Ahhh.. finally. The submission for the challenge.
A fic based on an outlandish idea in homage to the more whacked-out ideas in the original GI Joe A Real American Hero cartoon series, written well and in a believable scenario. I picked dragons. Why? Because I couldn't figure out how to make thumb-eating giraffes very interesting. Please enjoy and this is a one-shot, no more chapters or continuations.
Caves.. dark and dank and dirty. Everything that Tunnelrat delighted in, although his teammates were less enthusied over it. Especially when the things were small and cramped and they had to crouch to pass through it.
"Everyone make sure to take this left tunnel here.." The smaller man made certain that Breaker followed him as he moved down the dark passageway. He pushed aside roots. "I don't think that there's any Cobra activity down here."
BeachHead annoyed voice came up from the end of the line. "Ain't our call, Tunnelrat. We just go look where Hawk says to go look." He grunted loudly. "Dang.. couldn't ya find a smaller spot to make me squeeze through? I still almost fit!"
Alpine twisted around to reach back and grab the big Ranger's forearm to pull him free of the narrow spot. "Come on, Beachhead.. can't go leaving you behind! Suck it in there!" He fell over onto his back as BeachHead finally came free and tumbled through. "Whew.. maybe you need to make a few less trips to the messhall?"
"Shut up and get movin'." Beach reached to take the front of his body armor and shook it to dislodge the dirt that had dug in underneath it. "Dang.. I ain't built to go squirmin' around down here."
Tunnelrat's voice carried back to them. "Don't worry Sergeant major! It opens up to a big space about fifty more feet. You can make it." The encouraging words made the half dozen Joes speed up and soon they were all standing in the huge open cavern. Tunnelrat helped Scarlett to her feet and then they both tugged Beach out of the small opening. "Come on... out with you! There.. now you can stand up and everything. See? Told you!"
Beach stood upright and brushed the loose soil off his head before shaking the dirt back out of his body armor. "Alright. So we're here.. check for any possible signs of human activity and Tunnelrat find us a way back out.. preferably without squeezin' back the way we came in."
Everyone scattered. Scarlett and Alpine started checking the perimeter walls and BeachHead and Airtight moved through the center of the place. Beach was poking at a heap of rocks when Airtight jumped. "Jeebus bullwinkle! BeachHead! Check this out!"
Approaching cautiously, Beach craned his head to see. "What? You ain't tryin' to pull some prank? I ain't in the mood if you are.."
"No.. no joke.. at least not played by me... these look like eggs." The toxin expert made sure his gloves were secure before he carefully pushed one of the giant eggs over to roll it out of the rock nest. "Look.. what kind of creature lays eggs the size of people?"
Beachhead looked it over and then gazed at the man's face carefully. Satisfied that his teammate was as clueless as he seemed about the origin of the strange orbs, he reached out to run a hand over the surface. "Warm.. you think they're really eggs?"
Airtight rolled his eyes and batted the Ranger's hands away. "Don't TOUCH it! You don't know where that's been!" He watched the sergeant major frown at the egg. "I think that these are giant eggs, but they could be radioactive orb-shaped rocks too."
BeachHead turned sideways and looked worried. "What? You didn't say nuthin' about radioactive stuff. " He glared and pointed at TunnelRat and Alpine. "Ya'll find us an 'out' before we all get fried."
Airtight sighed. "Calm down.. I didn't say that it was radioactive, just that it could be. I haven't tested them yet."
Beach still looked suspicious. "Well.. go on and test 'em then. Yer wearin' the big yeller suit, get to poking at stuff and tell us if our nuts is gonna fall off or what." Scarlett cleared her throat and he nodded at her. "Well, those of us what got nuts to fall off."
"Beachhead! Geez." Scarlett shook her head and pointed up the wall. "Alpine and I found an open looking chamber. He's rigging some ropes and pitons to climb up. We'll check it out and see if it's opens to the outside, but it doesn't look promising." When Beach nodded, she went to join the jovial climber in working their way up the wall.
Breaker stayed a safe distance as Airtight ran tests on the exterior of the rock-like eggs. "Hey Beach, you suppose those are dinosaur eggs? I mean.. they could be petrified dino eggs, right?"
Beach snorted, having found a rock he could stand on to keep an eye on everyone and the handful of tunnels that opened onto the chamber, he was standing guard. "They ain't petrified dino eggs."
Breaker hummed and took the chance of stepping closer to peer at one of the remaining four eggs in the shallow nest. "I dunno.. they look like great big eggs to me. And dinosaurs are the only thing I can think of that would lay eggs that size."
Gazing down at him, Beach snorted again. "Because them things ain't petrified. When something petrifies, it turns into rock. Minerals replace the organic parts so that it's a replica of the critter or plant that was, only made outa rock. Them ain't rock. They're smooth and warm and porous like an egg. Maybe it's a giant chicken."
Breaker stared at him. "When did you get all book-smart?"
"Shut up." Beach jerked his chin at Airtight. "Well? We gonna die or are them things eggs?"
"They look like eggs to me." Airtight scraped the surface on the one. "I can take a sample, see if this is mainly calcium and the composition will help determine if it's actually an egg shell."
Hopping off the rock, Beach walked over and stroked a hand over the surface again. Plucking up a fist sized rock, he tapped at the smooth top. Tilting his head he raised an eyebrow. "Sounds like it ain't solid.. what do ya think?"
"I think you should stop doing things like that." Airtight stepped backwards. "Seems a little foolhardy to be messing with something when we don't know what it is. Sure.. it could be an egg.."
Sighing, Beach stepped away to face them. "Look, it's probably some weird critter's egg, once you get them tests done on yer samples, we'll know all about it. Until then, we should find some way to get these out and back to the base. If they are eggs to somethin', then we don't want Cobra gettin' them. Who knows, they could be filled with liquid goo and nothin' more. Some sort of strange mineral deposit cause that's just how the water flowed."
Tunnelrat pointed shakily. "I think that it's clear it's a egg... and it ain't no giant chicken..." He grabbed for his weapon. "DUCK BEACH!"
BeachHead didn't have time to jump before something large and wet landed on his back and wrapped bony limbs around his chest. "AUGH! Get it off!" Jerking simply made him go to his knees. The creature hissed at Airtight as he tried to grab at it. The claws dug in and BeachHead waved at them. "Wait wait.. back off... "
Breaker edged forward a little. "Just be really still Beach.. maybe we can surprise it."
BeachHead held up his hands. "I ain't movin'.." A reptilian head lifted over his and curved around to hiss as Breaker stepped forward again. "Easy.. nice lizard thingy... don't go bitin' my head off... just hold really still so we can blow yer toothy head off..."
Scarlett suddenly rappelled down the rock wall and the lizard growled at her. She stumbled backwards, freeing her crossbow to point it at the creature. "Holy! BeachHead! What are you doing?"
"Me? I'm trying to think non-tasty thoughts so Slimy here don't decide to bite off a arm or somethin'..." He grunted as the talons tightened on his tactical vest to pull him backwards slightly. On his knees, the newly hatched lizard was hovering over his shoulders. "Good lizard thingy... leggo me so Scarlett can put a bolt through yer pointy skull..." He leaned forward slowly, hoping to pull free without triggering a prey-response in the creature.
Airtight held up his hand. "Slow.. just move really slow.. don't startle it.. if it bites you, it could have venom.."
"Oh great.." Beach eyed the talons hooked into his body armor. "I wasn't worried about THAT before.. WHOA!" The sleek head tucked itself under his outstretched right hand and rubbed against his palm. "Don't eat my hand.." It rubbed back and forth and he turned his head to watch with amazement.
Scarlett raised her crossbow and tried to edge closer. "Beach I can't get a shot if your hand is in the way.. by the way, do you know if your body armor will stop a crossbow bolt if it skips off the lizard's skull?"
Beach moved his fingers over the tiny scales and felt the creature push it's head into the strokes. "Hang up.. I think it's okay.." He patted it more and then hooked his fingers to scratch more vigorously. "Look.. it likes bein' petted."
Scarlett lowered the weapon. "Beach... you're really pushing your luck.. that thing has to weigh two hundred pounds.. it's not a puppy." She watched the thing tuck itself under BeachHead's arm. "Great... just great."
Beach rubbed under the narrow jaw. "Aww.. he likes me.." The thing unlatched the talons to drop to all fours and shoved it's head underneath one arm to rumble at him. "Okay.. you uhh.. go over there.." He gave a push and the lizard flicked a long tongue out at his face. "Ewww..."
Airtight moved up close to peer at it. It in turn hissed at him. "That's a real nice pet you've got there, Beach." He reached out and held his gloved hand still for the tongue to flick out over it a few times. "Good lizardy critter... what are we going to do with it? I mean.. I'm sure it would make a nice set of boots but I think it would be a shame to hurt something that's never been documented before. I mean.. it's bigger than a komodo dragon and it just hatched."
BeachHead glared at him. "Ain't no one gonna go makin' boots outa him. Look.. he's friendly." He clucked his tongue at the lizard who curled around the Ranger and then walked out to face him, wriggling his tail. When a set of leathery wings flipped up and flapped about, BeachHead and Airtight both ducked.
"Whoa... BeachHead! That thing ain't no lizard.. it's a full on dragon!" Airtight stepped back out of range of the flopping left wing.
Beach got clobbered in the head twice before he got his arms in the way. "Hey hey.. cut that out!" The dragon folded up the wings along his back and flicked his tongue out a few more times. Then he opened his mouth to give a extremely loud chirrup noise. Beach winced at the volume. "Hush.. good gawd.. stop that hollarin'!"
Scarlett clamped hands over her ears. "Ow! Make it stop!" Everyone turned at the scraping noise that reverberated through the cave.
Tunnelrat stepped towards the wall. "That sounds like.. digging equipment.. but I don't hear any motors.." He suddenly twisted on his heel and waved at everyone. "Quick! Get out! Get out, get out get out!" He pointed at the small tunnel they had entered through.. "Get in there.. go go! It's coming through the wall!"
Scarlett led the way, ducking into the hole and scurrying back. Alpine and Breaker followed, Airtight squeezing in leaving Tunnelrat to wave urgently at Beachhead who was pushing the dragon away. "Beachhead! Hurry!" The small specialist looked up as part of the wall fell in. "Beach... it's the MOTHER DRAGON! Move!" His voice hissed as he tried to get the Ranger moving. "Leave it here.. come on!" Tunnelrat finally dropped to all fours to crawl into the tunnel. "Sergeant maaaaajor... you're gonna get eaten..."
Beach shoved the creature away again. "Stay! Stay! You can't come... damn... " He looked up as a massive forepaw broke through the dirt and scraped back out of sight. "Oh.. shit..." He whirled and ran for the entrance of the tunnel, leaping over a heap of rocks and landing on his belly to slide in. It took a lot of wiggling to fit through the opening. "Crap..." He crowded in beside Airtight and Tunnelrat and twisted around to free up his weapon and then settled completely still. With any luck, they'd go unnoticed by the huge adult dragon.
There was a loud chirp and the baby stuck it's head into the hole. It spotted him and chirped happily again starting to squeeze in while the Ranger put his hands out trying to block it's path in.
BeachHead hissed at it. "No no! Bad lizard! Bad slimy lizard.. get out.. no!" He gave a stern growl. "No!" Slimy ignored him and climbed over the Ranger, pushing Airtight against the wall as it turned itself around like a ferret in the close confining space.
Tunnelrat whispered from behind them. "Get that thing out of here! It peeps and it'll call mom in here and she'll squash us!"
"I'm tryin'!" Beach shoved ineffectively at the beast who helpfully flopped onto it's belly, laying it's head across Airtight's thighs. "Out! Get out! Bad lizard! Stupid maggot eatin'.. whoa.." Beach abruptly shut up and pressed himself against the tunnel wall as a large nose appeared in the opening. "Oh crap..." The was a wash of hot steamy air and then the nostrils inhaled. "Shit.. move move back.." The nose disappeared and Beach shoved at Airtight. "Get goin' before it comes in after us.." They all scooted further back in the cave.
As they continued moving down to find the exit, Beach kept attempting to push the dragon back towards the chamber. They all paused when loud chirps echoed down the tunnel behind them. Airtight breathed out softly. "The other eggs must have hatched." The baby dragon turned back on itself again and peered down towards the noise. "BeachHead you should watch out..." Before he could complete the warning, the dragon darted back down the tunnel, knocking the Ranger down to walk over his back. ".. ahh.. because it's going to stampede..."
"Thanks.. " BeachHead picked himself out of the dirt and looked back as the tail tip disappeared around a curve. "Well, I guess that's done with." His gaze lingered on the empty tunnel for a moment. "Better off without a big lizard followin' around anyway." Brushing his chest off, he crouched and continued behind Airtight.. "Get movin'... let's get the heck out of here."
The small Joe team were finally on the surface and moving slowly through the woods. As the group progressed warily through the brush, they spread out and kept a watch out for any enemy.. or.. giant lizard mommies angry over the bad influence of a certain Ranger.
Scarlett's voice called out the first warning. "Watch the trees! Ninja!" There was suddenly a flurry of activity as quick figures in light blue and yellow emerged from everywhere at once. The Joes tried to work together to fight off the enemy ninja but they were quickly going down from blows from staff weapons or nunchuks.
Several ninja took up a battlecry. "Avenge our honor! The Clan of the Puffy Bear will annihilate our enemy!" They threw themselves at the Joes, attacking with abandon and ignoring the fallen.
Beach smashed the buttstock of his rifle into one hooded head, caught a heavy blow to his back and went down hard into the dirt. "DAMN NINJA!" He kicked out to knock his attacker off balance, wincing away from the spike that impacted the ground inches from his head as the ninja stumbled backwards to get kicked roundhouse style by Scarlett.
"Get up Beach!" Her shouts weren't needed but he had no chance to respond before she was tumbling with a different ninja. Both of them struggled to get the upper hand. The yellow ninja's chain weapon flung out to wrap her throat, stymied when she got a hand up to block it from tightening. She wrenched it loose and slung the handful of chain into his face, knocking him senseless.
BeachHead grabbed a ninja by the back of his neck to yank him away from strangling Airtight, giving the enemy a few punches before he squirmed free to fling powder up at the Ranger's face. Beach ducked, clenching his eyes closed and holding his breath against the poison. Airtight ignored the cloud of toxin to step up and smash the ninja on the top of his head. "Yeah.. this bright yellow suit isn't just to be fashionable!"
Beach wiped at his face, glad he wore the cloth facemask once again. Backing up to Scarlett and Tunnelrat, he grabbed the back of Airtight's equipment and pulled the man back with them. The ninja ringed them all around, moving in slowly with weapons ready. Tunnelrat shifted around, raising his hands defensively. "I lost my rifle.. who's got something to shoot these guys with?"
Beach shook his head. "Mine's busted to 'club'." Scarlett and Airtight had been similarly disarmed. "Crap... get ready.."
The head ninja raised a fist. "Glory to COBRAAAAAaaaaAAAHHHH!" His shouted triumph changed suddenly to a scream of terror as a fast moving bundle of hide and wings hit him from above. The crumpled up form emitted a few squeeky noises of pain before the lizard raised his head to hiss angrily at the other ninjas staring at it.
The Joes stood for a few seconds before everyone erupted into utter mayhem. Ninja alternated between trying to attack the Joes and fight off the dragon that was tearing into them. Scarlett grabbed one ninja only to stagger back clutching a severed arm when the hatchling leapt onto her attacker. It swiveled about and slashed out with teeth and claws to rip into an approaching ninja in baby blue. Finally the attack broke off and the ninja scattered chased by the hissing dragonet. The Joes regrouped and stood gasping and watching for any stragglers.
Airtight shook his head, reaching to wipe at his faceplate. "Was that really what I think I saw? Cause what I saw I cannot un-see." He turned to Scarlett. "Did a dragon just come help us by killing a bunch of pastel ninjas in footie pajamas?"
Tunnelrat snickered a little in relief. "Well.. jammies or not, they were kicking our asses for a minute there."
Airtight shook his head and helped Alpine back to his feet. "Yeah but... footie pajamas? I swear.. they had little ears on their hoods!" His hands went up to simulate the little round ears. "It was like being attacked by deadly teddy bears.. I don't know that my nerves can take this sort of thing too often."
Alpine groaned and stretched his bruised up arm. "I don't care if they were CareBears on acid.. I thought I was about to buy it there. Beach.. your creepy pet is good in my book." He found his weapons and checked them. "Damn.. creepy pastel ninja attacking us and dragons coming to save us. Did we trip into a vat of happy juice and I missed it?"
BeachHead glared at his broken rifle and slung it onto his back out of the way. "Just check yer weapons and let's get movin' before they decide to come back." He heard a loud hiss and turned as the hatchling dragon came bumbling back into the clearing. "Hey.. there's the slimy lizard! Who's a good slimy thing? Yes.." He held out a hand and it came up chirping happily to accept the scratches. When it flopped onto the dirt to stretch itself in pleasure, Beach settled onto one knee to scratch down the long neck to the chest under the leathery wings. "Aww, you like that? Who's the good lizard? Didja take that ninja's head clean off? Yes you did! Yes you did that! Good lizardy thing! Who's the best big lizard thingy?"
Alpine watched for a moment before leaning over to whisper at Scarlett. "Is it just me.. or is that one of the creepiest things you've ever witnessed?"
Scarlett nodded, not taking her eyes off the sight as Beach continued to croon at the happy dragonet. "Yeah.. I don't know which part is creeping me out more.. the dragon getting pettings.. or Beach cooing over it like it's a baby."
Alpine hummed softly. "Definitely Beach cooing. Beach don't coo. Not even over CoverGirl."
Scarlett swallowed a laugh. "She'd punch him if he tried." Raising her voice she called out to the Ranger. "Uhh.. BeachHead... we need to go. Make that thing go away and let's get walking."
BeachHead stood up to look at her. "We can't just leave him! He's just a baby and all helpless."
Airtight held up a finger. "I don't think you can rightly call any creature that just decimated a ninja clan, teddy bear footie pajamas or no, exactly 'helpless'. I mean.. the thing just went through them like dismantling chickens for sunday dinner."
Alpine groaned. "Great mental image.. thanks.." He ran to the side to retch a few times.
Scarlett frowned over at him then turned back to BeachHead. "Well.. you can't bring it to the Pitt with you!"
Beach crossed his arms. "Who's the danged Sergeant major here? Didja get a field promotion when Ah wasn't lookin'?" She scowled but looked aside. "That's what Ah thought."
Airtight cleared his throat loudly. "Not to nay-say the Sergeant major.. but it's really not a safe thing to bring back a live unknown creature.. it could be very dangerous.. what if.."
BeachHead threw his hands up. "Ah'll try to make it stay! But ain't like Ah can tell the danged lizard what to do!" He waved at the lizard who rumbled and watched him with interest. "Go on... go run do lizard stuff. Git..." He turned to the Joes. "Let's just go.. it'll get bored when we just walk and maybe he'll run off."
Tunnelrat searched the surrounding treeline. "As long as Mommy Lizard doesn't show up and start eating us like popcorn, I'm fine with that plan." They moved out and Beach occasionally stopped to try to shoo the following lizard away.
Breaker broke into a trot as they got close to the pick up point. He stopped at the edge of the clearing and called back to BeachHead. "Looks clear.. you want a perimeter check?"
BeachHead peered around the clearing and nodded at a few grazing deer. "Naw.. critters wouldn't be hangin' about with any troops around.. and if'n there's more ninja, we wouldn't see 'em any more than the deer would have. Not until they slit our throats anyway. Get the transport fired up and let's get loaded." He nodded at Tunnelrat. "Me, you and Scarlett take rear guard.. Airtight, Alpine and Breaker go first, check the Monster Blaster and we're out of here." The young dragon hissed and bumped into his side, knocking him over and flopping on his chest to flick the long tongue out. "Ahh! Get offa me!" He pushed and struggled and got himself from under the dragon. "Go on.. go back in the woods! We have to leave now.. you can't come."
The front team made it to the APC and checked the outside of it before climbing in to start the motors. BeachHead's team came out quickly to climb into the rear transport area. The dragon swarmed up past the Ranger to explore inside the vehicle. "Hey! Get outa here!" Trying to push the dragon back out was futile and when it collapsed in a rather gleeful heap in the corner, BeachHead gave up and tugged the hatch closed. "Don't go fussin' at me Scarlett.. does it LOOK like I can make it leave?"
Airtight eyed it warily. "Well, I guess we should be able to study it.. maybe we can figure out what it is." The dragon hissed at him and he held up his hands. "Study as in 'look at'.. not dissect or nothing like that!"
Beach reached to scratch the creature's head, soothing it. "Dang right, yer not gonna be dissectin' him. He's a good little slimy dragon. Aren't you the best slimy lizard? You are!"
Tunnelrat twitched. "Creeeepy.. I swear.. you're gonna make me get out and walk if you don't stop that.."
"But sir..." Beach protested again.
Hawk raised his arms. "You CANNOT keep a DRAGON in the Pitt! Are you INSANE?" He paced the office. "I can't believe you brought that thing back! Much less let it into the Pitt!"
"Well.. wasn't so much 'let' as 'couldn't prevent' but sir, it hasn't hurt no one." BeachHead rubbed at the back of his head, dragging off the balaclava. He ruffled up his short hair and looked away. "Ain't like I figured to bring some mythical beast back to the base fer no good reason. It just sorta … happened."
Hawk groaned. "Most base commanders have to look the other way when some Marine lets a stray cat hang around. You know.. just hope no one is allergic to the fur, ignore the occasional meow from under a desk, hope it makes itself useful catching mice..." He stared at the bookcase and sighed again.
Beach hunched his shoulders slightly, hoping to placate his commander. "Well.. it ain't exactly a cat.. but.."
Hawk whirled around. "No it's not a cat! Cats don't try to EAT warrant officers! Cats do not knock over a jeep in excitement chasing a mouse! CATS DON'T KNOCK DOWN SECURITY DOORS!"
Beach flinched with each shout as Hawk got closer to his face. "Dragons don't shed fur?"
"BEACHHEAD! YOU WILL..." Hawk's yell was cut off as Dusty burst in the door. "WHAT?"
Dusty panted for an instant, looking from furious General to Sergeant major. "Well.. it's just.. well.. we kind of need Beachhead... his pet just set fire to.. umm... Flint." He shrugged. "He was sort of teasing it with a sock see..."
Hawk turned with a glare that should have melted BeachHead on the spot. The Ranger held up his hands. "I didn't know it could breathe fire!"
Hawk put a hand on his forehead. "Go... go deal with it. I swear..."
BeachHead jumped and ran out the door. "Yessir! I'll take care of it!" He grabbed Dusty and shoved him the other direction. "GO find Barbeque! He can stick around and put out whatever Slimy sets fire to!" He rushed into the Rec room. "Oh.. bad Slimy! Bad dragon!" He shook a finger at the lizard who spat out a couch cushion. "No setting fire to Joes!"
It hiccuped and then belched out another spout of flame. BeachHead ducked and pointed at it. "BAD DRAGON! No burning! Stop that right now!" It hiccuped again and Beach jumped back. "Don't set the couch on fire! BARBEQUE! HURRY UP!"
Airtight peered in the doorway from a safe distance. "Yep.. real nice pet you got... real nice. Next up, I guess Shipwreck is gonna get a pet Kraken."
Tunnelrat snorted. "Don't give them any ideas. The last thing we need is more pets. The parrot is bad enough and Polly can only poop on things."
"True that. Should we help?" Airtight didn't sound very enthusied.
"No.. I think Beachhead has things well in hand." Tunnelrat ducked and coughed at the plume of smoke.
"DON'T SET ME ON FIRE! BARBEQUE! PUT ME OUT! DANG IT! BAD SLIMY!"
Yes.. the End. The end of the crack fic. I hope you enjoyed it. It's out of my head and into yours.