Chapter 1: Recruitment Drive
All names and characters, with a few exceptions, are copyrighted to Hasbro and any related companies and used for non-profit amusement reasons. The setting of this story is an AU.
Cobra Recruitment Office...
Five years, Daniel Whitefeather thought. Five years since G.I. Joe had been destroyed and Cobra replaced the government of the United States... He shuddered. He remembered the day General Hawk and President George W. Bush had signed the surrender papers, the surviving members of G.I. Joe forced to swear public oaths of loyalty to Cobra. The humor of seeing Cobra Commander giggling and spinning around in his chair was offset by the fact that it was the president's chair he was sitting in, the ruins of Washington DC behind him.
He shook his head. He didn't like to think about it very much. He just knew that he had to join up now that he was eighteen and serve at least two years before he'd be allowed to call himself a citizen of the United States of Cobra. Everyone he knew that was eighteen or over had to join Cobra's armed forces in some way as well.
He sighed, and walked inside. A crew-cutted man in blue and black camouflaged armor sat there, a riot shield designed to look like the Cobra logo laying behind his desk. He smiled when he noticed Daniel standing there. "Hey, kid. I'm Rick Jackson, Alley Viper corps. You here to sign up for your tour?"
Daniel nodded. "Yessir," he said. "It's required, isn't it?"
"That it is," Rick said, chuckling. "All right, kiddo. Here's the forms to sign. Head to the back and talk to the HEAT Viper back there so you can go through your initial physical once you're done."
Daniel frowned, nodding. He took the forms and filled them out. They were surprisingly detailed, including tidbits such as his pre-Cobra political affiliations, favorite video games and other hobbies, his views on killing, sexual orientation, and any sexual fetishes he might have.
"What's with all the detailed questions?" Daniel asked.
"Cobra believes in true liberty," Rick said, beaming. "I was just a militia man before Cobra took over. But with the corrupt and evil government of the United States was finally toppled, Cobra made everything better. Universal health care, stricter child and animal abuse laws, and of course, the brilliant idea of making military service required to earn citizenship. I was more than happy to join up! They paired me up with people of similar tastes, and gave us the freedom to run campaigns how we chose."
Good God, a true believer, Daniel thought, with mild dismay. Still, he did have to admit that Cobra did have those things he mentioned. His mother, an Incinerator, had been unable to afford a cancer treatment due to lack of money and insurance. When she had joined up and listed her medical conditions, she had been given a serum that cured her cancer completely. Her parents had been more enthusiastic about Cobra ever since, although he was still reluctant.
"So the whole 'terrorist' thing doesn't bother you?" Daniel asked.
Rick shrugged. "I admit there are some scoundrels in the organization," he said, "but that does not offset the good Cobra has done. I am proud to assist in their efforts to expand their borders to encompass the entire world."
Daniel shuddered. He knew that once he joined, he'd be joining war efforts to conquer the world. Sighing, he filled out the form and gave it back to the Alley-Viper.
"Nice," he said. "Welcome to Cobra. After your first two years of duty, you will be allowed to call yourself a citizen of the United States, with all rights and privileges thereof. If you agree to sign up for four more years, you'll also be given a full ride scholarship to the college of your choice, and be allowed to transfer to any of the specialist corps that you've earned the right to get into." Rick grinned. "I personally recommend the Alley Viper urban pacification corps."
"Yes sir," Daniel said. "I'll think about that, sir."
Rick chuckled. "Head on back, son," he said, looking over Daniel's shoulder to see three more people coming in.
Daniel nodded, and went through the door Rick indicated. It led to a staircase, which he went down, hearing the sounds of physical exertion coming from below. After a short trip, he went through another door.
To his dismay, there was a message engraved on a plaque attached to the door.
"Welcome to the devil's army," he read. "'Abandon all morality, ye who enter here.' Oh, that's VERY comforting."
Shaking his head, he went through. To his surprise, it looked like a simple gymnasium and target range, although much bigger than most gymnasiums would be. People wearing Cobra shirts were working out, practicing martial arts with older men and women that looked like trainers, and firing in a shooting range. He frowned. It looked far too... 'normal' to be a recruitment office for a terrorist organization. Shaking his head, he resigned himself to being weirded out a lot, and began looking for the HEAT Viper.
"Hey, you new here like me?" said a voice from behind him. Daniel turned, seeing a girl he knew from high school.
"Jessica?" he said softly. "Jessica O'Malley?"
The buxom, red-headed former volleyball player cringed, recognizing Daniel. "Oh hell. Forgot you were of age to be drafted..."
Daniel chuckled weakly. "Well, with any luck, we'll be put in the same unit so we can at least talk to someone we know..." Neither of them seemed all that pleased with the idea, Jessica being from the popular crowd, Daniel a comic book geek of Native American blood that joined the track team just to keep in shape.
"Better than nothing," Jessica conceded, the Irish girl sighing and running a hand through her long hair. "We just gotta find that HEAT Viper... whatever that means..."
"High Explosive Anti-Tank Viper," said a voice from across the room. The two of them turned, seeing a woman in bright, yellow-orange armor and short black hair coming towards them, a smirk on her face. "Basically, that means I get a kickass rocket launcher and get to blow the shit out of armored vehicles."
"Oh," Jessica said, grinning weakly. "Sounds... cool, I guess..."
"No need to fake it with me, kids," the HEAT Viper said, snickering. "I know a draftee when I see one, and I definitely like them better than the schmucks that fall for the rhetoric. Name's Karen. And don't worry, I'm not gonna try and make Cobra seem saintly like the idiots the Commander insists on putting in the main offices."
Daniel and Jessica traded looks, feeling a bit more relaxed. "So what about you?" Daniel asked. "Are you a draftee like us?"
Karen shook her head. "Nah," she said. "I was in the lockup for sexual assault. Like most criminals who were let out after the takeover, I joined up first chance I got. They kept me out of jail, I earned my way up to 'blowing shit up with high explosives.' So much fun."
Daniel and Jessica took a step back, alarmed.
Karen snickered. "Relax, you're both ten years too old for me," she said. When she saw their expressions, she laughed again. "And yes, that means exactly what you think it does."
Daniel and Jessica traded dismayed looks. Karen didn't notice them. "Anyway," she said, "we gotta test you first. Run some drills on you two, see if you're ready to go directly into a basic Viper unit or if we have to send you to Big Boa or Sergeant Slaughter." She shuddered. "I ended up with Big Boa. NOT FUN, even if he did make me into the ass kicker I am today."
"Rough trainers, huh?" Jessica asked as Karen led them towards a table in the back of the room.
Karen snorted. "More like murderous. Big Boa was a nasty fuck to begin with. His idea of waking someone up is kicking open the doors and knocking over their beds, forcing them to make them again before sending them out to do a ten mile run in the rain wrapped in bacon with underfed hyenas chasing after them."
Karen laughed at the horrified expressions that crossed Daniel and Jessica's faces. "I really wish I was making that up," she said, giggling. "And Sergeant Slaughter's not much better. The Sarge mostly gets recruits that the Commander's pissed with. Desert Scorpions on the verge of being assigned to the Toxo Vipers. His training's meant to be their last chance at proving their worth, although he's gotten a lot meaner since he was forced to join Cobra."
"Forgive me, but..." Daniel said, "'Desert Scorpions?' 'Toxo-Vipers?'"
Karen blinked, and then laughed. "Whups, my bad!" she said. "Desert Scorpions is basically probation duty. You get assigned to the desert with some basic gear and have to do piddly shit until whomever assigned you to the Scorpions likes you again or forgets why they sent you there. Your unit commanders in the Scorpions are always a Sand Viper, troops specifically trained for the desert that get special armor with internal cooling systems. Lucky fucks. And the Toxo-Vipers..." She shuddered. "Toxo-Vipers are the hazardous environment troopers. And by that I mean that they have to create a toxic environment and fight people in it. Their suits tend to leak a lot, so they get called the 'Leaky Suit Brigade.' All those rads..."
Jessica frowned. "Wait... why is it punishment duty?"
Karen shivered. "Best case scenario, you end up with at least one form of cancer from working the Toxo-Vipers. Worst case... you get turned into a braindead shambling zombie and sent to Doctor Mindbender's labs. Heavy Waters are the unit commanders there. THEY get suits that don't leak and are perfectly safe. If you're lucky, you'll get promoted to a Heavy Water FAST and then promoted out of the unit. If not... well, turnover rate is high, let's say." She shivered again. "I've seen the Toxo-Zombies, seen them unleashed on a town. I have been a good little snakey ever since. No Leaky Suit Brigade for me, no sir..."
"My God..." Jessica said softly.
She shook her head. "Little safety tip, kids. Always follow orders. If you're lucky, you'll get an easygoing commander. But for most of them it's 'My Way or Die Screaming You Shitty Little Fuck.'"
Daniel gulped. "Good to know," he said.
"What do we have to do to train?" Jessica asked.
"Basic hand to hand test against one of the Ninja Vipers, target shooting, weight lifting, and some basic obstacle courses. You do good, you get your faceless helmet and an assignment. You do bad, you're Boa food," Karen said, giving them both a checklist for the trainers to fill out. "Good luck, kiddos."
Daniel and Jessica traded worried looks. "...We should probably just get this over with," he said.
"Yeah..." Jessica said softly, unsure of what to think about all this. They both decided to go to the Ninja Vipers first. Jessica got a female instructor, Daniel a male.
Daniel put on a sweat band, looking at his instructor. The Ninja Viper was African-American in appearance, bare from the waist up. He bowed respectfully, and the Ninja Viper reached in to try and poke out his eyes.
Daniel just barely managed to dodge. "Good reflexes," the Ninja Viper said, "bad judgment. Never take your eyes off of an opponent when he's your obvious superior in combat."
Right, Daniel thought, No looking over at Jessica to see how she's doing. He kept his eyes on the Ninja Viper, who regarded him with the interest a hawk regards a running mouse. "What do I have to do?"
"Hit me once," the Ninja Viper said, examining his fingernails disinterested . "Or impress me somehow. You have a half hour."
Daniel nodded. He knew a little about karate, having taken a few lessons while in school. But, as he quickly learned, it was nothing compared to the Ninja Viper's skill. Every attack he threw was blocked with one hand and tossed aside, the Ninja Viper actually pulling out a book to read, deflecting his blows without even looking.
The Ninja Viper yawned, glancing at his watch. Daniel lay on the floor, panting and sweating heavily, looking desperately at the Ninja Viper. The man seemed perfectly at rest, but after getting pummeled so much by him, he could tell the Ninja Viper was perfectly tensed, waiting to strike the moment he stepped forward.
The Ninja Viper chuckled at his book, glancing at his watch again.
Daniel gulped, suddenly realizing he was running out of time. A bit of sweat dripped off of his headband, which had become saturated as the crap had been merrily beaten out of him. In desperation, the sweatband no longer effective, he yanked it off and threw it at the Ninja Viper.
To his surprise, it hit the Ninja Viper square in the face just as he was turning a page. Daniel, reacting on pure instinct, dashed in, bring his fist forward to hit with his strongest haymaker.
With surprising speed, the Ninja Viper lashed out with a kick stronger than the others he had thrown before, catching Daniel in the stomach. Pain lanced through him like a thousand swords stabbing him in the gut at once as he fell back, skidding to a halt.
The Ninja Viper pulled off the sweatband, staring at Daniel... and chuckled. "You pass," he said.
"...Huh?" Daniel said, understandably confused.
"You saw I wasn't taking you seriously, and caused a distraction at the opportune moment. I was still able to counter, but you startled me enough to make me counter as if you were an actual opponent. That's enough to pass," the Ninja Viper explained.
Daniel's mind blanked for a moment. Then he realized what the Ninja Viper said and nodded vigorously. "Yes. That is exactly what has happened. Go me," he said.
The Ninja Viper smiled and helped him up. "You rest a bit, let the pain in your gut go away," he said, gesturing to a pair of nurses in light blue and white combat gear sitting near a machine. "Get the Medi-Vipers to take a look at you, in case I accidentally broke something, and rest a bit before continuing your tests."
Daniel nodding, clutching his aching stomach. As he walked over to the Medi-Vipers, he turned to watch Jessica with her Asian-American instructor. As Jessica slowly circled her Ninja Viper, she cringed, and pulled her top up, exposing her breasts.
To Daniel's surprise, the female Ninja-Viper blushed brightly, acting startled. Jessica tried to dash in with a kick, yanking her top down in the process. The female Ninja Viper's reaction time was far greater, though, Jessica getting taken down and stomped on in a single motion.
The female Ninja Viper shook her head. "Not bad, you pass. You saw I was attracted to you and took advantage of that when I wasn't taking you seriously," she said, helping Jessica up. "Don't do that again, though. Not everyone in Cobra is a draftee, and they might get the wrong ideas."
Jessica nodded, wincing at the pain in her chest from where she had been stomped on. The female Ninja Viper motioned her towards the Medi-Vipers, Jessica heading over to Daniel with a sigh of relief. "That's over, at least..." she said.
"At least we know we can get away with dirty fighting," Daniel said as the two of them let the Medi-Vipers examine them. After determining they were just bruised, the Medi-Vipers dismissed them, Daniel and Jessica walking along the various training stations.
"Hey... Daniel?" Jessica asked. "Can we stick together on this?"
Daniel blinked, and nodded. "Sure. Why?"
Jessisca shivered. "You're the only person I know here," she said. "Maybe if we show them we work well together, we'll be assigned to the same unit..."
Daniel nodded, remembering their conversation with Karen. "Yeah... Yeah, we can do that..."
They decided to go to the weight lifting training first. Free weights and dumbbells were only part of the training, though, as they were also fitted with heavy gear packs and told to run through an obstacle track with live weapons fire blasting at them, fear increasing the agility of the two to the point where they managed to avoid most of the fire.
Next up was target shooting, which included both stationary targets and moving targets. The course was made unsettling by the Semi-Automatic Weapons Viper manning the course's comment that, "Anyone who cannot hit a man-sized target at ten meters will be used as target practice in the nearest Terrordrome."
While the two of them hey did decently enough, enough to get a pleased-seeming nod from the SAW Viper. He seemed especially pleased with Jessica, who had hit all of the moving targets in the head.
"Who knew I was such a good shot?" Jessica said, chuckling nervously.
The obstacle courses were standard fare, including barbed wire to crawl under while carrying rifles and backpacks, climbing walls (no safety gear was provided), and the like. The only real oddity was a course where the only obstacle was a half-naked Range Viper who managed to keep most of the recruits from getting past him until they started cheating. One of the recruits, a Russian woman, finished the quickest by stealing a katana from a Ninja Viper and slashing her way past the Range Viper, impressing both Vipers. Both Daniel and Jessica finished each course with what they hoped were decent times, Jessica wanting to wash her mouth out after biting the Range Viper in the balls in her attempt to get past him.
After they had finished the courses, the Cobra troopers had all thirty recruits gather in the center of the room, the troopers standing on the racetrack, surprisingly far away from them.
"Okay!" Karen said, the HEAT Viper having apparently been elected as representative. "Y'all have done decently. But there's one last test you have to pass before we see if you're going to Big Boa or to your new unit. Or just going to die."
The recruits all traded startled looks.
Daniel gulped, stepping forward. "What's the test?"
The Cobra troopers traded evil grins. "Simple," Karen said. "Survive the twenty Battle Android Troopers in the room below us for an hour."
Before anyone could react, Karen held up a remote with a single button and pressed said button. A trap door opened underneath them all, sending them falling into a deep pool of water in the middle of a simulated small down.
Karen snickered. "How many do you think will live, Wilcox?" she said to a nearby Incinerator.
The Incinerator chuckled, leaning on his flamethrower. "Dunno. We got some good candidates this time."
"Let's head to the monitor room and watch them," a Techno Viper said, leading the others out of the gymnasium.
Down below, the recruits all scrambled to get out of the pool, staring at the buildings surrounding the pool. One of the recruits, a smaller young man, was forced underneath the others, nearly drowning as he tried to get to the surface. Finally, though, he managed to get to edge of the pool.
His head promptly exploded as a nearby Battle Android Trooper fired at him with an assault rifle.
"SCATTER!" Daniel shouted, he and the others heading in many different directions, Jessica following Daniel as they ducked into a church, slamming the door behind him. The black armored, silver-faced BAT mowed down another recruit before losing track of the others. Gunfire came from one of the buildings that the recruits hid in, a BAT already inside the building.
Daniel, Jessica, and about three other recruits ducked down behind a row of pews, hiding as the BAT passed by the windows.
"I read up on these things," one of the recruits, a slightly chubby Asian young woman said, "They hunt by heartbeats. Why hasn't it killed us?"
"Maybe these are a different model?" whispered another recruit, a muscular black young man that looked like a basketball player. "Hell, Cobra's got the cash for it."
"No..." said Daniel, motioning for silence. Jessica and the other recruits fell silent, listening. For the first time, they noticed that there was a loud, rapid ticking in the room. They looked around, fearing a bomb, only to see a large grandfather clock nearby.
The black recruit chuckled. "Heh... Thing's probably going as fast as our hearts are right now... Thing probably thought it was just more clocks."
Daniel nodded. "We can get through this," he said, "If we just stick together. We can... I don't know, ambush some of the BATs and steal their weapons, take them out one by one."
"Sounds like plan," said the last of the recruits, a tall, muscular woman with a Russian accent that Daniel recognized as the one who powered her way past the Range Viper earlier. "How do we do it, though?"
Daniel hesitated. "...I need to lure a BAT in here," he said.
"Daniel..." Jessica said, grabbing his arm.
"It won't come back if we don't lure it here, and if we all cower in here for an hour then we'll all be sent to Big Boa," Daniel said, ignoring the part of his mind that was telling him, quite loudly, that this was an insane plan. "Everyone find weapons and be prepared to break the robot's head in."
"Arms and chest first," the Asian said. "BATs are programmed to keep firing so long as their trigger finger is intact. Their chest panels are their most vulnerable point, but there's the matter of the guns they always hold in front of it."
"Wonderful..." Daniel muttered. "Get ready."
The others grabbed whatever they could find, broken wooden shafts, candlesticks, crosses, anything heavy. Daniel took a deep breath, and went to the door and opened it.
A BAT was approaching the church from the side. It stared at Daniel for a moment.
"Excuse me, sir," Daniel said to the robot, his heart racing, "But when was your last confession?"
The BAT raised the sniper rifle it was carrying and took aim. Daniel dashed inside just as it fired, the BAT storming after him. As it entered the doorway, the black man and the Russian woman attacked it, the black man slamming a heavy cross down on it's arm, crushing the gears inside it and causing the arm to short out. The Russian woman punched forward with her candlestick, shoving it into the chest panel, the android's body shivering and sputtering as it was taken offline by the attack.
"Oh yeah," the black man said, fist bumping with the Russian woman.
"Good job," Daniel said as Jessica picked up the sniper rifle, examining it to try and get a feel for it. "I'm Daniel Whitefeather."
"Jessica O'Malley," Jessica said.
"Olga Danikov," the Russian woman said. "Family immigrated from Russia literally just one month before Cobra took over United States."
"Hakeem Delmont," the black man said. "Most folks just call me Hak, though."
"Tsumiko Mitsurugi," the Asian said as she knelt down to examine the BAT, pulling the grenades off of its body.
"All right," Daniel said. "I really think we can do this. But we need to cooperate and stick together.
"Whatever you say, Injun Joe," Hak said. "You seem to have the plans, so you call the shots."
Daniel scowled at the nickname, but decided to let it go. He turned to Jessica. "You think you can use that thing?"
Jessica nodded, experimentally holding the rifle to her shoulder. "I think so," she said.
Daniel nodded. "How many bullets?" she said.
"Around thirty rounds," Tsumiko said, handing the ammunition pouch that was attached to the robot's hip to Jessica.
"Excellent," Daniel said, turning to each member of their impromptu unit as he addressed them. "Jessica, try and snipe as many of the BATs as you can. Go for their chest panels. Tsumiko, toss grenades at any who get close. Any that get in, Hak, Olga and I will take care of."
Everyone nodded, Jessica taking a position at the window. She pressed the rifle tightly against her shoulder, taking him down the scope at one of the wandering BATs. She bit her lip, saying a prayer, and fired.
The robot's chest panel exploded, the BAT letting out a strangled squawk as it fell limp. One of the recruits tried to run out and grab its grenade launcher, but was cut down by another BAT on a nearby roof. Jessica took aim at it and shot it in the face. It began firing blindly, Jessica shooting it again, this time hitting it in the chest panel.
The others remained silent, patting Jessica on the back. Jessica grinned, feeling confident, as she lined up another shot. As she did, though, a powerful metal hand clamped down on her neck, trying to pull her out of the window.
"MOTHERFUCKER!" Hak roared, grabbing the metal hand and slowly prying it open, his muscles straining visibly, giving Jessica a chance to breath and escape. Olga ran outside and this time punched her fist directly into the robot's chest and yanking out important wires, the BAT dying. She quickly ran back inside, carrying the BAT's assault rifle in her bleeding hand.
Jessica coughed, slowly recovering from being strangled as Tsumiko ran to the window, pulling the pin and chucking a grenade at the two BATs approaching the church. One robot was blown to bits, the other's torso sent flying into the church through another window.
Hak stomped on the robot's chest before it could take aim, crushing it's central processors. He then picked up the robot's assault rifle, grinning as he looked at Olga's bleeding hand. "Damn, girl," he said. "Remind me never to ask you for a handjob."
Daniel frowned, looking at her injuries. "Anyone hear have medical experience?"
"I do," Tsumiko said, going over to Olga and tearing off a strip of her shirt, starting to bandage Olga's hand.
"I am fine," Olga huffed, throwing out her ample chest. "This is paper cut to Russian."
"Still, better to bandage it now," Tsumiko said, tightening the makeshift bandage around her hand. "I wish I had something to clean the wound, but I don't think we have time for it right now. This good?" she asked.
"Da," Olga said, flexing her hand and nodding. "This will work."
Hak grinned. He liked this Russian chick.
Daniel nodded. He had a medic, a sniper, and two enforcers... he was certain that they would survive this. "Okay, let's keep up the pattern. Jessica, try staying a little ways away from the window this time, but keep sniping. You good to continue?" he asked.
Jessica coughed, nodding. "Yeah... Just caught me off-guard," she said as she took a new position, slightly away from the window.
Daniel nodded. "Let's live through this, people," he said. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't want to die in this overgrown excuse for a video game."
"Amen," Jessica muttered, squeezing off a shot at a BAT that had cornered another recruit, the BAT's electronic guts exploding out of its back as it collapsed.
"I like this Injun kid," said the Techno Viper. "He rallied those others pretty quickly, got them organized."
"The Irish chick's a pretty good shot, too," said Karen, stroking her chin thoughtfully.
"I remember that Russian chick managing to swipe my sword," said one of the Ninja Vipers. "Couldn't even sense her coming up behind me. She and that black kid make a pretty good team."
"The Jap's done her research," said a Medi Viper. "Always a plus to have someone in a unit know what they're talking about. Plus that dressing is pro, even for a makeshift. She may qualify for early advancement to our corps."
The only officer in the room, a Crimson Guard, hmmed thoughtfully, her helmet masking her expression.
"Keep an eye on those five," she said after a moment. "The others aren't impressing me, but this bunch already has coalesced into a unit. If they live, we should keep them together."
The Techno Viper smirked. "Want I should throw them a curveball?"
The Crimson Guard smirked. "Send in five Inferno BATs."
Daniel's group managed to stay holed up in their church, picking off any BATs that came close, getting extra weapons and grenades from them. They heard the sounds of fighting coming from other parts of the makeshift town, but they ignored it for now, focusing on their own little base.
And then they heard the panel opening in the floor.
"Of course..." Daniel said, he and the others looking over at the source of the sound. From the floor of the church, being carried up through a panel, was a bright red android with a high tech projection weapon on its arm. It began to power up, flames flickering around it.
"Oh shit... an INFERNO BAT!" Tsumiko said.
Hak and Olga slowly backed away, keeping their weapons trained on the Inferno BAT as it stood up, flames flicking out of the end of its projector...
The Inferno BAT exploded quite suddenly, Daniel standing there with an irritated expression on his face, his assault rifle smoking. He gave the others an irritated look.
"If a monster's coming out of the floor, you don't just stand there like idiots and let it power up, YOU SHOOT THE MOTHERFUCKER IN THE FACE!" Daniel said, acting as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. The others had the grace to act sheepish, and Daniel shook his head.
"Okay, no more racial jokes about the boss," Hak said softly.
"I'd appreciate that," Daniel quipped. "Tsumiko, you seem to know the most about Cobra's stuff. Should we expect more of them?"
A group of five recruits ran out of a store they were hiding in, all of them on fire. One of the last remaining regular BATs picked them off easily.
Tsumiko and Daniel both looked at the burning recruits, then back at each other.
"It's a definite possibility," she said.
"Hey, I think there's something under here," Hak said, looking down through the wreckage of the hole the Inferno BAT came out of. "There's something right underneath here..."
Hak and Olga traded wicked grins and began laughing. Daniel, Tsumiko, and Jessica went over to look as well... and smirked.
"Everyone has their driver's license, I hope?" Daniel said.
"Jesus... There must be a weapon storage under here," Jessica said.
"We just gotta figure out how to drive one of these bitches, and BAM, we in business," Hak said.
"I know how," Tsumiko said. "I did research on all of Cobra's tech before graduation."
Olga laughed. "Tsumiko is credit to team," she said.
Daniel nodded. "All right," he said. "I don't know about you lot, but I'm not gonna die down here to these bastard children of Robocop. Let's vent some frustration." He jumped down, the others following him.
"'Bastard children of Robocop,'" Wilcox said, chuckling. "I like that. I'm gonna remember that one."
"Wait, where'd they go?" the Crimson Guardswoman said, removing her helmet and glaring at the screen.
The Techno Viper began laughing. "I think I'm in love with that Jap chick," he said.
"What? What's down there?" Karen asked.
"Well... remember what else we keep down with the BATs in that room?" the Techno Viper asked. And one by one, the other Vipers in the room began to laugh, a wicked grin coming over the Crimson Guardswoman's face.
The Inferno BATs were already causing a lot of trouble. The four remaining Inferno BATs were igniting the buildings, the remaining seven BATs picking off recruits as the Inferno BATs discovered their hiding places.
But even as they prepared to eliminate the last of the recruits, they heard a rumbling coming from another building, a garage. Thinking it another target, they turned towards the garage, aiming their rifles.
At which point a Stun, piloted by Tsumiko and manned by Olga and Hak, burst out of the garage, firing away and cutting down two of the Inferno BATs, three BATs destroyed by the resultant explosions, a fourth getting run over. Soon after, a HISS rumbled up out of the garage, firing a blast which destroyed the remaining regular BATs in a single burst. The last Inferno BATs tried to attack, but against a Stun and a HISS, they were outmatched and destroyed in moments.
"YAHOO!" Hak crowed. "Motherfuckers be DEAD METAL!"
"Tiny metal men are no match for us!" Olga cheered.
Daniel opened the cockpit of the HISS, he and Jessica climbing out of it. "Not bad, everyone," he said, the surviving recruits coming out and cheering them. The cheers were silenced quickly, however.
The lights went off, save for an illuminated path that led to an elevator on the far wall. Daniel and his group looked at each other nervously, and went towards it, the others following. They rode the elevator up, coming out to face all of the Vipers again, all of them with their helmets on to hide their expressions, each one wielding their unit's trademark weapons. Two doors were lit on the far wall, one to the left and right of the group of Vipers.
The Crimson Guardswoman stepped forward, folding her arms. She began to call out names, calling out all the recruits save for Daniel and his group.
They all traded nervous looks. Did this mean they didn't pass? Were they being sent to Big Boa?
The Crimson Guardswoman paced in front of the recruits she had called out, deliberately taking her time. After a long moment, she said, "You're all wussy fucks and you're all going to Big Boa." She gestured with a thumb to the door on the left. "The transport there will take you to the training camp."
Nervously, looking ashamed, all of the other recruits filed out of the room through the door on the left, the other Vipers ignoring them. The Crimson Guardswoman turned to Daniel's group, looking them over. She stopped at Tsumiko first, staring at the Japanese-American girl a long moment.
"Tsumiko Mitsurugi... Mitsurugi... like the Soul Calibur character?" the Guardswoman asked.
Tsumiko scoffed. "Fuck him. Mortal Kombat all the way," she said, grinning and pantomiming one of the characters from the game throwing their projectile. "Hwa, get over here..."
The Guardswoman chuckled. "You seemed to know a lot about our tech," she said.
Tsumiko shrugged. "Unlike the others who moped about it, I was pragmatic about being drafted. I studied up on Cobra's vehicles and weapons, made sure I'd know what to expect in the first part of my career."
"Good thinking," the Guardswoman said, going over to Olga. "Russian immigrant, right?"
"Da," Olga said, folding her arms defiantly.
"Any loyalty to the Motherland?" the Guardswoman asked. "The Oktober Guard's been putting up a pretty good fight."
Olga scowled. "I WANT to join Cobra. Get revenge and kill Horror Show," she said.
The Guardswoman seemed surprised. "Really now."
Olga shook her head, scowling, her voice as cold as a Siberian winter. "Oktober Guard come on like big heroes. But they just as bad as you lot. Horror Show fire rockets like lunatic during battle, ends up blowing my house up, killing my mother and making my father invalid. No, comrade, I hold no loyalty to Motherland. But unlike fool in main office, I am not true believer. I know what Cobra is. Changes nothing, though. I want to wear Red Snake on my chest and put rocket launcher up Horror Show's ass, see how far he flies."
Daniel, Jessica, Tsumiko and Hak looked at her in surprise, Hak grinning a little. The Crimson Guardswoman grinned underneath her helmet. "Excellent," she said, turning to Hak. "And you?"
He shrugged. "Don't got no special reason. I'm a draftee, just like the others. Figure I might as well enjoy m'self as best I can, get to blow shit up with all the cool toys you guys got."
"Our records indicate that you used to be a fan of the G.I. Joe Roadblock, who's now one of our named officers," the Guardswoman said.
Hak snorted. "Bitch gave up," he said. "Blocky sucks, and can go fuck himself. I'll show that motherfucker how to use a machine gun all proper like. Or better yet, a minigun, like in Team Fortress 2."
The Guardswoman grinned. "We'll see if we can arrange that," she said.
"Right on," Hak said, smiling and nodding. The Guardswoman turned to Jessica.
"Incredible shooting," she said. "You learn that from your cop father?"
Jessica shrugged. "I... I don't know," she said. "I just pointed the gun where it was supposed to go, and it killed things for me."
The Guardswoman ruffled her hair, chuckling. "Don't downplay your own achievements. Hell, you're encouraged to be arrogant in Cobra when you have good reason to. Those were some incredible shots, kiddo. You'll make a good sniper."
"Thank you," Jessica said, frowning. "I guess..."
The Crimson Guardswoman turned her attention to Daniel. "Our records show that your mother is one of our Incinerators," she said.
"Yes ma'am," Daniel said. "And a true believer, because of the fact that she was cured of her cancer."
The Guardswoman nodded. "You showed some good leadership out there," she said.
Daniel scowled. "I didn't want to die," he said. "I had a basic idea on how not to die. The others were willing to listen, so I made use of them."
The Guardswoman snickered. "Sometimes leadership is just that, shouting loud enough to get every other asshole in the room to listen to you," she said.
"Well, considering how much of a loudmouth Cobra Commander is..." Daniel said before he could stop himself. He clamped his hands over his mouth and looked up fearfully at the Guardswoman, the others stepping away from him discreetly.
The Guardswoman laughed. "Relax," she said. "I'm one of those Crimson Guards that have a realistic view of our illustrious leader. I'd watch that in the future, though. If you said it around a true believer or the Commander himself I'd have to execute you for it."
Daniel nodded, relaxing only slightly.
The Guardswoman clapped her hands and rubbed them together. "Okay then," she said. "As you probably guessed, you five passed with flying colors. And since you worked so well together, I'm gonna arrange it so you five stick together in a squad in the same roles you had today."
The five of them began to relax, grinning despite themselves. All that, and they made it. They wouldn't be sent to the murderous trainer. Just WHAT they would be doing would sink in later, but right now they were all pleased with their success.
The Guardswoman nodded. "You still have SOME boot camp to go through once you get shipped to your Terrordrome, but nothing like what Boa's gonna be putting the rest of those weaklings through. Plus Tsumiko, we're gonna do some extra tests for you, see if you can qualify for early promotion to Techno Viper or Medi Viper." The Guardswoman removed her helmet, smiling warmly. "You guys should be proud. You showed a lot of ingenuity today, exploiting every advantage you found and coming out on top. Congratulations, soldiers. There's snack cakes, cookies, and soda, along with fitting rooms for your new uniforms in the room to the right, so get ready. You're Vipers now." She stood stock straight, clicking her heels together. She thumped her chest twice with her fist and thrust it upwards. "COBRA!"
The other Vipers mimicked the salute. "COBRA!"
And then Daniel and his group did the same. "COBRA!"
For now, relief was suffusing them. They had lived, and the wouldn't be sent to a trainer who would beat them to death on a regular basis. It was only later that the five newly minted Vipers would fully realize just what it is they were getting into.
TO BE CONTINUED...