Disclaimer: I am not Stephen Sommers (director of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and so therefore I do not own his works. What I ADD into the story is mine (example: different characters, the plot, etc.) but the original themes, ideas, plots, characters, script, etc. are solely the works of this awesome, famous person, and his associates.


Chapter One

She flew quickly down the snowy mountain, her board slipping and sliding over the devious ice as she weaved between trees and jumped over rocks. She heard the shout behind her and her right hand stole to her belt, gripping the small slender handle at her waist. She continued to bend her knees and balance gracefully as the ground suddenly disappeared beneath her, and then she plummeted toward the ledge fifty or so feet down.

She had been prepared for this. Twisting her body around and drawing the pistol from her belt, she fired three rounds into the body pursuing her. Blood splattered onto the clear ashen snow and the figure dropped headfirst toward the bottom of the cliff. She twisted back just in time to land professionally at the base of the rock face and kicked out the right end of her board, digging its left side into the ice and coming to a smooth stop. She heard the lifeless thump as the body landed in the snow behind her.

"Very good..." She looked up, blood spiking, and panted. She shook her hands out of the thick bright-green gloves—underneath of which she wore thin thermals—and wiped them against her cold nose, careful to keep her goggles on but pull down the fluffy neck-warmer so she could speak. He bright pink lips contrasted lightly against her pale skin, and she grinned, flashing straight white teeth. Her hidden blue eyes followed the figure that sauntered toward her, his thick shoes sinking deeply into the snow. "I have a visitor for you." Her smile vanished, and she turned to glance back over her shoulder at the lifeless bundle of clothes, broken bones, and blood. "He knows who you are, Sage." She whipped her black beanie-clad head back around and stared at him for a moment.

"What about the body?" Her voice was as soft as the wind: frosty and sweet at the same time. It had always sent chills down his spine.

He bowed his head slightly. "That will be taken care of." His gloved hands clasped together in front of him in innocence. "Now, if you don't mind, this visitor doesn't like to be kept waiting..." Sage made an irritated noise at the back of her throat and lifted up her pistol, flipping out the bullet chamber and giving it a twirl with her finger. She allowed the empty shell to slip out and sink into the snow before reloading the vacant space and slamming the compartment back, flicking the safety off.

"Sage, I don't really think that's necessary—"he began unsurely.

"Michael," she looked up, cutting him off with a smile. "We can't be stupid, can we?"

"Uh..."

"I'm not going to risk my life for his comfort. If he truly knows who I am, then he'll acknowledge that I don't go anywhere with at least a fully-loaded pistol." As if to prove her words were true she switched the gun to her left hand and snaked her free fingers up the sleeve of her left arm. She gripped cool, smooth metal and drew it out. Michael's breath caught.

"A dagger too?" he whispered, surprised and angry at the same time. "Oh, Sage..." He ducked his head and covered it with a frosty-gloved hand, sighing. She hid it back up her sleeve.

"Oh come on Michael." He glanced up as she pouted playfully. "I have to be armed."

He sighed again and drew his hand away from his eyes. "I suppose..." As they lapsed into silence, a deep humming reverberated in the distance. Sage peered keenly past him and cocked her head to the side as a bulky silhouette loomed up over the edge of the shelf a few metres away.

"Our ride?" he nodded silently. "Michael, why couldn't I just meet you down the bottom? I had enough speed to get over this flat stretch."

"Because knowing you, you would've shot this visitor I've talked about."

"No." Sage groaned, rolling her eyes. "If he didn't threaten me, I wouldn't harm him. Besides, you wouldn't even give me the task of doing such a thing." Michael smiled wistfully.

"Once you see him, you'll feel threatened." She cocked a brow, and he turned. "But if you really want to ride down..." He faded off and she squealed, bending down swiftly to unbuckle her boots from the board as the skimobile drew closer. She ran after Michael's retreating back and swung an arm around his shoulders, planting a swift kiss to his prickly cheek before jogging toward the edge of the last fall of the mountain.

"I'll race you!" She called back as the skimobile swung around, Michael seated on the long seat behind the driver. He bent down to tell the man to go faster, and suddenly the vehicle sped up. Sage turned and threw herself down the slope. The waxed underside of her board, the hard, compacted ice, and the still air all helped her gain speed, and quickly. Before long, she was zooming down like a bullet, crouched low, balanced precariously, and she could hear the strained roar of the mobile behind her. A wide grin parted her lips—

And then suddenly, she was at the bottom, the wind thundering in her ears. Rapidly and steadily she dragged her board around and thrust its back into the snow. It would take a few metres for her to stop at the speed she was going, but gradually, as she slid a past the cabin in which she, Michael and the skimobile driver had been residing in, the board's momentum slowed down, and then she came to a complete stop. Unclipping her bulky black boots and stepping off the board, she picked it up and—holding it between her waist and arm—hiked back through the snow to reach the cabin. Michael was already at the door, unlacing his shoes. She stepped up behind him as he tore off his boots and glanced down to hers. "I'll take them off inside. They'll grow cold and hard out here all night." She flapped her free hand pointlessly. Setting his jaw, Michael sighed and turned the doorknob, casting her a hasty warning glance. She arched a brow, and stepped inside behind him.

The fire was crackling happily in its heath, and the red-hot coals offered a soft, warm glow throughout the room. Sage huffed, scraping the ice from her goggles and flicking it on the floor.

"Oh Sage..." Michael scolded gently.

"The heat of the room will dry it up." She muttered dryly, pulling off the goggles along with her beanie and neck warmer, and shaking out her long curly blonde hair. It fell out around her face in a lovely flowing halo. "My god it's hot in here!" Shedding the thick, waterproof snow jacket from her shoulders, Sage hung it up on the peg, only just noticing the pure-white suit jacket hooked on the peg opposite.

Or maybe she'd just been trying to avoid looking for it.

Her hands fell back to her sides and she spun around hastily, scanning the room with sharp eyes. The dining table and its four oaken chairs sat cosily to her left under the wide clear window overlooking smooth untouched snow and the bottom of the mountain. At the furthest left corner from Sage a chest-high, thin counter rose up with a cute wooden swinging door for entrance. It hid most of the kitchen from view, but a white, powerless fridge filled with the ice from outside for cooling and a small brown cupboard loomed up behind it. The dark hallway beside the kitchen led further into the cabin, centred opposite the entrance door, and a couch sat to its right, old and worn, but still comfortable.

There was no TV in the lounge room, because there was no channel service or power out in such a secluded location. But Sage was grateful there was at least gas for hot running water and cooking on the stove.

When her eyes finally looked back to the fire, she saw the tall figure standing before it. He wore white socks, because his polished white boots sat at the door, and long pressed white pants that crumpled around his heels slightly. A loose white shirt covered his powerful torso, untucked, the sleeves rolled up. The pureness contrasted brightly against the even olive toning of his skin. His arms were strong, his shoulders broad. She looked at his face. His dark eyes were slanted; his face smooth and brown with light pink lips revealing white teeth, and high cheekbones shadowed by the soft candlelight of the room. He had a strong, angled jaw, and his short-cropped black hair was spiked haphazardly about his head.

She had to admit, he was handsome.

He tilted his head to the side silently at her calculating gaze. He was powerful, she could see that, yet slim enough to be swift and light on his feet, agile and fluid in his movements. She stared at the sharp metal stars dangling from his waist, the dagger attached to the inside of his wrist, and the twin blades slanted sideways behind his shoulders: their tips at his left hip and their handles above his right shoulder.

Michael was right to have warned her; otherwise, she would have lunged at him there and then. She despised strangers wielding weapons against her, although he hadn't drawn any.

He wasn't going to attack her, but he was a potential threat.

She lifted her head and met his eyes, nodding and turning to lean her snowboard against the wall beside the door. She grabbed her gloves and drew the thermals off her hands before crossing the room toward him. Her thick board boots thumped in a low tenor across the wooden floorboards as she moved. The shape of the boots rose up to encompass half her lower leg, yet the backs curved in slightly to force her knees to bend. It had taken a time for her to become used to the foreign burn in her calves and the ungainly walk, but when she did, she was comfortable in them. They were her favourite boots, but not very good for stealth.

She placed both pairs of gloves in her left hand and outstretched her right. The man arched a delicate, shady eyebrow, but clasped her fingers tightly. His white gloves, too, had been pulled off of his fingers and held in his left hand.

"Sage." she shook once and withdrew, resting her gloves on the mantle above the fireplace so they could dry.

"Storm Shadow." He greeted, his voice masculine and mystique. She froze. He had an irritating characteristic that hinted at his conceited attitude, as if he knew he was a pretty boy.

"Storm Shadow, did you say?" She looked him over, stepping back. Her boots thunked quietly as she retreated, and he glanced down to them and then back up with a smirk.

"You heard right."

She made a shocked noise. "I've heard of you." and peeling her eyes from his, she walked back toward the door where Michael still stood awkwardly. "Where's the ski-driver?" She asked, and he gestured outside.

"Parking." she nodded and frowned at him as she got closer, flashing him a distasteful look. He shrugged helplessly.

"Do not blame Michael for my presence." Storm Shadow's cool, arrogant voice spoke behind her. She became suddenly self-conscious as she felt his hard gaze boring into her back, and glanced down to herself secretly as she undid the long laces on her boots. She still wore her black snow pants low on her waist, baggy around her legs, and a tight, thick, dark-blue singlet that stuck to her curves, long enough to tuck itself under her pants. The singlet wasn't deep-diving to reveal plenty of her chest, but it didn't conceal all. Her lean yet toned shoulders shifted as she slid the boots off and sat them beside the door, beside Storm Shadow's.

She told herself it didn't matter, no matter how much he watched her.

"So," Michael cleared his throat to break the silence that enveloped the room. "Anyone want a drink?"

"A shot of whisky, please." It was a ritual for Sage. Whenever she had a successful killing, she celebrated with a shot.

And she'd never failed a mission.

"Another shot, yet again!" Michael laughed as he moved into the kitchen. "Do you want anything, Storm Shadow?"

"No." Sage turned a surprised look to the man as his voice rang callously through the room. He was studying her intently. She moved away from the door as it tried to open, and the ski driver sauntered in. He looked at her and stroked her cheek, she smiled, then he looked to Storm Shadow, nodding quietly, and walked into the kitchen, probably to speak with Michael. He was well-accustomed to Sage's career, and he was often the one to tow away the bodies.

And he wasn't too bad a hunk, either.

Sage watched him disappear into the kitchen before looking back to Storm Shadow. He'd moved silently from the fire and was seated in a chair, still studying her. Cautiously she crossed the room; her feet hushed and warm due to her woolly socks, and turned her back to the fire, staring out the window. She swallowed quietly.

"You do not seem at ease with me, Sage." Storm Shadow murmured, and she inclined her head, but didn't look at him. "Why?"

"You're a ninja." She stated bluntly, "A very skilled and very advanced assassin." She looked down to him, meeting his eyes. "You're a threat."

His gaze glinted with amusement.

"Well. I am honoured that you feel that way." His voice was laughter, and her jaw began to work. "Sage, dear Sage," he rose fluidly, and she watched him guardedly. "I scare everyone."

She bristled, but bit her tongue. He was baiting her to snap. She would not amuse him.

"Why are you here?" As expected, her voice was flat and icy.

"I have come with a proposal for you to join Cobra." She arched a brow.

"And what is 'Cobra'?"

"A military organisation operating secretly under the nose of the American president," he smiled, tossing his dark, cocky attitude toward her. "We leave early in the morning."

She blinked stupidly at him. "And what gives you the impression I want to join you?"

"You have no choice."

Something screamed at her to keep her mouth shut and look away from his frosty expression. But, being the headstrong young woman she was, Sage held his gaze and hissed, "Oh?"

His lips scathingly bared pure-white teeth. "Where else will you go?" Her brows creased, but something shifted out of the corner of her eye that diverted her attention. Her head snapped around, and she stared at the small black blob at the base of the cliff. Ignoring Storm Shadow, she stalked toward the window, staring.

It was gun, a sniper gun set up on a stand, and she realised the slanting black line behind it was a body.

"What the f-"Its barrel suddenly shifted and swung around, aiming just past her, to her right.

With a cold spike of fear, Sage realised it was aimed at the kitchen. She flew back in horror, and opened her mouth to scream.

"Michael! Niles!"

"What?" They both called in unison, turning to stare at her over the serving counter between them.

"Get out!" She yelled. "Get out of the bloody kitchen!"

"Wha-"but Michael never finished his sentence because something shattered the window at head height and cut his voice off with a tense gargle, his eyes rolling back into his head. He fell to the floor, and Sage saw the thin trickle of blood down the side of his temple before he vanished from her view.

"Shit!" Niles, the skimobile driver, made to dive for the floor, but another pane of glass shattered and he gave a short, wounded cry before falling. Sage was already over the serving counter, skilfully avoiding the window and dropping down into the shadows in a crouch.

"Niles!" She whispered, crawling toward him. On her way she pressed her fingers to Michael's throat, knowing he was dead. But her driver was still alive, if only barely, and he was twitching and writhing in agony. His unfocussed eyes swept over her face as she loomed above him, his expression contorted, and he gasped, gripping her arm tightly—almost painfully—with a sweaty hand. "Niles-"she broke off as he opened his mouth and gargled through the blood seeping out. She leant down as he coughed and spluttered, spraying blood over the side of her face. She grimaced, but pressed her ear to his lips as he murmured weakly.

"Pl...se..." She shook her head.

"Niles-"

"Pl...eas...e..." he wheezed, and then she saw the bullet wound in his jugular. The pellet had torn right through his neck and out the other side, almost shearing his throat in half and filling his lungs with blood.

"Oh god, Niles." she breathed, sweeping back his sweaty hair. He coughed violently, convulsing once. His back lifted off the tiled floor, he spluttered, and then he sagged to the ground, his eyes wide and motionless. Sage tentatively reached out and pressed her fingers to his throat, inhaling sharply as she felt no pulse.

She sensed Storm Shadow in the doorway, and her face hardened. Her hands curled into fists at her sides. He shifted, and her hand flew to her belt. She snapped her arms forward, aiming the gun between her fingers at his forehead.

Slowly, she rose to her feet.

"This was all you." She snarled quietly, staying in her position where she knew the sniper couldn't see her. "You killed them."

"Well, actually..." he looked down to his nails, as if they interested him and he had not a care in the world. "It was the sniper outside..."

"I don't care who it was!" She shrieked, stiffening as he stepped closer. "It was all because of you, you bastard."

"Oh Sage," he sighed, nearing her softly.

"Don't," she warned, stepping back. Her hips pressed into the edge of a counter, "Stop."

He gazed at her, and strode closer. Her thumb flicked the safety off her gun, and her fingers itched toward the trigger.

"You can't do it," he taunted, almost in reaching distance. "You know you can't."

She lifted her chin defiantly. "Watch me."

He never stopped walking toward her, but he did spread his arms out in an offering gesture.

"Then shoot me."


Author's Note: Thanks for reading, reviews are greatly appreciated! xx