartan kissed her hand. "Sorry, you didn't get your new toy. Better luck next time, yeah?"
"It hasn't been a total loss," Zartan said with a shrug. "Do you need us to drop you off anywhere?"
Shaking her head, she said her goodbyes, and she left. The cabin was quiet, until the privacy glass descended.
The driver adjusted his rear view mirror, saying, "That's a classy lady you have there, Guv'nor."
Zartan continued to gaze out of the window. "Stop eye-humping my sister, Zanzibar."
"Right." Zanzibar cleared his throat. "So, when's your flight?"
Zartan finally regarded him. "We're going shopping first. I need some raw materials."
"It's your dime. Where are we heading?"
"Silicon Valley." Zartan pushed the button, and the privacy glass raised. He reached into his jacket and retrieved the Jemstar Earring. He regarded the dormant gem at it's center, and he smiled broadly, giving way to maniacal laughter.