G.I. Joe: Serpent Rising

Author's notes:

I actually enjoyed the movie quite a bit, mostly because while heavily featuring my favourite character, it still managed to leave some blanks to fill, and left the ending opened. Movies that continue in my head after they have ended are my favourites, no matter what other flaws they may have.

The following is a series of scenes that are currently playing in my head – it's almost like a trailer for what the sequel to Rise of Cobra could be if I were in charge and on enough crack to think any of this would actually work for longer than a few scenes and within a coherent movie mainly featuring GI Joe.

Some of this was inspired by discussions in the forum on this site. I've tried to keep to the movie continuity.

I apologize for any mistakes – I wrote this on a spur of the moment to take a break from Arashikage. It's not exactly high quality (more along the lines of ramblings, really), but I still felt like putting it out there. Hope you enjoy!


Japan – several years ago

*-*-*

Storm Shadow sat himself down in front of the Hard Master and glared at him until the old man finally addressed him, several minutes later. It was an exercise in patience, something Storm Shadow hoped the Hard Master would appreciate. As usual with his mentor, any hope for praise was immediately destroyed.

"Storm Shadow." The Hard Master growled. "Have you no respect for me at all? How dare you look at me like this, and invade my personal time?"

"I've been sitting here forever waiting for you to look back at me!" Storm Shadow cried out.

"And you have completely failed to ask yourself whether you might be bothering me." The Hard Master replied. "And now, you raise your voice at me?"

"Fine. I'm sorry for bothering you!" Storm Shadow hissed, trying his best not to continue yelling. "I'm sorry for everything, all right?"

The Hard Master scowled at the boy.

"Don't lie to me. There is no regret in your heart."

The boy's face melted and he looked like he was about to burst into tears. He caught himself, however, and scowled right back at his elder.

"Nothing I ever do is good enough for you! I wait patiently, no good. I apologize, NO GOOD. I win a fight, you shake your head in disgust. I LOSE AND YOU CHEER!"

The Hard Master shook his head.

"You really are your father's son. He too was always angry and always acting out on that anger. I cannot stand this kind of behaviour, and fake apologies will not change that."

"Is that why you hate me? Because of my father?" Storm Shadow asked through gritted teeth and eyes clenched shut in a vain attempt to hold back tears of frustration.

There was no answer. Instead, he heard a noise, a sort of thud, followed by his teacher gasping. He opened his eyes back up and gasped too.

The Hard Master lay dead, the end of a lance sticking out of his back, the tip of it sticking out of his chest. Storm Shadow could do nothing but stare for several seconds. His mentor had just been killed from behind, while he was sitting right in front of him, his eyes closed because he was being emotional.


The Near Future, three days after the capture of Destro and the Cobra Commander

*-*-*

Snake Eyes sent the last new would-be recruit to the floor and stepped out of the mat.

"You okay, Snake Eyes?" Beach Head asked. "I didn't even ask them if they want to try again yet."

Snake Eyes eyed the recruits and stepped back on the mat, arms crossed. Nobody asked for seconds, and he gave Beach Head a little shrug before stepping out again and leaving the training area.

Ripcord abandoned the recruit he had been taking through the shooting test, giving the score card to Stone, and followed the black ninja, calling out to him. He caught up at the elevator.

"You're not upset about Scarlett, are you?" He asked.

Snake Eyes cocked his head.

"I mean, if you want to punch me, you go ahead. I'm still not letting her go. I really like her, she likes me…"

Ripcord stopped. Snake Eyes had lowered his head and was rubbing his forehead, as if he had a headache. He took out a pad of paper and wrote something before handing it to Ripcord.

Ripcord read the note aloud.

"It's not that. Re: Scarlett, follow me."

Ripcord shrugged and followed Snake Eyes in the elevator, tensing in expectation of a fight. Snake Eyes ignored him all the way up and just kept going, heading for the officers' offices. He stopped in front of Scarlett's office and knocked.

The door opened immediately.

"Still nothing, Snake Eyes." Scarlett said, squeezing his shoulder. "Ripcord? Why are YOU here?"

"What's going on? What's still nothing?" Ripcord asked, ignoring the question.

"Storm Shadow's body hasn't been found." She said. "In that water, he should have floated unless he got caught in debris, but we've been cleaning up the debris and he's not there, and he wasn't found on the surface either. Snake Eyes, why did you bring him? It's not that this is restricted or anything, but…"

Snake Eyes signed something.

"Oh. Well, why didn't you set him straight yourself?" She looked at Ripcord, who obviously had no idea what was going on. "Right." She sighed. "No chance he'd believe you."

She turned fully to Ripcord and bit the inside of her cheek. This was nothing new, she had to reject would-be lovers on a weekly basis, and as a matter of fact, it wasn't even the first time for this particular one. Just the same, she wasn't so cruel as to enjoy it, especially not when it was a friend.

"Ripcord, I was wrong about you at first. You're a great guy and I'm glad you're a friend and an ally."

Ripcord beamed at her right until she got to the word 'friend'.

"Come on Red, don't be shy. Tell the guy he's lost to me." He boasted, not quite managing to sound as sure of himself as he would have wished.

Scarlett sighed. This was SO annoying. What was it with men around her? Did all girls and women have to go through this so often?

"He hasn't, Ripcord." She said in an exasperated tone. "We've been together for ages, and we still are. Just because I warmed up to you doesn't mean I'm in love with you. Men!" She added, rolling her eyes.

Ripcord glanced at Snake Eyes, who was standing a bit too straight for his liking.

"Heh." He laughed. "Friends then. Suits me, I like brunettes better."

He walked off, laughing. He didn't feel like laughing, he had actually worked himself up to believing he had something with Scarlett, but all in all, at least she hadn't been brainwashed by a lunatic relative. He decided to go see Duke and cheer him up.

***

Under the Ice Cap, 3 days earlier

*-*-*

Mindbender hummed merrily as he worked. This was perfect, simply perfect. Things had been looking rather bad for a few minutes there, when both McCullen and the Doctor had been taken prisoners, but the Joes had not noticed his much smaller submarine among all the debris, and then… well, Christmas had come early.

He had been letting his sub drift along, making sure not to attract the Joe's attention, when he had seen him, drifting towards the surface, in all appearances dead. He knew the ninja well enough to guess he was still alive, so he'd maneuvered his ship to reel Storm Shadow in through the hatch.

As he had guessed, the man was still alive, if barely. He had suffered a nasty stab in the abdomen, in addition to several cuts, and had lost a lot of blood. Whatever time he had spent in the frigid water hadn't helped either, sapping away at his strength, but he had used some kind of ninja trick, or so Mindbender assumed, to slow his metabolism enough not to have drowned yet and the nanomites Storm Shadow didn't even know where there had almost closed his various wounds already.

Just the same, he was unconscious and in fairly bad shape – in perfect condition for what Mindbender had been wanting to do for years. A quick scan revealed the Joes to be heading out, and Mindbender, throwing caution to the wind, had spurred his sub to it stop speed, heading for what had been the fortress's safety retreat, a small bunker, hidden in an underwater cave.

They were there now, the still unconscious Storm Shadow strapped to Mindbender's operation table and Mindbender humming happily as he got his special nanomites ready to be injected in the warrior's cerebral cortex.

The Doctor, or as they called him between themselves, the Cobra Commander, had proven to be a wonderful research partner but as a leader, all he had achieved up to date was to destroy the base and get himself captured. McCullen for his part could do great things, but he had made it clear that he did not understand the value of knowledge for its own sake. He was only interested in practical applications, and that was becoming more inconvenient all the time.

Mindbender needed someone else to lead Cobra to greatness and thus, to provide him with the funding and resources he needed. What Cobra needed at its head was a conqueror comparable to the greatest in history. Only then would Mindbender truly be able to accomplish all he wanted.

"Storm Shadow, my friend, you're in luck." He said to the unconscious form. "You are going to become an Emperor. And all you have to do in exchange is share that pretty head of yours a bit!"

He started laughing at that. He knew perfectly well that were he conscious, the ninja would never accept those terms, and he knew that calling what was going to happen to him simply sharing his head was a gross understatement. It was delightfully ironic that he had to wait until Storm Shadow was powerless to stop him to make him a God.

***

A week later

"Hello boys." The man said, stepping over the bodies of the guards nonchalantly. "Vacation's over. I want you back to work."

Destro stared at him in shock. The voice was right, the face and the build were right, but it was all wrong. The clothes were wrong – he was wearing something resembling a dress military uniform, in yellow and green - the tone was wrong, and one of the guards had been female. And yet, it was most definitely not Zartan. Zartan was a good enough fighter to take out a couple of guards, but not ten, especially not without apparent effort.

He glanced at the Commander. The Doctor had been keeping quite a few secrets, maybe this was another one? But the Commander was staring wide eyed at their visitor as well.

"Storm Shadow?" Destro asked. "What… what happened to you?"

The man laughed.

"Asks the man with the silver face." He cackled. "I'm not Storm Shadow. His body was used to create me."

"Mindbender." The Commander hissed. "He did it. He created his Emperor. He swore it was all only theoretical, but he had them, didn't he? The nanomites programmed with the reconstructed memories and personalities of the six greatest conquerors in history… he injected you with them, didn't he?"

The man smiled.

"Very good, Commander." He said approvingly. "I don't know WHY you let him live if you knew of this project, but it doesn't matter much now. You WILL submit to me, or die. The same goes for you, McCullen."

"Call him Destro." The Commander cackled. "Of course I'll submit to you, Emperor. I'm a model employee, don't you know?"

"Model indeed. He'll just stab you in the back the first chance he gets." Destro cut in. "Storm Shadow, don't be daft. You've never been interested in leadership. Whatever Mindbender did to you, just fight it off already, and get me out of here."

The man laughed again.

"Again with that name? Storm Shadow is but a small part of me, one of seven, and I am more than the sum of my parts. You have lost your hold on me, Destro. I'm not the little boy you took in when you found him running away from home. I remember the years he spent with you, how you kept building up his gratitude towards you, his resentment towards the rest of the world, how you carefully, methodically stripped away his sense of right from wrong, and I see it all for what it was. You took an angry, confused child and over several years, manipulated him, molded him into your very own loyal, ruthless servant. I admire that, but I'm not that child. Tell you what: I'll find you a new one. I do value good work when I see it."

He had been walking while talking, and was standing next to the power switch for the force fields that were the inside walls of their cage. He casually flicked it off.

"Come on." He said. "Pick up some of the guards' guns, we're sure to be intercepted on the way out and I really don't want to have to watch your backs. But before we get going, I want your honest opinion on the Baroness. How likely is it we can turn her back? Is it worth our while getting her while we're here?"

"Wait." Destro said, still trying to make sense of it all. "How did you even make it here? This place is the most secure prison in the World. Didn't the guards stop you? And if not Storm Shadow, what DO you want to be called?"

"They tried." The man said, smiling coolly. "As for my name, I have settled on Serpentor. Commander? The Baroness?"

"I can re-condition her." The Commander said. "As for what she's worth, you'd know better than me."

"Very well. Destro, you owe me one. Come on boys, let's go get her."

He walked ahead of them, not bothering to check they were following.