A few days later as Beach dismissed them form PT, Snake Eyes heard Tommy and Banger resume an interrupted argument apparently mid-sentence.

"…But no one has ever done that: I don't even care. I'm sure you're good, but no one breaks out of Alcatraz."

Snake glanced over. This promised to be good.

Tommy looked mildly insulted. "Solitary in Alcatraz. And yes, I did."

"No, you didn't. They brag about their perfect record. The one guy who almost managed practically died…and still didn't make it."

Tommy scowled for a second, the suddenly turned. "Roadblock! Did I or did I not escape from Alcatraz? She." A finger pointed at Banger, "thinks I'm making things up to try and impress her."

Roadblock's usually amiable face twisted into a frown. "Unfortunately, he's not putting you on. He vanished from solitary overnight, right under his guard's noses. I'm was the one who brought him in." The heavy machine gunner's face brightened. "Least I got in a few payback shots for putting Gung Ho in the hospital."

Tommy winced in memory. "Yes, you did…and truck doesn't even cover it. 'Block, you hit like a damn train."

"You put Gung Ho in the hospital?" Banger's eyebrows went up. "Spirit claims that that man was grown in a lab around spare tanks parts." She paused. "Of course, he is a marine…so that's kind of a given."

"Damn right." The marine in question shot the remark back over his shoulder. "That one did kinda hurt, by the way."

Tommy had the grace to look slightly guilty. "I apologized already…I had a mission, you were in my way and trying to stop me. Nothing personal."

Gung Ho turned; surprisingly, the man was smiling. "No hard feelings, man. Between the devil dog tat, my guns," the marine flexed, "and the scar you gave me, I can pick up any woman I want to in civvy bars."

Tommy grinned. "See? No lasting harm done."

Banger was shaking her head. "You're all mental. Alcatraz. You busted out of solitary in gorram Alcatraz. How?"

"Trade secret. The really sad thing-at least for the American justice system-is that it wasn't even that hard."

Snake Eyes snapped his fingers sharply. Tommy glanced over. Snake Eyes raised an eyebrow. *You never told me how you managed, you know…did you manage to slip picks past security?*

Tommy switched from English to Japanese. "No. They gave me a spring mattress."

Snake Eyes sighed and shook his head sadly. *Morons.*

"I know; it's like they wanted me to break out. They could have just handed me the key; at least keys only open one door."

*And to get off the island? Underneath a boat?*

Tommy nodded and switched back to English. "Side note; dryer tubing makes a decent breathing tube in a pinch."

Snake Eyes smiled. *Nice.*

"Thank you." Storm buffed his fingernails on his shirt.

Lifeline, who until now had been listening to the conversation with mild interest, looked over sharply. "The water around that island is about fifty degrees. You'd have hypothermia in minutes."

Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes both snorted in unison. Tommy spoke. "Compared to snowmelt straight from the mountain, it's downright pleasant." The ninja grimaced. "Spend an hour or two under a mountain waterfall in March when there's still ice around the edges of the stream. That will teach you about being cold."

Lifeline shook his head. "That's not possible. We use ice baths in hospitals to bring down dangerous fevers, and even then we have to be careful and monitor body temperature."

*You can regulate your metabolism and body temperature with proper meditation and breathing.* Snake Eyes shrugged. *We had to learn to do it right pretty quickly. Ninja training very much tends towards 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.'*

"Literally." Tommy's face was suddenly dead serious. "We lose students every now and again. But;" He grinned again. "We didn't die. There's a reason Snake and I bring down the hazard pay we do; the Pentagon knows it's paying for the best."

Sherry shook her head and sped up. "Okay then. I'm going to go eat now. Bye, crazy people."

"Hey, Stormy!" That was Ace. "I've been wondering; how much does hiring a ninja run, anyways?"

Tommy raised an eyebrow. "You have someone you want dead that badly?"

"Nah. If I really wanted someone dead I'd drop a few tons of high explosives on them. Just curious; Slip, Clutch, Tunnel Rat and I were wondering over poker last night."

Tommy eyed Snake Eyes in a questioning sort of way. Snake shrugged; it wasn't exactly secret information. Storm looked back at the pilot. "Let's just say I didn't used to roll out of bed for less than a hundred grand. And that's just for espionage; intimidation or assassination runs more."

"Jesus." Ace grimaced.

"Well, quality doesn't come cheap. People hire ninja when they want a job done fast, right, and without leaving evidence." Tommy shrugged.

"So, if you get captured and have to escape from detention…say, from high-level American prisons…how does that change your fee?"

"Doesn't. Escape and evasion is assumed in the contract."

Snake Eyes nodded in agreement. *For a ninja, it's all duty as usual.*


Well, I had fun writing that…hope you had fun reading it. I still find it rather gratifying that my exhaustive knowledge of pop culture and love of the English language can bring some little enjoyment to people aside from myself. It makes me feel a bit better about my ability to recite the entire original series of Star Trek and my giant pile of G.I. Joe and X-Men comics.

Ah, who am I kidding….I have never regretted my geekhood. The nerds shall inherit the earth!