Chapter 3

This should be the final chapter in this. Sorry for the long wait! I hope it's worth the wait. Thank you to Karama9 for the assistance.

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"Get yer butts in gear."

Beach formed his teams up again, readying them to head back inside once again. The day had been long and grueling but the teams had improved each trip into the warehouse. Their short rest break over with, the greenshirts settled into the various groups and checked their equipment and protective gear. Even though they were beginning to tire, they still showed willingness to continue. Hefting his paintball rifle, their Sergeant major led his own team inside, crouching and moving quickly from spot to spot, followed and mimiced by the greenshirt troops. Miller took his team up the lefthand side, while Mouth moved into the righthand aisle.

A short spate of gunfire sounded to the right, and BeachHead twisted to check the stacks of crates. Williams took several quick paces forward of the rest of them and crouched, aiming upwards along the topmost boxes. When the first slender figure came bounding up and over, he squeezed off several rounds to hit Jinx in the leg and foot. The loud cursing as she landed and hopped sideways behind a massive sheet of wood made

BeachHead grin. Haberton tossed a paint grenade into the corner and they all heard the pop and then renewed cursing.

"Dead!" Her annoyance was clear in her voice. There was a loud snort from above, causing Williams to swivel around and aim at the dark figure up in the rafters watching over all of the action.

BeachHead spoke up quickly even as he saw the private's finger curling around the trigger. "Stand down! Don't shoot.."

The pop of the single shot sounded really loud and extremely dangerous. SnakeEyes shifted ever so slightly and the paintball hit just two inches from the commando's left ear. One finger came up to point at Williams who had blanched white and lowered his weapon just seconds too late to prevent the errant shot from being fired.

"Sorry Sergeant SnakeEyes!" The finger wagged at him in a 'no-no' motion and he nodded in reply. "Sorry.. my bad. Won't happen again."

Beach's annoyed grunt made the greenshirt turn to look at him. "Yer gonna get killed yet Williams. I ain't gettin' between ya and a angry ninja no how." The Ranger reached up to tug the shoulder strap of his combat armor slightly. The strapping system was new and he didn't get it just right. "Get back on track.. we still got one ninja to go.."

Miller's team let out a flurry of shots, two paintball grenades went off and then a short cheer. "Got him, Sergeant major!" BeachHead lifted his rifle and walked around the stacked crates to find the other team. "Both ninja are down and dead, Sergeant major!" Miller beamed happily and BeachHead looked at a disgruntled Kamakura who had caught two paintballs to his torso.

Beach looked him over. "Good work. EVERYONE OUT!" With everyone assembled up outside, he nodded at Williams who looked excessively pleased with himself. "Good shot on Jinx.. bad shot on SnakeEyes.. don't be taking out friendly forces because ya shot too quickly to identify the target." Williams' face fell. BeachHead's finger swung to point at Haberton. "Good job with the grenades.. ya managed to kill ninja instead of us." Motioning to Miller's team, he nodded. "Good job on taking out Kamakura. This time in, I'm observing.. ya'll decide what's workin' fer ya'll and order yourselves up." He strode to the doorway to yell loudly. "COMIN' IN! I'm NON-COM this trip.. no stabby bits on me.. GOT IT JINX?" A faintly heard amused affirmative came from inside.

Once he was inside and up on the upper walkway, he yelled at the group and waited to watch them coming in carefully. SnakeEyes joined him silently, giving him a start when he suddenly leaned on the railing without warning. "Geez.. warn a guy why don't ya?" He nodded at the first five-man team moving across the floors. "They're improved way past what I thought we'd achieve."

*Very much.* SnakeEyes motioned at the front team. *Miller is a good leader, you should promote him. Teryis is not bad. She makes a good second-in-command, steps up when pressed.*

"Yeah. Miller is the best team leader outa the greens. I keep recommendin' that he gets put up fer some sergeant's stripes.. but Flint keeps on turnin' him down. If'n he don't come up with some good danged reasons fer it, I'm gonna go to Duke." SnakeEyes nodded. "Jinx is doing really danged good. Is bein' small better fer bein' a ninja? Smaller targets and easier to cram yerself into little nooks and crannies?" His sly glance at the ninja master made him snort.

*I"m not small at all.*

"Maybe yer worse at cramming yerself into nooks and crannies."

SnakeEyes turned a glare onto the Ranger who held up his hands. *How many times would you like to bounce when I toss you over the railing here?*

"Ease up! Dang.. what's got ya in such a foul mood?" Beach stepped slightly away, while realizing that the slight distance wouldn't mean he was any safer from ninja retaliation. "Ya get irked over every little thing."

*Tired.* The short motion was the only reply, then Snakes crossed his arms and nodded down at the groups.

Beach turned his full attention to the ambush and quick flurry of activity. This time the two apprentices worked together in a joint attack to take out over half of the greenshirts before a paint grenade took out Jinx, leaving Kamakura to escape unscathed. "They're really starting to go full tilt against my troops now."

SnakeEyes tilted his head downward, his neck stiffening. *That's the point of the exercise.. not to take it easy on them.*

Beach twisted to glare. "I know that.. I ain't askin' fer them to go easy on no one. Danged ninjas are just too irritable to work with.. ya got a bad case of PMS or.. " He grabbed at the railing desperately as SnakeEyes grabbed him by the straps on his ribs and lifted. "NO NO!! Don't throw me over the edge!!" Kicking one ankle to hook the lower part of the railing, he bent his leg to drag himself back to the safe side of the metal piping and clutched it tightly. "LEGGO!" Pulling himself to the safe sturdy protective barrier, he wrapped himself into it and hung on while SnakeEyes tugged at him fruitlessly. "STOP IT! I'm sorry!! I'm SORRY!! Jeeebus!!! LEGGO ME!"

When the ninja let him go, Beach peered up at him, still clutching to the metal railing. "Are ya still gonna toss me over?" SnakeEyes glared at him and suddenly kicked him solidly in his chest plate irritably. "Ow."

The sharp motions of the commando's ASL signs showed how annoyed he was. *One more time, I'll bounce your hard skull off the floor.* Then the ninja was gone, climbing along the roof supports like a nimble squirrel. Beach waited warily until he was well gone before turning loose of the railing. Lowering himself to the walkway, he rolled up to his feet and tugged his balaclava a little to straighten it.

As he shrugged himself inside his armor and resettled it into place, the closest team looked up at him. Mouth grinned and Beach sighed lightly to himself, knowing he was going to need to go all the way down the steps in just a moment. The young man didn't disappoint him.

"Sergeant major? If you're done curling up in the fetal position in terror at Sergeant SnakeEyes... should we continue on or head back out to start over?"

"HOW ABOUT YA DROP AND GIMME FIFTY!?" BeachHead's bellow carried across the warehouse and no less than six other greenshirts dropped automatically to begin putting out push-ups.. assuming their Sergeant major was yelling at them and unwilling to take the chance he was addressing some other hapless recruit. While they counted out the push-ups, Beach took the stairs down and stood over Mouth. He ignored the other half dozen greenshirts doing push-ups. They'd figure out he wasn't paying attention if they were bright. "Ya wanna mouth off AGAIN?!"

"NO SERGEANT MAJOR!" Finishing his rep of fifty, Mouth bounced to his feet to stand at attention.

"Are ya sure? Cause Ah'm tellin' ya, I gotta whole ROLL of duct tape out in that danged truck with yer name ALL OVER IT!" Beach watched the head shake and the look of worry. "Jus' gimme ONE excuse!"

"No Sergeant major!" Mouth stood still while the Ranger bellowed in his face for a few more minutes finally sending him out to wait with the rest of the dead greenshirts. He stood for a few minutes before a bit of wood landed on his head. Looking up at the ceiling, he saw SnakeEyes signing at him.

*All dead.. call them back in when you're ready. Kamakura survived.* The smug motions made Beach grimace in distaste. Of course, some of the troops were distracted by watching the ninja master dangle their instructor over the edge of a twenty foot drop too.

He climbed the steps again and bellowed out loudly. "TIME!"

Everyone entered in combat ready stances, peering around suspiciously like they'd been trained. As they slowly spread out into four teams, Beach watched them move to space themselves in the ideal distance apart. Each step was considered yet the teams still moved fairly quickly. He was pleased with their stances and their success. The paintball rifles lifted at any shadow or movement.

Miller's team took the lead and within a few minutes, Kamakura slipped out of hiding to fling several throwing stars in the group, 'wounding' several and 'killing' no less than three. Williams had gone down with a 'wound' in his forehead. BeachHead nodded as taking out the best marksman made sense. It shouldn't cripple a team to lose any one member.

SnakeEyes appeared on the top of some of the crates, standing casually to oversee from a closer vantage. Although several rifles swung to cover him, they turned aside after correctly identifying him as a non-threat. Miller gave a quick signal to Mouth to gain height for a better overview. BeachHead moved down the walkway to be well out of the way in case there was any attacks or flying people. At the far end, he watched as Jinx appeared silently to slice two more greenshirts before Miller drew a bead on her and fired a flurry of shots to take her out. She stalked out the front door grumpily. SnakeEyes signed to her in quick movements, difficult for BeachHead to follow. It looked like he was telling her that the greenshirt troops were improving and that was the point of the exercise.

Mouth, up on the walkway near BeachHead, suddenly clicked his fingers once and Miller's entire group crouched while he relayed directions to where he'd spied a slight amount of movement from his vantage point. His quick signals were clear and BeachHead noted that Miller watched, then relayed the information to the rest so that the entire group wasn't occupied with staring at the lookout.

BeachHead stepped away from the edge of the walkway.. so that Miller's team couldn't see his signs to SnakeEyes. *Ninja they spot?*

SnakeEyes shoulders shook slightly as he laughed at Beachhead's clumsy ASL. *Yes.* He turned aside to continue watching. The shout from the doorway made him turn.

"Sensei.. call from the Pit.. top priority. General Hawk." Jinx stood in the doorway. She looked up at Beach and her hands motioned quickly in smooth ASL signs. *Enemy ninja activity reports, SnakeEyes to Pit ASAP.* When Beach gave a motion to himself and the greenshirts, she continued. *Exercise continue.*

He gave a single nod and watched SnakeEyes leap up into the rafters to swing himself to the front of the building to slip out of a broken window. Turning his attention to the greenshirts, BeachHead missed Mouth's rakish grin. The young trooper wrapped himself around the railing and mimed screaming in terror for the greenshirts waiting at the doorway.

The spattering of laughter caught the Sergeant major's attention and he followed the smiling looks up to see Mouth just frantically unwinding himself to stand attentively. "MOUTH!" His voice snapped out and he headed down the walkway angrily. "By GAWD boy.. Ah WILL break ya yet!"

Mouth looked startled and tried to backpedal, right into the weak boards SnakeEyes had warned the Ranger about when he first climbed the steps. The first crack was loud and the greenshirt struggled to get back to solid footing too late. BeachHead broke into a sprint trying to get there in time, only to watch as Mouth fell through the rotten flooring and crashed onto the floor with a yelp. The yelp of pain was followed by a scream of agony and BeachHead began to curse as he skirted the hole in the decking and scrambled down the stairs.

"LIFELINE!! MAN DOWN!" The Ranger got the Mouth's side to find him curled around his lower leg. "Awww crap.. why'd ya go and bust yer danged leg?" Pushing his hands away from the broken limb, Beach found a compound fracture complete with exposed bone. "Dang.." A quick tug and he clamped his hand over the ragged wound to put pressure onto it and stop most of the bleeding. "Dang it Mouth.. if yer leg was gonna go and get broke, ya could have at least let me be the one breakin' it."

Mouth grimaced and tried not to whimper too loudly. "Sorry Sergeant major.. I'd rather you broke it too.. I think I made a mess of it."

Lifeline set his medical kit aside and knelt down. "Oh, I'll bet you did.. I can't believe it's you and not Williams. Move your hands, Beach." He began to examine the ragged wound. "Nasty.. how did you do this?"

Mouth quivered under his touch. "I slipped on a banana peel."

The medic snorted and sliced the pants leg away. "Why I gotta treat all the smartasses?"

Miller smiled despite his worry over his teammate. "Because you have to be the GI Joe medic.. we're all smartasses." He straightened up and gave a curt motion to the rest of the greenshirts who were surrounding their downed teammate. "Come on.. give him some space to work. Teryis, get a stretcher in here. Haberton, call for a medical extrac. Lifeline, he'll need to be choppered out, right?"

Lifeline hummed as he wrapped the leg carefully. "Yes, it would be best."

Mouth protested. "Oh no no.. don't bother.. I don't need a helicopter ride. Shoot.. ask BeachHead.. I'll just hop back to base on my good leg! Just like a Ranger!"

Grunting dismissively, Beach turned to look down at him. "Shut it, Mouth. Do what Lifeline says or I'll break yer other leg."

"Yes Sergeant major." The greenshirt's meek agreement made Lifeline smile.

Placing the splint and beginning to strap it in place, Lifeline sighed lightly. "I see how it goes, BeachHead.. do as you say.. not as you do? I don't recall you ever cooperating with me or Doc voluntarily."

"Oh shut it, danged useless medic.." Beach turned to snap at the greenshirts to move outside when Folkson suddenly let out a strangled cry and clutched at his chest at the shurikin embedded there. The Ranger turned to see where the errant weapon had come from, already opening his mouth to yell. "STAND DOWN!!" There was a second thunk-thunk and he looked down at two more stars jammed through his own chest armor. "OW!! DANG IT!"

Two more greenshirts suddenly went down with spiked legs and Beach twisted to run for cover, grabbing one of his wounded greenshirts by a piece of his harness and dragging him behind. "ENEMY NINJA!! GET DOWN!! HOSTILES!! TAKE COVER!!" Everyone scattered and he hefted his rifle before cursing and tossing it aside in disgust. Painting hostile ninja wouldn't do much good. Pulling the ever-present .45 holstered on his thigh, he took aim at a blur of motion and fired twice. "Get outa the line of fire Lifeline!"

The medic grabbed Mouth by one shoulder strap and one of the other downed men by their wrist and dragged them behind a crate. "Beach!! Do something!" As he scuttled out to grab Folkson, he suddenly let out a scream and grabbed at his shoulder and the sharp pointed throwing star embedded there, cutting his fingers. "OW!! Ahhh... I'm a MEDIC!! Don't throw sharp things at me!! MEDIC!!!" He looked up just as a masked figure leapt off a upper crate, the slender katana sweeping in an arc designed to take his head off in a single blow. "NO! Don't kill me, I'm a MEDIC!!" His upheld hand would get lopped off first.. a tiny detached bit of his mind wondered if he'd be able to see it just before his head was sliced off.

"DOWN!" BeachHead's shout was too late, but then SnakeEyes' sword intercepted the attack, turning the blade aside into the corner of a wooden crate, then twisting around to slice the enemy's throat neatly. SnakeEyes stepped aside as another ninja closed with him.

Lifeline turned his back on the fight to grab Folkson and heave him over his shoulders and run for the doorway. He heard BeachHead's handgun going off behind him. Jinx flew by, tangled with a strange black clothed ninja. The strange marking on the back of the jacket glittered, somehow clear to the medic's eyes in the massive chaos in the warehouse. The greenshirts were falling back towards the doorway in a fairly organized manner. Lifeline went through the door into the strangely bright seeming sunlight.. Lowering Folkson, he resisted the driving urge to head directly back in and instead began to work on the severely wounded man under his hands. "Set up triage here!" Another injured trooper was dropped beside him by Miller who turned and jumped into the truck to begin handing out rifles.

"Hold at the door!! HOLD AT THE DOOR! Don't run right in!" Miller jumped out of the truck and rushed to the doorway. "You four.. behind me.. Teryis! Take four more! Take the right.. " He swarmed in, followed by his disciplined troopers. "Watch overhead! Pick your shots!" He spotted Williams hefting his paintball rifle and taking aim at a fast moving figure. Opening his mouth to yell for Williams to go get a real weapon, he watched with disbelief as the private took an impossible shot and nailed one enemy ninja in the eye with a paintball, making him flop onto the floor clutching his face. Williams rose to his feet and bolted for the door, passing Miller who paused only a split second to stare after him open-mouthed. Then he shook himself and moved forward. "Watch for our ninja! Don't shoot our guys!"

Teryis spotted a stack of axle grease filled bottles and snagged a couple to pass back. "Keep those.. might be useful." She moved forward to a major intersection and motioned for them to spread the grease on the floor. "Don't step in it."

Miller moved up the row carefully, his team only taking the rare clear shots. Kamakura and two enemy ninjas came flying overhead and they managed to take down one enemy and thankfully miss Kamakura, although it was close when he stopped himself by planting both feet against the side of a crate and ran sideways to run the following ninja through the chest when he couldn't stop in time.

BeachHead's .45 sounded off twice more and Miller tried to triangulate a direction from the noise. He waved everyone sideways. "Join up with Teryis!" They moved off quickly in low crouches, trying to keep their muzzles aimed upwards. "Friendly incoming! Yo Joe!" Teryis gave him warning to go around the large slick on the floor. "Watch the floor.. where's Sergeant major?"

Teryis shook her head. "He's forward of us." She motioned towards a stack when they heard the .45 go off again and a new spate of cursing. "Sounds like he's still alive.."

"And mad.." Miller aimed as SnakeEyes chased three terrified ninja right past them. Two hit the greased floor and slid into the crates hard, allowing the greenshirts to shoot them down rather easily. Their commando didn't pause but continued after the last one. BeachHead's shouts alerted them to his approach.

"Friendly incoming!!" He came barreling around the corner at top speed, hit their grease slick and smacked down to slide past the whole group, twisting onto his belly to fire at the half dozen ninja who'd unwisely chased after him into the ambush. The metal points of the shurikin embedded in his chest plates scraped loudly and let out a fingernails-on-chalkboard screech as he slid past on the concrete. Miller's group opened fire on the enemy, dropping most of them under a hail of gunshots. Beach scrambled back to his feet, slipping twice and cursing even louder as he got upright. Dropping an empty clip out of his .45, he slapped his last one in and crouched next to Miller. "Anyone bring in a extra rifle?"

"No Sergeant major.. sorry." Miller aimed and squeezed off a shot which went wide as he jerked it aside when Jinx bounded into the kill zone to stick a knife into the enemy ninja's left ear, dropping him like a sack of flour. "Dang! I almost hit her."

"Don't shoot our danged ninjas.. " Beach twisted as a loud yelp sounded to one side. "Anyone drag Mouth outa here?" Getting negatives from around him, he cursed softly. "I got 'em.. I gotta go get myself a danged rifle." Beach rose up and moved through the crates, ducking and weaving, and cursing as he scuttled across an open aisle and felt another thunk of a weapon hitting his armor. Every time he moved he felt sharp things slicing into him from the weapons that had made it partway through the protective plates. "ERRRRRGGHHH!!! Dang it! I hate ninjas!"

Kamakura tackled a body from just over him and thumped onto the floor on top of it, the loud snap of a spine breaking making even Beach cringe slightly. The young apprentice raised up and glanced at him. "We like you too BeachHead!" He sprang up to disappear into the crates.

Beach growled softly and continued, reaching to yank at the embedded throwing stars fruitlessly. "Danged snarky ninjas... MOUTH!! Where the heck are ya?"

"Sergeant major!!" The call came from his left and he moved quicker, ignoring the cuts he felt under the armor and the warm blood oozing through his sweater. Coming around the corner of a tightly placed stack, he found Mouth had dragged himself to cover as best he could. "I thought you guys forgot me!"

"Naw.. we jus' ignored ya fer a while.. come on.. " Beach bent to lift the younger man then suddenly cursed. "Dang.. I can't sling ya over my shoulder.. get ya all stabbed up on my new collection of ninja weapons.."

Mouth grinned at him, giving him a quick look-over. "I estimate about a dozen stars and daggers stuck in you Sergeant major.. any more stars and you'll be making constellations!"

"Shut it, danged greenshirt uppity least the danged ninja ain't figured out to go aimin' fer my head yet." Beach reached down and took Mouth by the back of his armor and simply dragged him behind him. "Yer nothin' but trouble and I swear to GAWD I'm gonna transfer ya one of these danged days.."

"Yes Sergeant major.. as long as you drag me away from all these pointy ninjas!" Mouth reached up to fumble BeachHead's pistol out of his holster and fired at an attacking ninja just as he closed within a few feet of them. "Could you drag faster?"

"Could ya shut it and stop thinkin' heavy thoughts??" Beach gritted his teeth and kept moving. Once he got the young man out the door, Lifeline took charge of him and the Ranger snagged an extra rifle and a handful of clips to stuff into his pockets. Lifeline grabbed his arm and jerked at him, trying to get him to stop.

"Beach.. you're dripping blood.." The medic was shoved aside as Beach headed back into the warehouse.

"Back it off! I gotta get back in there." Ducking back in through the door, BeachHead noticed that the noise was much reduced. He hurried through the aisles and was confronted by SnakeEyes unexpectedly.

The commando held up one hand at him. *Attack is over. Enemies are almost all dead.. a few fled. Need medical for several of your greenshirts.* He climbed up the side of a crate and disappeared.

Beach trotted back to the door to beckon in Lifeline. Yelling at some of the wounded, he got word that several Joes in transports were already on the way to help. "Report the attack's been repulsed.. we got wounded. Medical evac. Fast as they can send 'em." He headed in and started counting heads and mentally figuring up how many wounded he had. So far no one had died.

By the time that Duke arrived with reinforcements, the remaining uninjured or slightly injured greenshirts had done a thorough sweep of the warehouse. Lifeline had stabilized all of his patients. The three ninja had positioned themselves to be able to keep an eye on all approaches. Duke strode into the yard occupied by wounded troops, watching Doc and his interns begin to take over some of the injured as Lifeline directed the worst of his patients to be taken out by helicopter immediately.

"Where's BeachHead?" He was pointed to one side where Doc had more or less forced the Ranger to sit down so he could start unbuckling the body armor to remove it. "Blast it Beach! They turned your armor into an iron maiden with all those spikes that made it through. Were you trying to break a world record on number of ninja weapons stuck into a living body at once?"

Seated and wincing every time the armor was jostled, Beach snarled at him. "Naw.. it just sorta happened. They didn't all hit my danged armor either." His chest and backplates bristled with various weapons embedded in them. "Looks like I'll be addin' to the Pit's collection of ninja type armament once I get them all pried out." Doc scowled as the chest plate finally came loose, exposing the blood soaked sweater underneath. "Awww dang it.. this's mah favorite sweater!"

Doc rolled his eyes. "Stop worrying over the clothing.. you're the part that bleeds."

"Sweaters don't heal themselves, Doc. OW OW!! Easy with that backplate!" Miller held up the piece of heavy armor to let the Sergeant major look at the embedded weapons. "Well, that's one set of ruint armor. I hated the new straps anyway. Nice danged selection. See Duke? This's why I like wearing this 'useless bulky body armor' in the danged field."

"Well yeah Beach.. but if you'd stop irritating ninjas so much, they wouldn't throw so many weapons at you." Duke shook his head and smiled a little bit.

Beach snorted and looked around carefully before he replied. "Awww heck.. I can't help it.. I just like to shoot at ninjas when I see 'em. Just comes all natural." Lifeline came up to report to Duke and Beach turned to peer at him. "Hey medic.. got any of that candy left? Or didja give it all to the danged ninjas?"

Lifeline sighed and dug into a couple pockets before he came up with a battered butterscotch candy to hand over. "I swear I'm going to start making all of you say 'trick or treat' before you ask me for candy."

Duke nodded at the torn sleeve on the medic's uniform. "How badly are you hurt, Lifeline?"

"Not too bad.. I'll need a few stitches.. can you BELIEVE they threw a star into my shoulder?? I'm a medic! They shouldn't be attacking a medic!" Shaking his head, Lifeline handed over a scribbled list of the wounded. "Kamakura has several nasty cuts from knives or swords as well.. but he hasn't come to get treated yet, so when you see him, send him in." He turned to trot away. "I have to take Folkson to the Pit and start prepping him for surgery. Doc.. he's gonna need you right away. Everyone else is mostly stable."

Doc nodded and motioned to BeachHead. "I want to see you in the infirmary as soon as you're back at the Pit.. not tomorrow, not tonight.. as soon as you're back. Got it?" He turned a serious gaze on Duke. "Don't let him stick around here too long.. he's covered in small wounds."

Duke nodded and watched the two medical personnel trotting off to board the first of the transport helicopters. "We're blasted lucky that no one is dead. Hawk got the intelligence report of ninja activity in the area.. but no one thought they would be right here attacking the exercise at all."

BeachHead nodded. "These danged greenshirts did a good job.. they took down a lot of ninjas, they didn't panic and they kept collected and in order. Did danged good."

Duke looked around. "They must have.. otherwise you'd have a pile of dead." Looking down at the bloody Ranger, he frowned. "You know.. I don't think I've ever seen someone come out of battle with so many little cuts. You look like a flock of fairies with switchblades attacked you."

"Very danged funny, Duke. Ah'm gonna assign Mouth ta be yer danged aide. How'd ya like that?"

"You really shouldn't threaten me that way.. I am your superior officer."

"Ain't a threat if'n Ah intend to go and do it.. is it, now?" BeachHead's wicked grin made Duke roll his eyes. The Ranger got to his feet. "Ah gotta go hunt down the ninjas, get Kamakura ordered to see Doc and make sure these greenshirts don't get too full of themselves... start moppin' up here."

Duke shook his head firmly. "How about you head back to the Pit with the rest of the wounded.. get yourself taped up properly so Doc doesn't scream at me later.. and I'll take over this operation."

"Ah gotta choice?" Beach did look slightly hopeful.

"Yes, you have a choice." Before he could respond, Duke smirked. "You can ride back in a chopper now.. or I'll let Flint order you into a vehicle and then let him 'escort' you all the way while telling you how you should have just gone in the first place." He gave Beach a few seconds to scowl. "Soo.. the chopper is leaving in two minutes... shall I tell them to save you a seat?"

"How 'bout you tell 'em to bite me? That work fer you Duke?" As his commanding officer opened his mouth to chastise him, Beach turned to head for the choppers. "Ah'm goin'... Ah'm goin! Danged buncha pogues, bullying folks into goin' back to the danged Pit when there's work to get done.."

Duke watched him limping his way to the waiting helicopters, pointing and bellowing orders even as he went to put himself in with the rest of the wounded to be evacuated. "Good lord he's stubborn." A soft click made him turn, only to jump when he found SnakeEyes standing next to him. "BLAST!! That's NEVER going to not be creepy! You know that, right!?"

*I'm a ninja.. we do these things.*

"Well.. blasted stop doing those things to me! And where's Kamakura?" SnakeEyes gave him an elaborate shrug that didn't fool Duke in the least. "I want him to report to Doc in the next three hours.. got that? And yes, that's an order."

Annoyed, the commando's signs were swift and abrupt. *Kamakura is fine, he does not need a doctor.*

"Didn't I just say 'that's an order'? It's not a request or suggestion. Three hours, tops. And if Doc says for him to stay in the infirmary, he'd blasted well better stay there. Bad enough to be chasing you down, I'm not going to allow both of your apprentices to start doing it too." Duke stood with his hands on his hips, overlooking all of the hubbub.

After a moment SnakeEyes signed hesitantly. *Maybe one apprentice?*

"NO!! BLAST IT!! SnakeEyes!! Why do you guys have to be such a trial!?"

*We're NINJA.* There was a great deal of amusement in the posture of the masked commando. *We do these things.*

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Well, it's been a ride.. and I apologize for the long wait between chapter 2 and 3. I hope you enjoyed and please feel free to review or message.. as always, Thank You for reading!