Disclaimer: Bubblegum Crisis is property of Amineigo/Youmex
Toshimichi Suzuki and Kenichi Sonoda created Bubblegum Crisis
GI Joe is Property of Hasbro and Marvel/Sunbow entertainment all rights reserved.
Gundam and all related names are property of Bandai and Sunrise
Mobile Suit Gundam was created by Yoshiuki Tomino
Crossover universe is the property of Starscream
A War for Two Redux
It had been more than 2 months since Serpentor's attack on America. Since then, the American military has been working around the clock to restore the cities and US Military of the damage caused by the siege caused by Cobra. With GI Joe, the situation is no different; with the construction of their new headquarters now complete, they realize that Cobra will represent an even greater threat. For Aina Sahalin, Codename Ghost Rider, her struggle with both her present and past has only begun…
"Every man has his price." -98th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition, Star Trek.
Sylia Stingray, codename Grey Fox, stood watching from the window of her new office as workers continued to rebuild some parts of GI Joe headquarters that had yet to be restored to their former glory. It amazed her that in the short span of two months, this place was reduced to the ground after her dear friend and mentor General Clayton Abernathy, codename General Hawk, made the difficult decision to destroy it than rather let it fall into the hands of Cobra. She had to admit that there were some parts of the base that she had missed; the pool area for example, it had always kept her busy while she needed some time to think. It also helped calm her nerves when her subordinate and friend Priss Asagiri, codename Wolf, was captured by Cobra to get their scaly hands on the Hardsuit Development Project.
Thinking back on that particular subject, she was definitely glad that the new Hardsuit models had come through in time to counter Cobra's use of this revolutionary weapon. But now her mind traveled to another subject that had been keeping her preoccupied since before Serpentor, the new Cobra Emperor, came into the picture. The subject, or person, in question was Ghost Rider, the Cobra Strato-Viper-turned-Joe. Recently she had noticed that the former Cobra pilot was facing much discrimination among the ranks, even from General Hawk. She had to admit that she herself didn't trust her fully yet; so it was not unusual for others to not trust her.
Priss and her friend Sylvie Anderson (codename Firestorm) on the other hand, had shown much distaste for Ghost Rider. Who can blame them after Ghost Rider herself freely admitted that she herself piloted the Zeta mobile suit that decimated the 101st Airborne's HQ in Fort Campbell, KT. Priss and Sylvie were both once apart of the 101st, so their position about Ghost Rider is understandable. But Sylia herself knew that Aina had some potential and did trust her to a certain extent; but not to the point where she would trust her to wear a hardsuit. But she would never forget what Aina had said to her during the Apsalas Incident; Aina had told her that she could not, in good conscience, use such a devastating weapon on civilian targets. Aina had also noted that she openly protested against her brother's motives and mad-driven obsession with his weapon. To Sylia, that was the sign of good character and she was indeed among the first to welcome her into the ranks of GI Joe. Even so, Sylia couldn't help but remember what she had learned from Star Trek and the 98th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition, "every man (or woman) has his (or her) price"; and Aina's was her brother and her social life.
'Let's just hope that will be the only price she'll pay in this.' She thought to herself as she sipped from her cup of coffee.
Aina Sahalin slammed her palm onto her alarm clock after it had woken her up from a dreamless sleep. In her drowsiness, she had managed to drag herself to her bathroom and slip into her shower. As she allowed the water to caress her body, she couldn't help but feel sadness; she was alone for the first time in her life. With Norris and her brother dead, Wild Weasel her enemy, and her as a Joe where no one else, save for Lieu-…Captain Sylia Stingray, trusted her. Wolf and Firestorm were the sole proof that some didn't want her within the GI Joe ranks or on their side for that matter. She couldn't blame them, or anyone else for that matter; she was an accessory to murder when she was in Cobra.
She clenched her fist and pounded the wall tiles in the shower slightly at the thought of what Cobra had done recently. Ever since Serpentor came into the picture, Cobra had resorted itself to genocide worse than before. She remembered watching Cobra soldiers shoot a mother and her child while they were hiding in Southeast Asia and thought that would be a rare occasion. Still, she made a promise that she would repent for her sins, and she was not one to break a promise.
After a few minutes of cleansing herself, she got out of the shower and put on her uniform while she watched a little bit of TV. On the news, they were discussing the US Military's rebuilding of their forces since Cobra's attack, the economy build-up, and the rate of recruitment since the attack. She supposed the attack on America woke America up again just like the September 11th attacks as well as the attack on Pearl Harbor over 60 years ago. With all the new recruits joining the military, it could mean the members of GI Joe would increase a good margin as well. Sighing, she walked over to her coffee pot and got her favorite mug that had a picture of an F-15 in front of an image of an eagle, its namesake. After pouring herself her coffee and added her cream and sugar, she took a sip of it and picked up a couple of manuals for Joe aircraft. As she read through them, she couldn't help but admire some of the aircraft GI Joe had; some of them were better than what Cobra had to offer.
After finishing her cup, she took her manuals and decided to head to the mess hall for breakfast. Along the way, she noted the looks people she passed by were giving her but ignored them. She had been used to them for the past few months now, so she had learned to deal with them since. The moment she entered the mess hall, she saw some conversations halt immediately, but they then resumed after she went to grab a small box of cereal, an apple, and another cup of coffee. As she sat down, she found herself isolated from the rest of the Joes as usual; she always ate alone since she joined. Sure, someone would reluctantly sit next to her, but no one wanted to talk to someone who used to be their enemy. For all they knew, her defection could've been a ruse to send a spy into the GI Joe ranks. No, that wasn't her; Zartan, maybe, but not her.
She remembered to always avoid the current chef's cooking in the morning, because the man was not a very good at cooking. She was thankful the mess had some cereals and fruit; at least those kept her from barfing up all over the place. As for lunch and dinner…she kept mostly to herself on that note. She spends most of her lunches and dinners in her quarters, considering the first time she tried she felt isolated from having Roadblock's cooking. With a sigh, she began eating her cereal and kept her nose in the manual for the Medea transport. She couldn't help but overhear something a few tables away from her.
"I still say we shouldn't trust her," The voice, she recognized as Gung Ho. "I mean we shouldn't even turn our backs on her for even a second."
"Will you relax, Gung Ho?" Another voice she recognized to be Shipwreck; it wasn't hard to miss his Jack Nicholson-like voice. "Look, I know she used to be with Cobra and all, but I still say you guys are blowing this out of proportion. Besides, she is a good-looking gal." Aina had to roll her eyes at the sailor's last comment. While she was glad he supported her defection somewhat, she'd rather not spend her time with a perverted sailor like him.
"Maybe so, Shipwreck," She heard Alpine's voice. "But you have to remember what happened at Fort Campbell." Aina winced at that memory.
She remembered piloting the experimental Zeta mobile suit after it was successfully captured by Zartan. She remembered slaughtering several members of the 101st Airborne Division and shooting down several of their attack helicopters. The memory in of itself was one of many reasons why she defected in the first place.
"C'mon guys," Shipwreck relented. "That was ages ago; besides if she was gonna turn her back on us, she would've done so already."
"Try telling that to Wolf," Gung Ho interjected. "Ghost Rider's just lucky she hasn't pissed her off yet. She's just itching for an excuse to beat Ghost Rider senseless."
"Well I wouldn't call it lucky," Alpine added after taking a bite of an apple. "Wolf's been too busy either going on sorties with the other Knight Sabers or necking Cover Girl in their quarters. She hasn't had time to get that chance yet."
Hearing enough, Aina picked up her tray and walked to the nearest trash receptacle to throw away what was left in her bowl. However, before she could even reach the receptacle her path was blocked by a slim figure, which she bumped into and splashed the contents of her tray onto. Shaking from her thoughts, she looked to see who she had bumped into; she immediately wished she hadn't. Standing in front of her with a large scowl on her face was Wolf; behind her were Cover Girl, Nene Romanova (Cypher), and Linna Yamazaki (Dagger). As if someone had pushed the "off" button on a television, all conversations in the mess hall had ceased as they saw this.
"That was my clean uniform." Priss growled slowly as she glared at the former strato-viper.
"Sorry," Aina said softly as she was about to walk away to clean up, but Priss' muscular arm gripped her shoulder, halting her progress.
"I didn't quite catch that," The Knight Saber sneered as her grip tightened slightly. "Care to repeat that?"
Aina frowned and relinquished the grip on her shoulder. "I said I was sorry." She repeated a little louder.
"Oh, you're sorry," Priss mimicked sarcastically. She then got into Aina's face. "Well maybe I don't wanna accept your apology."
Aina narrowed her eyes at Priss, while Cover Girl placed her hand on her lover's shoulder. "Priss, it was an accident; just let it go."
"Stay out of this, Court." Priss warned her, not wanting to raise her voice to her. All around the mess hall, the other Joes were definitely feeling the tension and some were even silently placing bets on how it would turn out.
Aina sighed, trying to calm herself. "Look, I was just trying to take care of my trash and I was distracted…" Before she could say any more, Priss interrupted her.
"Distracted, huh?" Priss leered at her before her scowl returned. "So what were you distracted about huh?"
Aina sighed in frustration and attempted to go around Priss. "I don't have time for this."
"Where the fuck do you think you're going?!" Priss demanded grabbing Aina by the collar, almost nearly choking her.
Cover Girl tried calming her lover down, "Priss, please, just calm down and let go of her." She pleaded. But Priss ignored Cover Girl. She too much enraged at this former Strato Viper being allowed among them especially for she had done at Fort Campbell, many those who died there were friends and drinking buddies. Aina in an air force uniform was insult to her; she should have been punished for she has done.
"Please, just let me go," Aina whispered, "I'm sorry for what I've done."
"Yeah, fucking right!" Priss sneered as she brought up her fist. Both Linna and Cover Girl grabbed for Priss trying to restrain the enraged Knight Saber.
"What the hell is going on!" a voice demanded. Everyone looked to see where the voice came from and almost immediately stood at attention. It was Capt. Sylia Stingray (Grey Fox), Commander of the Knight Sabers. "Priss, let go of her."
"Oh you're fuckin' kiddin' me, Sylia; you're stickin' up for this bitch?!" Priss exclaimed incredulously.
"Sgt. Let go of her now!" Sylia calmly said with emphasis on each word. Sylia wasn't above personally throwing her 2nd in command in the stockade.
Obeying her CO, Priss shoved Aina to the floor and walked away. Cover Girl began to follow, but Priss gave her lover a glare meaning she wanted to be alone. "I'll talk to her, Courtney," Sylia said as she past Cover Girl to fallen ex-Strato Viper. "Let's take a walk Aina."
The two walked out of the mess hall, most those assembled breathed a sigh of relief that Sylia stepped in rather than spending the next couple of hours cleaning up the blood. "Aina, I know you're going through a rough time."
"Rough time?" Aina mocked, looking at Sylia like she had grown an extra head. "That's the biggest understatement of the year." She then counted with her fingers with what she was about to say next. "I'm still dealing with what I've done and seen when I was in Cobra. I'm still dealing with the fact that Cobra now has the capability of constructing Mobile Armors weighing on conscience. Then that gorilla wants to beat me up over something I'm already punishing myself for." Aina took a seat on a bench in the corridor, followed by Sylia who placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Aina, I really think you should see Psyche-Out, he's our base shrink; I'll handle Priss."
"Capt., you're the only one who's been nice to me, thank you."
Sylia summed up a smile, "Aina, you're already going through hell, you've been punishing yourself for the sins of your past. You don't need to keep punishing yourself." Aina nodded before Sylia got up from the bench and went to find her XO, Priss.
Priss slammed her fist into the punching bag with sheer force that she nearly punctured it. This was only to work off her aggression, she was sure as hell she wasn't going to take it out on her lover or her best friend, she really wanted to take it out on Sahalin's face. "Damn bitch!"
She muttered, throwing another hard punch.
"Priss," a voice called out, Priss turned to see Sylia standing near the ring and the punching bags. "We need to talk."
"About Sahalin? Fuck that!"
"Excuse me?" Sylia asked, hoping she misheard what Priss said.
"Fuck that shit!" Priss repeated with venom in her voice. Sylia was caught off guard, since Priss has never told her basically what to go do with herself. Priss has always had the utmost respect for Sylia, but this business with Sahalin and the raw nerve Priss has not been able to let go.
She let out a heavy sigh of frustration and then scowled. "Okay, I thought I could talk to you about what happen. But I see that I can't. So I want you to listen good, Sgt. Leave Sahalin alone, that's an order. If I find out you disobeyed me even in the slightest, your ass will be tattooed with my boot print, and then I will make you feel like back in boot camp. Am I clear on this Sgt.?"
"Like a fuckin' crystal!" Priss forced herself to say, she then narrowed her eyes. "But, Sylia at the first sign that she screws us over, I will kill her. That's a promise."
"Then let us hope it won't come to that." Sylia seethed before walking out.
After she left, Priss threw one last punch at the punching bag so hard that her fist went through the material and let a whole bunch of sand out. 'Just wait Sahalin…first sign of trouble, and that's gonna be you.'
That afternoon, Aina sat on her couch watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine and the episode "In the Pale Moonlight". She had just gotten to the part where Captain Sisko had just bribed Quark out of pressing charges on a criminal that had tried to kill him. Sisko himself was questioning himself on the matters of morality, while he was also upset on the fact that he had just received another casualty list from the Dominion War. She couldn't help but feel that the situation was almost reminiscent to her own. She had chosen to save lives out of her own morality and conscience; and yet she still had the blood of dozens of people on her hands, blood she didn't think she would ever wash them from. She had visited Psyche-Out and he given her sound advice.
He understood that she was going through with both being a defector and a person who felt as though she was a murderer. He had told her that killing people was part of being a soldier; whether she liked it or not. He even mentioned how Lifeline abhors the thought of killing people and yet he's still apart of the Joe team. He had also said that, given time, the other Joes will learn to trust her if she keeps performing the same way she had been doing when America's forces counterattacked Cobra's forces after the attack. She trusted his advice, but she wasn't sure if it would have mattered. After what happened that morning in the mess hall, it was obvious it would take more than a few skirmishes against Cobra to earn everyone's trust; especially Wolf's.
As her television kept playing the episode, Aina had pulled out her M9 pistol and loaded the clip with a single round that she had been saving for a while in a situation like this. Since her defection, that bullet had been her only best friend. Every day she would take her M9 and just point it at her head and try to pull the trigger; but every time she came close, she hesitated.
She then took her sidearm and pulled the hammer back before putting it under her chin as tears ran down her cheeks. She started to pull the trigger…but stopped. She just couldn't bring herself to pull the trigger. After a moment, she put her gun away, brought her knees up to her chest and sobbed quietly.
That night in the officer's briefing room, Duke, General Hawk, Flint, Sylia, and Beachhead all reported some of the issues about the base to Hawk. They were mostly issues about the equipment, training sessions, personnel morale, and things concerning Cobra. Sylia wanted to bring the one issue that concerned her most.
"Alright," Hawk said as he straightened a stack of papers in front of him. "I'll see what I can do about pushing the training of the new recruits, Beachhead. But I can't make any promises."
"That suits me just fine, General." Beachhead replied, crossing his arms.
"Now then," Hawk cleared his throat. "Are there any other issues that I need to be aware of?" It was at that point, Sylia raised her hand.
"Just one, sir." She said, "It's about Ghost Rider." That certainly caught the senior staff's attention.
"Is this about the little scuffle between her and Wolf in the mess hall this morning?" Duke inquired.
"You know about that?"
"The whole base is talking about it." Flint shrugged as he too looked at Sylia. "Care to tell us what happened?"
Sylia then relayed to them what she had seen as well as what she was told by Linna, Nene, Cover Girl, and a few other Joes that were in the mess hall at the time. She also told them what had happened afterwards. The whole thing had Sylia concerned about Aina's safety, and it was a concern for the senior staff as well.
"You sure that Priss will just listen to that order, Captain?" Beachhead queried. "What about Firestorm?"
Sylia thought of that as well. "Sylvie won't do anything yet, but if she doesn't learn from Priss then I'll give her the same thing I told Priss." She then took a sip from her water. "But I'll keep an eye on them both just in case."
"As much as I don't fully trust Sahalin myself," Hawk began, "She has shown great promise since she's joined our ranks. I'm more concerned about how she's coping with all of this."
"I had her talk to Psyche-Out this afternoon, and he told me something very disturbing." Sylia added, "He's concerned that all of this might push her to the point where she might take a bullet to her own head." That definitely stunned the other senior officers. "All she wants is to prove to herself and to us that she can be trustworthy. All she needs is a chance to do so."
Hawk thought about this for a while before taking a drag from his cigar. This was disturbing news indeed; the fact that Aina was willing to commit suicide over all of this definitely had him concerned. While Aina wasn't the first defector from Cobra, she was definitely the first to show signs of depression. He needed all the Joes under his command able to perform at their best; and this was going to be difficult for Aina if incidents like the one in the mess hall continued to push her over the edge.
"Alright," Hawk said, closing his eyes. "If the next mission that comes up requires her services I'll see if I can assign her to it." Sylia nodded, accepting that compromise. "If there isn't anything else, then this meeting is adjourned."
To be continued...