Escapism

I don't own G.I. Joe. I wish I did, because then I would have a lot more money and the movie would have been a WHOLE lot better.

Snake Eyes was three hours overdue for his check-in when Breaker got the hail from Cobra Commander. He promptly summoned the pertinent team members; he'd seen these sorts of situations go down before, and knew the MO.

Scarlett was the first through the door, which didn't surprise Breaker any. The redheaded counterintel agent and the ninja were more or less inseparable, and she'd been checking up with Breaker every fifteen minutes for the last two hours for word on her beloved commando.

The rest of the team was only seconds behind her. All except for…

"What has my sword-brother gotten himself into now?"

The voice was right in his goddamned ear. Breaker jumped, swiveled to find Storm Shadow leaning over his shoulder, eyeing the screen intently. He yelped in surprise, and Storm gave him that smug, lazy look that made Breaker's heart rate climb. "Jesus. Don't do that." Goddamn ninjas. Snake did the same damn thing to Breaker often enough that he was sure the commandos found his reactions funny.

"Not my fault some people can't hear." Storm Shadow said calmly.

"Stop squabbling and put it onscreen." Scarlett was snarling.

Breaker obeyed. Ninjas were bad enough, but a worried girlfriend who could break his limbs like kindling was worse.

"Greetingsss!" The familiar mask of Cobra Commander filled the main screen.

"Y'know, you should really get help for that speech problem." Ripcord said, straight-faced. "I know a great doctor; he cured my cousin's stutter…"

"Ssilence!" The Commander cried as several Joes snickered under their breath. "Zartan and the Baroness brought me a gift, not an hour ago. I think that you will find it…mmm…valuable. He should just be coming around from the gas now…let's check in on him, sshall we?"

The screen blacked for a second, and then a new image was up on the feed. A high-def security camera with a wide angle lens showed a small, featureless room with cinderblock walls and a steel door with a tiny, barred window. There was one occupant.

Snake Eyes was shackled to the wall, with restraints around his wrists, ankles, neck, waist, and chest. He was awake; his head was moving, scanning the room.

The Commander's voice cut in. "We found him snooping in our armory. Fortunately, one of my vipers managed to set off a gas grenade just before your dear commando…ahem…got to him."

Scarlett's face had gone white, her lips very thin. "If you hurt him, I will personally tear your fucking head off!"Her snarl set the hair on Breaker's neck on end; he edged his chair a bit closer to Storm Shadow again, away from the redhead.

"Oh, my dear, I won't lay a hand on him!" The Commander sounded positively gleeful. "The three Dreadnokss outside that cell door, on the other hand…They've been begging for a go at him. Seems that they've lost a few men to your commando, and they'd just love a chance for ssome revenge."

"What do you want?" Duke's voice was calm.

"Ah, well, it seems that a few months back, you Joes stole my favorite commando." The screen contracted, and now half of the monitor was taken up by the image of Cobra Commander rubbing his hands together. The other half of the screen still showed Snake, who was wriggling in his restraints.

"And I'm still looking forwards to our reunion." Storm Shadow hissed. "I've been planning your death for years."

"Ah ah. I don't like having a ninja with a vendetta against me out there…at least, not without having my own ninja to watch my back." The Commander leaned back in his chair. "And, I like dealing with entities that I already know…So, here it is; you have twenty four hours to exchange my old friend Storm Shadow for your dear Snake Eyes. And when you turn him over, I want him drugged, bound, and tractable, because he'll be going straight to my good friend Dr. Mindbender. I'll have a loyal ninja, even if I have to wipe his brain to erase some…not so convenient memoriess."

"And if we don't?" Duke said. Storm Shadow was glaring at the Commander with absolute murder in his eyes. Breaker edged his chair away from the ninja just a tad. Why was it that he had ended up between a murderous, worried girlfriend and a murderous, vengeful ninja? Did the world hate him that much?

"I will have my covert operative and bodyguard." The Commander was smirking; even through that blue mask, Breaker could see it. That took an experienced smirker, to project it right though a layer of cloth. The Commander was a very experienced smirker; Breaker had seen that same expression more times than he really wanted to think about. "So if Storm Shadow won't meet with Dr. Mindbender, Snake Eyes will be taking his place."

Scarlett's fists clenched, unclenched, and she was trembling in rage. "You…you…"

"And just to make it a bit more entertaining," The Commander continued, gleefully, "I'll be letting the Dreadnoks take turns; one gets five minutes with your commando every two hourss you delay handing over Sstorm Shadow. I've warned them to keep him alive…but I doubt they'll be very gentle with him. I'll be continuing transssmission from the camera in his cell; I'd hate for any of you to misss a moment of the fun. You should be able to trace this transmission to the exchange point, and don't go thinking of a heroic resscue; the moment I ssee a gun pointed at any of my men, I take the muzzle off of the Dreadnoks, and let them skin your black-clad friend alive. Goodbye, Joess!"

"Wait." Storm Shadow said suddenly. His voice was very calm. The other Joes looked at him, startled. That tone was very much at odds with the absolute, terrifyingly concentrated promise of death that had been in the ninja's eyes mere seconds ago. "Of course, I must obey to save the life of my blood brother. May I speak to him, please? I would have him know why he must kill me without hesitation the next time we meet."

"Storm…" Duke said.

"This is between me, Snake Eyes, and the Commander." Storm Shadow said coolly.

"Wisse words!" The Commander was nodding. "I am glad to ssee that you, erm, appreciate the situation, Storm Shadow. You have thirty sseconds. I'll patch the audio feed to his cell…and go."

"Snake Eyes." Storm Shadow said, in that same calm, cool voice. The black-clad ninja's head whipped around, facing the camera. Storm Shadow started talking rapidly in Japanese. Breaker didn't know Japanese, and neither, he thought, did many of the other Joes. Actually, thinking about it, Snake and Storm were probably the only two who understood the language. Storm spoke it fairly often when he was talking to Snake. Snake Eyes, obviously, couldn't speak the exotic tongue, but he could write it.

Actually…the ninjas used it as more or less a secret language. Breaker usually chose to believe that they were exchanging ancient ninja secrets when they used it, but he had a feeling that the two used it just as often when they simply didn't want anyone else listening in on them. After all, the two went way back. Not even Stalker had known Snake as long as Thomas Arishakage had.

Now, as Storm chattered rapid-fire, Snake was nodding, slowly, and as Storm wound down, Snake Eyes curled his thumb and index finger into the "OK" sign.

"Time iss up!" The Commander said. "I will ssee you soon, Storm Shadow! Dr. Mindbender sends his regards!"

The feed of the Commander dissolved, cutting out the cackling laughter of the Cobra leader.

"Storm, as your CO, I absolutely…"

"Relax." Storm Shadow cut Duke off. "I've no intention of turning myself in." The ninja snagged a computer chair from an auxiliary station and settled himself comfortably, propping his tabi-clad feet up on the edge of a control panel.

Breaker was clicking furiously. "I've got the coordinates, Sir."

Scarlett turned to Duke. "Permission to put together an extraction team, Sir?"

"Granted." Hawk's voice came from the door. There was a flurry of motion as boot heels clicked together and spines straightened. "At ease. I want your team ready to go in one hour, Scarlett. Dismissed."

"Sir!" She was out the door before Storm Shadow had settled back into his chair.

Hawk turned to the ninja. "What did you tell Snake Eyes?"

Storm Shadow smiled a slow smile that showed entirely too many very white teeth. That smile made Breaker nervous; he'd seen it too many times just before someone got freaking decapitated."I told him how many Dreadnoks were outside his cell, where his gear is probably being kept and how to get there from the cell block, what the normal force is at that base when the Commander is there and has a plan going off, and what kind of weaponry they usually carry. I also told him to save me either the Commander or Zartan, but that the other is all his."

The ninja leaned back in his chair. "Breaker, hack the other security cameras in that base."

Sure. That should only take five hours. "Do you have any idea how many possible passwords there are for a system like that?"

"ZR4492K6YY12." Storm Shadow smiled again at the expression on the tech's face. "Unless they've changed it since I left, and I doubt it. Lazy idiots."

"Why on earth wouldn't they change the security codes after you left?" Breaker was typing furiously. That was just stupid. Hell, the Joes changed codes every two months as standard MO, more often if something big was going down.

"Because I wasn't supposed to know them, and as far as they know, I don't." Storm Shadow said, smugly.

"How come you know 'em, then?" Bazooka asked from the corner.

Storm Shadow rolled his eyes. "I stole them. That's what I do, see. Covert ops is kind of a specialty of ninjas."

"Got it." Breaker said. "Is there a specific camera that you want feed from?"

"No, but cut the feed from Snake Eye's cell to anyone but us." Storm ordered.

Click click tap tap tic. "Done."

"Now, just wait." Storm Shadow said. "Unless someone wants to go make some popcorn."

Breaker, well aware of what was coming, smiled to himself. Wait for it…

Sure enough, one of the new recruits standing in the slowly-growing crowd behind them spoke up hesitantly as Hawk snagged a chair to Breaker's left and settled himself, arms crossed. "Sir?" The tone, while respectful, clearly implied that the poor chopper pilot was quite sure his senior officer had lost it.

Breaker considered running to the mess hall for a bag of microwaved extra butter. Mmmm….nah. He might miss something.

"Watch, son." General Hawk was smiling as he spoke to the greenshirt. "Watch."

Breaker turned back to the screen. Nothing had changed; cell, chained ninja…wait.

Snake Eyes was doing something with his left hand that looked…distinctly uncomfortable. That…Breaker squinted. No, that wasn't normally the way a thumb bent.

"Wh…" His jaw dropped as Snake slid his left hand free of the tight restraint and flexed his fingers. His thumb looked normal again, but there was no way… Snake wasn't a small guy, he didn't have small hands, and squeezing out of a manacle that tight shouldn't be possible.

To his left, Storm Shadow was nodding in what looked like approval.

"What…" Breaker tried again.

"Basic ninja training." Storm Shadow said. "He just dislocated a few joints in his hand and slipped his restraints. It's not that hard."

"But…" Breaker had had a few dislocated joints in his life. "Doesn't that hurt?"

"Yes." Storm Shadow shrugged. "A little. With training, you barely notice it, though."

"You can do that too?" Yes, he knew that the two ninjas were capable of some pretty astounding feats. Still, dislocating your own joints on a whim? Fucking hell.

Storm Shadow looked vaguely insulted. "Of course. Now shut up and watch."

On the monitor, Snake was doing something with the right wrist cuff of his bodysuit. He drew out something small and slender that gleamed dully, and a few deft movements later his other hand was free.

"Lockpicks?" Dusty had elbowed his way to the front of the crowd…and it was a crowd now, Breaker noticed without suprise. It looked like most of the active Joe team, sans about a dozen who must have been snagged by Scarlett, were packed into the control room.

"A ninja never leaves home without them." Storm Shadow said.

"Where was he keeping it?" The greenie behind them asked, sounding disbelieving. Breaker shook his head. He'd come to assume that Snake and Stormy could more or less pull anything they needed out of some secret pocket or another. Even when chained to a wall after being stripped of obvious weapons.

Storm Shadow shrugged. "They're not hard to hide. Sewn into the hems of your clothes, secret pockets…I've got four on me right now."

Breaker eyed the ninja. He was wearing white cotton pants, a white tank top, and white tabi. Yeah, four lockpicks, and he'd bet his neck paycheck at least half a dozen throwing stars and a knife somewhere.

The greenie-Breaker didn't even remember the kid's name; he didn't tend to bother until the fresh meat had been around for at least a month-also eyed the ninja. "Where?" Breaker shook his head again. Kid had some things to learn about the Joe's resident ninja commandos yet.

Indeed, the remark earned the greenshirt an arched eyebrow and a cutting "You think I'd tell you?" from the currently present ninja commando.

"Rule number one of ninjas, kid." Breaker took pity on the chopper pilot. "They never, ever tell you how many ways to kill or otherwise mess up your day that they're currently carrying."

Storm Shadow smiled at that, and they went back to watching the security feed.

Snake had succeeded in freeing himself, and the lockpick had vanished back to whatever hiding place it had come from. Now the ninja sat down, and did something to the heel of his left boot. Breaker blinked as the commando slid open a hidden compartment and delicately plucked out a pair of long and to Breaker, really wicked looking throwing knives. Huh. That was…pretty cool, really.

Storm Shadow whistled softly between his teeth. "So that's why he insists on boots over tabi…I've always wondered about that."

Snake also drew out a small coil of what looked like woven black wire. That Breaker recognized. He'd seen garrotes before, though he'd never used one. Snake wound the wire around his left wrist, where Breaker knew the ninja could get to it within a heartbeat.

Then Snake walked calmly over to the door and rapped sharply on one of the bars. He then stepped to the side, out of line of sight from the tiny window. The throwing knives gleamed in his hands.

They didn't hear the sound of the door scraping open, or of the Dreadnoks storming into the apparently-empty cell. Breaker started to work at the sound feed, but his fingers stilled as he watched the next four seconds unfold onscreen.

The first Dreadnok was barely into the cell before Snake moved, his motions blurring. Breaker saw a Dreadnok suddenly sprout a knife where his left eye used to be, and then Snake was on the second man, and the Dreadnok was clutching at a throat spurting blood and crumpling to the floor.

The third guard got in a single swing with a truly nasty looking bowie knife. Snake blocked the strike, caught the hand and spun the man to slam into the cell wall. Before the Dreadnok could suck wind back into abused lungs, Snake executed a really beautiful spinning side kick…or at least, that was what Breaker thought he remembered Scarlett calling it during hand-to-hand.

He made a mental note about what this particular kick was supposed to look like for future reference. Snake had spun so fast that Breaker really hadn't followed the movement, but he definitely saw the way that the heel of the commando's boot crunched into the Dreadnok's solar plexus. Breaker winced; Snake's boot heel had sunk into the guy's chest. Breaker wasn't a doctor, but he knew enough to realize that Snake had just pretty much reduced the guard's rib cage to fine splinters.

He wasn't surprised when the Dreadnok slumped, blood running from his mouth. Yeah. Scarlett had told them that you could kill a man by breaking the ribs like that; do it right, and you drove bits of bone right into the heart and lungs. Breaker found himself massaging his own ribs, shuddering.

He wasn't the only one. He heard at least a few soft swear words behind him, though he couldn't identify the speaker. To his left, Storm Shadow was smirking, arms folded.

"Not bad." The ninja was nodding. "He's always had good spin kicks."

Breaker looked back at the screen. Snake had rapidly searched the three dead Dreadnoks, and had taken a 9mm sidearm with two extra clips, and the bowie knife. Then the commando stepped over the corpses without a second look and shut the cell door behind him.

"Where will he go?" Hawk asked.

"There's a ventilation duct in the cell block hallway." Storm Shadow said. "He'll take that, unless I'm very wrong. He'll be heading for the room where confiscated and contraband items are locked down; its two floors down from the cell block. His gear should be there. I told him the quickest way to get there from the cells, but there's a few different ways he could go. Depends on what kind of resistance he runs into."

"Is there a camera in the contraband room?"

Storm Shadow nodded. "Yes, sir. Breaker, camera 12B."

A few keystrokes and the cell was replaced with another bland concrete room. This one had storage bins and lockers stacked against the walls, and two Vipers standing guard, one on either side of the door. Breaker recognized the sword hilt poking out of the top of one of the storage totes; Storm Shadow had been right.

The next fifteen minutes dragged past uneventfully. Breaker had just stopped crouching on the edge of his seat when he thought he saw something flit across the screen, moving from somewhere up on the ceiling towards the viper guards. There it was again, and the guards swatted absently at their arms.

Storm Shadow started counting softly under his breath. Breaker looked at him sideways, but caught a movement on the screen out of the corner of his eye and snapped his gaze back front and center in time to see the second viper's eyes roll upwards. The man twitched twice, and then slumped to the ground. The first man was already down. Neither was breathing.

"He's still using the Arishakage poison formula." Storm Shadow sounded pleased. Breaker distinctly heard Ace starting a betting pool on how the next vipers would go down.

"What just happened?" The greenshirt again.

"Blowgun." Storm Shadow said simply. "Poisoned darts."

"Where did he get a blow gun and poison darts? How do you know what poison he used? Why didn't he just shoot them?" Breaker sighed. Well, at least the kid wasn't afraid to ask questions. Hell, he'd learned more about ninjas in the last half hour than in his entire previous existence.

Storm sighed loudly. "The blow gun and darts were hidden and missed when they searched him; it's a weapon that's pretty easy to hide. I know how long it takes for my clan's poison to kill a man, and the symptoms. And he didn't use the gun because he didn't want to alert every viper in the damned complex, you idiot."

The greenie went silent, chagrined. Breaker watched as Snake dropped down from the ceiling, presumably from an air vent. The ninja landed easily, and went directly to the bin holding his sword. Wherever the blowgun had come from, it had vanished once more.

The commando quickly geared up. Breaker raised his eyebrows at the sheer number of weapons that Snake tucked away on his person; he didn't even recognize some of the things that Snake was slipping into his utility belt and into hidden pockets.

"Sir? Storm Shadow?" Huh. Maybe the kid wasn't as cowed as Breaker had thought.

"What?" The ninja snapped irritably.

"How many weapons do you have on you right now?"

A toothy smirk. "Between one and ten."

A very audible gulp. Breaker smiled; he could practically see the greenshirt making up his mind not to mess with either of the Pit's resident ninjas. Ever.

Pretty much every active Joe had made the same vow to themselves at some point. Except for three; Ripcord, who took great delight in joking with anybody. Hawk, who could mess with pretty much anyone he wanted to, and Scarlett. Whom, Breaker was sure, could say anything she wanted to to either ninja. Snake Eyes, because the mute commando practically worshipped the ground that the redheaded counterintel agent walked upon, and Storm Shadow because, well, because she usually had Snake Eyes within ten yards of her at all times.

Plus, Scarlett had a mean roundhouse kick. Even compared to the ninjas, she had a mean roundhouse kick. And she would aim for the head, and even when ninja reflexes came into play, well, she had a really fast roundhouse kick.

In the Cobra contraband room, Snake Eyes seemed satisfied. Breaker noticed that the ninja kept the bowie knife taken from the dead Dreadnok; he knew that Snake collected knives, and he had, once, caught a glimpse of the inside of the ninja's private quarters as he was walking past the door as Snake was coming out.

Most of the wall he'd seen had been covered with combat knives. Breaker suddenly wondered just how many of them the ninja had purchased, and how many had been taken directly from the...previous owners. He swallowed convulsively.

Snake walked back over to the place where he'd dropped down. The ninja jumped, and apparently caught the edge of the vent. Showing enough upper-body strength to impress even Beach Head, the ninja pulled himself up and out of sight.

"Where now?" Hawk asked."

"Honestly, I don't know." Storm Shadow shrugged. "Our best bet is to listen in on their audio, if Breaker can get his hands on it."

"Of course I can." Breaker glared at the ninja, and hit five keys. A crackle filled the room, broken occasionally by garbled voices. Twenty more seconds of work, and the sound sharpened and the static cleared, just in time to catch a viper squad reporting to the Commander that "All was normal in the northeast corridors."

"Now, just wait for someone to start screaming, or for the Commander to try and look back in on my sword-brother and realize the problem he's got on his hands." Storm Shadow smiled that slow, toothy grin again. "In the second scenario, wait for the squads he sends out to not report back."

"Got it." Breaker nodded.

The door flew open just then, and Breaker turned to see Scarlett elbowing her way through the crowd. "General Hawk, my team is ready to move out…"

She looked at the screen, at the new room and the dead vipers, and smiled. Breaker quickly decided that he wasn't attracted to her after all; not when she got that slow, knowing grin and that hint of pride in her eyes when faced with the corpses Snake left in his wake.

"So," She sounded a good deal less concerned. "Permission to go and pick up our commando, sir?"

"Go and get him." Hawk said. "If he leaves anybody alive, bring them back. I'll have the brig ready."

Breaker tilted his head back. Wait for it…

"Sir?" Aaand greenie, once again.

Hawk turned to face him; Scarlett was long gone. "Yes?"

"Sir…he can't take out the entire base, can he? I mean…" The kid-well, early twenties, maybe not a kid kid-groped for words. "He's alone."

Hawk smiled. "Snake Eyes is the best commando in the entire United States Armed Forces, save perhaps for Storm Shadow here. He's been captured like this a few times before. Last time, he not only more or less walked right out of Cobra's detention facility, he took the time to steal some valuable intel on the way out, freed seven captive scientists, and killed an estimated twenty-seven Cobra agents. When we got to the facility, he was sitting on the roof, meditating and waiting for us to pick him up."

The general laughed softly. "Actually, I sometimes suspect that he lets himself get caught occasionally, just so that the enemy will take him right to their base and save him some time. There is no one in the world that can cause more chaos in a military base than Snake Eyes. It's a beautiful thing to watch, if you ever get the chance."

Storm Shadow huffed softly. Hawk smiled, but didn't say anything more.

"Time before that," Breaker offered, "We were planning his rescue; we'd just tacked down the prison camp where we thought he was being held, and we were getting ready to send out an extraction team. He walked right in on the planning session, calm as could be, went up to General Hawk, and came to attention. Just like that."

"Oh." Breaker turned back to the screen, smiling at the mild shock on the greenshirt's face. All of the new guys heard about the masked commando, but most figured that the stories about Snake Eyes were greatly exaggerated. Until, like was happening now, they saw first-hand just what the ninja was capable of. "Thank you, sirs."

Ninjas. They tended to have that sort of effect on people. Breaker eyed Storm Shadow out of the corner of his eyes, thinking again how very thankful that both of the ninjas he knew of were on his side now. Storm Shadow met his eyes and that knowing smirk grew just a little wider. Breaker shifted his eyes quickly back to the monitor.

Thirty minutes ticked by. From the sounds of things, the betting pool had two to one odds on at least one of the next batch of vipers Snake Eyes encountered losing his head, and even odds on at least one viper in the next encounter getting his head twisted around far enough to watch his own back. There had been a brief discussion on what part ninja stars would play, but no one was willing to bet against any possible scenario involving flying shuriken.

Then, they were being hailed again. Breaker put the Commander up on screen.

"Where iss he!" The Commander was almost apoplectic. He was screaming, fists clenched and shoulders hunched and shaking. "My Dreadnoks are dead! I've got two squadsss that just missed their check-in timesss!"

"I have no idea." Hawk said, calmly, over the sounds of high-fiving and snickering in the back ground. Anytime the Commander got mad enough to contact the Joes with his mask asker was a good day. "He's acting all on his own."

"Call him off! I'll cancel the deal! I'll let him go!" That…Breaker smiled despite himself. That was fear in the Commander's voice. Bone-deep, pants-wetting fear. Snake instantly went up in Breaker's already high regards several notches. Anyone who could make the Commander quake in his shoes simply with his presence…

"Mmm, I don't think so." Hawk shook his head thoughtfully. "I think he's doing a damn fine job. I'd suggest surrendering unconditionally when he gets to you. I'll have a nice cozy cell ready for you when he hauls your sorry backside in to me."

The screen went black. Hawk turned to Storm Shadow. "Will he be going after the Commander, then?"

"I don't know for sure, but I suspect so." Storm Shadow nodded. "And you might actually get your prisoner…I'd kill the Cobra pig on sight, of course, but Snake Eyes will bring him in to you if he thinks that it would serve G.I. Joe better."

"Breaker, can you get me a video feed from the Commander's control room?" Hawk asked.

"Of course, sir." Breaker did.

The Commander was screaming at Zartan and the Baroness, along with a large squad of vipers. Storm Shadow's lips thinned and his eyes went sharp when he saw Zartan, and Breaker saw his hands twitch involuntarily towards his shoulders, where the hilts of his twin ninjatos usually rode. Yeah. Breaker didn't know the details of what exactly had happened between the white-clad ninja and his former employers, but he knew enough to know that Storm Shadow had sworn vengeance against both Zartan and the Commander. Probably in the form of slow, painful, and probably rather messy deaths, if Breaker was reading that look in the ninja's eyes correctly.

Breaker also knew that Snake Eyes had sworn the same vendetta against Zartan and the Commander. Frankly, the very idea of having both Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes gunning for him was enough to give him nightmares. Breaker really wasn't sure how the disguise master or the Cobra Commander ever managed to sleep. Then again, neither Zartan nor the Commander had ever shown high levels of common sense.

The Baroness and Zartan vanished through a set of doors, and roughly thirty vipers trooped in, taking up positions all around their master. Breaker heard the betting behind him start up again; now it was for how long it would take Snake to drop all three dozen vipers. Considering that Snake Eyes had his grenades back now, Breaker thought that the estimate of three minutes was a bit high.

Ace also started a pool on how exactly Snake would get into the control center. Air vents seemed to be a popular choice, but Breaker's money was on something less cliché. Or on a grenade to the doors; Snake Eyes wasn't above the use of high explosives if it would expedite a situation.

A half-hour ground by. Scarlett's extraction team was long gone, and considering how Wild Bill flew, probably halfway to the Cobra base. Breaker again considered getting some popcorn, but again decided against it. He was well familiar with Murphy's Law, and his leaving would almost guarantee that shit started going down.

Forty-five minutes, and Storm Shadow suddenly leaned forwards, then sat back and started laughing. Breaker looked; the camera he'd hacked was on the ceiling, looking down on an angle at the Cobra control center. They had a great view of the room, and just now, there was a tiny patch of floor, just behind the boot heels of a viper, that had started to glow. It was partially hidden by a control panel, and the rest of the way hidden by the poor viper, standing obliviously at attention.

A neat circle traced itself out, about a foot and a half across. The circle dropped down, leaving a neat hole in the floor.

"I've been wondering how those new miniaturized plasma cutters worked." Storm Shadow sounded positively gleeful. Breaker wished he'd put money down; he'd have won the pot easy.

And…a small metal orb arced up out of the hole in the floor. The vipers heard the soft metallic sound as the grenade rolled to a halt, and the dawning looks of terror were just brilliant.

The explosion took out five vipers instantly, and two more went down alive but seriously torn up from shrapnel. The Commander screamed and dove behind his chair, sadly avoiding injury.

A second grenade took out six more vipers, and dropped one with shrapnel. Then Snake Eyes came springing up through the hole, ninjato in one hand and a trench knife in the other.

The next twenty-three seconds were absolute chaos. There were still twenty vipers on their feet. All were armed, all were trained gunmen, and none of them had a chance. Snake Eyes took the head of the first one clean off-Breaker heard bets being settled behind him-and tore into the remaining nineteen before the severed head had hit the floor.

The ninja used the very fact that he was outnumbered to his advantage; he kept his current opponents between him and any vipers far enough away to have a chance of getting off a shot. Two vipers managed to circle to one side, and dropped to their knees, lining up a shot between three of their fellows, who were all desperately trying to backpedal out of sword range.

Wssh wssh thunk thunk. Both gunmen dropped, clutching at their throats, where shuriken had neatly sliced their carotid arteries. Breaker winced as they rapidly bled out; bleeding to death from wounds inflicted via ninja star was not a way that he thought would be pleasant to go.

Breaker had seen Snake Eyes in action before. Still, the sheer speed and lethality of the man was downright terrifying. The ninja went through the remaining vipers inside thirty seconds, and as far as Breaker could tell, without a scratch on himself.

The commando turned towards the Commander. The Cobra leader went for his sidearm. The ninja was across the room in a heartbeat, and a black gloved hand closed over the Commander's wrist and wrenched the Glock skywards as the Commander pulled the trigger. The bullet went harmlessly into the ceiling.

Then Snake had the Commander by the throat, and must have gone for the pressure point, because the Commander slumped, apparently unconscious. The gun fell to the floor. Snake picked the Commander up, throwing him over his left shoulder.

"Breaker, can we get any sound in there?" Hawk asked.

"Yeah." Breaker worked for a moment. "You should be good now, sir."

"Snake Eyes!" Hawk said cheerfully. The commando paused, already halfway out the door, glanced up at the camera, and saluted. "Good work. I've got an extraction team en route-they were supposed to save you, but I see you'd deny them that pleasure."

A shrug, of the shoulder that the leader of the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world wasn't hauled over.

"If you could refrain from killing our good friend there," Hawk continued, "I'd like to have a lengthy discussion with him. He was with the Baroness and Zartan earlier, but I'd imagine that they ran long ago. Still, watch your back. I want you in one piece when Scarlett gets there, or I'll never hear the end of it."

Was that…Breaker squinted. Yeah, he was pretty sure that Snake had just smiled. It was hard to tell, what with the mask and all, but still, he was sure he'd seen the fabric crinkle upwards where the ninja's lips should be.

Snake Eyes saluted again.

"See you soon, sword-brother." Storm Shadow said. "If you do find Zartan…" The white-clad ninja smiled, and it was not a nice smile. "Make it hurt."

A nod of the head, and Breaker again got the impression that Snakes was smiling, and he had the uncomfortable feeling that it was just as nice as Storm Shadow's current expression. He shuddered. Yeah, he was really glad that no ninjas had a vendetta against him.

Snake Eyes vanished through the doors. Hawk stood, turned to face the greenie. The kid was looking completely stunned now; he even had his jaw hanging open. The general smiled, tolerantly. "Like I said, son. It's a beautiful thing to watch."

"Sir." The poor pilot sounded vaguely shell-shocked. "Very impressive, sir."

Breaker smiled, went back to his work as the control room slowly emptied. Sooner or later, all of the new greenies were exposed to ninja battles, which were the Pit's most relished forms of entertainment; most, however, simply saw Snake and Storm's legendary sparring matches in the gym. Few were lucky enough to actually see Snake cut his way through an entire Cobra base single-handedly.

Yeah. Breaker was definitely saving this footage for later. Damn good entertainment and he was sure that Scarlett would want to see it later.

Finis.