Don't own the Joes, yadda yadda, blah blah. If you're reading this, Hasbro, I'm open to negotiations. Also, I'd like to offer my services as a consultant on the next Joe movie. I can be a bit tough, but I think the fans would appreciate my fanaticism on your team. I'll work for an intro to the dude who played Storm; yummy.

Storm Shadow ducked; the bullet pinged off the wall just above his head. Snipers. He hated snipers. Actually, that wasn't entirely true… he enjoyed killing them.

He slid behind a dumpster, extracted a smoke bomb from the hidden pocket in his gi front, and chucked it. The pop, flash, and resulting cloud of white smoke distracted the enemy perched above him; he saw the gleam of light off the 'scope as the man shifted.

Storm broke cover, going the opposite direction from his smoke bomb. He was across the street and halfway up the side of the half-fallen two-story store that the viper sharpshooter was perched on before the man could refocus.

Snake Eyes would have just shot the man. Tommy knew that his mute friend didn't really understand why he didn't carry firearms; Snake Eyes didn't have a problem using anything that would expedite a situation, and was a damned surgeon with an Uzi.

Truth be told, Storm Shadow-who was also a crack shot if he wanted to be-didn't particularly have anything against modern weapons...aside from the fact that they were noisy, and more or less cheating. Guns really made things far too easy.

He launched himself over the edge of the roof, ninety degrees off from where the sniper was looking, nervously clutching a sidearm. His knife took the man's kidneys, and he was gone as the viper painfully twitched out his last few seconds on the rooftop.

It was fairly standard MO for the Joe team; if an enemy was dug in, Hawk would send in his pair of ninja to soften things up a bit for the rest of the team. It was a practice that Storm Shadow highly approved of; Tommy very much enjoyed a little sniper-hunting. The man he'd just killed was the third sniper today.

He keyed his headset. "Snipers are down on my side."

"Excellent." Hawk sounded as happy as only shooting international terrorists in the face could make the general. "Snake?"

The tapping of Morse code. *One left.*

Storm grinned to himself before keying his mike again. "You're getting slow, brother."

*Shut up.* Snake Eyes somehow managed to sound aggravated with Morse mean achievement.

"When you're done, check in with me. Storm, if you'd like we've got a whole mess of vipers over by my team...if you get here fast enough we might not shoot them all first."

"On it." Storm took off at a dead run.

Dusty's voice cut in. "The detachment of iron grenadiers are down...and you should get us into fights in the Sahara more often, General. Nice not to freeze my buns off for once."

"Good, Dusty." Hawk sounded amused. "I'll tell the Commander that you appreciate his choice of locales."

Half an hour later, and the tiny ghost town that Cobra had taken over was cleared. Storm tugged a final shuriken out of a vipers' spine, wiped the blood off, and tucked it back into its pouch.

A black shape detached itself from a shadow and slid up on his left. Tommy nodded at his sword brother. "How many?"

*Eighteen.* Snake Eyes glanced at him. *You?*

Storm Shadow sighed. "Sixteen."

The grin was unmistakable, even through his sword brother's mask. *What was that crack about me getting slow, again?*

Tommy eyed his fellow ninja. "You know, if I stab you, I take credit for all of your kills too."

*Try.* Snake Eyes' grin didn't fade.

Breaker's voice interrupted their mild argument. "General Hawk? You'd better see this."

The tech sounded...confused? Storm frowned. Snake Eyes broke into a jog, and Tommy fell in next to him. There were little alarm bells going off in the back of his skull. And after many years and more than a little sweat and blood spent honing them, Thomas Arashikage trusted his instincts.

They reached the Cobra tech bunker at the same time Hawk did. Breaker was standing outside. Hawk frowned. "Breaker, I told you I wanted you to scrounge whatever intel you could. That wasn't a suggestion; it was an order."

"I tried." Breaker cracked his gum absently. "Problem is, there's nothing to scrounge...this place is a shell. Completely gutted."

Hawk's frown deepened, but now it wasn't with irritation at his communications specialist. "Then what the hell were they defending this building for?"

Breaker shrugged. "Not a clue, sir. But there's not so much as a broken floppy left in there."

Storm Shadow eyed the scrubby desert and the forlorn buildings around them suspiciously. Snake Eyes was doing the same; Tommy heard the soft 'click' of his sword brother sliding a fresh clip into his Uzi.

"Anything under the bunker? Entrance to a hidden facility? Safe containing tech supplies? Anything?"

"Nope. Looked everywhere, sir."

If he'd been a ninja hired for an assassination-and he had been, many times-and his target was prominent...Say, a brigadier general...

Say he was a Red Hand who'd been hired by an international terrorist organization, and offered all of the troops and support he wanted. And his intel revealed that his target was well guarded, but also revealed that his mark was unwilling to stay put in a safe office...

He's set up a dummy base, let his mark think he'd won (vipers, after all, were expendable) draw him out with a puzzle, and put an arrow through his skull. Storm closed his eyes, listening. Past the footsteps of the Joes, past the heartbeats around him. He's dig himself just under the sand, probably under low that, a hundred yards to the northwest...He strained his ears.

He was rewarded with the faint creak of a wooden bow being bent and the thrum of a string sliding off of fingers.

Storm Shadow lunged for Hawk, shoving the general down and snatching the red-fletched arrow out of the air. A faint hiss, and he grabbed the second missile. Whoever the Red Hand agent was, he or she was good with a bow. A choked screech of pain, which abruptly cut off. Snake Eyes had got to the archer, then.

The scream almost covered the soft hiss of something pointy moving extremely quickly and getting very close.


Not an archery ace; two archers. The arrow was almost too close already; Storm did the only thing he had time for. He pivoted slightly to one side, and brought his left forearm across where he guessed the missile to be aimed. With any luck, it would hit his arm instead of anything vital.

The arrow hit him instead of Hawk's temple, punching through the muscle of his forearm and pinning it to his side. A second scream of pain, and Tommy knew that his sword brother had found the second archer.

There was a great deal of yelling going on. Storm hissed in pain, grabbed the arrow near where it was sticking into his side, and broke the wooden shaft in half with a sharp jerk of his arm. He yanked the fletched stub out of his arm, tossed it aside, and eyed the several inches of the arrow shaft that were still sticking out of him, low on his ribs.

Something that not many people realized was that to be able to destroy a human body as quickly and with as little effort as possible, you had to understand how the human body worked. By the time they were graduated to field agent status, a ninja had an understanding of anatomy and physiology that most medical graduates would envy.

Tommy carefully took a breath. The fact that he could told him that the arrow hadn't punctured a lung. He glanced at his arm; it was bleeding pretty good, but not dangerously, and the angle was wrong to have hit any major veins anyways.

He glanced back down at the arrow. Judging by the angle, the missile had glanced downwards off a rib, missing lungs and heart. Judging by how deeply it was embedded, it was still mostly in the muscle. Maybe stuck in bone. Either way, he didn't think anything vital was damaged; he'd already have been on the ground otherwise. Still, it hurt.

"Storm is hit!" Hawk war roaring into his 'comm. "Lifeline, our ninja has a goddamned arrow sticking out of him! I want you here now! Lift-Ticket! Get an evac chopper warmed up!"

Tommy tugged at the arrow and gasped, digging his fingers into the hot dust of the ground... he'd somehow ended up on his knees in the last two or three seconds. Okay, that really hurt. It felt like the damn thing was barbed, and judging by how solidly it was stuck the barbs were caught on-or, judging by the pain, in- bone.

Hawk was crouched next to him, talking. "Leave it, that's an order; Lifeline says you'll do more damage if you try and pull it out." The general's voice was surprisingly gentle.

Storm Shadow glared at his CO. "Thank you for stating the obvious, sir." He sat back on his heels, rested his hands on his knees, and closed his eyes. Breath in, hold for two heartbeats, exhale. Repeat. The pain mercifully subsided as he slid into meditation.

"Storm!" Lifeline's voice cut through his detachment. "You still with me?"

Tommy cracked his eyes open and glared at the medic as his side started throbbing again. "No. I decided to take a nap because I'm so damned comfy right now." He could hear the snarl in his voice; the medic really didn't deserve it, but it was a little painful to talk at the moment.

"Well, he's snarking, so that's a good sign." Lifeline cut his shirt off and cursed softly. " many weapons do you have hidden, anyways? I'm surprised this thing didn't glance off a knife or something." The medic tossed the gi top aside with a soft clink and examined the injury. "You're not bleeding much...that's good. You'll need surgery to get this out. I can't do much more than stabilize this thing until we can get you on the operating table. You're lucky; the impact cracked your rib, but it didn't go in deep and didn't hit anything vital."

"I know." Tommy grated. "Tell Doc to be careful; it's barbed, and I think the barbs are caught in the bone."

Lifeline winced. "How bad is the pain?"

"On a scale of one to ten? Twenty." Tommy closed his eyes again. "I know it's caught in the bone...I know bone pain when I feel it."

He felt a prick on his arm. "There...that should help."

"What..." The world swam suddenly. "Whoa..."

"Morphine." Lifeline easily tipped him over onto a stretcher and started taping the stub of the arrow shaft firmly in place. Tommy blinked a few times; he didn't feel a damned thing.

A dark shape appeared. Snake Eyes was looking worried. Tommy grinned up at him. "Hi, Snake."

*How is he?*

"He'll pull through. He'll need surgery, but he's a lucky's not deep and it's not in anything important." Lifeline started bandaging Tommy's arm. "I'd like you to ride back in the evac chopper with me...I'll strap him down, and he shouldn't be able to get out of it right now. Morphine kills his hand-eye coordination in addition to making him a little loopy. But just in case."

"'m fine." Tommy tried to sit up. "Feel great."

Lifeline casually shoved him back down. "Lie still, Storm...Like I said, it makes him a little loopy...there's the evac chopper. Help me get him up, Snake."