Another entry in my campaign to drive the Joe's medics to alcoholism. Sorry, guys…you've got a tough job.

This one centers on Kamakura, because he is awesome and doesn't get enough attention. Also contains Snake Eyes' usually-forgotten apprentice Tiger Claw, because he also doesn't get enough love.

This is for General Zargon…our conversation inspired this piece and a couple to follow.

Kamakura clung tightly to the rafters just above the lone door into the cobra telecommunications and computer room. Jinx was lurking in the shadows between two of the tall shelves of equipment along the wall. Tiger Claw had been ordered to tail Hawk wherever the senior officer went; Sensei liked to keep at least one of his apprentices close enough to the senior officer to protect him if necessary.

Sensei himself was, judging by the snippets of information Kamakura had heard over his earpiece, currently teaching a detachment of vipers just how bad an idea it was to let a ninja master lure you into the woods outside your well-lit and heavily guarded base. At night. Snake Eyes couldn't talk over the comm line, of course, but Stalker could. The tracker was also cutting a not-inconsiderable swath through the Cobra soldiers, almost as home in a dark forest as Snake Eyes was. Stalker was delighting in keeping a running body count going, and Kamakura smiled to himself as Stalker groaned loudly over the comm, marking the discovery of yet another viper that had been subjected to Sensei's not-so-tender mercies.

"Sonova…Snake, you're up eight kills on me. Not fair; leave me some." Stalker sounded disgruntled.

Kamakura nodded. He liked Stalker, but the tracker would never be able to best a ninja in nighttime kills. Especially not Sensei.

More than a little, he wished that he could be out there, showing his master just how well he was progressing…but Sensei had ordered Kamakura and Jinx to keep Breaker safe while the tech hacked into Cobra's hardware, and so that was what they would do.

It hadn't been very eventful. So far, only two squads of vipers had tried to barge in and take out the seemingly-vulnerable Breaker. Only a total of ten soldiers; Breaker had barely had time to go for his own firearms before Jinx and Kamakura had taken care of the threat. Kamakura sighed…silently, of course.

He cocked his head suddenly. He hadn't heard anything, but the short hairs on the back of his neck were prickling up. Sensei always told him to listen to his instincts; right now his instincts were telling him that he, Jinx, and Breaker weren't alone.

He glanced around, and just caught a brief flash of something…something red. And it was right above Jinx.

"JINX!" He yelled her name. She ducked an executed a side roll. A knife hit the floor where she'd been a split second earlier and stuck, quivering.

Something hit him on the arm, a brief pinching pain. Kamakura ripped the throwing spike out of his bicep almost at once and leapt. Behind him, three throwing stars buried themselves in the rafters.

He hit the floor, rolling to absorb the impact, and came up with his own shuriken flying. He'd targeted mostly by intuition, but was rewarded with a yelp of pain. A red clad ninja hit the floor, clutching a belly wound. Even injured, the Red Hand agent pulled himself upright and reached for a sai.

Kamakura was across the room and had his ninjato out in a heartbeat. One strike, and the Red Hand ninja's head was rolling. He turned.

Breaker was under a desk, and judging from his loud complaints had been unceremoniously shoved there by Jinx. Jinx herself was standing over a second dead Red Hand ninja, still holding a pair of bloodied knives.

"Kamakura!" She sounded worried. "You're bleeding!"

"I'm fine; it was just a throwing spike, and he didn't hit anything important." Kamakura glanced around the room. The hair on the back of his neck was still standing on end. "There are more, aren't there?"

They dove aside as a smoke bomb went off right where they'd been standing, and then there were Red Hand ninja coming out of the woodwork. Kamakura counted ten before he was fighting for his life. He stubbornly stood his ground over Breaker's makeshift shelter; the tech was trying to line up a shot on one of the Red Hand agents, and failing miserably.

Jinx also refused to abandon the tech. She and Kamakura went back to back, desperately holding off their attackers.

"Snake Eyes!" Breaker was yelling into the microphone of his headset. "Red Hands! We're up to our eyeballs in unfriendly ninja, here! Jinx and Kamakura are keeping me alive, but they're outnumbered bad!"

"He's on his way." That was Stalker's voice, terse. Kamakura sucked in his stomach and instead of getting gutted by a kama just got a torn gi. He took off the kama wielding ninja's arms just above the elbows with his ninjato. The Red Hand agent fell back, screaming and bleeding out rapidly. "He just blew past my position at about mach five. Hold on, guys."

Kamakura ducked a whip chain, which instead of wrapping around his throat wrapped around Jinx's wrist. She jerked the enemy ninja off balance and tore his throat open with one of her knives.

Kamakura blinked. He was feeling…odd. He shook himself, and kept fighting. Minutes later, however, when he went to parry a sword cut the room spun and he ended up on his knees. He blinked dazedly up at the sword arcing towards his skull. A combination of instinct and willpower brought his own sword up again, and the enemy ninja's strike skittered off to one side. Kamakura gritted his teeth and lunged, running the Red Hand through.

"Kamakura!" Jinx sounded frantic.

" M' fine." His voice sounded funny. He blinked at the six remaining Red Hands, and tried to stand. His legs gave out, and then there was a kasuri-kama arcing through the air towards him, and Jinx was tied up with her own opponent, and his arms weren't working any longer.

I'm going to die. He blinked bemusedly. He really felt very odd. He realized belatedly that the throwing spike he'd pulled from his arm must have been poisoned.

But just before the kasuri-kama tore his face off, a large black blur crashed into the enemy ninja, sending him flying back. The bladed chain fell short of Kamakura's face and fell to the floor with a sad little 'clink.'

Kamakura smiled as Sensei broke the Red Hand agent's neck with a sharp 'crack', and then Snake Eyes was on his feet and tearing into the remaining three (or four, Kamakura was having trouble keeping track of numbers at the moment) Red Hands with a ferocity that was truly inspiring.

Kamakura wished that he could have appreciated the sight more; the low sweep of a trench knife to the hamstrings of one enemy while Sensei's sword easily turned away the desperate attacks of a second hostile ninja in particular was pure poetry. Elegance, grace, lethal speed…watching their Sensei fight was really a thing of beauty.

Moments later, though, and he was blinking up at the ceiling, trying to remember when he'd fallen on his back and failing. Snake Eyes was signing something to Jinx. She nodded and pressed the button on her earpiece. "Lifeline! Kamakura's down! Sensei thinks he's been poisoned; we need you now!"

"On my way…Is he still conscious? Is he coherent?"

Snake Eyes leaned over his apprentice. *Kamakura, do you know where you are?* Even through the mask and visor, he was practically radiating tense worry.

"Yes, Sensei sir." Kamakura's voice was thick in his throat. "Guarding Breaker like you ordered."

"Yes, to both." Jinx said to Lifeline.

"Good…If the hit was on an extremity, torquinet it."

Snake Eyes had the mask off of one of the dead Red Hands and was cinching the strip of cloth tightly around Kamakura's upper arm almost before the medic had finished speaking.

"Do any of you have a snakebite kit? I know you ninja carry all sorts of things for emergencies…I don't know how much good it will do, but it won't hurt and it might buy him another few minutes."

Snake Eyes hissed in frustration, but Jinx was digging into a hidden pocket. "Here, Sensei sir…I have one."

Snake Eyes nodded at her in approval. Kamakura wasn't sure about the events of the next few minutes; his vision started swimming and he was suddenly very tired. He tried to close his eyes, but Sensei flicked him none-too-gently just under the nose and Jinx pinched him. He opened his eyes again with a wordless sound of protest.

"You need to stay awake, Kamakura." Jinx's voice was urgent. "Lifeline is almost here, and he'll fix you up."

"Lifeline." Kamakura said dreamily. "He's nice."

Things faded again, but then someone was digging a knuckle into his solar plexus and he opened his eyes again to find Lifeline leaning over him.

"That's it…stay with me." Lifeline frowned. "His breathing is shallow, his pulse is erratic, and he's drowsy…his pupils are contracting…and Jinx says that he's confused and his speech is slurred."

"Do you have any idea what he got hit with?" Kamakura looked around; he didn't see Doc in the room, but that was Doc's voice…and this wasn't the medical center at the pit, where Doc usually worked…Oh, Lifeline was talking into Breaker's communicator, and Doc's voice was coming back out…

"No idea." Lifeline sounded frustrated. "The symptoms are familiar, but I just don't know for sure if it's narcotic based."

*Poppy concentrate.* Snake Eyes signed. *The Red Hand clan uses highly concentrated poppy extract as their poison.*

Lifeline's face cleared. "Are you sure?"

*Yes.*

"Then it is basically an opiate overdose…" The medic dove into his bag. "Thank God I packed Narcan... Jinx, hold this." The medic shoved an IV bag at her and yanked up Kamakura's sleeve.

"I can dress myself." Kamakura glared at him, but then the room spun and he fell back, his eyelids drooping.

"Oh, no you don't." Lifeline jabbed a needle into his arm. Kamakura didn't even feel the prick; actually, he wasn't feeling much of anything. The medic had the IV hooked up with a few deft movements, and then was injecting something into the IV line. "There…that should bring him out of it if it really is a narcotic based poison."

Kamakura blinked. The room was righting itself. "Lifeline?"

"How's he reacting?" Doc's voice; Lifeline was talking to the medic over Breaker's handheld comm.

"Sensei? Sir?" Kamakura frowned up at the faces above him. "Are Breaker and Jinx okay?" He grimaced. "I feel funny."

Lifeline puffed out a little sigh of relief. "He's coming around. He just recognized me, he's more lucid, and his pulse and breathing are stabilizing…aaand now he's trying to sit up. Snake Eyes, why did you have to teach all three of them to be just as bad as you?" The medic pushed the young ninja back down. "This is Lifeline. We're going to need evac here."

"I'm fine." Kamakura said. He was feeling better; still a little weak and shaky, but his voice didn't slur and stick in his throat anymore.

"Good. I like it when you're with it enough to fight me." Lifeline nodded.

"I'm sending over Tiger Claw with a stretcher." That was Hawk's voice. "Wild Bill, get the Tomahawk warmed up."

"Sir!" The Texan's voice sounded concerned. "How's he doin'?"

"He'll make it. So long as I know what he got hit with, I can treat it." Lifeline checked Kamakura's pulse again. "Still, a quick trip back to base would be a good idea."

"But Hawk needs Tiger Claw!" Kamakura was frowning. "He shouldn't be left unprotected!"

Snake Eyes actually smiled. *The fighting is over, Kamakura. Hawk is safe. Though I am glad to see that you've taken my words to heart.*

"Your standing order, sir." Kamakura tried to sit up again. Lifeline absently pushed the young ninja back down. "'Never leave General Hawk unguarded in battle.'" He glared at Lifeline and tried to sit up once more, again without success. "Breaker?"

"I'm just fine, thanks to you two." The tech's face appeared in his field of view. "And I managed to break the codes…the brass is going to absolutely wet themselves with glee over some of the info I just hacked."

"Good." Kamakura nodded to himself. "I would be upset if you died."

"Good to know. I'd be upset if I died, too." Breaker was smiling.

Tiger Claw rounded the corner at full speed seconds later. When he saw Kamakura awake and alert, he relaxed visibly. "So much for you being better at dodging." The older man grinned at his fellow apprentice

Kamakura sat up, brushing off Lifeline irritably. The medic made a disgusted noise and glared at Snake Eyes. Kamakura could have sworn that Sensei was trying not to smile; the black mask crinkled just ever so slightly.

"I am better at dodging than you." Kamakura bristled. "Sensei says so, and you know it…I just blew my cover, is all, and that was to save Jinx."

Lifeline heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Snake Eyes, help me get your stubborn idiot of an apprentice on this thing. Jinx, keep holding up that IV bag." The medic had deftly assembled the collapsible stretcher. "Kamakura, I swear to God that I will tie you to this thing if you don't stay put on the way back to base. You just got poisoned."

"I'm feeling better now." Kamakura pointed out. "Your shot fixed me."

"Not completely, it didn't." Lifeline frowned. "There were probably other toxins in the dart you got hit with, and we'll need to figure out what and treat you for them. So stay put."

Behind the medic's head, Snake Eyes was signing. *Do what he says, Kamakura.*

"Yes, sensei sir." Kamakura let Lifeline settle him on the stretcher without argument. The medic blinked.

"Thank you, Snake." Lifeline sounded vaguely surprised. "Actually listening to a medic? Did you get hit on the head?" He eyed the older ninja critically. "Take your visor off…I want to check your pupils. You might be concussed…maybe you actually got some sense knocked into that thick skull of yours."

Jinx, Kamakura, and Tiger Claw all hissed angrily. Lifeline looked at them sharply. "Can it, you three. I've been fighting to keep your beloved Sensei alive despite his best efforts for longer than you three have known him. Now, you two can pick him up. Jinx, keep that IV elevated."

On the Tomahawk, Jinx and Tiger Claw hovered and fretted until Lifeline shooed them to the back of the 'chopper, where Sensei was sitting and cleaning carbon buildup from his firearms.

Lifeline and Doc talked in rapid medical shorthand over the comm line. Kamakura didn't speak medical jargon, and only caught about one word in five. Still, he did pick up enough to realize how lucky he had been. Doc and Lifeline had apparently agreed that he must not have been hit with a very large dose of the Red Hand's poison.

Back at the Pit, he spent the rest of the night getting poked for blood samples, which were run through a battery of tests. When the toxicology reports came back, he was stuck with several more anti-toxin injections.

By eight in the morning, Kamakura was sitting up, his back propped against his pillow while Doc read off the cocktail of compounds that they'd found in his blood and coating the throwing weapons of the Red Hand ninja.

"Eighty percent highly concentrated opium poppy extract." Doc frowned. "That lot could make a fortune selling their distillation and purification process on the black market….anyways, that, a touch of hemlock, a little sea snake venom, and to top the whole sundae off a sprinkle of henbane. You are damned lucky that you didn't get hit with a full dose. Snake Eyes would have been interviewing for a new apprentice." Doc looked over his glasses at the young ninja. "You must have yanked that thing out pretty quickly. Most of the toxins didn't have a chance to make it into your bloodstream."

"As fast as it hit me. It was in my arm for less than a second."

"Well, your ninja reflexes saved you." Doc adjusted his glasses. "I'm going to keep you for a day or two for observation. I'd keep you longer to be on the safe side, but I know very well how trying to keep bored ninja in bed for extended periods of time works out. You are out of danger, however."

Kamakura smiled. "Sensei has warned me not to eat anything that you or Lifeline bring…he'll send Jinx or Tiger Claw by with my meals."

Doc cursed softly. "Wily spook…Well, if you cooperate, you know, I won't need to sedate you."

"I will cooperate for as long as Sensei says that I must." Kamakura grinned at Doc's open groan. "He says that it is good for you and Lifeline to keep on your toes."

Behind the medic, a ceiling tile abruptly slid to one side. Kamakura didn't even blink as Snake Eyes dropped silently down and replaced the ceiling tile carefully.

Doc, completely oblivious, was shaking his head at his patient. "He just likes tormenting us. He's got a real sadistic streak to his sense of humor, I swear."

Snake Eyes slid up to stand next to the medic and snapped his fingers sharply. Kamakura laughed as the doctor spun, jumped, and took an involuntary step back.

*It's true, actually.* Snake Eyes was smiling. *I do like tormenting you and Lifeline. Consider it extended payback for drugging me.*

"You're tracking mud on my floor." Doc glared.

*PT.* Snake Eyes shrugged. *I wanted to see how he was doing.*

"I'm fine, Sensei sir."

"Why can't you people use the door like normal humans?" Doc sighed. "He's doing fine. He's out of danger, but I'm going to keep him here for another day or two just to make sure he doesn't have any complications." Doc's glare shifted from the older ninja to Kamakura. "Stay. As in stay there. In bed."

Kamakura gave him a blank stare. Doc sighed. "Well, I suppose Lifeline will get his cardio in if you vanish. Would it be too much to ask you to order him to stay put, Snake? You and Hawk are the only ones your three fan club members will listen to."

*Good practice for him.* Snake Eyes signed calmly, but Kamakura knew his Sensei well enough to recognize that particular pattern of mask-crinkle as a truly wicked grin. *Beach wanted you, by the way…Something about you're not skipping out of PT just because you've been awake for twenty-four hours.*

"Figures." Doc sighed. "I'll send Lifeline in to keep an eye on you…If BeachHead has to murder us, he can do it separately."

The medic strode off.

Kamakura looked up at Snake Eyes; he'd been waiting to get a moment alone with his sensei. "I'm sorry." He said meekly.

Snake Eyes looked down sharply. *Whatever for?*

"I failed. I was injured, and if you hadn't come when you did I would have been killed and probably Breaker as well." Kamakura sighed. "I failed you, Sensei, and I am sorry…I shall train harder."

Snake Eyes eyed his apprentice for a long moment. *The Red Hands weren't after Breaker, Kamakura…They were after you, Jinx, and Tiger Claw. They know I've taken apprentices, and that worries them.*

"Really?" Kamakura blinked.

*Yes. And you didn't fail me; they sent a dozen of their most highly trained and experienced agents to kill three apprentice ninja. They were sure of success, and had every reason to be. But you and Jinx managed to hold them off and kill better than half of them before I got there. Most fully trained ninja couldn't have done that.*

Kamakura tried not to hope. "But I let myself get injured…"

*And you fought through it. According to Jinx and Breaker, you got hit when you gave away your position by warning her of danger and the fight didn't begin for another few seconds. But even hurt, you still honored the charge I gave you and protected Breaker, and you killed four Red Hand ninja before you went down. Even then, you were still trying to get back up and back into the fight…I saw you. You did very well. I am very proud of you.*

Warm pride rose in his chest. "Thank you, Sensei!"

*Now, if you are going to be shouting out your position in a selfless effort to warn your teammates of danger, however, you should master evasion.* Snake Eyes was smiling. *There are a few drills that you can work on…you are feeling fine, aren't you?*

"Yes, Sensei."

*Good. I'll be out in the trees along the fenceline in forty minutes. Be there, and don't let yourself be seen.* Snake Eyes paused. *Storage closet across the hall. Press on the left-hand panel of plywood. Good luck.*

His master strode out of the infirmary, leaving Kamakura to contemplate his various escape options. He smiled; he would make Sensei proud…Now, the storage closet? Hmmm…