'You have proven yourself well this week, little brother,' Snake Eyes signed to Fire Storm. 'It is time that we talk of what is to happen.' Fire Storm nodded as the brothers sat the training dojo. 'I must also explain my own actions. I know your state was fragile when we arrived here but I could not go easy on you, as I would have wished. Your trust and emotions were poorly managed but I could not take the time to help you build them stronger. You had to overcome these obstacles on your own. That is why I put you with Kamakura, knowing his distrust and your dislike with him would test you, this is also why I did not tell Jinx who you really were. She hates being kept in the dark and her anger clouds her judgment, making her another obstacle for you to overcome. Your infractions I dealt with as strictly as possible for two reasons: to show you authority and a lesson in patience. Hence the grounding and constant pairing with Kamakura. I did all of this to help you because you must be as strong in mind as you are in body. For the mission I have planned your bodily strength, your emotions, and your intellect will be challenged beyond anything you have encountered so far. In all that I have set before you you have overcome but now there is one more obstacle to master before you are ready for this mission.'
"What obstacle, brother?" Fire Storm asked, his mind reeling as he took in all Snake Eyes had revealed.
'You have come far, little brother, but certain instances still cause you to have flashbacks, which then control your responses. To control these responses you must control the flashbacks, to control the flashbacks you must come to terms with your past.' Fire Storm's eyes narrowed and his breathing grew harsher as he looked away from Snake Eyes. 'You see? Even now, at simply mentioning your past, you react without a thought. This reaction has become ingrained in you, you are so bitter towards your past that you will not allow yourself to remember your happy memories. You must push yourself to let go and come to terms with what happened but there is only one way to do it.'
"What is it?" Fire Storm asked harshly.
'You must visit your past, travel down memory lane to confront the darkness that clutches your mind. Do not be afraid because I will go with you, I will be there to offer you strength and help guide you in coming to terms with your darker memories.'
Fire Storm turned his head away, fighting for control over his breathing as he considered what his brother was offering him. He knew that his mind was a prisoner to his past, being constantly plagued by flashbacks from even the smallest occurrence. Snake Eyes was offering him freedom from that but it meant reviewing the horrible years when he was a prisoner to Cobra and the street gang. Fire Storm turned back to Snake Eyes, his eyes blazing once more with the fire his older brother remembered. Fire Storm drew in a deep breath before letting it out; he would be a prisoner no more.
Snake Eyes stretched forth his hands, palms up and open, and Fire Storm stared at them before placing his own hands into those of his brother. Snake Eyes bowed his head and Fire Storm followed suite, he closed his eyes and listened as his brother's breathing evened out to a quiet hum and Fire Storm mimicked his actions.
Breathing in and out until all his body functions had slowed down, Fire Storm's mind slipped into the state between consciousness and sleeping, a state where the mind is apart from the body and in complete control. Fire Storm was surrounded by a warm, blue fog and found himself losing the fear that had clutched him in trying to face his past.
"Fire Storm?" Fire Storm jerked and looked around but could not see anyone. "Brother, calm down, look behind you."
Fire Storm turned and there he saw a blonde haired man with blue eyes. "Snake Eyes? Your face, your voice, how?"
"This is the mind, little brother, your body's scars will not show here." Snake Eyes handed him a mirror and Fire Storm looked into it, gasping when he saw that the Cobra symbols were gone from his cheeks as well as the other scars. "Come," Snake Eyes gestured with his hand, "let us start."
"Do…do we have to?" Fire Storm asked, just noticing the door that had appeared out of the fog.
"It is your choice, Fire Storm, it is always your choice."
Fire Storm took in an unnecessary breath and walked to the door, "Let's go then."
Together they opened the door and fire Storm gazed apprehensively into the darkness. He could just make out a staircase descending and he could hear the wind whistling, as it would up a tower. He shivered and turned to Snake Eyes, "My mind is creepy."
Snake Eyes smiled as he placed a hand on Fire Storm's shoulder, "I'm right here."
"Right," Fire Storm took a tentative step downwards and Snake Eyes followed. They were surrounded by the darkness for only a moment before it cleared away and they saw the fortress of the Arashikage clan.
"This is where your darkness begins, this is where you must begin to accept your past."