Author's Note: This is actually the return of a very old, very terrifying urge of mine. I love parodying certain methods of writing (A Visit to the Temple is a prime example), but it's not confided to the types of writing that annoy me. I love Shakespeare, have studied it intensely, and know a little bit about parodying the style.

That being said, I'm deeply deeply sorry for this.

Bonus: find the Groucho Marx quote.

Rating: K+

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.


THE TWELFTH FIGHT, or: What You Did


DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Flint, a Warrant Officer and hero of the piece

Scarlett, a woman of fierce temper

Snake-Eyes, a silent warrior

Storm Shadow, a warrior

Beach Head, an officer of the regiment

Cobra Commander, a demagogue

Diverse GREENSHIRTS and COBRA VIPERS


The scene: a military encampment in parts unknown. Enter FLINT, with GREENSHIRTS attending.

FIRST GREENSHIRT

What ails the noble Warrant Officer, cousin?

SECOND GREENSHIRT

Alas, there is report of japes and jesting i' the motor pool. Two caskets of finest oil ha' gone astray, and Cross-Country has been duct-taped to the ceiling.

FLINT

Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I

That must to paperwork untimely serve!

And with bold hands that once, ah, e'er so lightly

Turned their labor to the craft of beauty

And wrote bold words that might to villainy's most bitter eye

Draw forth sweet tears—with such hands must I write

Reports of incidents, of thefts, and now of fights.

A villein am I only, trapped i' mazes of

Bureaucracy's red tape. Would I another post!

Sweet sanity, how oft hast thou left me wanting . . .

FIRST GREENSHIRT

His distress is most acute.

SECOND GREENSHIRT

Too true, brother. I fear a mind as fine as his is set a-reeling by the disarray.

Enter BEACH HEAD, further GREENSHIRTS attending.

FIRST GREENSHIRT

Alas, brother, I fear the day has not yet begun.

BEACH HEAD

What ho, Flint!

FLINT

I will have no speech with thee, foul PT instructor.

BEACH HEAD

I am but humble, officer, and claim no ranking birth

But I shall speak free, and damn the consequences.

FLINT

Would your words were dammed as easy as the consequences.

BEACH HEAD

Less of this knavery, o pogue.

FLINT

Forgive me, Beach Head. I often ha' forgot

To make use of shorter sentences in thy presence.

SOLILOQUY – BEACH HEAD

I come here to give warning, not to spar

For this day there is news, reports to mar.

Know ye well that not a week gone past

The noble Joes did forthright kick th' ass

Of Cobra scum. Our losses were fair light

But for two warriors, felled there in the fight

Yet unslain. Noble were they then

With names writ large in histories of men.

Ordered now to rest, they cannot, and instead

Do make my greenshirts wish that they were dead.

FLINT

You speak of Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow.

Noble warriors indeed, yet as incorrigible as their names.

BEACH HEAD

As the storm leaves no shadow, so they leave no trace

When leaving greenshirts hogtied i' the cupboards

Or making mock of obstacles new-built

By filling mudpits with nacho cheese dip.

FLINT

Bring them here, that I may speak with them.

BEACH HEAD

So shall it be.

EXEUNT, BEACH HEAD with all GREENSHIRTS

SOLILOQUY – FLINT

What is this, cousin? What sort of life here led

For a scholar, here where sanity has fled?

Reports grow tangled, paperwork increases

Unless they die, the madness never ceases

To harry me. Would I had forms complete

To mark their crazy schemes in shorthand neat.

Imagine it! Tick box four if misuse

Of army gear. Box five, substance abuse.

Box six, fraternization i' the ranks

Box seven, theft of more-than-two-ton tanks!

There is no paperwork in all the world, I cry

Can sum up Joes with designate G.I.!

Diverse alarums without. Enter SNAKE-EYES, STORM SHADOW, and SCARLETT.

FLINT

But who is this who comes here

Garbed still in bloody bindings, mark of valor ne'er did swerve?

For though they're mad most fully, one must give them points for nerve.

STORM SHADOW

What means this summons, Flint?

FLINT

Know you well the errors that have called this assembly.

Beach Head has made me acquainted of your crimes.

STORM SHADOW

A crime is not a crime unless it can be held accountable

By good, unbiased men. By which reckoning, the only crime

Is those socks you're wearing.

FLINT

Mockery will not avail thee.

STORM SHADOW

And hosiery does not much avail thee.

FLINT

Cease this prattle at once! Have you no respect

For the rank of Warrant Officer?

STORM SHADOW

I give as much respect

As the officer warrants.

So far, zip.

FLINT

Enough! You are called here to make an answer

To the charges of misconduct, not to make

My headache all the worse.

SCARLETT

By Snake-Eyes' diverse gestures, he considers

Thy headache mere bonus points.

Alarums without. FIRST GREENSHIRT enters, stained with blood.

FIRST GREENSHIRT

Most noble warrant officer! Battle has been swift joined

And Cobra now advances 'pon this camp

Like creeping tide of bitter water, which seeks to drown

Most everything in its path. We must make haste!

Enter COBRA COMMANDER, attended by VIPERS

COBRA COMMANDER

I just flew in from Cobra Island and boy, are my minions' arms tired. Haha! Nice one, huh? Seriously, folks, this is an invasion. You've got one chance to beg for your life, which is fortunate 'cause your life would make anybody beg. Take it or leave it. Of course, even if you take it you'll still get it! Hah! I crack myself up. Heck, I crack everybody up, but the court-appointed psychiatrist said they could only get me for manslaughter so I'm not too worried. Boy, you're a real chatterbox, aren't you? I bet you get over all the girls. Maybe you should stop taking a hang-glider on dates. Ooh, now you're pissed, huh? Bet you want to leave. I'll call you a taxi. If you can't leave in a taxi, you can leave in a huff. If that's too soon, you can leave in a minute and huff. You know you haven't stopped talking since I got here? You must've been vaccinated with a phonograph needle-


Flint let out a strangled cry as he woke, jolting straight upward and almost knocking Lady Jaye out of bed. His face and chest were damp with cold sweat, and his hands were trembling ever so slightly as he panted for breath.

"What on earth's wrong, Dash?" Lady Jaye said, rubbing her face. "Good grief, you're shaking! Did you have a nightmare?"

"I . . ." Flint shook his head. "I don't know, Alison. There was a play, and we were in it. But the language was all wrong. It must've been written by someone who'd never heard of iambic pentameter. It was all about me."

She wrapped her arms around him, smiling a little. "It always is, with you."

"No, you don't understand. It was a tragedy." He shook his head. "Definitely a tragedy. I was trapped in a Shakespeare play, but it was all about the paperwork in G.I. Joe. I couldn't escape. And then Cobra Commander started spouting bad stand-up comedy."

Lady Jaye looked up at him for a moment. Then she sighed and nestled a little closer, resting her head on his shoulder. "The sad thing about you, Dash, is that you really would consider that a nightmare."

"I'm serious. The meter was all over the place!"

"Go back to sleep, Dash."