Don't own GIJOE, never will. Own my imagination only. Thank you Amy Kay and Pixie Red for Beta reading. Comments welcome. Thank you I would love to hear what you think of this story.

Scarlett Slipper

The Sky Striker squadron descended towards the long airstrip. They landed in the air field, their wheels rolling on the pavement, and coming to a halt just outside of one of the hangars. The cockpits opened and the five pilots exited the planes. Two Tomahawks landed behind the five G. I. Joe aircrafts. A dozen Greenshirts departed the aircrafts, and quickly headed towards the barracks for a long deserved rest.

The small unit of Joes started walking towards the main building, heading directly for the meeting room and one awaiting general.

Each face had a different façade, from displeasure, to stressful, from annoyance, to relief with a hint of thank goodness it's all over. Two Greenshirts followed the five soldiers.

"I wonder what's in that trunk that made us all almost lose our heads, Flint?" asked the curious voice, behind two of the members.

"Alpine, your guess is as good as mine," Flint answered, not even looking back to the object the other member indicated.

"Well, as long as it's not Pandora's box, I'll be happy," Alpine replied, glancing back towards the large green trunk.

"Alpine, Pandora's box is from Greek mythology, we brought the trunk back from China," a female's voice replied to his guessing.

"Well, maybe then Pandora's box was made in China, Lady Jaye."

"Funny, Alpine, but highly unlikely." Lady Jaye shook her head. "But I'm intrigued myself on the contents inside that trunk."

"I'm intrigued why Cobra wanted this particular old trunk in the first place," a second female's voice came from behind the couple and the mountain climber.

"Maybe old Freak Face forgot his mother's things in there, Scarlett," Alpine joked.

"Funny, Alpine." Scarlett rolled her eyes. "I don't think a pair of old bloomers would have Cobra Commander sending a few dozen Cobra B.A.T.s and two highly skilled Ninjas to retrieve a few hundred year old undergarments."

"Well, don't forget Miss O'Hara, we also had a few skilled martial arts experts," Alpine pointed out, towards the dark uniformed silent member of the team, walking beside the counterintelligence agent. "And not to mention a dozen Greenshirts."

"At least Greenshirts have brains, instead of microchips in their heads," Lady Jaye joked. "Otherwise, we would have lost this battle."

The others laughed at the covert ops. agent's humor. All but the third in command, who turned around and glared at the foursome.

"Alright, no more jokes. Whatever is in this trunk has both Hawk and Duke chewing bullets and spitting only out the shells. So I suggest you all can it."

"Goats eat cans." Alpine pointed out, but then gulped from the warrant officer's stern features.

Flint stared at the ceiling, rolled his eyes and shook his head in dismay. Then he stared at all of them, pointing with his index finger. "Alright, next one who says a joke or even thinks about a joke, is going to seeing nothing but cans for at least three weeks! Got it?"

They all nodded, afraid to even answer the warrant officer.

"Good, now move. We're late," he ordered, turning back around and heading for the meeting room.

Scarlett walked close to Lady Jaye, and whispered softly, "Next time, don't open the can of worms."

"I think I'm going to do the can-can on his warrant officer egotistical head," Lady Jaye whispered back, spitting imaginary fireballs at the man in front of her.

"Can you?" Scarlett smirked, at the other woman.

"Oh, yes, I can," Lady Jaye answered, returning the smile.

Flint whirled around so quickly, that both women collided with him. He stared down at their guilty features. "What did I just say? Can't you people stop with the jokes!" he scolded both of them.

Alpine and Snake Eyes stood still, glancing from the warrant officer to the two women of the Joe team, this was not going to be a pretty sight.

"Well, hope you like this joke then. Both of you have nothing but cleaning cans for three weeks," Flint stated, indicating to the punishment they both would receive. "Now, move."

The women nodded their heads silently, and followed the warrant officer down the hall, with an silently smiling ninja and mountain climber behind them.

Entering the room, they noticed that there were several other members of the elite force, and a very short, old, thin, gray haired man, who wore a kimono.

Hawk looked up from the head of the table, nodding to the Unit, and watched them take their seats.

The second in command paced in front of the room, his features hard, serious and filled with unpleasantness. Duke, stopped in his tracks, acknowledged the others, and stood inches from the first in command. His jaw was set, his lips in a tight thin line and his eyes, colder than any icicle ever created.

Two other G. I. Joe members occupied the room, and the others shared a curious glance on why Quick Kick and Jinx were taking part of this highly classified meeting.

"I see you were able to retrieve it." Hawk indicated towards the trunk. "Put it on the table," he ordered the two Greenshirts.

The two lower ranking soldiers placed the trunk in the middle of the meeting table, and high tailed it out of the room, as if the trunk was indeed Pandora's box and it would unleash all the devastation in the world.

"Now," Hawk rested his elbows on the table, his brown eyes glued to the trunk in the middle of the table and his face filled with leadership. "Whatever is said, heard and seen, remains in this room only."

Everyone nodded towards the leader of the G. I. Joe unit.

Duke walked towards the old gentleman in the room, who sat next to General Hawk. "This is Ying Ty," he said, indicating to the old Asian man sitting in front of him. "Cobra became very interested in one of Ying's ancestors, and the story behind the trunk."

"Yes, for many centuries my family knew the legend of the trunk, but we never knew the location, until now," the old man explained to the team members.

"Is this the right trunk, Mr. Ying?" Duke asked the older man.

Ying Ty nodded. "Yes, Duke-son. This is the trunk my ancestor Ying Li hid from the world centuries ago, in an old temple, high in the mountains, far from man."

Hawk turned towards his third in command. "Did you find the temple?"

"Yes. But we were too late. Cobra had already been there, and had already destroyed everything," the warrant officer answered.

The Asian man's eyes filled with great sorrow and bowed his head down for a silent prayer for the temple monks, that had lost their lives, guarding his ancestor's secret.

"How did the blazes did you uncover the trunk?" Duke asked bewildered.

"Scarlett," Flint answered.

All eyes turned to the redhead, whose face had changed into a bright pink color.

Hawk raised an eyebrow. "How?"

"She fell down a well," Flint answered for his embarrassed comrade.

Duke tilted his head towards the redhead in pure confusion, staying silent.

"The trunk was hidden down the well, in a underground tunnel," Flint finished explaining.

"Scarlett, did you find anything else down there?" Hawk asked the intelligence officer.

"Yeah, like maybe a frog," Duke said, under his breath sarcastically.

Scarlett sent an icy glare at the first sergeant before answering her commanding officer, "No, sir. The trunk was by itself, I couldn't find anything else down the tunnel."

"I see. Good work, all of you. But we're not out of the woods, yet. Cobra is still after the one thing that is inside this trunk," Hawk informed the group.

"And what is that?" asked Scarlett.

"Destiny," Ying Ty answered in a soft voice.

"I knew this was something like Pandora's box!" Alpine stated, nodding his head towards the green trunk.

"Yeah, only this is much more dangerous than what was inside Pandora's box," Quick Kick pointed out, making the entire room turn towards him.

"Can you explain on that?" Flint asked, now more nervous on what they had brought with them.

Ying Ty stood up. "Better, I will show you, Flint-son."

The old man raised his hand, shakily, and inserted it under his black Asian hat, and took out a silver key. His hand slowly guided itself to the trunk's key hole, inserting the key and unlocking the trunk. The lock clicked and the lid slowly opened on its own accord, making a few eyes wide, watching the phenomenon.

"Are you kidding me!" Alpine's voice finally broke the silence that had enveloped in the room.

"What on Earth?" Flint asked, perplexed.

"It's another trunk," Lady Jaye pointed out to the second trunk.

The smaller trunk had a deep blue exterior and once again another lock! All eyes turned to Ying Ty, amazed, and watching him once again, raise his hand, and taking out a second key, smaller than from the first version. And once again, the old man unlocked the trunk, and once again the Joe members watched the second trunk, open its lid by itself, revealing what it held.

"No way!" Quick Kick cried out in surprise.

"I'm having déjà vu." Flint shook his head, eyeing the third trunk.

All eyes now went to the third trunk, which had a deep purple color, and once again the old man took out from his hat a third key, smaller than the first two and once again, he unlocked the third trunk. The Joes all looked intensely at the opening lid of the third trunk.

Lady Jaye covered her face with her hands. "Please tell me that is not another trunk!"

"Fine, I won't tell you that's another trunk," Alpine replied.

"Another one!" Flint looked at the fourth trunk, shaking his head continuously.

Scarlett remained quiet, watching once again the old man take out a fourth key, and once again watched him open the fourth trunk, which was silver, and decorated with a red dragon. The fourth trunk opened and the room once again shook their heads.

"A fifth trunk!" Alpine almost shouted.

"Now, this is getting nerve racking!" Flint stated, looking at the old man, watching him now put both of his hands on the table and look around the room.

"Mr. Ying Ty, are you going to unlock this trunk too?" Quick Kick asked, now looking at a gold trunk, the smallest of the others, all golden and with a silver dragon holding a red stone in its mouth designed in the front.

"I do not have the last key, Quick Kick-son." Ying Ty answered.

"Then who has the last key?" Hawk asked, wanting to take action. If Cobra found the key to open the secret of the trunk, then heaven knew what would be unleashed to the world.

"We have to find that key," Duke proclaimed, pounding his right fist in his left palm.

"The question is, how do we find it?" Lady Jaye pointed out.

"Do we even know where it is?" Flint asked, looking towards the old man, hoping for an answer.

Ying Ty slowly nodded. "I know where the key is."

Everyone stared at the old man, waiting for him to inform them of the location of the fifth key, so that they could retrieve it before Cobra.

"Where?" Hawk asked.

"The key is in this room," came the answer.

They all stared at each other in silence, confused. Didn't he had just inform them that he did not have the key? Then how could it be in this room?

"Then, who has the key?" Duke asked, to Ying Ty.

"I do," came a voice in the back end of the table, and all heads turned towards Jinx, who had been silent for the entire meeting. The female ninja pulled out her sword and laid it on the table. Even Snake Eyes looked surprised at his student.

Jinx took then the handle in her hand, and with a twist, it came apart. A small key fell to the table with a click.

Everyone watched mystified as the ninja stood up from her chair, and walked towards the trunk. Her hand quivered, holding the silver key, and inserting it in the last keyhole, unlocking the last trunk. The small golden trunk's lid slowly opened, and unleashed a small red light, glowing from inside the trunk.

"Is that it?" Alpine asked, his eyes wide, staring down inside the trunk.

"We have to guard that?" Scarlett asked unimpressed.

"That Scarlett in the wrong hands, can destroy our entire world," Duke answered her with an icy tone.

Scarlett sent him a scowling look towards his cold features.

"You have to be kidding me!" Flint mumbled, stunned at the golden trunk's secret.

"What is that thing?" Snake Eyes signed, glancing at the object in the trunk.

"It's a necklace," Scarlett answered him. "We risk our necks for a necklace."

Ying Ty bowed his head, feeling the skepticism around the room. His eyes gazed upon the thin chained golden necklace which held a tiny red stone. It brightly glowed in the small space of the trunk, which had not seen light for centuries.

"Joes. We need to guard this necklace. We cannot fail to have it fall into Cobra's hands," Hawk stated, his own eyes glued on the red stone.

"Each of you is going to guard the stone, while two others will guard the room's entrance," Duke explained, pacing back and forth. He stopped at looked directly at the redhead. "And seeming that you Scarlett have taken a fancy to the stone, you'll be the first to guard it."

Scarlett stared back at him, her features turning bright red, but remained quiet. He had given her an order and whether she liked it or not, she had to obey it.

Duke's features only showed professionalism, while he began to point out each of the Joe's assignments.

"Why is he being such a cold stone?" Jaye whispered to the redhead, her eyes watching the first sergeant carefully, hoping they wouldn't be spotted talking.

"I don't know, he's been acting different for a while now," Scarlett whispered back, her dark blue eyes glancing at the red stone.

"If you mean different that he's gotten frostbite down you know where, then I will agree with you," Jaye answered with a smirk.

Scarlett snickered softly, before swallowing the giggle down her throat.

"Do you care to join the rest of the class?" Duke snarled at the two women.

They stayed quiet, watching him glare at both of them, his features in a deep frown, not pleased by their negligence.

"I want to see both of you, in my office at 0800 hours tomorrow morning," Duke said, in an unpleasant tone.

All eyes traveled to the women, who seemed not pleased by his tone of voice.

"Looks like both of you are going to be cleaning every can on the base," Alpine whispered with a snicker.

"What's his problem?" Lady Jaye asked. "You both used to get along so well."

Scarlett sighed. "I know. At one point, I thought we were friends, maybe more, but--"

"Scarlett and Lady Jaye!" Duke shouted, the sound thundering in the room, making both women's heads snap towards his voice. "Can you two stop being in high school for one second?"

Silence enveloped the room, the first sergeant glaring at the two counterintelligence and covert operative agents. He began to pace once again, back into his leadership personality.

Scarlett and Lady Jaye sent each other a knowing look before turning back to attention at the trunk in front of them.

"Scarlett, can I see you after the meeting is adjourned?" Duke's unpleasant voice hissed in the redhead's ear, sending a shiver down her spine.

Jaye gulped, spotting Flint giving her the same look, which covered the unhappy field commander's features.

Scarlett nodded, remaining in the same position, facing the table, not even turning towards his voice, or his face.

"I think this meeting is adjourned," Hawk stated, standing up. "The first group to take watch are Scarlett, Quick Kick and Alpine." He then turned to Ying Ty. "Rest assured, we will make sure Cobra doesn't get their claws on the stone."

Ying Ty nodded. "Thank you, General Hawk, and for all our sakes, I hope they don't."

"Does this thing have a name?" Alpine asked, looking towards the glowing red gem.

"It is called the Destiny stone," Ying Ty explained. "It is said that the stone belonged to the heart of an ancient dragon, which roamed the China sky a thousand years ago. A man named Te Nah Xing vowed to destroy the dragon and destroy the heart. He battled the dragon for ten years, and in the end defeated the great animal. Legend says that the dragon swallowed him with its last breath, while another says that Nah Xing opened the dragon's chest, took the heart in his hand and turned to dust."

Everyone once again glanced at the stone, which continued to glow.

"Oh, great. So basically, we're guarding Barney's heart!" Alpine said, shaking his head.

"Who's Barney?" Ying Ty asked, perplexed.

Hawk chuckled, leading the older gentleman out of the room.

Jaye sent a sympathetic look towards her teammate, before feeling Flint's arm around her shoulder, and whispering in her ear about seeing cantaloupes for the night.

Duke continued to pace, his features dead serious, waiting for everyone to leave the room, leaving him alone with the counterintelligence agent.

Alpine closed the door behind him, leaving them alone with one red stone for company, and being the only witness.

"What the bloody blue blazes is wrong with you?" Duke asked, his features angry.

Scarlett stared at him, remaining quiet. She did not want to face another unpleasant conversation with the first sergeant.

"Well? I'm waiting, sergeant?" Duke growled, his ice cold eyes staring into her dark blue ones.

"Nothing is wrong with me," Scarlett answered, her voice steady, and calm.

The first sergeant threw his hands over his head. "Nothing? Disrupting a meeting twice is nothing? You never acted in this manner in the past!"

"Me? You're the one--" Scarlett went to say but swallowed her thoughts.

"The one what?" Duke asked, with narrowed eyes.

Scarlett turned, walking away from him, not wanting to pursue this further, her temper would get the best of her If she did.

"You changed." His voice flew to her ear, making her pivot instantly.

"No, I'm not the one who--"

Duke's features changed bright red. "So what are you saying, Red? That I'm the one who changed? That I'm the one who is the problem?"

Scarlett didn't answer him, remaining quiet.

"Ever since you returned from Cobra La, there is something different about you," Duke stated, glancing down at the floor, away from her face.

"No, Duke. I'm not the one who changed," Scarlett retorted. "Ever since you woke from your coma, you seem different."

He glanced up towards her. "I'm still the same. You were the one who never even showed your face at the infirmary."

It was her turn to glance down at the floor. "I thought--"

"You thought what?" Duke interrupted. "That we were friends? Apparently not." He crossed his arms in front of his chest, watching her closely.

Scarlett opened her mouth to reply, when a loud explosion sent both of them to the ground.

"Cobra attack!" came the shout from outside the hallway.

Duke jumped to his feet. "Guard the stone. That's a direct order!" He darted out of the room, charging out in the hallway, barking orders.

Scarlett quickly rose to her feet, running to the open trunks on the table, grabbing the necklace in her hand, and rushing out of the room, while more explosions rocked under her feet. She headed down the hallway, towards the doors leading out of the building, trying to make it towards the shelter bunker.

The roars of the planes vibrated in her ears, followed by the massive explosions around. Her feet flew, edging closer to safety. Her heart rate quickened, filled with adrenaline. Her eyes skimmed left and right, dodging the Cobra troops coming from all sides. She held on to the necklace in her hand tightly, not letting go. Cobra would never get their hands on the necklace, even if it meant her death.

"She's got the stone!" Major Bludd's voice whipped the air.

Scarlett ran faster, trying to get to her destination. Only a few more feet, and she would be safe. Thinking quickly, she pulled the necklace over her head, feeling the weight of the stone on her chest. Its light becoming brighter with each breath she took.

"Going somewhere, darling?" Baroness asked, her voice filled with triumph.

A shot echoed in the air, sending the counterintelligence agent jerking forwards, and falling to the ground. Her head hit the pavement, sending a sharp pain throughout her body. Tears of pain escaped, trailing down her cheeks. She felt a burning sensation on her chest, right under the stone, before her world transformed to only darkness.