Author's Notes

These were bonuses I sent out to reviewers of Arashikage. I will post here the ones that are not already posted as their own stories… it occurred to me it wouldn't be such a bad thing for more people to be able to read them.

This was the bonus for chapter 12. It is a deleted scene that would have taken place just before Cobra evacuated Cobra Island in chapter 10, right after Storm Shadow remarks that evacuating will take days. In the final version, they leave within an hour and there is no battle. I rewrote it three or four times, trying to balance it so I could leave it in. In the end, I had to scratch it because it was hurting the plot a lot more than helping it.

I ended up replacing it with the battle at the United Nations; the timing worked much better that way.

Deleted Scene: Cobra Island Battle

"We're not taking everything," the Commander says. "We're leaving in the morning, unless TOO many troops attack. Speaking of which…"

He pauses a moment, staring at me.

"… I want no survivors. Every soldier that comes here tonight dies – the only ones I don't want to see die by your hands are those that are killed by the troops first. Understood?"

"Yes, Commander," I say. It comes out a lot easier than I expected. I've been dreading this moment for weeks, but now that it's here, I find it's almost a relief.

I think what's making it easier is that I simply have no choice in the matter. If I did, I wouldn't kill without being provoked, and I can hardly count attacking Cobra as an attack against me. I certainly wouldn't make a point of not allowing my opponents to surrender or run. But the plain fact of the matter is that this is no longer my choice.

The other part of it is that I have been in the war and I've been trained to show no mercy to my enemies, even if it meant killing them from cover, without warning – very ninja-like, ironically since I have very seldom done such a thing as a ninja. When you get right down to it, being part of Cobra is just like being at war again – the only difference is the identity of the enemy.

"Good," the Commander says. "In the meantime, stay here."

I nod – my jaw is clenched too tightly to speak.

He leaves me alone while he sends out orders and monitors progress. My thoughts are centered on the fight that is almost sure to come tonight, despite my best efforts to think of something else – anything else. I find myself guessing how many troops will be sent, and how many will arrive before we evacuate.

I grow restless when I hear the planes approaching. They're not Americans – there's that at least. I'm not fond of killing any soldiers, but if I have to, I'm at least glad they're not my actual former comrades. I start pacing back and forth, take out my katanas, put them back, take out my bow, put that back as well. The Commander starts sniggering.

"They're not even here yet and you're already that fidgety? Don't try to pull anything cute… soldiers don't qualify as innocents under the terms of our agreement."

Don't I know. I force myself to sit down and stay still, just because I don't want to amuse him. The planes start arriving and begin circling overhead, presumably parachuting troops.

"They're circling right overhead, and troops are heading this way. You should get some of your men to help me – I won't be able to prevent all of them from taking shots at you otherwise."

I sound calm enough, but from then on, what goes on is a blur with occasional flashes of clarity. I'm well past being on autopilot, I'm disconnected. I'm fighting but my mind is a blank for most of it and I don't remember what I've done from one minute to the next, except for a few kills that happen to be at times when I'm concentrating on staying alive because of several bullets coming towards me or some other form of danger.

By the end of it, there are dozens of cobra troopers down, and what seems like hundreds of soldiers, most of them in more than one piece. My senses come back when I stop moving, and the first thing my eyes register is the number of soldiers that were clearly killed by blades, shurikens or arrows. I don't even remember shooting, but my hand wanders to my quiver and discovers I'm out of arrows.

I have no idea how many I've killed. Passing out is a tempting option right now, but I don't. I take a deep breath to steady myself and return to the Commander's side, ready to wait for another wave of soldiers or be dismissed if it turns out there are no more.

The Commander sends troops out to investigate and we wait. I stare at the ceiling, trying not to see the carnage. It's wasted effort – I can still see it from the corner of my eyes, and the Commander is not letting me forget it anyway. He won't shut up about how well I've done.

The troops eventually come back and confirm there are no more enemy troops for now. I hear myself adding that I can't hear anymore planes within range either. I think I'm just looking for something to say because the troops, although they're supposed to be addressing the Commander, won't take their eyes off me – they look terrified.

And all the while, it still feels like I'm merely watching myself. I wish I could stop watching, and I'm glad that at least, I don't remember most of the fight – I don't want to know what I did that made such an impression on them and made the Commander so happy with me.

I remind myself sternly that I had no choice. I can't give up, I can't sacrifice my uncle's eternal peace for people who are, when you come right down to it, nothing more than my enemies. I dimly wonder, as if it were a purely abstract question, whether any of the dead soldiers have families that will feel the need to avenge their deaths.

The Commander opens the general intercom, the one that lets him talk to everyone in the fortress. He screams the order to evacuate and to leave anything not already aboard the various vehicles behind.

"Including the bodies!" he specifies.

For whatever reason, this is what brings me fully back. Maybe it reminded me of leaving the dead behind in the war. Either way, every sound, smell, sight, feeling and taste seems to come back into sharp focus. I suddenly feel my blood-soaked clothes sticking to me, I feel what skin I have exposed is drenched, and the scent seems to fill the whole world. I look down at myself before I think better of it.

I expected to be covered in blood, but just how well coated I am still comes as a shock. I also spot some gray, which I automatically identify as cerebral matter, rightly or not. I swallow and I find myself wondering again if I'm going to pass out. After a few seconds of still being conscious, I swallow again and glare at the Commander, who's staring at me, obviously wondering what I'll do next.

"I need to shower and change," I say distantly. I can feel myself slip away again and I let it happen, glad for any kind of partial escape.

The Commander snickers.

"Awwh," he cooes, "but you look so dashing in red. Then again, the Cobra symbol doesn't stand out much right now. Very well, go clean and change, but be quick about it."

I feel myself get angry, but the anger dissipates before it even fully forms. I nod and run off to my quarters.

I meet up with him again at the docks, 15 minutes later, scrubbed clean and feeling much better for it. My soiled uniform is in my garbage can, buried under every other clothes that were left in my wardrobe after I changed into some of my street clothes. I intend to make the Commander provide me with a new design for my uniform – it doesn't have to be drastically different, but I don't want to wear the one I had on today ever again.