Author's Note: This piece was inspired by the work "The Rise of Cobra" by Lord Leachim. I have wanted to write something new for the G.I. Joe fanverse after I failed to finish my other piece posted here, "New Divide". I've also wanted to see what it would be like to do my own version of a G.I. Joe origin piece, so here we are. It started out with some random thoughts about Major Bludd moving in to set up Springfield as Cobra's base of operations, and slowly started picking up steam to become the piece that it is starting to build up before you. I would like to point out that this piece will not be the same as Lord Leachim's work, although it begins with Stalker and his team, and involves Springfield in the plot. I can only hope that the author takes it perhaps as an homage to both the original G.I. Joe comics, and their work in how I write this piece.


Prologue:

Location: The Middle East

Lonzo Wilkinson crouched low behind the broken remnants of a bombed out building. The crackling of automatic gunfire could be heard throughout the streets around him. He could only imagine whether or not the forces exchanging the fire were friendly, or opposing members of God only knew how many different factions at each others throats right now. All he knew at the moment is that he was running point while his men Snake and Tommy were somewhere behind him with the surviving VIP, one Anastasia DeCobray.

Wilkinson peered through the scope on his HK MP5, looking for any further combatants ahead of them. The entire mission so far was a SNAFU. The primary VIP, Eugene DeCobray had been gunned down by insurgents, and it was purely by luck that Snake had been near enough to knife the shooter before they could take out the girl as well. That wasn't the way that she saw it however, and she'd been making sure he and the others knew just what her thoughts were.

"Stalker, do you read over?" Wilkinson heard the helicopter pilot's voice over his headset. He paused and looked back to ensure the others were behind him before responding.

"I hear you Armbuster, what the hell happened to our air cover?"

"An insurgent RPG is what happened," Armbuster replied blandly. "They took out the primary EVAC unit, wounded and all. Looks like we're all that's left this go round."

"That's just fantastic," Wilkinson replied. "Snake and Tommy are coming up behind me with one VIP passenger. We are approximately one click East of the alternate extraction point. How soon can you get there?"

"UH 63 inbound, ETA less than five minutes. Pop smoke when you get there. Armbuster out." The line went dead and radio silence resumed.

Wilkinson looked back and caught sight of Snake running toward him with an unconscious Anastasia slung over his shoulders in a fireman carry. Tommy took up the rear, firing off short bursts of fire to cover their retreat. He didn't know what they had done to finally shut the woman up, but he was glad that they had. Probably one of those eerie Japanese ninja tricks Tommy mentioned his family knew.

"Now's the time for any of your famous plans, Stalker!" Tommy grabbed at his final frag grenade and pulled the pin. He waited for the surge of hostiles to come around the corner and slung the explosive in a high arc toward them. They ducked low, the grenade landing in the midst of them and went off with a loud bang. None of them dared stay long enough to see how many insurgents had been dealt with.

"You got her, Snake?" Wilkinson asked, the taller blonde man merely nodded. He reminded Wilkinson of the cult movie anti-hero Snake Plissken played by Kurt Russel. Always dressed in black, poker face and bad attitude. Though he was much quieter than his namesake ever was on film. Perhaps that was a good thing, however.

Snake drew his .45 and fired off a round behind Wilkinson's head, dropping another of the insurgents. A kukri clattered to the ground at the Sergeant's feet. The man really had a way with words sometimes, even when saying nothing at all. Wilkinson picked up the enemy weapon and stashed it away in his pack, a trophy of sorts for when he got back home. Tommy clapped him on the shoulder and urged him to keep going.

The familiar sound of helicopter rotors resounded overhead as the dark silhouette of a Blackhawk crested by what little remained of a mosque's tall tower. Sand and debris kicked up under heavy blowing gusts from the spinning rotors. Snake was the closest by now to the pickup, hoisting DeCobray into the waiting arms of the chopper's side gunner. Wilkinson broke through cover and reached the extraction point just as Snake started taking off back the other way.

Wilkinson turned his head to see Tommy go down, grabbing his side as enemy rounds lit him up. He went down to his knees, barely avoiding another round of fire kicking up dirt beside him. Snake lifted his M4 and let loose. Three of the insurgents on the outer edges of the pack dropped instantly, blood spilling freely from their bodies. Tommy crawled forward until finally Snake was close enough to grab his comrade and pull him along to the chopper.

The insurgents weren't finished yet, firing again they managed to hit Snake in his back but not before the two men could board the chopper with Wilkinson's help. Without needing command, Armbuster lifted off the Blackhawk and left the insurgents behind on the ground. The gunner returned to his station and persuaded them all to back off without further exchange of fire.

Now that the easy part was over, Snake buckled DeCobray in to her seat and Wilkinson went about fixing up Tommy's wounds. The man was a mystery how he could take so many bullets and keep on ticking, much less remain conscious enough to give Snake and the Sergeant a celebratory fist.

"Take your time Stalker, we've got plenty of it now." Tommy said, then closed his eyes.

That may have been so, but what about the others that had been sent in? Wilkinson wondered. Their unit alone has lost two, gunned down along with Eugene DeCobray before they could rendezvous with the others. The insurgent offensive had cost many more lives that day as well, he knew of at least two additional search and destroy teams that had been sent in for backup to keep the insurgents on their toes and off kilter long enough for his team to extract the DeCobrays.

Bloody businesses, war and humanitarianism. He understood why DeCobray had wanted to ensure the freedom fighters and noncoms were getting medical supplies, but he should have also known it wouldn't take long for insurgents to cut off those supply lines and use them for their own. Another good soul was lost today, just as a great deal of good men had been lost to their brothers in arms. Wilkinson dreaded having to write those letters home, because he knew no amount of "your son or daughter was a good soldier" would ever make the sacrifice easy to bear.

Snake silently nodded his head, as though he too knew what thoughts were going through the Sergeant's mind right now. It was scary sometimes how the man could do that.