Cobra Commander was about to accomplish a life long goal.

With his completion of the final preparations for what he called the "Annihilation Program", where he would let his Brainwave Scanner kill his greatest enemies and foes inside his created VR world by unleashing untold horrors - with a push of a button, he would will the war!

He had spent years perfecting this scheme and countless hours programming the software and building the hardware of his new BWS, the compact/carry-on version.

And now his plan was at fruition. No regrets; all he had to do was push ENTER and all his problems with Snakes Eyes, Storm Shadow and Firefly would disappear.

"I'll miss the chase, Snake Eyes," he said to the images on the screen, "but there'll always be other challenges, other enemies to kill. Our long standing rivalry is now at an end!"

And with his finger over the key, he pressed down...

Only to jerk his hand back at the last second to avoid the sharp end of a small knife that, thrown, embedded itself between the spaces between the keys of his computer console, stopping the ENTER key from being depressed.

And moments later, the console shorted out and exploded.

Cobra Commander put his arms in front of him to shade himself from debris.

"Nooo!" Cobra Commander turned around quickly. Kamakura and Slice were free from their chains. "How the hell did you two get free?"

"A magician never reveals his secrets," Kamakura replied sarcastically.

Cobra Commander then saw the ninja that had been under control of his BWS start to regain consciousness, reviving on the medical beds. Storm Shadow, Snakes Eyes, even Firefly were all free, and taking off their visors.

"You ruined everything, you insufferable..."

Cobra Commander pulled a pistol from his side holster and fired several shots that went wide as Kamakura avoided them easily.

"Kill him, Slice! Now! You've been reinstated to Cobra! I want them all dead!"

"All of them? Even Firefly?" Slice gazed around at everyone, looking at Firefly.

Cobra Commander narrowed his eyes with contempt, angry that his orders had been questioned. Of course, Firefly, he thought.

But before any action could be taken, the far wall exploded inward and hordes of Cobra troops marched in, weapons drawn.

Cobra Commander laughed. "It appears, gentlemen, that luck does favor the prepared. What my Brainwave Scanner has failed to do, they will do for me! Kill them all!" Cobra Commander ordered.

"Belay that order!" a dominating voice sounded. And Serpentor stepped through the hole of the blasted out wall, regaled in his serpentine uniform and crown.

Cobra Commander hissed detestfully. The latest news was Serpentor had retreated from Washington. G I Joe and unified U S forces had beaten them back, with of course some anonymously planted information about their movements Cobra Commander had sent via a spy he had in the U S military echelon.

So what in Snake Hell was Serpentor doing here?

Cobra troops surrounded the others; the ninja: Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes, wouldn't dare move unarmed and with so many weapons pointed at them. Or would Firefly.

Serpentor must have sensed his displeasure and said, "Surprised to see me, Cobra Commander?"

Major Bludd came to stand at Serpentor's side. His non-artificial arm held in a brace, obviously injured in battle. And Serpentor didn't fair better. Although no apparent physical injury, his yellow, serpentine uniform was soiled with patches of black dirt, burnt; his cape shredded in several spots.

"My guess would be a homing beacon you planted on me somewhere, right?" Cobra Commander answered. "You came back for me, how touching."

He smiled under his helmet when Serpentor frowned, obviously displeased of the correct guesswork and the sarcastic remark.

"I'm not one of your stupid lackey's," Cobra Commander continued, "and I anticipated something like this would happen."

Serpentor looked intrigued and crossed his arms across his chest. "Indeed, Cobra Commander," he said. "So, tell me, do you also have an escape plan? My men have you and your guests surrounded."

He gave a glance to Kamakura, then back to Serpentor. "All good magicians do..." And despite a damaged computer console, Cobra Commander pressed a button on the side, which had a back-up power supply, and the room began to fill with an invisible gas, silently hissing from the vents.

Cobra Commander was safe, everyone else was not. His suit had a build in air circulation and filtration system.

Cobra Troopers began to drop like stones, and then Serpentor realized the danger and covered his mouth and nose with a hand. "Gas!" he shouted. "Everyone outside!"

All who could climbed back out the blasted wall. Cobra Commander took an alternative exit, an escape route he had just in case.

And as he did, he cursed Snake Eyes for escaping his grasp once again.

"You will be mine to kill one day, Snake Eyes..." he said, as he climbed into a small flight craft he had stashed away in the outside alleyway next to the warehouse. "A successful man never fails, he only learns ways that don't work and adapts."

The craft lifted off, extended its wings, and blasted into the sky.

Serpentor joined the others that escaped the poisonous gas, coughed a couple of times, and looked around.

His prisoners had fled during the commotion. Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, Firefly and Slice.

Firefly and Slice were Cobra agents, but they most likely fled out of instinct, not wanting to feel the wrath of their supreme leader for aligning with Cobra Commander. But they'd repent, he knew, and fall back into line with Serpentor, or die.

As for Cobra Commander...

Serpentor vowed if he ever got his hands on the man, death would be the lease of Cobra Commander's worries.

But he would send Wraith out; he was the ultimate bounty hunter. With his invincibility armour, the man was unstoppable!

Not even Cobra Commander would be able to hide from him!

But that would wait for later.

In a secluded area away from all activity, Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes clasped hands in a good-bye.

"We will always be blood brothers, my friend, even if we are on opposite sides, poised towards our own agendas," Storm Shadow said.

Snake Eyes nodded.

"But it was nice to hear your voice one last time...despite it being a facsimile in some computer world, it missed it. I hope you will be able to forgive me for all the atrocities I have done throughout the years, even to you? I've sinned so very much."

Snake Eyes smiled. "Good bye," he then mouthed.

Putting their masks back on, they both went their separate ways.

But after a few steps, Storm Shadow halted, turned, and watched his friend flee into an adjacent alley. Then he saw something on the ground, dropped.

Storm Shadow retrieved it. It was a folded piece of paper. On it was a written phrase. "He who forgives oneself, has a friend for life!"

Storm Shadow, aka Tommy Arashikage, smiled under his mask. "You speak volumes without saying a word, my friend. You are truly a wiser man than I am."

Storm Shadow then turned and fled in the opposite direction.


(Thanks to everyone who has stuck with the story and enjoyed it. R&R.)