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GI JOE Season 3: episode 2

"Invincible Shield"

Haghartsin Monastery – February 13, 1981

-oOo- The Past is Prologue -oOo-

Hawk shivered and drew his jacket in tighter as he tread the edge of a rocky slope. He had just got off a three-hour bus ride after a ten-hour layover at the Vienna airport. The sun was just coming over the mountains as rays of light started to dart into the canyon below. It was a beautiful view, though he might have enjoyed it more if it was thirty degrees warmer. As he walked down the dusty trail, he started to see a tall domed structure peek out from behind the trees. It was decorated by arches and supported by columns that lined each face at its base. The path led him into the entrance of the ancient monastery. Its grey and white colored stones were offset by the plush green vines that scaled the walls of the many buildings. The grounds were neatly manicured, suggesting that there is a community here responsible for the upkeep of the complex.

He knocked on the door. After a few minutes, an old monk answered. Hawk introduced himself and showed the monk a picture of Preacher. The monk took the picture and closed the door. Hawk waited another ten minutes before the door opened again. This time a younger monk appeared to greet him.

"Good Morning, I am Brother Dajad, Abbot of this monastery. What can I do for you?"

Hawk noticed that the Abbot held the picture of Preacher in his hand. "My name is Clayton Abernathy. I am looking for the man in that picture."

"Abernathy..." The Abbot's eye's widened. "You are the one called Hawk?"

Hawk nodded, grinning at the designation.

Dajad led Hawk inside the church. The antechamber was a long stone-laden walkway in which various stain-glass sculptures adorned the walls.

"You have a beautiful place here, Brother Dajad."

"We are just doing God's work. Mister Preacher visits us occasionally in order to meditate. He insists on earning his keep by doing odd jobs and chores."

"So, I take it that Preacher has told you all about me?"

"He has not told me anything, but rather relayed it in writing."

"In writing?" Hawk asked, nonplussed.

"The priests here have taken a vow of silence as an act of faith. However, In Mr. Preacher's case, it appears that his was a vow made by an act of attrition. I only pray that one day he trusts God to ease his burden, for His yoke is light."

Dajad left Hawk at the door leading to a small cell. Dajad returned the photo to Hawk and said his goodbyes. Hawk knocked on the door. After some shuffling inside, the door opened. A figure in a dark hooded robe stood before him in the doorway. The figure removed his hood.

Hawk greeted him with a weak smile. "Hello, Preacher."

Preacher stood aside and let Hawk enter. It was a small drafty room with a single cot against the far wall. Across from the door, there was a window overlooking the forest outside. In the corner, at the foot of the cot, all of Preacher's possessions were contained inside of an army issue duffle bag.

"I've been trying to keep tabs on you, but you dropped off the grid for a while. For what it's worth, I'm glad that you're alive and well."

Preacher did not respond. He retrieved the drawing pad left on his cot, then returned to the window and picked up a black grease-pencil from the tray on the windowsill. He looked to the forest outside. The pencil scratched across the paper. Hawk leaned over to see the unfinished drawing of a timber wolf among the foliage.

"Your private war on Asian crime families is stepping on quite a few toes. You have a lot of people looking for you. I suppose I would be wasting my breath trying to convince you how foolish this crusade of yours is."

The only response Hawk got was a glare out of the corner of Preacher's eyes. Hawk stepped back to a respectful distance.

"The Abbot warned me that you can't, or won't speak."

Preacher shook his head in answer and continued drawing.

"Why not? Is it physiological? Post-traumatic?"

Preacher did not respond.

Hawk's averted his eyes. "I'm so sorry... for everything."

Preacher did not respond.

"I know you don't owe me anything… I haven't exactly been sensitive to your situation…." He cursed. "On the way up here, I was trying to think of what I would say to you. It's funny how words can be a stumbling block when it comes to getting at the truth."

Preacher did not respond.

"What if I told you there was a way to find Tho."

The pencil stopped moving.

"It turns out that CIA and DIA both got it wrong: Destro and Tho were merely middle-men. We believe that the real player is a man, as of yet, unseen. He's winning over scores disillusioned and expatriated military professionals under a rallying cry of anti-establishment rhetoric. Finding this shadow commander could give you a lead into tracking down Tho."

Preacher tore a fresh sheet from his drawing pad. He selected the red grease-pencil from the tray and started to draw on the paper. After a quick sketch, he showed the drawing to Hawk: a crude depiction of a cobra.

"Yes, that's their banner," he said in surprise. "You've had some dealings with them, I take it?"

Preacher nodded.

"In a few short years, he has managed to amass the fifth largest army in the world. His lieutenants are a motley crew of international gangsters with no clear prior affiliation. However, the scariest thing of all is, we have no idea how he's funding this. He pays mainly in rare gems and precious metals, yet we can find no evidence of mining operations or production facilities to sustain his cash flow. It's like this guy came out of nowhere with infinite resources at his disposal. As cheesy as it sounds, we believe that his ultimate aim is no less than world domination."

Hawk saw that he still had Preacher's attention, although he appeared unmoved.

"In response to this threat, Kilo Company has been reactivated under new colors. It's now code-named GI Joe. Some of your old teammates have enlisted, but we're also pulling the best and the brightest from all of the other branches as well. Our main focus will be gathering intelligence, but I expect that these kids are gonna have to chew some serious dirt. They need practical training in combat situations. That's were you come in: you're the best battlefield commando I've ever seen. Also, judging from the path of destruction that you left all over Asia, it's apparent that you've acquired some new skills as well."

Hawk clenched his jaw. His words had been met by another poker-face stare from Preacher. He decided to stop rambling and get to the point, without any more words getting in the way.

"Will you come back to The States with me? Will you be my secret weapon?"

Preacher tore a new sheet off the pad and grabbed the blue grease pencil. Hawk grinned when Preacher revealed his handiwork:

YO KILO!

Hawk straightened. "There's one small complication. There would no doubt be questions raised with you coming back after six years of being AWOL. Submitting your re-enlistment papers will require a degree of creativity. For your protection, I'll classify your real name and your serial number, but you'll need to choose a new code-name for yourself."

Preacher discarded the pad, walked over to his duffle bag and retrieved the small drawstring therein. Hawk approached, and he poured the contents of the purse into the elder soldier's hand.

A smile came across Hawk's face when he unfolded his palm. He stared at the dice in his hand; two single pips stared back at him.

"I think he would have liked that."

Hawk proffered his hand, and the soldier formerly known as Preacher returned his handshake.

"Welcome to the team… Snake-Eyes."

The End.

Next Episode: 3.0 - "Chain of Command"


Author's Challenge: Knowing what you know now, go back and see if you catch any clues that you missed the first time around.