Once a Man

            Disclaimer: Uh…GI Joe isn't mine…as if you didn't know that already…

            Set in GI Joe: The Movie, Roadblock and Cobra Commander have a little talk in the underground rivers beneath Cobra La.

            Let me add that while I hate Roadblock's style of speech, especially the rhyming, I still tried to get it right. But it's enough to give any self-respecting writer a heart attack, so you are warned.


            "Man, I can't see, where the hell are we?!"

            It was the fifth time Roadblock had shouted that out. The GI Joe was staggering helplessly through a knee-deep underground river, stumbling forward blindly—literally. Cobra La's hulking Nemesis Enforcer had managed to blind Roadblock, but he was not totally helpless—the hideous reptilian beast he carried in his arms was the mutating form of Cobra Commander, the leader of the international Cobra organization. But his punishment from Lord Golobulus was to be the first victim of the spores that would soon be descending upon the entire Earth…and GI Joe was totally unaware of that, for now.

            "We are underneath Cobra La," Cobra Commander answered quietly. He groaned. "All useless!"

            "What're you even sayin', man?" Roadblock muttered impatiently, before he let out a yelp of surprise as the ground gave way beneath him and he found himself struggling to stay above water. Cobra Commander clung lifelessly to his shoulder as he battled his way through the current, coughing and growling in frustration.

            "I was once a man!" Cobra Commander hissed mournfully. "A man!"

            "And why're you all scaly?" Roadblock demanded, alighting against a rocky outcropping and grabbing Cobra Commander by the neck. "I thought you were a man!"

            "I was once a man!" Cobra Commander repeated. "A man! But no more!" He shook his head, finding it not difficult to break out of Roadblock's weakened grip, but also finding no reason to.

            "So why are you all scaly now!?" Roadblock repeated angrily. "Talk, dude!"

            "I was once a citizen of Cobra La," Cobra Commander answered. "I was a scientist, but I was horribly disfigured in a lab experiment gone wrong!"

            "Figures," Roadblock snorted, "science dudes all got bad 'tudes."

            "Cobra La used to rule the planet, but the Ice Age destroyed their kingdom, and humans evolved in their wake," Cobra Commander went on. "Your culture infuriates them, they hate technology based on inorganic substances."

            "So that's the deal with those crazy plants," Roadblock murmured. "But that ain't all the story, man, now tell me what else they got planned."

            "They sent me out into the world to raise an army and destroy the human civilization," Cobra Commander responded, hissing in frustration, "but that fool Serpentor ruined everything, they made me the scapegoat, they punished me!" He hissed again in rage. "They're going to launch spores into the air that will turn all humans into mindless beasts! I am their first victim! And only those beneath Cobra La's ice dome will escape!"

            "So they gonna wipe out everyone?" Roadblock murmured. "Haven't you tried that before?"

            "That was my job!" Cobra Commander shrieked angrily. "I was the hope of Cobra La!"

            "And we beat yo rear every time, so that's why they reptile-d you," Roadblock nodded. "You got some weird people, man."

            "They betrayed me!" Cobra Commander raged. He pounded the rock helplessly. "Useless! All useless!"

            "Man, would you stop that?!" Roadblock cried in annoyance, shaking Cobra Commander roughly a few times. "Now I know why you've been fightin us..."

            "It was my job!" Cobra Commander shouted. "My glory! And they betrayed me!" He pounded his fist on the rock again. "Useless!"

            "Well what about my eyes, man?" Roadblock insisted. "They gonna get better?"

            "In time," Cobra Commander hissed in response. "Your eyesight will be restored in time. Nemesis Enforcer's blinding serum is only temporary." He hissed in rage again. "But not the spore they used on me!"

            Roadblock suddenly found himself feeling sorry for the serpentine creature screaming in agony and sorrow as he mutated from man to beast. As he pounded the rock helplessly again, Roadblock fell silent. He could not see, but Cobra Commander's mournful cries were enough to move even him, one of GI Joe's best, to feel sorry for the leader of the terrorist organization they had so long fought against.

            "Hey man, don't freak out," Roadblock said uneasily. "Just get me back to all my friends and we'll find a way to turn you back into a man."

            "No!" Cobra Commander wailed, slamming the rock again. "It cannot be undone!" He cried again, grabbing Roadblock by the collar in his desperate, helpless fury. "I was once a man! A man!"

            Silence fell over the two as Roadblock felt pity again on his longtime foe.

            "Yo only helpin me for revenge," he muttered, feeling slightly annoyed but not as much as he normally would—the Cobra La had done a pretty nasty thing to him, after all, mutating him from man to beast.

            "Of course!" Cobra Commander exclaimed. "You're only helping me because I could lead you out of Cobra La!"

            "Hey, dude, I got no reason to listen to you, soon as I'm back with my friends you're through!"

            He paused, not entirely sure what to say next.

            "Then again," he murmured, "maybe you're already through."

            "I was once a man!" Cobra Commander echoed. Roadblock rolled his currently-useless eyes and grabbed Cobra Commander's arm, pushing off from the rock and rushing downstream. "A man!"

            Coughing and sputtering, he found it harder going this time, and alighted against another rock, feeling Cobra Commander slip from his grasp.

            "Useless!" the former terrorist leader cried. "All useless!"

            "Come on, snap outta it!" Roadblock cried, pulling Cobra Commander closer to the rocks keep him from being swept away. "Neither of us'll make it if you don't hang together!"

            "I was once a man!" Cobra Commander groaned. "A man!"

            "I can't see," Roadblock grumbled, "but I can still—hey!" His fingers brushed against something metallic, and he held up Cobra Commander's fallen mask out of the water. "This is yo faceplate!"

            "Was my mask!" Cobra Commander corrected. "Just as I was once a man!"

            The ethereal sound of something launching filled the air, and Roadblock looked up in surprise.

            "I don't like that crazy sound," he murmured, "tell me, dude, what's goin down?"

            "The beginning of the end of human civilization," Cobra Commander answered, "unless you warn GI Joe in time!"

            "Then let's move it!" Roadblock exclaimed, lifting Cobra Commander out of the water and standing.

            "Straight ahead!" Cobra Commander groaned, as Roadblock struggled forward. "A mountain path! That's it...faster! Faster...!"