It's like this every time; the clash of metal against metal, the near silent sounds as precise footfalls crush the autumn foliage, the controlled breathing of the two combatants echoes through the trees, bouncing off the sheer rock face they run parallel to, as an attempt by each to further box in their opponent; one direction unavailable for escape means only three they have to keep their eyes on, and in the middle of a battle like this, it's crucial to have as many advantages like that as possible. Unfortunately, every advantage one has, the other has; their fighting styles, their knowledge, is so similar, it's difficult for either to have an edge over the other.

Storm Shadow is the one on the offensive, as usual; his moves are slow, calculating, but fierce. He's always the first to attack, jumping from his own hiding spot when his eyes catch even the smallest flash of material black amongst the shadows of the trees, jumping back and hiding again flawlessly once he's made his attack. All of Snake Eyes' moves are counterattacks, purely defensive, and extremely ineffective; he's hurt, bad, and Storm Shadow barely has a scratch on him. Not to mention, with every passing move, with Storm Shadow on his left and the rock face on his right, he gets forced closer and closer to it. In a normal fight between them, things wouldn't be like this, but Snake Eyes is still recovering from a training session with the apprentices that ended not five hours before he was sent out again, upon hearing that Storm Shadow was active and on the move. During that training, he sustained a very minor injury—he popped his shoulder out sparring with Jinx. It had popped back in without much fuss, but it's starting to take its toll, wearing out his arm faster than it should. It forces him to switch his sword to his non-dominant hand, using his weak arm as a secondary block if he needs it; it gives Storm Shadow yet another advantage he doesn't have.

Needless to say, it's not looking good for him.

He steps just a bit too far, catching a particularly crunchy pile of leaves underfoot, and Storm Shadow jumps from his hiding place among the shadows running parallel, sword glinting in the little sun allowed to pass through the trees. Snake Eyes barely has enough time to throw up his sword to block, and even then, the blade catches his arm on the down swing, incising a previous wound from a similar failed attempt, and drawing fresh blood. Before he can return the favour, Storm Shadow is gone again. His senses are starting to fail him; not enough to be worrisome, but enough to be cumbersome. His eyes aren't as sharp at picking up that little tell-tale flash of white or red, his ears not fine tuned enough to pick up the sound of footfalls through grass, his nose not strong enough to pick up on the slightest hint of blood in the air from the only decent blow Snake Eyes has managed to land so far; a shallow, but plentiful with blood, gash on his opponent's left shoulder. And, as superficial as these losses would be to anyone else, to him it means yet another thing Storm Shadow has over him, and the greater chance Storm Shadow has of winning this fight.

Their movement startles a murder of crows from their roosts in the trees above, and they fly off with a simultaneous caw that echoes off of rock and empty air, and Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes leap at each other, rewarded with the synchronized sound of metal tearing through flesh. Storm Shadow lets out a little cry, and Snake Eyes stumbles when he lands; he caught Storm Shadow across the thigh, almost accidentally, but Storm Shadow got him in the side. It's not a fatal wound by any means, but out of all of his injuries, it's the most painful, and therefore the most debilitating. The only positive aspect is that now he's on the opposite side, with Storm Shadow running closest to the wall, and he intends to keep it that way. He immediately goes on the offensive, lunging forwards for the strike as soon as he sees a flash of red, and strikes gold; namely, a clean slice running from the back of Storm Shadow's shoulder, down and across his torso, ending at the bottom of his stomach, directly below his bellybutton. The elder ninja cries out, stumbles, and falls, just in time for them to reach the end of the trees. Now, it's just an open plain for them to fight on; nowhere to hide, and nowhere to run, as long as either of them have anything to say about it. Storm Shadow jumps to his feet, stopping the worst of the bleeding by squeezing his wound. It leaves him with one less hand to work with, and suddenly, Snake Eyes is the one with the greater advantages. He jumps at the opportunity, aiming for the hand awkwardly holding the sword, displaced to an improper position to allow the worst of his wound to be covered and administered pressure. He doesn't want to hurt Storm Shadow—not fatally—so he tries to disarm him. The sword slices into the back of his hand, and he instinctively drops the sword. Snake Eyes grabs it before Storm Shadow can react, stuffing it into his own sheath, even if it is an awkward fit—although dual wielding would look impressive, right now he needs his other hand. Storm Shadow narrows his eyes at him, clearly in a great deal of pain.

"You're going to fight an unarmed man?" he says, laughing roughly. "How pathetic. I thought you had still retained some of your honour. Clearly I was mistaken." Snake Eyes tightens his grip on his sword, but doesn't show any other sign of anger; he knows Storm Shadow is intentionally trying to get to him, his words being his only weapon with his blade taken away and his body in such a poor condition. He drops his sword to his side; as much as Storm Shadow's comment was only to get him riled up, there was some truth to it. He has no intention of fighting a disarmed opponent. As he reaches for the communicator on his wrist, intending to call for a pick up, Storm Shadow lunges forwards and lands a heavy punch under his jaw. He can almost hear the bone crack, as Storm Shadow swings his leg around to catch him in the side, and grabs his sword from Snake Eyes' sheath at the same time. The black clad ninja lands hard, curling into himself, before Storm Shadow leans down and hoists him up by the front of his outfit, unable to lift him any farther than to the tips of his toes. He struggles for a moment, until the hilt of Storm Shadow's sword connects with his temple, and he's immediately knocked unconscious. Storm Shadow lowers him slightly, starting to feel a little woozy from blood loss and unable to hold him up all the way.

Out of nowhere, he hears an explosion; presumably from construction on the other side of the cliff. There was a barbed wire fence indicating for people to keep out because of falling hazards, but he hadn't paid it much mind at the time.

As he sees several tons of rock falling towards him, and jumps out of the way, releasing Snake Eyes at the last moment because his hand, weak from the cut across it and the subsequent blood loss, lets out, he wishes he had.

He lands and rolls, easily out of harms way, and shields his eyes from the dust. Once it's settled, he looks up, and his eyes widen in fear.

One of the larger rocks had fallen onto Snake Eyes' unconscious body—it looks as though it only fell onto his legs, but he can't tell. He doesn't hesitate for a moment; he jumps to hit feet and runs over to Snake Eyes, leaning all of his weight into the boulder, pushing with what little strength is left in his legs. It takes a while, but eventually he manages to get it rolled out of the way, and he drops to his knees beside Snake Eyes. It's clear that both of his legs are broken—no need to even check to make sure of that, considering where the boulder landed—but he can't tell the extent of the damage. Trying not to think about the worst that could happen, he reaches for Snake Eyes' wrist, first checking his pulse, then opening the communicator. It takes him a few precious minutes to figure out how to operate it, but eventually he manages to get a message to Snake Eyes' team that he needs to be picked up. Very carefully, he loops one arm under Snake Eyes' broken legs, and one under his back, and picks him up. He struggles under his weight for a moment, but as he starts walking, it gets easier and easier to carry him. It doesn't take that long to get into the clearing, a valley bordered by the ocean, perfect for a helicopter landing, and the Joes don't disappoint; although it feels like forever, they eventually arrive.

Kamakura is the first one out of the copter, not surprisingly; he doesn't even wait for it to reach the ground to jump from it and run over. His initial reaction to Storm Shadow is hostile.

"What did you do?!" he demands, running forwards. Storm Shadow holds up his sword as a warning, and Kamakura immediately takes a step back, his hair flying about wildly as the helicopter lands behind him.

"Saved his life." Storm Shadow replies.

"I'm sure." Kamakura spits, his voice seething with venom. Storm Shadow pointedly ignores him.

"Our battle is over for the day. Take him to intensive care. Make sure they treat him well, or he may never be able to walk again." he replies, very gently setting Snake Eyes onto the ground in front of him, and cautiously backing away, making sure to keep his eyes on Kamakura at all times. The apprentice meets his gaze until he's a few feet away, then immediately runs up and kneels beside Snake Eyes.

Storm Shadow turns away, ignoring the voice of one of the other members of Sigma 6 (he can't tell who) yelling at him to stop. They won't try to come after him—not with Snake Eyes in his condition. He needs to get somewhere far away and call Zartan.


"My god, what happened to you." It's more of a statement than a question as Zartan looks him over, clothes covered with grime and stains, freely bleeding from his hand and side.

"I got careless." Storm Shadow replies. "It's not as bad as it looks. Could have been a lot worse, actually. Snake Eyes had me disarmed, badly injured...I was at his mercy." he explains as he peels off his shirt, sitting down on the fold out bed as Zartan looks for the plane's First-Aid kit.

"How did you manage to get out of that one even remotely still breathing?" he asks, pulling it from the wall and sitting next to Storm Shadow, carefully examining his wounds.

"Snake Eyes was more honourable than I thought he would be."