This three part story was originally bonus material for Arashikage, but it takes place well before it (Tommy would have been 14 or so in this story), so I don't expect anyone will have any trouble following who hasn't read Arashikage. You can thank those of my regular reviewers who gave me their blessings to post the bonuses for this one. :)
Sorry for the shortness... bonuses had to fit in PMs.
I don't own GI Joe, I'm just a Storm Shadow fangirl.
"I'm sorry, Hard Master," Tommy said, "but I can't help it. It smells."
The Hard Master sighed. He was trying to teach a technique called the blind swordsman to his nephew, to use when for whatever reason, the only sense you can rely on is touch. Truth be told, it was more for the sake of developing the teenager's sense of touch than for any actual practical use. That objective wasn't likely to be reached, however, when Tommy could detect through his nose the dummy he was supposed to feel for with his sheath. He couldn't deny his nephew was right – the thing did have a distinctive scent – but he hadn't known until this moment that the Seeing Master had trained Tommy to locate objects by smell.
"All right, take off the blindfold and go get a nose pincher," he said. "Hurry up. You know I hate wasting time."
"Yes, Hard Master." Tommy took off the blindfold, gave a quick bow and sprinted off towards the Hard Master's dojo, which was always the most likely spot to find anything related to sensory techniques.
He stopped running and looked to the East Wall at the same time as the Hard Master's head snapped in the same direction. A large group of people could be heard climbing the other side of it.
"Akai," the Hard Master muttered. Tommy's eyes went wide.
"Everyone! We're under attack! To your posts, NOW! " The Hard Master bellowed. "And Tommy," he continued in a softer, if urgent, voice. "stay calm."
Tommy switched directions, heading for the rafters like all the other students, screaming back the instruction as he went for the benefit of anyone who might not have heard the Hard Master. The Hard Master ran towards the living quarters to wake up anyone who might be sleeping – it was the middle of the day, but some of the wage earners had been out the previous night. He was yelling his instructions over and over again as well, imitated by anyone who took off running in opposite directions.
Meanwhile, the Akai ninjas were already jumping over the wall and attacking anyone they could find. Despite the barely advanced warning, they had the advantage of surprise and cut off several groups from going to wherever they were supposed to.
Tommy heard the battles erupting everywhere as he ran towards the rafters. He cursed under his breath as he went, hardly believing what was happening, praying every spirit he could think of that none of his family would be killed by the attackers and dearly wishing he hadn't been ordered to go with the other kids: he loved the bow and he was a great archer, but he hated the idea of hiding away like a helpless child, taking a few pot shots at the enemy if he happened to get a clear shot, while everyone else was in the middle of the battle, risking their lives and doing a lot more damage to the Akai. He wanted in on it, he wanted to make them pay for attacking them like this, in their home.
As much as he hated it, however, he had his instructions straight from the Hard Master, and disobeying was simply unthinkable. On the other hand, it really wasn't his fault that there happened to be a battle right in the most direct path to his post. He had been told to go there right away, so really, it was only natural to take the shortest route, even if it happened to go through a few Akai ninjas.
He unsheathed his sword as he ran, resisting the urge to scream a battle cry and running without a sound instead because for everyone's safety, he needed to take out as many Akai as possible as fast as possible: fair play, right now, was simply not practical.
He went straight for a pair that had their backs to him and cut them both down before the only one who had him in his line of sight alerted the rest of the group to his presence. Almost instantly, he went from being a surprise outside attacker to just one of the 5 Arashikage trying to fight off a dozen of Akai.
"Idiot!" One of the other four hissed at him between hits – his swords teacher. "What was the point of that? You were supposed to go to your post!"
"Sorry, Sensei. You guys were in the way," Tommy replied, pulling his sword back out from one of the Akai ninja while rolling to avoid a strike aimed at his neck.
A roll, he realized a split second too late, that was taking him straight into another enemy.
He sprawled when he tried to stop, and his opponent's blade flashed in the sun, sinking into the spot where he'd still be if not for a rough shove by one of the other Arashikage who just managed to get him out of harm's way. He got back to his feet just in time to avoid another strike but before he could do anything else, he found himself lifted off the ground in a carry.
"Father!" He screamed. "NO! We have to help them!"
"Calm down, I intend to. I wasn't running here JUST to get you out of trouble," his father said, dragging him away. He stopped around the corner of a dojo from the battle they had just left and put him on the ground, but didn't let go of his arm.
"You are to go to your post right away, Arashikage Tomisaburo, and you will not join in any more battles. I will go help, because unlike you, I can take care of myself." He let go of his arm then and took off back towards the battle, not bothering to check whether his son was obeying his instructions, well aware there was no need. Tommy was a stubborn hot-head, much like himself, but he was too bloody honourable to disobey a direct order: he was an expert at finding loopholes, but if there weren't any, he could be relied on to do what he was told, whether he liked it or not.
Tommy scowled at his father's back but took off again, heading for the rafters, thinking he hadn't been told to STAY there, only to GO there.
"AND STAY THERE!" His father bellowed from behind him.
Tommy cursed under his breath as he ran, dodging the battles, thinking he should have known the old man would think of it: there was just no getting away with anything when he was around, he knew all the tricks.