Author's Note: This was an accidental piece. I was rewatching "Rise of Cobra" and idly jotting down random phrases that came to mind as I did, and when I looked at the list afterwards, I realized that I had one of the strangest collections of drabble-prompts I'd ever seen.

As of this writing, I have a collection of thirty-one prompts. Unfortunately, most of these "drabbles" far exceeded a hundred words, so I've decided to split them up into chapters to avoid overwhelming anybody. Expect a chapter every few days; I'm free to update this, since it's all fresh material and not locked up in my laptop like "Order Up" is. They're random little ficlets, comicverse-based—some funny, some sad, some weird.

Owing to the nature of the film and my thoughts as I watched it, a lot of them are Snake-Eyes-based, though obviously Duke gets a fair share. A handful of them are "(adjective) ninja" prompts, so to mix it up a bit, I'm including only one adjective-ninja ficlet in each chapter.

Pairings: S/SE, Destro/Baroness, F/LJ, some implied CG/BH

Rating: T

Disclaimer: G.I. Joe and all associated characters and concepts are property of Hasbro Inc, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.

Postcards from the Team

by Totenkinder Madchen


Holidays were a bit of an odd issue at the Pit. The major ones involved family obligations—usually Christmas and Thanksgiving, but sometimes there would be someone requesting time off for Easter too—but the minor ones, where a team member's presence might not be demanded by his friends and relations, passed by without much fuss. Oh, some wiseass would grease the climbing wall on April 1st, and the number of chocolate boxes received by the female Joes on Valentine's Day was absolutely ludicrous, but for the most part life kept ticking away.

Sometimes, though, a Joe would find themselves off-base for one of those minor holidays. When Duke Hauser requested leave for the final week in October, to attend his sister's wedding, Hawk signed the papers without really noticing the significance of the 31st.

Duke's nieces knew, though. While his sister was getting married, his brother had already started a family, and a trio of identical blonde triplets latched onto "Uncle Connie's" legs the second he disembarked at the St. Louis airport. They were babbling excitedly about the wedding—they were flower girls, apparently—but seemed even more excited for the upcoming holiday. Candy corn was apparently a large factor.

When their apologetic father detached them from Duke, he explained that they were being allowed out to trick-or-treat this year. Duke, still a little off-balance from an attack he really didn't know how to repel, commiserated with his brother on the task of herding three sugar-hyped five-year-olds through the Halloween night. The two men grinned and backslapped, the nieces circled excitedly, and Duke's sister-in-law smiled indulgently.

Then, on the afternoon of the 31st, something came up at work. Duke's brother phoned the house, sadly telling his wife that he would be needed for most of the night—something about a contract—and that he couldn't take the girls trick-or-treating. And their mother, well, their mother was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and couldn't take a lot of long walks around the neighborhood.

The First Shirt of G.I. Joe was never one to shirk an unpleasant duty. Especially not when Jessie, Susie, and Janey were looking up at him with big pleading eyes. Later, when the Joes found the photographs of Duke wearing an ill-fitting Spiderman costume and leading three tiny Disney princesses . . . well, he could point out that it still wasn't the goofiest team he'd commanded. That shut most of them up.

And if Scarlett, Jaye, and Cover Girl were grinning and wearing tiaras the next time he passed them in the motor pool, that was their business.

* * *

Taking my toys

The squad had reached a relatively peaceful zone, and its six remaining members breathed a shaky sigh of relief as they bivouacked under a dripping mango tree. Tommy and Snake-Eyes were put on watch, while Lonzo, Wade, and the rest sacked out on whatever relatively dry piece of ground they could find.

It was supposed to be safe to light a fire in this area, but Lonzo wouldn't have it, and even Tommy had to cede that the man knew what he was doing when it came to tracking and wilderness survival. Snake-Eyes, quietly resigned as he was to most things, dug a K-ration out of his pack. That, however, was something Tommy would argue: with a grimace, he waved away the proffered package and swung up into the tree. A few seconds later, he dropped noiselessly to the ground with three mangoes in his hand.

"You going to eat all of those?" Snake-Eyes said, eyeing the fruit. Despite the weather, the mangoes had been relatively protected from the worst of it by the leaves. Tommy noted his friend's expression and silently tossed him one, which the blond man easily caught.

"Watch it," Tommy cautioned as his friend bit into the ripe fruit. "These things have pits like peach stones in them. You don't want to lose a tooth; Lonzo would probably just make you stick it back in and keep marching."

Snake-Eyes arched an eyebrow at that, but nodded and drew his ka-bar. He manipulated the knife expertly, digging the tip into the mango and twisting his wrist at exactly the right angle to slide under the stone. One flick of his wrist, and the stone was neatly scooped from the mango and flung across to click against the acacia tree a few yards away. Then, still silent, he speared one of the remaining pieces of fruit on the tip of the knife and ate it.

"So where'd you learn to use your knife?" Tommy said finally. He knew where he had learned, but while Snake-Eyes had a long list of high-level training courses in his jacket, none of them really equaled what ninja training went through. And while knife use was high on the list, elegance was definitely not one of the things the Army cared about.

"Iowa," Snake-Eyes said. Tommy, a California boy who spent half his life in Japan, gave him a blank look. "Farm country," the blond man supplied, wiping the blade of the knife on the damp grass. "If you're not tying hay bales, you're cutting them loose again for the animals. And Dad used to take me and Terri on hunting trips in the fall." A pause, and for a moment Tommy thought his enigmatic friend had said his piece, but then he shrugged and continued. "Terri can shoot, but even back then, she didn't like the butchering. And you don't waste good venison." Another pause, but this time, Tommy waited patiently. "Dad always told me that if you're going to kill an animal for food, then you should know how to do it quickly and cleanly. It's the right thing to do."

"Ever used a throwing star?"

Snake-Eyes eyed him. "What?"

Tommy jumped up, far too energetic for the long march they'd just had. His friend's deft use of the knife had put the germ of an idea in his head. "If you want quick and clean, shuriken are the way to go," he explained, pawing through his rucksack. "Here. This is an eight-point star—good for a beginner, since you don't have to worry so hard about aiming the points and timing the spin."

At Snake-Eyes' increasingly disbelieving look, Tommy grinned. "Oh, come on. How many training courses did you go through? A new skill's always useful. See that big leaf on the left branch? If you can hit that before it's Lonzo's turn to take watch, I'll give you the last mango."

"You're strange," Snake-Eyes said simply, but there was a bit of a grin on his face too. And Tommy didn't think twice before handing his friend the throwing star.

* * *

Sleepy ninja

Right from the beginning, nobody questioned the ninja or his limits. Later on, when there were more on the team, the Joes would be almost accustomed to the strangeness of having them around—sudden appearances, knife gouges in odd places, black-clad figures somehow blending into white wallpaper. But nobody would ever really question them.

Back in the beginning, when it was just the one, he was even more of a figure of mystery to them. Nobody asked about his capabilities—or his limits. And regarding the latter, nobody knew he even had them. And when a Huey had gone down in flames and the black mask appeared, he was more remote than ever.

Some things he couldn't change, though. Even the mighty Snake-Eyes couldn't go more than seven or eight days without sleep, especially after a two-week-long jungle mission. So when Hawk left Wild Bill in the cockpit of the transport plane and went back to talk to his battered team, he wasn't entirely surprised to find a black-clad figure curled up in a pile of loose netting and blissfully asleep.

What made Hawk raise an eyebrow was that the man's head was pillowed on the lap of the redheaded Intel specialist. Scarlett noticed him looking, too, and shot the general a completely deadpan look even while she ran a soothing hand over the sleeping ninja's face. And Snake-Eyes, who went from zero to deadly in less than half a second if anyone tried to wake him, had his own hands knotted tightly around her free one.

That was when Hawk first figured out that something wasn't quite regulation with two of his team members. But at the time, he just nodded back to Scarlett and stepped across the hold to speak to Breaker and Grunt. Even ninjas needed their rest, after all.

* * *

Too human for this

Clan McCullen had done a lot of business with England over the years. Once, they had even been awarded a coat of arms, the gift of some king grateful for the steel that had put down one rebellion or another. Heraldry being the convoluted in-joke that it was, the crest had featured a farmhand rampant, a sickle in hand—culling the harvest, choosing which stalks were cut down. Appropriate for a family of weapons dealers, and doubtless absolutely hilarious in the seventeenth century. James McCullen XXIV, alias Destro, had quietly rolled his eyes at that when he first saw it in one of his family's ancient books.

But when he watched Cobra Commander work, screaming orders at his subordinates and sprawling in his chair to spread caviar on crackers and shoot at G.I. Joe-shaped targets, Destro wondered what had happened to the concept of culling. The man in front of him killed randomly and indiscriminately. Destro couldn't even begin to pretend that his own work was ethical, but there were limits that even his dark business didn't cross.

Cobra Commander actually had quite a thin neck. A sickle would be just right.

Then the Baroness would lay a hand on his arm, her lips somehow warm on his skin even through the metal mask, and Destro would let his vendetta go for the time being. One day, he would promise himself.

Somehow, that day never seemed to come.

* * *


"All I'm saying," Lady Jaye observed, grinning a little as she sipped her fourth piña colada, "is that once you start looking for it, you can't stop looking."

Cover Girl snorted into her beer. "That's what you get for studying literature, Jaye. Do yourself a favor and read a romance or something. Something with a shirtless guy on the cover. Maybe then you'll stop, uh, looking."

"She has a point, though," Scarlett admitted reluctantly. The martial artist had a cup of tea cradled between her hands, but even she couldn't resist the pressure of the girls'-night-out tradition and had added a small jot of whiskey to the cup. "The symbolism can get pretty strange. I remember discussing Dracula in college, and . . . well . . ."

"Well what?" Cover Girl said curiously. Jaye had burst out laughing.

"They moan, Court. The female vampires moan when they get staked." Cover Girl's eyes widened a little, and even Scarlett was snickering a little. "They moan, and writhe, and scratch, and I think they spasm, too. All while Stoker gives loving details of the hard stake plunging through their wicked, wicked flesh." Jaye shook her head. "The man had some issues."

"That's what you see when you look at the world?" the tank driver said, taking another sip of her beer. "I take it back about the romances. I think you just plain scare me."

"You want to know what's the best part?" Yes, Jaye was definitely a little tipsy. "Snake-Eyes."

"What about Snake-Eyes?"

Jaye straightened up a little, assuming the posture of a classroom instructor. The illusion was somewhat spoiled by the little paper umbrella stuck behind one ear. "'The implications before us,'" she began in a lilting Irish accent, "'of the characteristic actions of this individual cannot be overlooked, especially within the male-dominated militaristic world where we find him. Swords are traditionally a masculine weapon, symbolizing dominance and the penetrative capability of the phallic-'"

The impromptu lesson was adjourned when Scarlett knocked Jaye's chair out from under her.

* * *

Bring me the head of Conrad Hauser

Conrad "Duke" Hauser, First Shirt of G.I. Joe, found himself in the interesting position of holding command over a bunch of frickin' lunatics. When he'd first introduced himself to the team, him and Roadblock driving off the Cobra troopers who tried to destroy General Flagg's funeral, he'd announced his intentions to mold them into a real fighting force.

That, in retrospect, might have been a mistake. Because First Shirt or not, the team was already a real fighting force, and it didn't take Duke long to realize that he was pretty much along for the ride.

He held up his end, and they respected his command. He consistently scored high on—or topped—the various evaluations that Doc and Beach Head put the Joes through, he'd seen more combat than an entire squadron of U.S. Marines, and he wouldn't trade his job for any other in the world. That didn't mean they didn't make an art form out of tormenting high command.

Sure, none of it was intentional. Mostly. (Shipwreck, Dusty, and Clutch were on semi-permanent KP detail for a reason, after all.) But Duke knew as well as anyone that in unusual situations, you got unusual personalities—like the desert trooper who moonlighted as a refrigerator repairman, the pacifist combat medic, or, uh . . . well, pretty much anybody. And they were unusual personalities hated downtime. Which meant that if someone pulled something stupid under his jurisdiction, Duke was suddenly facing repercussions from the side of his job that he really didn't like—the administrative side.

Sooner or later, he was going to badger the Pentagon to issue a new set of incident report forms. They would make his job so much easier. Form 2227FG: Report of Prank in Motor Pool. Form 4156LI: Report of Inappropriate Use of Military-Grade Explosives. Form 1747JF: Report of Percussive Shock Injury due to Sudden Ninja Appearance, with tick boxes to indicate which ninja had done the appearing and whether the surprised person had fallen down a staircase, slipped on a bucket, or just bumped into a door.

Yeah, and maybe Cobra would donate all their funds to Greenpeace. But hell, he could dream.

* * *

Pretty when you're homicidal

Her Wolverine was a smoldering wreck. Again. Cover Girl cursed and aimed a kick at the nearest tread, not caring that she was currently losing her temper in the middle of a gutted battlefield. The area was secure, the HISS tanks were even more demolished than her beloved Wolverine, and she was taking a moment to get royally pissed off.

Almost immediately, though, she regretted it. She was alive, after all; she'd managed to leap clear only a few crucial seconds before the timed bomb went off, and aside from a bruised shoulder, the ex-model wasn't even scratched. There were injured Joes out there, and she could probably fix her Wolverine more easily than Doc could fix them. At the thought Cover Girl clenched her fists, looked away from the tank, and turned to see what was happening on the battlefield.

A hulking figure in a torn sweater and 'tac vest came stalking up to her, hauling a semi-conscious HISS tanker by one dislocated arm. Cover Girl's breath caught when she spotted the bright patch of blood on the green fabric, but the balaclava obscuring his face twitched, and she knew he was grinning.

"Ease off, Krieger. Ain't mine."

Subtle, Beach. Why didn't he just hang a big sign "Macho Jackass" sign on his back and get it over with? Although maybe it was his way of showing off, sort of like the way Shipwreck kept flexing whenever Cover Girl glanced in his direction. She couldn't quite keep a grin from edging onto her face at that, and Beach Head inclined his head in her direction.

"See, there ya go. You okay?"

"Fine and dandy, Beach." She pretended to peer around him, as if seeing the HISS tanker for the first time. "Awwww, you brought me a present! I always wanted one."

"Add 'im to yer collection. The brass'll need someone who knows their tanks to look over 'is interrogation reports anyway, so ya might as well get t'know 'im now." Beach hauled the tanker to his knees and pulled the man's mask off. Cover Girl leaned down a little, checking the Cobra's pupils to see if he was concussed or brain-damaged. She'd been wanting to get some inside info on those new missile arrays the latest HISS models were using, and if he'd been knocked too badly on the head, they wouldn't be able to get any of those juicy specs out of him for ages—

The Cobra tanker's eyes focused, and he smiled dazedly. "You're pretty," he mumbled.

" . . . Beach, don't even try it. If you break him, you have to buy me a new one."