Author's Note: In which the franchise, in some ways, comes full circle and anonymous reviewer Sakura-bell is proven somewhat prophetic. Also, if at least one person doesn't get the whole Yutani connection, I will be an extremely sad geek.
Disclaimer: G.I. Joe is the property of Hasbro, Inc. The Aliens and Predator franchises are property of 20th Century Fox Entertainment. I derive no profit from the use of these characters and concepts, and have received no compensation. Please accept this work 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 these intellectual properties.
Sergeant Major James Yutani groaned as he opened his eyes. His arm was killing him . . . but that was no surprise, given what he'd been through, and he groaned again as the memories came rushing back. Had he really carried that loudmouth Faraday on his back? While fighting a running battle deep underground? Oh, hell, he wasn't doing that again.
"You look awful," a voice said. Yutani's dragging eyelids popped open again. A familiar figure—no, two familiar figures—sat by his bedside. There was his cousin Machiko, looking as impeccable as ever . . . and that old man she was working with, the man with a face like a baleful dog and whose name Yutani could never remember.
"Machi," Yutani managed. His mouth was dry. Machiko smiled and held a glass of water to his lips, which he gulped greedily. The old man didn't say a thing, but he wasn't a glowering colonel or a fang-monster wanting to tear the sergeant major's head off, so Yutani was fine with that. "What're you doing here, Machi?"
"Well, when one of the Yutani family goes MIA, the rest of us get very concerned," Machiko said mock-primly, smoothing her $2,000 skirt over her knees. "It's bad press for the company, you know. One of the family's heirs working for the UN—great, very good, lots of popular appeal. Said heir getting killed—not so great. Especially not now that we're working so closely with other leaders in the field. As soon as your squad went missing, Colonel Folkes kindly contacted the family, and Charles and I flew down here right away."
Great. "Nice to know you care," Yutani coughed. His cousin shook her head and smiled again, ruffling his hair—just like he used to do to her when they were kids. He grunted, but didn't have the strength to shove her off.
"Machiko is always kidding," the old man said with a dry smile. "She was really quite concerned, especially with the stories flying all over the camp."
Yutani blinked, and Machiko pursed her lips. "You know how much I love aliens, cuz."
Oh, shit. Yutani might not have been one of those . . . what d'you call them . . . G.I. Joes, but he knew top-secret, classified-out-the-ass stuff when he barely survived it. "Look, Machi," he managed, sinking further into the pillows, "you have to keep that quiet, okay? I know you have your Area 51 hobbies and all that, but a lot of people say crazy stuff around here when they get scared. It doesn't mean anything."
"Don't worry," Machiko said soothingly. "I'm sure this is just a lot of hysterical rumor. Now, we'd better make sure you get your rest." She stood, smoothing down her skirt again. "I'll be on site, Jim. The family wants me here until we're sure you're going to be fine."
"You don't need to," Yutani assured her. "It looks like you were doing something important before you had to come down here. I mean, I'm sure mister . . ." He blanked on the name. "I'm sorry, mister-?"
The old man stood, extending one hand. "Weyland. Charles Bishop Weyland. Nice to meet you, sergeant major Yutani; I assure you, it was no trouble at all bringing your cousin down here, not when our families and companies' fortunes are so closely connected."
The sergeant major nodded weakly. Something was bothering him. He'd heard that name before, but . . . ? "Nice to meet you, Mr. Weyland."
And a dozen miles away, a thousand feet above, on the crumbly slope of a mountain in the foothills of the Andes, a single figure toiled. He was lost and alone; his one-time Huntmates would be gone by now, bringing word of his supposed betrayal to the rest of the Blooded and ruining his reputation forever. He hissed behind his mask, sweat beading under it as he picked his way over yet another chunk of rock. Lost, cast out, marooned on an alien world . . . all because of treacherous brothers, dominant Ooman females, and the setg'-in pyode amedha, Sna kys.
He would survive. He was yautja. He was Blooded.
He was armed.