Sunday, May 6, 2012

chapter 3

Beach Head sat at his desk in an office tucked in the rear of the TOC, his eyes strained as he poured through numerous intelligence information reports and analytical products pertaining to Arbco and the parking facility from which Flint was taken early this morning when a covert reconaissance went awry.

"I dont know how you people make sense of this shit" he growled at Chuckles, who had recently changed into His familiar Hawaiian button up and OD cargo pants. Chuckles grinned at Scarlett a.k.a. Shana O'hara, a very attractive and athletic thirty something Irish lass who served as G.I. Joes senior counterintelligence specialist and his section leader. Both now gave their attention to the Operations Sgt.

"So from what I'm reading..." Beach Head continued "and what all these damn diagrams, graphs, and other shit suggest, is that several hundred employees arrive at this garage on a daily basis and not but a fraction of em exit said facility to work in nearby offices all owned by Arbco, and this uh, what is it? Extensive Enterprises?"

"Exactly" Chuckles stopped pacing and reiterated the relationships that Arbco and Extensive Enterprises have with Cobra, the emerging terrorist network that had been their targeting focus for the last two years.

Scarlett cut him off as she noticed Beach Head roll his eyes and sigh, not a fan of Chuckles' enthusiastic disertation.

"Chuckles, focus!" a snap of her fingers silenced the young operative as she leveled her beautiful green eyes on him.

"Beach is sayn there are several hundred personnel that do not leave that location daily, as we have discussed previously and as such we are by default dealing with previously unidentified sub levels which must support a variety of illicit activities tied to the organization. All attempts by our operatives to ellicit information from Arbco and Extensive Enterprises personnel hasnt provided us with anything substantial."

"Well Red..." Chuckles shot back, ever pushing boundries calling her by her nick name;as a result of her near waist length wavy locks. She made him smile everytime she walked in the room, even if she was Duke's girl, he couldnt help himself. "We have to assume that a portion of these people are paramilitants and that we could be in for a helluva fight forcing our way into Arbco's basement, that guard didnt hesitate to draw down or fire on Flint,...these people, this place, real bad news, ya dig?"

Beach Head interrupted "Let us remember we dont have an OPORD to turn downtown into a warzone and from the extensive reading and entirely too long conversations with you two, I understand theres a great deal of direct and indirect support for this Cobra organization, not just from local industry but on up through the damn government and even our military....explains a lot actually."

Chuckles set his jaw and nodded, overwhelmed by the obsticals. Scarlett moved to the computer and deftly displayed a biographic report on the wall sized monitor "This is our source, currently undergoing Arbco security training. We havent had contact with him in 30 days, two weeks ago his family perished in a house fire on the south end, it likely wasnt an accident and we are considering this asset compromised...considering the lack of contact and the fact his transmitter has failed. he was our best hope to develop this thing..."

"Scarlet, can ya tell me something we can use to get flint back?" Beach Head reclined in his chair frustrated with the recovery effort.

"Im sorry, Breaker's running some leads on our sources last known coordinates but..."

"On the facility Scarlett, the facility" Beach Head thrust a finger into the blue prints cluttering the desk top...."your source is dead.

"well Beach..." she continued "we just dont have enough intel to crash this party."

Chuckles tapped the desk in excitement, his eyes flashed with a wild idea exploding in his head "Red, bring up them overlays from department of transportation..." He nodded to himself and sprang towards the monitor gesturing at the subway system rail map.

Beach Head was unimpressed "Nope, already looked in on it Chucky, doesnt connect, all the MAS/IMINT, everything we've gotten from the geospatial folks, and city hall, confirms that rail doesnt service that site."

"Yea, I read that too Beach, but I'm not buying it! Consider this...." Chuckles traced the map and detoured off onto the decomissioned lines predating the active rail routes "See this?"

Scarlet grinned, she knew exactly where Chuckles was taking this and she immediately populated the historical data she knew he was about to prompt her for.

"Right on!" Chuckles jabbed a finger her way, acknowledging her quick thinking "Cobra....likely has a rail system piggybacking existing active routes and these older ones that are allegedly off line."

Scarlett added "and my best guess, is they are running beneath the existing lines to further shield the whole operation!"

Beach Head stood up "Son of a bitch, well arent you two a couple regular Dick Tracies! We need to confirm this, but assuming youre right we need to breach that line and do a lil splunkn!"

Monday, April 9, 2012

Chapter 2

As the UAV pulled away gaining altitude on its heading home, comms came back up and the grainy images of the security cameras were restored in the Arbco garage, where Flint was flex-cuffed on the floor of the elevator descending to ground level.

"Affirmative, control" the Cobra standing over him spoke into the squad radio "we have one in custody, requires immediate medical and hold for questioning".

"Got it" came the garbled reply "we're sending transport and additional personnel to your location"

"So I get an ambulance then?" Flint asked straining through the pain, his eyes cast upwards at his tormentor "look, don't even call the police, I'll answer your questions, it's like I told you..."

the Viper laughed and interrupted "Save it. You'll get your boo boo kissed bitch, and dontchya worry none about no five oh; you'll have ample opportunity to explain yourself!"

Flint wondered what kind of interrogation he was in for.


 "Good to see you Anastasia" Tomax and Xamot greeted the Baroness with pretended politeness as she and a uniformed CG entered the hangar bay and saluted. Banister froze at attention until Baroness directed him to make himself useful by securing the baggage piled on the helipad.

"I hope our prompt arrival wasn't an imposition" Tomax jabbed at her, implying she was late to meet them.

"Never" she shot back with sarcasm "I would never miss an opportunity to escort you, Commanders!"

Xamot grinned at his brother as the Baroness turned and popped her hips, circling a single gloved finger in the air "Let's Go boys."

Bannister, encumbered by numerous tuff boxes and suitcases, struggled along behind them, until Baroness commandeered a crew cart and evicted the blue shirt operator who now stood stupified next to his toppled cargo as they sped away, Baroness at the wheel.


"Think about it..." one CG said to the other as he rested on his rifle firmly planted between his legs; barrel and bayonet skyward, his voice altered and amplified by the modulator, "He has to be SO plugged into government to even keep this operation off the radar!"

"I agree" said the other guardsman opposite his position on the other side of the large stylized cobra throne, "A facility this large is no doubt drawing some serious been topside at this location yet?"

"Yeah, I've been here about 9 months, was working in the SIG center when they first put that in, this place is huge but in no danger of being discovered; apparently our boys over at M.A.R.S. Industries have some type of holographic projector/deflector gizmo that keeps us off the grid so to speak."

"No shit? Hmmmph."

"Yup, Cobras so far ahead of the almost embarrassing U.S. military technology, that when it all comes to a head, those bickering bi-partisan dickwads wont even know what hit them!"

"You really think HE's the man to put it right again?" the guardsman's black face plate fixed on the empty red velvet cushion, then looked to his comrade for a reply.

"You shouldn't be wearing that uniform if its even a question in your mind!" his tone was gravely serious "and regardless if it IS, you shouldn't even speak it!"

"For the record, I'm not saying I'm questioning the Commander, HELL NO, just that maybe he can be a little over the top, ill tempered and such, get me?" I've seen and heard a few things...things that suggest the man's a lil less than presidential maybe."

For a moment the room was silent, only the flickering fire bowls which rested in the floor several feet forward of the throne popped and hissed and the pipes, conduits and cabling in the shadows of the ceiling beams pulsed and hummed; the outspoken Gaurdsman swallowed hard, regretting that he'd said anything and was now wondering if there was soon to be a report filed against him.

"What kind of things?" The other guardsman couldn't help but ask. He knew very little of the man they called Cobra Commander and his curiosity which he might come to regret, got the better of him.

Relieved, his partner sighed, and in softer tones began to share some of what he'd come to know.


Dialtone paced the room, radio static hissed in the background and Mainframe steered the UAV home with a blank expression. Breaker sat with one head phone to his ear flipping through emergency service channels trying to get any additional Intel. no police or ambulance had been mobilized to the objective, that meant Cobra had the incident contained.

"It has to be Flint, right? Lady Jayes driving... Chuckles made the call...SON OF A BITCH!" Dialtone uncharacteristically cracked the wall with a gloved fist, gritting his teeth.

"Settle down there Dialtone" Breaker solicited in softer tones, "us losing our heads isn't going to help anything buddy".

Dialtone just glared and breaker immediately broke his gaze returning his attention to the task at hand.

Mainframe finished the recall programming and locked in the grid, he diverted the bird to an airfield used by the national weather service where Joe support personnel, already in place, would recover it; on the off chance it was tracked he wanted plausible deniability.

Dialtone's eyes flashed to each of his colleagues "Well" he said with a deep sigh and somber tone, "I might as well deliver the bad news to Duke in person, this isn't going to get better with time."

Breaker added "We'll send Lady Jaye and Chuckles up for a debrief as soon as their on site."

Mainframe didn't know what to say but made some effort to console Dialtone, as he and Flint had been friends a good while and new this weighed heavy on him "I'll get crackin' on these codes with Breaker, D.T., see if we can bust open this message traffic..."

"Sure is a lot of chatter!" Breaker added "and that might be a good thing".

Dialtone nodded and closed the door behind him, resisting the urge to tear it off the hinges.

If this was in anyway Chuckles' fault....Dialtone swore a solemn oath in his mind, not even God would be able to help that kid.


Baroness ran the electric cart full throttle and it it maintained an impressive speed, despite being loaded down with the Crimson Guard Commanders, their mountain of gear, and Banister who was having a most overwhelming first day at his new post.

"Brother" Xamot leaned close to Tomax, talking out of the corner of his mouth "is this the last location in this region? or are there more we need visit?"

Tomax looked annoyed that his twin could not better remember details and consequently organize tasks and adhere to timelines "There is yet another and lets hope that for what we have advanced this organization, they have made similar progress!"

"Also, brother..." he continued "DO NOT forget our meeting with one Sebastian Bludd the following week, when we conclude our business here. We'll discuss the additional training for our Guardsmen and see what we can do to support his not unreasonable request to increase armor production".

Baroness interrupted "Forgive me gentlemen, but Major here, he arrived with the Commander early this morning!"

"Cobra Commander? here?" they both asked in eerie unison.

"Why weren't we informed?" Tomax demanded.

Baroness arched an eyebrow and narrowed her gaze over her shoulder, "Because, I first and foremost take my orders from Cobra Commander, who expressly requested that no message traffic confirm his location and more importantly..." softening her expression she continued "because there is no way to circumvent said order and relay that information to you securely, Cobra's signals intelligence is astounding, so I'm telling you now! with a wink she turned her full attention to driving as the twins laughed.

After what had to be the better part of a half mile, weaving through the semi circular corridors of the massive complex, even taking a cargo lift to more directly access the restricted area, she brought the burdened vehicle to an abrupt halt.

"Here we are Commanders" she gestured towards the interlocking blast doors marked with the cobra sigil, "restricted area" and "authorized personnel only".

She proceeded to order Banister to remain behind and to diligently guard the cart and cargo.

Not bothering to retrieve her rifle, she made her way with with the twins to the security terminal. James found himself again lured to the sensual sway of her hips, as he replayed her every accented word in his swimming head; he was quite possibly falling in love.

"Snap the fuck out of it Banister" he told himself as the great doors swallowed his superiors, electronically sealing and locking behind them.


The Tele-Viper lieutenant loomed over his subordinates who sat flabberghasted and frustrated, unable to determine the source of the recent disruption. Holographic aplha numeric strands and compressed graphics flooded their semi transparent visors displaying the reverse image of their high tech HUDs to one another; one tele-viper entered in an ill received WTF? (What the Fuck?) which flashed to his commrades for several seconds. The officer was clearly agitated and reprimanded the men, then took over the back lit glass like datapad, inputting his querry and commands at lightining speed.

The monitors flashed now to satellite feeds which quickly updated with layered overlays as his subordinates looked to one another in astonishment.

"Start here" the veteran Tele-Viper commanded "and update me on any irregularities!"

Rick paused as he passed the congested terminal, another of his guardsman were already supervising the Tele-Vipers' efforts on the far side of the terminal, the bronze faceplate was suggested of the seniority to oversee any task in the operation center but Rick by his intuition was promoted to inquire.

"Whats this shit all about?"

"Sir" the guardsman responded gesturing towards the terminal "the parking complex and several operatives within the vicinity reported sustained interference for approximately 10 mikes"

Just as Rick was dismissing the incident in his mind and turning for the door coffee in hand the junior officer concluded "during this time shots were fired by personnel on site. Personnel report one unarmed, white male, late thirties, injured; non ambulatory, in custody."

Rick turned to to give his full attention to the matter "Go on!"

"Sir, uh... a security team has been sent via Snake Trax to location for containment and recovery."

Rick's subordinate said nothing as the senior CG stared them down.

"God damn it" Rick thought to himself, this was supposed to be a simple brief, it was well constructed, well rehearsed, and now all of that has basically gone to Hell in having to provide for THIS!

Pausing to consider a course of action, he nodded as he arrived at the answer "I'll interrogate the prisoner personally".

"Notify me immediately when the security team reports in, also... I want a confirmation on Banister, when he arrives, remind him why we show up early."

The guardsman acknowledged with a salute as Rick left the op center, coffee and classified file folder in hand.

Things were about to get a lot more interesting and he was going to have to explain all this to Cobra Commander.


 The elevator bypassed the first floor and traveled on, jerking to a sudden halt. His tormentor entered a code which Flint didn't quite catch and the doors opened into a sub basement of which the Joes had been previously unaware. This definitely wasn't on the schematic!

A gloved hand snatched him by the collar and the well muscled Cobra dragged him across the concrete trailing blood from his wound. "Shut up" the Cobra commanded as Flint moaned and groaned playing up his injury and continuing to plead with his captor hoping to sell his cover; the last thing he wanted to appear as was a hardened operator.

As Flints eyes adjusted to the poorly lit sub level he realized he wasn't looking at civilian vehicles, rather rows upon rows of armored 4WD trucks with rear mounted missile pylons, and light armored tracked vehicles equipped with dual cannons of some sort, on a topside turret; their design wholey unfamiliar to the vast "Jane's" catalogue of military arms and equipment in his head. There were even ATVs, dozens of them and each armed with rockets and a massive anti armor weapon which ran the length of the quad. everything was painted black or dark blue with the weapons systems significantly accented with radiant reds, his eyes flashed to the markings on one of the "tanks", 788 it read under its ballistic glass canopy. A unit identifier? He couldn't be sure.

Whatever Cobra was staging for, he needed to find out. However, Flint now knew for certain, they had no intention of ever letting him go. Flint pretended not to pay particular attention to his surroundings, instead he feigned failing consciousness and shock. As he heard the approaching subway train, suddenly a lot more made sense.

The Snake Trax arrived in a flash of light, momentarily brightening the bay as the bullet shaped engine car blew by, followed by several flat bed transport and cage cars, within seconds the hum of its high tech propulsion system decelerated and a cabin car slowed to a stop not far from Flint.

When the doors opened six uniformed personnel exited the car, all were attired similarly to the Arbco guards, only they wore black face masks, dark blue helmets which shadowed their menacing eyes, and arm bands with the cobra sigil proudly emblazoned in red. Each was armed with an Ak-47, one of which was equipped with a grenade launcher! Two of the cobras pushed a hospital gurney, and Flint knew these accommodations were for him.

Last to exit the car was a bizarre looking man in a crimson colored dress uniform. He wore highly shined black boots and matching gloves. A large silver cobra emblem covered his chest and a gold braided cord looped over his right shoulder. The medals on his chest gleamed in the light adding to his air of authority. His footsteps echoed as he approached and he looked down at flint from behind his black face plate, ringed by the reflective red metal of his obviously high tech helmet.

"was this their leader, was this the man behind it all?" Flint wondered, he had to find out more.

"Prepare the prisoner for transport" his modulated voice echoed in the bay and the guards forcibly fell on flint and strapped him tightly to the bed.

"Trooper" the Guardsman addressed the Viper, who was struggling with having to conceal his elite status; either way...he answered to the Crimson Guard, everybody did!

"Yes Sir?" he saluted "How may I assist your efforts?"


 Chuckles sat with his face in his hands, his heart racing. He could hear Duke raging in his office as he berated Lady Jaye, it should be him in there, but it was HER op, so she would bare the brunt of this; as if she didn't have enough reason to hate him!

He played through the scenario again in his mind...was there anyhting he couldve done differently to save flint and not blow the op? NO.


 Beach Head was one of the hardest, meanest, take no shit, sons a bitches that ever graced the roster of GI Joe. He had bounced around from nonexistent task force to task force and had a storied career in special operations before they pitched him.

As a former Ranger, he never lost the discipline and bearing that many operators swear off as a token of conventional forces, rather he used as it core component which he built on and instilled in others, as one of the primary instructors at what probate Joes called "the Pit".

Beachhead had just finished putting the aforementioned selectees assigned to the "Steel Brigade", through a morning of pure Hell. While they were at the DFAC enjoying a brief respite from the days unforgiving training schedule, he decided to pay Duke a visit and give a SITREP on the recruits, all of whom had spent the last 6 months under his scrutiny weeding out the week and unwilling.

Beach Head believed they were ready for the real thing and from the Intel coming out of the headshed, shit was about to pop off.

Stripping off the OD Green baklava that hid his face from the selectees as he entered the CP, his intense eyes fell on Chuckles as Duke's voice thundered behind the closed door to his office.

"That kind of morning huh?" Beach Head asked in his typical gruff monotone.

Chuckles sat up and sighed, he looked like shit and Beach Head told him as much.

"Yeeeah" Chuckles managed, with a disheartened demeanor.

"They got Flint, Beach...Cobra got him".

"Chuckles..." Beach Head drew nearer and his intensity increased "are you telling me you RTB'd without chief?"

"Beach listen..." Chuckles pleaded, he didn't need another trigger puller second guessing his decision, these guys didn't grab order of effects as readily as Intel folk, and it was hard to make em understand when the shit gets personal "Flint stands a good chance of making it out of there without Cobra knowing we're hip to their shit; he waived me off for that very reason!"

"So you had a chance to put a snake in the ground and egress, WITH Flint, and you didn't?! ...Chuckles, Duke is gonna put both boots in your ass and dance son, then when your done sobbin' that off, come see me; I'm gonna want Intel for a personnel recovery contingent, and you were eyes on the objective".

Beach Heads empty expression was unsettling as he slowly shook his head. "Tell Duke I'm war gaming solutions and need to see you ASAP!"

"Wilco" Chuckles replied, choosing not to argue it. He'd make em understand, but he'd get Duke on board first, at least he better!

Beach Head departed overwhelmed, "Jeezez fuggn Christ Chuckles"!


 If a Crimson Guard Officer was the epitome of professionalism and excellence within Cobra's ranks, Major Sebastian Bludd was the antithesis!

He was a mercenary through and through, uncultured, uncivilized, unkempt and uncaring.

He sat reclined, resting on the rear legs of an ornate high back chair, suspended as such by his scuffed boots which rested next to the dented helmet on the well polished glassy surface of the table reserved for senior staff like himself. The helmet was identical to that worn by Cobras standard Infantry, save for its flat black finish.

Major Bludd was more of a Field Marshal for Cobra's ever expanding paramilitary interests, but having once held that rank in what was rumored to be the SAS, he never abandoned it.

He was a man in his mid forties, with angular features and a weather worn face, scarred from a history of violence. Typical of many Brits, he was loud, boisterous, and had bad teeth, his eye patch made him look all the more intimidating. His hands were interlocked behind his head of disheveled and dirty black hair, completing his relaxed and indifferent appearance.

Of particular interest were the mass of dog tags which he wore about his neck, rumor had it they were those ripped from fallen enemies, of which there must have been a lot.

Another curiosity was his high tech prosthetic, allegedly provided by MARS industries a known business associate of the Arbco defense contract corporation which served as a shell company for Cobra around the world. Bludd had lost the arm by way of a machete somewhere in south Africa and nearly died; apparently a history of savage murder, rape, and pillaging had caught up with him at one point.

Bludd wore a Desert Eagle .50 in a well worn leg holster and had a blacked out Sykes Fairbairn in his boot, his trademark blade. He was known to be masterfully proficient with both.

A CG stood behind him, and as far as the Major was concerned the Crimson Clad Guardsman was his honor guard and attendant, but in reality the CG was assigned as the first line of defense... should the mercenary commander ever decide to act against Cobra's interest.

"Be a sport, and inquire after the Commander's timeline...I can't be waitin' ere all the damn mornin' now!" Bludd asked in accent akin to England but obscured by his travels.

"Ay... n' filler up, I'm fallin' asleep ere I am" the Major laughed to himself, the joke lost on the Guardsman as he glared through his visor at Bludd who was shaking his empty thermos cup...the CG secretly wished the Major fall from the chair and break his fucking neck; In the mind of a CG Bludd was an affront to military tradition and professional soldiering.

The massive double wooden doors opened and Anastasia strutted in throwing her arms out in an overbearing gesture of welcome, the twins followed at some distance behind her "Sebastian....I'm pleased you could make it, how fortuitous, dahling!"

Bludd whistled and righted himself, standing to meet the Baroness in a pretend embrace, with her head on his shoulder she rolled her eyes and wrinkled her nose to the comedic relief of the CG who now stood at attention awaiting the appropriate pause to execute his orders.

"If it isn't the Paoli brothers?" Bludd grinned as he let his grip on the baroness slip, stealing a glance at her curves before giving the twins his attention "If life allows mates, perhaps we've a chance to discuss something of a most mutual benefit in advance of our scheduled meetin', eh?"

Tomax took a deep breath but was interrupted by the more cordial Xamot who stepped forward to shake hands with the Major.

"Perhaps some, Major, do undertsand we are here..."

"On other business" Tomax firmly finished.


Jana sobbed into the phone, she'd kept so much inside for so long. It wasn't supposed to be like this.

"And he's never home anymore Mom, he keeps such strange hours it just cant be his clients, there has to be someone else, some other woman or women...I just know it!"

"Oh...don't jump to conclusions Jana, sweetheart, Rick has a very demanding career, Ive seen you two together, and while maybe not recently, I know he loves you very much dear." Jana's mother tried her best to comfort her.

"He just seems so distant, so cold and quite all the time, its not like it was" she continued to sob and explained that she discovered him about to kill himself, she knew it seemed far fetched but that's certainly what it seemed like.

Of course she tried to convince Jana she must be mistaken but there was no changing her mind.

"Well dear, have you thought about leaving him...has it ever crossed your mind?"

Jana didn't know a good way to say it or even if she should but her emotion got the best of her
"I'm pregnant Mom, okay!?"

"Oh!....oh dear, ok, ok, well honey look, things will work out, things will be alright, maybe just give him some time, or take a vacation..." she felt powerless to improve upon her daughters distress.

"Mom, I don't know what to do." she said desperately lighting yet another cigarette.

"You know what, I know Mrs Anderson's boy is or was an investigator of some sort, he could maybe alleviate your concerns about rick's running around, if you want I can get you his number?"

"No! don't do that Rick would never forgive me, oh what if it is nothing? I just don't know!"

"Honey, he'd never even know... and it sounds like you need at least some peace of mind, if you're going to be a mother, you're certainly going to need to know that much if you're going to even consider staying and working this out; let me at least look in on it, God knows we've been good to the Andersons."

Jana didn't like it, but she didn't know what else to do, reluctantly and meekly she replied "Ok."

"Alright dear, I'll make some just take care of you. Get some rest and try to relax; lets get some information first and then if everything's okay, we'll see what else."

" you really think maybe it can be alright?"

"I hope so Jana, I sincerely hope so honey."

"Thanks Mom" the words stuck in her throat as she fought back more tears at the feeling of betraying her husband who maybe was a faithful and loving husband, incapable of sharing his feelings or suffering some unknown affliction. "I love you!"

"I love you too sweety, I'll talk to you soon."


 While the team of Tele-Vipers were busy researching flight plans, back tracking airtraffic, and reviewing their satelite overlays to determine the origin and activities of an usual aircraft in the vicintiy of their offsite parking center; another of their colleagues summoned a CG to his terminal.

"Sir?" He asked with uncertainty "we have suspect telephone traffic from a not further identified Cobra personnel residence...I tried to pull the file Sir, its flagged as restricted!"

As the CG observed the monitor which mirrored the Tele-Viper's visor view,
a pop up provided a coded message unintelligible to the Tele-Viper but well known to the Guardsman.

"Close it out" the CG ordered as he stood there contemplating the incident "Speak of this to no one."

"Understood' the Tele-Viper confirmed as the window vanished.

The "Black" phone was already ringing in Robinson's office as the Guardsman proceeded to his own desk, at the back of the room. Whatever urgent matter was at hand would have to wait until his chief returned from the brief; even if he knew his boss's combination, he wasnt about to answer THIS call!


A gloved hand hung up the handset with controlled anger after the line to Rick Robinson's office rang endlessly for the better part of two minutes. The black phones were installed at every Sr CG officer's location and were used to communicate exclusively with the covert component of the Crimson Guard; the Shadow Guard.

Although a dated device by Cobra's technological standard, it was much more difficult to degrade or compromise such forms of communication, modified as they were. The encryption was cutting edge, stuff the boys at NSA would be scratching their heads over for another decade, but it didn't matter, as Banister was not to be reached.

The black dress uniform of Senior Shadow First Class, Christopher Kriner resembled that of his crimson brethren, a uniform he himself had worn for many years, but it differed considerably in that it commanded unprecedented respect among the CGs, very few Cobra operatives outside the elite Crimson Guard Corps had ever seen a "shadow" and very few of them had lived to tell of the encounter.

Kriner thumbed through Robinson's file trying to decide how best to address this "incident". He studied the photographs of Rick and his family along with those older photos from the life he left behind, photos Banister's wife never knew existed, photos of a man shed never recognize.

There was something in Robinson's original features, a physiological indicator which caused Kriner to pause and ponder, something elluding to a potential defect in the CG's personality perhaps? he couldnt quite put his finger on it, but it had prompted him to plan a visit.


Flint stared up at the ceiling of the subway car, fighting the chemicals coursing through his veins, the Cobra trooper clearly wasnt a doctor but knew enough of basic combat medicine to stick him with whatever anesthetic intoxicatant was currently clobbering him. The last thing Flint remembered as the lights and sounds around him blurred together were the cold uncaring eyes of Cobra boring into him and the whirrring of the rail transports engines accelerating.


Lady Jaye stormed passed Chuckles on her way out as he now moved to take his turn before the teams First Sergeant, her shoulder bump and icy stare didnt help the situation. "Ah, c'mon Allison, seriously? FUCK.. WHAT THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO?!!!" Chuckles demanded desperately, but the little spit fire kept right on trucking and slammed the door to the adjoining room.

"Sit down Chuckles" Duke said standing behind his desk his blonde buzz cut was a contrast to his several days of scruff, normally he kept himself the picture of military appearance...the man no doubt had a lot on his plate. "She'll cool off, just something gonna take some time, a WHOLE lotta time. Speaking of time, we don't know how much time Flint might have, Hell we don't even know what his situation is, so spill it...your version, what when down and how, omit NOTHING!" duke said thrusting a finger at the young operative.

Chuckles swallowed hard as he sat down and watched Duke sink into the leather desk chair. "It's like I been trying to get everyone to understand, Top...I did what I think anyone of us would've, AND wouldn't do it any damn differently had I to do it again."

Duke leaned in, intently focused on Chuckles, intrigued by his confidence and commitment to his decision. He prized decision making and problem solving highly among the traits that define one as an effective team member, Chuckles had the stuff.

Duke listened as Chuckles reiterated the entirety of the event and further explained the benefits of completing the mission..."and now we have an accessible ever increasing cache of biometric data on every cobra operative using that facility, Flint wanted that Duke, he understood as much!"

Duke pondered what he was hearing "What do you think Chiefs chances of getting out of there alive with his cover intact are? those "Arbco" goons put a couple rounds in him, I wouldn't say they were acting within social or legal norms, that tells me they weren't planning on having to answer for it!"

Duke checked his watch and flipped through the open dossier on his cluttered desk waiting for chuckles to answer.

His fingers pulled nervously at his shaggy hair as Chuckles hunched forward trying to think "Shit...I don't know Duke, I don't know. I'm hoping he sells his cover, its his only chance and if..."

"And if he does Chuckles" Duke interrupted "what? they just let him walk? oh wait HE CANT, you mentioned that little detail about having his knee blown out by a high caliber hand gun."

Duke sighed as Chuckles struggled with the truth

"Look son" Duke stood up and tossed the now closed file folder aside "You did the right thing operationaly, and maybe bought Flint the time we need, we're done here".

"Duke, everyone thinks..." Chuckles began to express his grievances but the veteran Team Sergeant cut him off.

"SHUT IT Chuckles, you mentioned Beach Head needed to see you? I need you to get your game face on and get your ass on over to the TOC, this shits just gettin' started!"

Chuckles nodded in agreement as he stood up to meet Dukes extended hand in a firm parting shake "You did good out there soldier" Duke tried to assure him.

"Yo-Joe" he replied with the teams creedo, in a somber tone.


When the massive doors to the throne room opened unexpectedly, the Crimson Guardsmen immediately ceased their conversation and came sharply to attention with their rifles. They stood motionless in the dancing firelight as the shadow of Cobra Commander stretched down the red carpeted aisle towards the empty thrown between them.

They swallowed hard as the supreme leader stood in the door way, backlit by the neon corridor, hands on his hips in an authorative stance. The Vipers that served as his security escort filed in behind him and lined the aisle, four on either side, adopting a similar posture with their raised weapons.

As the doors sealed darkening the room, the Commander casually approached. His dress uniform was a light blue jacket festooned with braids and medals, a massive red cobra sigil framed by a double row of bottuns terminating at the belt from which an ornate sword and holster swung from his hips. A crimson stripe ran the length of his pants which were tucked into highly polished boots. His face, known to no one, was concealed behind a solid chrome plate built into the blue steel helmet which was decorated with a thick silver stripe front to back. He paused and surveyed the sentries who watched their crimson reflections distorted in his face plate.

With a heavy sigh and dismissive gesture he addressed them "Oh, as you were Guardsmen." His voice was raspy, of a peculiar pitch, and unmistakable.

The Commander turned and settled into the soft cushion of the massive chair, his hands quickly seeking out the controls built into the arm rests brought them to life with a soft illumination. A dull hum that followed caused the large crystal like eyes of the serpents head to ignite and glow a brilliant red.

With another flick of his gloved finger tips a portal opened in the ceiling and the entire throne began to slowly rise, The Commander looked down to his right his gaze meeting with the mask of the Gaurdsman watching his ascent.

"We'll discuss your sentiments later Guardsman...Less than Presidential?! Ah-hahaha-ha!"

His shrill and shrieking laughter was unsettling as it echoed in the chamber as the throne disappeared into the recess above.

The Guardsmen looked briefly at one another fully regretting their seemingly conspiratorial conversation, mutually fearful of what end awaited them. No doubt each of them had at least considered fleeing the throne room and the Terror Drome altogether, but honor and duty would see them stand their ground and await their fate, if not then the lingering viper squad would certainly ensure it and would also likely see them both escorted to the detention center upon the commander's return.

"He singled me out, he knows its me that said..." The one guardsman tried to alleviate the concerns of the other

"DON'T...FUCKING...SPEAK...TO ME" the other warned him and averted his gaze.

Chapter 1

He sat in the dark of the room, his back to the second story bay window, only ambient street and starlight shown in to light the study; a luxurious lair of rare books, antiquities and designer furnishings, the accomplishments of a double major at Harvard and hard work; and of course, knowing all the right people.

0300 and he couldn't sleep again...this had to stop, it was getting worse, the nightmares, the headaches, and the paranoia.

He sank in the soft leather of the couch holding the hinged wooden box which he now opened to reveal the red velvet lining which cushioned a beautifully crafted flintlock. The pistol was an elaborate masterwork with silver and gold electroplating; the symbol of his fraternal order and the only means by which he could ever voluntarily leave it.

The grip felt good in his hand, despite being something of a relic the weapon was impressive, history's desert eagle some had said.

He admired the mix of modernization, minor modifications in materials and the mechanical process which insured the weapon would never misfire or otherwise fail.  Pulling back the hammer with a sigh of desperation, he thrust the gilded barrel in his mouth and prepared to resign from the most secret of secret societies

"Rick?"..."Rick?" came the concerned call of his sweet wife Jana.

He was quick to lay the pistol to rest as she stood in her bath robe, peering in through the now half open door. "Sweety, are you up again? Please come back to bed".

His eyes met hers and she knew from his expression and the immediate tears that followed that her husband was lost to her, and her heart wrenched.

He couldnt do it, he knew this now, whether Jana had woke in the night or not, he didnt have the will to end it, at least not like this.

Rick was never going to leave the Crimson Guard and as Jana now settled beside him, her eyes suspiciously on the weapon, he would shape yet another lie to soothe her.


0527 hours, Cobra Terror Drome (location undisclosed) Sub Level 6C

James Banister.

That's what His ID card said. Thats who he had become and it had its perks. From time to time he wondered about his former self but his old life was behind him now, irretrievable in fact. Some weeks since the surgery he was still adjusting to seeing himself in the mirror, theyd done an amazing job the surgeons; of course they had done essentially the same operation hundreds of times before, James looked like every other Crimson Guardsman, as was required to count oneself among Cobra's elite intelligence professionals.

He stepped off the light rail that carried him from the offsite parking garage to his duty location and swiped the barcode under the countertop reader at the turnstall. Placing his finger on the swipe pad he looked into the retinal scanner with a grin. The uniformed security officer, the ones everyone called "blue shirts" nodded as he checked both the biometrics monitor and the body scanner...metrics check, micro chip in place, ID card valid, he was cleared for entrance.

The red light turned green and James entered the elevator that would take him up to his newly assigned office. He read the policy and propaganda plaquerds as the floors flew by "report suspicious activities" and the like. James laughed to himself "this entire organization is a suspicious activity" he smirked as he considered how few of Cobra's employees really knew what they had gotten themselves into, but even he wondered with increasing alarm how much exactly he was missing from the big picture; sure he held one of the organizations highest clearances but his eyes were just opening.

As the doors slid open James made his way down the red carpeted hallway to the reception terminal, after the attractive young lady conducted a quick review of his orders and authorization memo he was directed to the locker room.

The door flew open and James was nearly trampled as a senior Guardsmen exited in a hurry, fully clad in his crimson fatigues, and highly polished leather boots, his silver plated face mask fixed on James for only a moment, there was no apology no greeting no giving a single shit as he informed James that he was late.

"Sir?" James responded startled as his eyes flashed to his watch questionably, only to have his watch hand smacked down by a glove.

"Early is on time! got it? Dont let someone have to have this conversation with you again Guardsman, now get changed, the senior commnad staff will be here for a briefing at 0800 sharp!"

"Uh, understood Sir" James nervously replied, the words had hardly escaped before the officer was rounding the corner leaving James flabberghasted.

Rick smirked beneath his helmet, he could always spot the new guys even if they looked almost just like him, the unknowing and innocense live in the eyes, both had long since left Rick Robinson, along with any semblance of a good nights sleep and for that he hated new guys.


The Sikorsky S-92 thundered overhead as it circled the helipad on the upperdeck of the Terror Drome. Massive hydraulics and great gears groaned as they opened the canopy and drove the landing platform skyward; many aircraft, some unique to cobra, could be launched and recovered in this manner, another engineering feat of M.A.R.S. Industries.

Tomax and his twin brother Xamot sat comfortably in the executive crew cabin and finsihed their cocktails. Both ruggedly handsome men of European descent in their mid 30's, Identical even in their finely tailored attire, save for a lengthy scar which marked Tomax's left cheek; it was perhaps nature's tribute and testament to his nastier disposition.

The twins took in the control towers and weapons stations which ringed the flight deck and were pleased to see the improvements since their last visit. They observed the backlit shadowy figures busy about their tasks to receive them as the chopper decelerated into a hover and slowly put down on the pad. Tomax commented something about the sacrafices of the insignifigant. He hated underlings and the unintelligent who could not rise above the mundane, Xamot however valued them and the position the unfortunates afforded him.

As the canopy closed over head they began their decent into darkness, the shaft was lit incrementaly with only minimal safety lights on their way to the multi level hangar bays below. As the
platform arrived, neon light flooded in and the twins shielded their eyes "Certainly brighter than I remeber!" Xamot exclaimed in displeasure.

"Observant brother" Tomax replied with a strained glared.

"Maginificent though" Xamot said as his eyes adjusted and he looked on the VTOL aircraft which sat with their wings upturned, nearly a half dozen of the dark blue fighter/bombers ringed the landing platform as a crew of technicians conducted inspections, repairs, refueling and the like.

"Impressive, yes" Tomax replied "but remember brother, Cobra is nothing without the Paoli and Extensive Enterprises."

"I suppose we did indirectly fund all this then didn't we?" Xamot pridefully asserted.

"And we will see significant returns in the near term" Tomax assured his brother with a sinister smile and they both laughed eerily in chorus as the crew chief opened the cabin door.

"Gentlemen" he said from under his polymer mask and dark lense "If you could please exit the aircraft and follow me?"

Xamot knocked back the last of his scotch and water, and was quickly on his feet retreiving his brief case from a storage bin, while Tomax thumbed the keys of his smart phone in response to a text message which read "En-route, ETA 5 Min"

"Typical Anastasia, Late!" Tomax rolled his eyes.

"Typical woman" Xamot answered.

"Remind me why we tolerate it?" Tomax demanded

"Baroness? Because she's fuck'n smok'n hot brother!" Xamot concluded and again came their unsettling almost psychotic laughter.


Jana listened to the hiss of the coffee maker as she stared at the ceiling in deep thought, her head swimming. She was definetly calling off work, she couldnt handle a building full of feds today and the bureaucratic bullshit that came with her position as an intelligence analyst. She had been recently assigned to a special access program supporting a tier one task force and her work load has been grueling, they could forgive her a day.

She watched the clock hit 0700 and rubbed her tired eyes, her normal emerald greens were streaked with red, and glassy from too many tears and too little sleep. She shook off a yawn as she rose to at last greet the aroma and rich flavors of her dark roast.

She sat at the kitchen table, wrapped in the familiar comfort of her plush cotton robe, and matching slippers. She thought maybe shed make some toast...shed already decided any breakfast beyond that wasnt happening. She needed to call her mom. She hoped she would have the words and wisdom to make this alright, mom always knew what to say.

Rick had not been himself for sometime and they were fast approaching their fifth anniversary. He used to make her feel like a princess, a priority, and now it seemed all that mattered was work and maintaining relationships for the sake of work; it made him miserable and she hated to see him like this. He was always tired, never sleeping, clearly depressed and he had become so closed off that trying to talk to him was pretty much pointless. Rick like Jana couldnt discuss the majority of his work outside the office, client privileges and all; Jana, due to her top secret security clearance and non-disclosure agreements could share little with Rick. Sure, sometimes she let a little sli,p just for some semblance of understanding or to gain Rick's perspective on a perplexing matter, he really was very intelligent. They say sometimes that really smart people suffer the most from depression, she just wished he'd let her in so maybe she could begin to understand and get him the help he needed.

Jana fumbled with her phone as she lit up a cigarette, Rick hated that she smoked, especially if she smoked in the house, but this was going to be a long conversation and she was comming undone.


Alison J. Hart enjoyed a good game of cat and mouse, she was one of the best surveillance/counter-surveillance trainees during her time spent in the greater D.C. area and had since assisted with instructing the course to other operatives numerous times at various locations; that was before the task force hit her up and put her on point against an emerging threat, Cobra.

Cobra, from what they told her, operated in every major city around the world, an organized crime syndicate with terrorist ties and political ambition.

She like so many of her fellow "Joes" had spent the better part of the last two years developing and exploiting leads to build a better threat picture and it was becoming clear that they were in way over their heads. They needed more intel and they were going to need to recruit a few assets.

The radio squawked and squelched as she adjusted the controls on the dash mounted Harris in her uparmored Suburban. "Flint" peered out the tinted passenger window with range-finding binoculars visually sweeping the parking garage from a distance, the grizzled old chief had an uneasy feeling about the whole operation but he trusted his partner, it was her op, he was just here for support, to provide subject matter expertise and he certainly didn't mind sharing space with the beautiful brunette. Something about that sultry voice of hers that made him melt and he wasn't shy about it either. He grinned at her as their eyes met in yet another awkward lingering moment only to be interrupted by the radio.

"Lady Jaye, Lady Jaye...this is Breaker you copy?"

She keyed the mic with a smile "Send it old man."

"Duke wants a SITREP ASAP on the objective, over"

"Roger, were onsite and five by five" she replied

"We are... right?" she asked Flint in a whisper

"Looks clear, just the two attendants and some maintenance staff, but something doesnt feel quite right!" Flint scowled and shook his head "Your call Doll, whats it gonna be?"

"Breaker, we're moving!"

Lady Jaye hit the ignition with a grin, "Lets get this done Flint!" She adjusted her aviators and looked in the rearview to check her 6 and her sex appeal.

"Copy that Lima Charlie" came breakers delayed replied "UAV on station; standing by to jam your sector, break..." " advised you'll be com/tech black within eight zero zero meters of objective."

As the engine growled into gear and the lights came up, flint racked a round in his tactical 12 Gauge and smiled at Lady Jaye as he reached for the hand set to reply, "Do it Breaker!"
 As the stealth UAV broke through the morning clouds vectoring to target, the city below came into view via the advanced AV suite which displayed the images remotely to Joe headquarters. several Joes looked on eagerly anticipating the objective as it came into view, an eight level parking garage on the south end; the subject of months of surveillance and scrutiny.

Mainframe guided the UAV expertly, his dark intelligent eyes intensely focused and flashing between the monitor and the flight controls, circling the target he banked hard and adjusted the camera for maximum zoom. Mainframe was one of the Joes newer recruits, brought on to integrate and apply the next gen warfighter support capabilities, such as this and a host of others, the man was a genius with just about anything electronic.

"That's it Mainframe, steady as she goes now bring her round to have a better look at this place" dialtone said enthusiastically as he peered over the tech's shoulder his thick mustached face lit up like a kid at Christmas. Dialtone was happier in the field, a Vet of U.S. Army Special Forces, he had been a communications sergeant for the better part of his life when he was asked to join G.I. Joe, and it was because he was the absolute best. Dialtone preferred field work and trigger time, but the opportunity to observe his technical peers at play was equally exhilarating for him, albeit in an entirely different manner.

"Been a long time coming gents!" Breaker boomed "hope this nets us some shit we can use." Breaker spun around in his chair, his smile glowed amidst his thick beard, eyes wild, he relayed flints order "You heard the chief, shut these snakes down!" Breaker had been a member of G.I. Joe for the better part of a decade, he still preferred to sport his solid O.D. fatigues and highly shined black boots. He was old school, but remained on top of his game, one of the best crypto/commo guys in the gig and the entire team relied on Breaker; who was uncommonly humble about his personal excellence.

Mainframes gloved hand tweaked the SIGINT selectors

Cobra transmissions were defintely piping through this place

"YUP! That's their encryption alright, ain't no coincidence" Dialtone offered his expertise

"Sure is Dialtone" Breaker affirmed, "matches up with several other locations live real time right now, sad to say shutting this place down is going to impinge upon the triangulation programs I'm running to get us grids on em, but we cant have their eyes and ears up when Flint and Lady Jaye roll in there now can we?"

Mainframe selected the parameters from the menu and slammed the command switch

the applications flashed active, the integrity differential display steadily alternated between 98 and 99 percent

"That a boy" Dialtone slapped Mainframe upside the head playfully "now just keep her in a nice hold, time on target 10 mikes."
 James gave himself a final look, and straightened his uniform, he felt a tremendous pride in the silver cobra sigil emblazoned across his chest; the crimson fatigues made him feel powerful, purpose driven and he couldn't keep from smiling. He adjusted the insignia and medals he had earned in his brief period of service, he didn't want a single item out of place as he didn't desire another brow beating from any of his superiors. James Banister wanted to excel and the Crimson Guard was the place to do it.

Assembling his two piece helmet, he held it out front admiring the contours of the almost alien face plate, his was black as were the majority of the guardsmen, in a few years he could earn the right to wear bronze or even silver if he really did well for himself.

Fitting it firmly to his head, James flicked the power switch and instantly the HUD powered up and initialized, the systems check completed and data begin streaming in. His thumb worked the dial which selected and set the channels and frequencies, everything was static and the data stream was an alpha numeric nightmare, everything aside from his clock and compass, he'd need to be coded in.

James secured his personal effects in the wall locker and stepped out into the hall to face his day looking left then right his eyes widened as thee most beautiful woman he had ever seen was rounding the corner with a purpose.

An almost 6 foot and incredibly fit raven haired goddess, clad in a black leather and latex tac suit accentuating her incredibly killer curves, was striding down the hall way in her thigh high leather boots, squeaking with every seductive step. What he judged to be a Steyr AUG was slung across her back and twin pistols were holstered on her hips.

She glanced away from her smart phone to give him the once over, her piercing eyes, not obstructed in the least by her eyewear, met his and then in a bewitching eastern European accent she beckoned him, "Guardsman, come with me!"

" ma'am" he stuttered. James knew full well who SHE was, there wasn't a cobra operative let alone a Crimson Guardsman who didn't know the Baroness.
 The blue shirt seated in the security booth at the garage entrance wore a slight variation of the uniform, void of the serpent sigil, his organizational patch read ARBCO. Rather than their traditional helmet, reminiscent of Nazi storm troopers, he wore only a patrol cap which read the same. He hadn't been issued an AK-47, rather he had only been armed with a 9mm, a readily attachable suppressor, a Maglight, zip ties, and a squad radio.

He tore his squealing earbud away and smacked the monitors as the images died then flashed with static, the desk radio was on the fritz as well. He looked around suspiciously as if he might observe the source of the obstruction. Where was a Tele-Viper or Techno Viper when you needed one. "God damn it!"

The Suburban pulling up to the gate made him raise an eyebrow, he checked his watch, and immediately felt uneasy; the last train for the work site had already departed, just what this was he couldn't be sure, but he didnt like it. With all the systems down he couldn't scan the vehicle let alone verify the driver's ID. He casually slid his safety off and undid his holster as he stepped out of the booth.

The wild haired brunnette, the sole occupant of the vehicle, hung her head out the window and smiled at him, the mirrored aviators concealing any deception in her eyes. "Hey dahlin', room for one more?"
A few moments passed in which the guard was arguing the use of the garage was for ARBCO contracts only and he could not, under any circumstances, permit her to park here. Lady Jaye pleaded, waving the 50.00 bill again, trying to give Flint the time he needed to link up with Chuckles.

"Pleeeeease, I'm going to be so late! No one would ever even know. For some reason my phone isn't working, I cant even call my client!"

Lady Jaye knew she was going know where she just needed to keep him busy, she was nervous about the other guard they'd seen earlier, she hoped he was just in the latrine. Her eyes flashed to a man across the massive bay from which she was barred. He was wearing coveralls, pushing a broom and dragging a wheeled trash can. She didn't see the AK inside, but her intuition and experience told her it was highly likely he was this schmucks back up.

"look lady..." the blue shirt growled, annoyed but apparently ignorant to her true purpose "...for the last time, I need you to take this truck elsewhere, you're obstructing the entrance and your on private property, you CAN NOT park here, I'm sorry."

"Your loss" she pouted then petitioned him "Well, can you at least tell me where I might maybe find a garage somewhere nearby that isn't full to capacity?"

The guard was floored by the imposition, he just wanted rid of her, with a sigh he drew nearer the vehicle.  She glared behind her eyeware,if this were a different sort of mission he'd be dead already.

He unintentionally delighted at the generous opening in her blouse, as she was very well endowed. As his pulse quickened he forced himself to look away and tried not to look embarrassed.

"Uh, up here dahlin" perfect, she'd put him off his game even further by invoking the need for an apology. 


His dirty blond hair blew in the wind, as he coasted the mountain bike down the back alley to meet Flint. His facial scruff suggested he hadn't shaved in a few days and he looked like he hadn't slept much either. The night before he'd been up in a nearby hotel studying everything in a 12 block radius from their objective, the ARBCO parking complex, just in case something went wrong. Chuckles was known for shooting from the hip but he knew full well fortune favored the prepared. He eyeballed the camera's with their commanding coverage of the alley way, he hoped the intended countermeasures were in place and sufficient, else shit was gonna go south right quick!

Flint, sporting a hoodie and training pants, ran up to meet him, then, with a quizzical look, helped Chuckles heave his bike into the dumpster. "Careful..." Chuckles warned with a laugh, "...she's packed with not just a pinch of plastique!"

Flints jaw dropped slightly as he narrowed his gaze in disbelief and displeasure "For what?"

Chuckles held up a small detonator and waved it suggestively "This alley is my primary egress Flint, any idea how much shrapnel a dumpster makes with that much boom behind it, I'm sure to not be followed, and if we don't need it, we got support folks driving trash trucks to recover it later, m'kay?" 
Before Flint could answer Chuckles continued, "And shit, don't let my age and appearance undercut my experience Flint, you know I dont fuck around or I wouldn't have Duke's ass ropin' me into this shit all the time."

Chuckles slapped Flint on the shoulder to provoke some comraderie "C'mon we're draggin' ass Chief, lets do this!"

Flint set his jaw, took a deep breath and shook it off, he didnt like Chuckles or his wreckless approach, but his reputation was one of results and he knew his way around tech and tradecraft. G.I. Joe needed him, and the kid WAS good, damn good.

"Alright, on me... crazy", the Chief grumbled as he nervously checked their 6 and then proceded to shimmy up the drainage pipe, chuckles followed close behind.

Other than the polymer pistol grip protruding ever so slightly from Flint's back pack, Chuckles wondered what other goodies Flint brought to the party. Short of his suppressed FN 5-7, Chuckles hadnt much else in the way of weaponry, a few canisters of CS and white smoke, and of course his trusty switchblade; the rest of his bag was gadgets and gizmos, and looking at his watch, they had about eight minutes to install and exfil, before they were going to be in need of a small armory.
 Rick made his way around the north western corridor of the nearly completed Terror Drome, bypassing the envious glances of the rank of file busy about their daily duties. Blue shirts stood watch at their assigned intervals, doubled up at security terminals in restricted areas; they ceased their idle chatter and greeted him appropriately as he passed. A team of engineers "Techno-Vipers" in their dark purple fatigues saddled with all manner of machine parts, tool kits, hoses and wiring labored over an exposed section of wall, their dark lenses protected them from the laser welders they wielded and their face plates, different from his own, suggested a constant expression of their displeasure. He wondered if their labors would meet with the commander's timeline, he was known to be quite unforgiving.

Rick slid his ID card and entered the code which accessed the intelligence and special security operations cell. beyond the entrance rows of desks with computer terminals, communications systems, SIGINT platforms, and the like filled the room. Very few of the Tele-Vipers assigned to his section had reported for duty and he wondered just where they were. He disliked their self important ways, their sense of entitlement, the way their head gear made them look like bugs and most importantly that they got to roll their sleeves on their blue fatigues. He wasn't a fan of their purple vests either, he wondered who the hell was designing Cobra's uniforms, and he thought just maybe that ole Cobra Commander had just a little sugar in his step too.

No matter, the uniform of the guardsman was awed by all and their reputation as cobra's elite special security and intelligence personnel was known by even the lowest blue shirt recruit. Rick was pleased to see all the guardsman assigned to him were busy at their workstations, everyone except Banister...where the hell was he? "Fuckin' new guy!" Rick growled under his breath, he was going to have to make an example.

All honors rendered by his subordinates, Rick made his way to the office at the back of the op center, the simple cipher lock coded to he and Jana's anniversary, opened into his sanctuary; as the most senior guardsmen in his sector he enjoyed some luxuries.

In approximately 45 minutes he would brief the command staff on the efforts and accomplishments of his agents, and identify the obsticals to command's intent.  45 minutes. Damn was he ever tired. Rick removed his helmet and poured himself a cup of coffee, the first of many if he was going to make it through his morning.
James kept a step rear right of the Baroness as their fast paced stroll continued through the Terror Drome. He had of course made an attempt to explain that his section chief expected him to report for duty, his helmet's interface was encrypted and essentially useless until coded in, and his only weapon was his revolver (which replaced the ceremonial side arm worn by the first members of the Crimson Guard, and now only given to officer's upon completion of their candidacy course; all other CGs are simply expected to off themselves with their revolvers, should the situation arise).

Baroness dismissed his concerns with a gesture of her free hand, not even giving them a second of consideration. Her accent stirred something him and he couldn't keep his eyes off the sway of her hips and her perfect ass framed so exceptionally in black latex. She had to know he was eye fucking her even now, he made every attempt to right himself but he was completely under her spell.

"Guardsman, do not worry about your superiors, I have assumed the role of Lieutenant Commander of the Crimson Guard and report directly to Tomax and Xamot, your section chief's dissatisfaction does not concern me, you will serve my immediate needs as best you can in your unfortunately unprepared state."

James was not accustomed to hearing the Crimson Guard Commanders' names used as such, he had not even seen them since he graduated the Intelligence/Counterintelligence Covert Operations Course and would certainly never himself refer to them as anything other than Commander; however, this was the Baroness, and her boldness preceded her. She explained that she would make an effort to resolve his issues directly as able and suggested that he be thankful for the opportunity to so directly serve his Commanders.

James agreed, this was worth whatever Hell was going to be heaped on him later. He made no further protest and just enjoyed the motion of her sweet physique; perhaps the most bad ass bitch in the world.
 The sentry crossing the third level of the parking garage resembled the other Arbco security officers in appearance, only he was quite different beneath his blue fatigues. He was a graduate of the Viper school and the black spade tattoo on his left arm was a proud and personal testament to his success. Selected for his supervisory position based largely on his experience and additional training; training which he witheld from the others of whom it was not only his task to manage, but also to monitor and assess for selection. So far his subordinates proved significantly non plus and he ached to complete his obligatory 6month detail and with luck identify no les than two suitable Viper selectees.

Vipers were the elite of Cobras infantry, trained in airborne and air assault operations, demolitions, advanced weaponry and tactics, and a host of other skill sets reserved for those who could meet the strict prerequisites. Once receiving the coveted Viper tab, one could specialize among a host of combat and support disciplines, such as a Tele-Viper, Cobras telecommunications, electronic and cyber warfare specialists; he, unknowingly like every other cobra operative within 800 meters of the Arbco garage, wished there were a Tele-Viper at his immediate disposal.

He fiddled with his squad radio with great irritation, the damn thing had gone on the fritz moments ago nearly half way through his morning sweep of the facility. Assuring himself it was going to be just another boring ass day, he switched it off and resolved to swap it out with another when he completed his rounds.

As he reached for the door of the southwest stairwell, he paused and with a furrowed brow listened intently.
 Flint landed less than expertly as he swung from the drainage pipe to reach the lip of the half wall surrounding each level of the facility, he almost didn't catch the corner and his fingers fought to gain purchase as he swung his hips for momentum finally getting his legs up and over with a groan.

Chuckles, an adapt of the Parkour discipline had significantly less trouble.

"Thought we were gonna lose ya buddy" Chuckles jabbed at Flint with a whisper and self superior smile.

"Let me know how well you do this shit after twenty years in the field funny man!" was his harsh but hushed reply

"Flint...not to belabor the point buddy, but you'll probably have died of old age or from some other urban obstacle by then, assuming you keep trying to do this" Chuckles shrugged his soldiers as his sarcasm hit home.

"Go fuck yourself Chuckles!" Flint said a bit above a whisper as he checked his watch three minutes and near thirty seconds down.

Flint stuck his head out from where he and Chuckles were crouched between an old Chevy van and a Dodge Ram, trying to get his bearings, while crouching Chuckles had pulled up the digital map of the structure which he had been studying for weeks and with deft flashes of his fingers had zoomed and flipped the image to a field of view from their exact location. Flint just looked in awe as Chuckles Grinned.

"Alright, YOU take point then." Flint ordered in an agitated whisper.

Data pad in hand Chuckles sprinted towards the elevator, he looked ridiculous in his mountain biker cool guy get up, like he ought to be hanging out at a coffee shop not infiltrating a Cobra facility, of course Flint had to laugh at himself too...He looked like "eye of the tiger" out to be playing in the background; at least if observed or apprehended they had a small chance to pull off the trespasser, petty thief, personas they had practiced, but if they got grabbed up with any of this hardware...well, Flint didn't want to even think about that shit.

Chuckles swung his day pack over his shoulder and quickly unzipped a well organized tool kit of Gizmos and doodads of which Flint only recognized about half. Chuckles removed what appeared to be an elevator call box, its facing and buttons matched the exact appearance make and model as of the one in service before them only there were some pretty serious unseen differences. this one would capture images, voice, and fingerprints in a digital file which could be transmitted or in the event that failed, physically recovered later.

Flint nervously surveyed the shadowy expanse of the garage, nearly packed to capacity; a tactical approach would be almost impossible to identify until it was too late. He didn't like it.
 Lady Jaye was on her third purposeful flub, repeating back the sentry's directions to another nearby parking garage with just enough confusion and apologies for not being from the area to make it convincing. She threw in a flirtation or two to ease the mood "ya know, you're alright, hon... helping a girl out like this, this city is SO confusing...I just..."

Putting a hand to her forehead feigning further distress she looked out from between her fingers to observe the sentry produce an all weather note pad and pen.

"Here" he said somewhat less annoyed as he scribbled crude directions "you cant possibly miss it, now'am" he said with firm authority "get this vehicle on out of here."

The sentry leaned in close to hand off the paper and caught a glimpse of the vehicle radio and was now paying particular attention to the antenna, looking purposefully less than mil spec it still belayed the civilian styling of an everyday suburban. Lady Jaye could read a man's expression, expertly so and as his eyes came back to hers with a renewed intensity; she knew there was no salvaging this.

Her heart beat in her head and time seemed to slow. As the sentry backed up settling into a stance he turned his center and transitioned to draw his side arm. Her thoughts were racing, then instinct took over.
"HEY!".... "You there, FREEZE!" the "Viper" ordered Flint as he cautiously rounded one of the several large support columns; pistol in hand and the beam of his surefire blasting Flint in the face as the chief froze and slowly turned. He knew something was awry, he could always feel it and that's why he chose to check their 6 again...lot of good it did him, DAMN!

"Hands; let me see 'em now. me your fucking hands!" This guy was good he kept his distance to Flints dismay; but would he shoot...he was a cobra operative no doubt but they'd avoid police and the subsequent media attention if it could be avoided...most likely. Flint was going to have to roll the dice.

"Look man..." Flint said loudly as he made an open palm gesture towards the sentry "I'm just tryin' to find my girlfriends ride, I haven't had my fix today and the bitch left for work with my shit in the glove box brother....Its got me all kinds of crazy, Please just HOOK IT UP FOR ME, HELP ME OUT, then we can both just relax"

He hoped Chuckles heard him, he needed Chuckles to do the right thing. They first and foremost needed the device installed and then Flint needed some assistance.

"Get on your knees and put your hands behind your back!"

Oh, this wasn't going so good.

The sentry grabbed his mic and called in for back up. Flint guessed it was for show, to elicit some compliance and cooperation where he actually a trespasser or a thief he'd behave expecting more security personnel to arrive...or, he panicked for a moment, had their countermeasures failed?! when no call came back confirming the request, Flint knew the sentry was full of shit, and as he turned slightly at first feigning a docile demeanor, he bolted.

***Thoom, Thoom, Thoom*** shots rang out and ricocheted

Flint dove, spun himself and crouched low behind the engine block of a nearby Tahoe. He couldn't believe he was being shot at.

"Jesus fuckin' Christ man, DON'T SHOOT, DON'T SHOOT" Flint tried to play the part while he pulled the modified Tac 12 out of his pack, he hoped this would give Chuckles the time he needed to finish. Flint made a hard choice and wedged the shotgun up under an SUV, and after snaking through several rows of vehicles making deliberate noise, he sprinted across the through way to draw the sentry; further from the elevators and his team mate.

***Thoom, Thoom*** another two rounds impacted the wall just in front of Flint, the snake had him dead to rights as he froze
"Alright Alright" Flint threw himself into a panic "fer fuck sake don't kill me man, I just need my shit, don't unders..."


The bullet tore through Flint's knee in an explosion of pain and he went down hard "AAAAAAARGH, UNGH, FUUUUUUUUUUCK!"

The sentry cautiously approached, his pistol expertly trained on the injured Joe. Flint's blood glistened in the pool of light focused on him.

"I said freeze, that means don't fuckin' move!" the sentry barked "No ones gonna miss a junky thief piece of shit if I waste you!"

Flint held his leg trying to apply pressure without looking too competent...if he didn't handle this right, he was going to die.
The Arbco Officer ignored his sudden suspicion of Lady Jaye, as he stiffened and shifted his attention as the first shots fired inside the garage. In the instant his wide eyes flashed to the cage gate and the "janitor" just on the other side who was now unmistakenly chambering a round in the AK he had just pulled from the trash can, she slammed the suburban into reverse and floored it, cutting the wheel hard right. The engine growled as it shot across the street and up onto the curb; crippling a mailbox and claiming the life of a newspaper dispenser. Weapon in hand, the sentry shot one last hateful look her direction, then raced inside.

Lady Jaye's eyes darted to her watch, nearly 9 minutes down.

Two more shots rang out, her heart raced, She wanted to ram the gate, dismount and deal with what was apparently a rapidly deteriorating situation inside, but she needed to be at the extraction point. As she raced the wrong way down the one way street she heard another single shot. She took the corner hard and with tears in her eyes, fearing the worst.
Chuckles had just removed the elevators call box when he heard the Sentry demanding Flints surrender; they weren't far off at all but out of sight sufficiently so to allow him to complete the instal, he hoped.

"Why was flint always right"

Quickly he removed the last screw and slid out the entirety of the mechanism, a few quick snips as he heard Flint rebuttal the guard. Good, Flint was playing it off expertly.

As he wired in the device, gunshots broke his concentration; Flints immediate panicked pleading let chuckles know he was okay and bought Chuckles enough time to secure the face plate but with only one screw in opposing corners, sufficient to keep it in place, it'd have to do!

Chuckles hit the up arrow on the call box and it lit up, he could hear the hum of the elevator below, it worked. Looking at his watch he had less than 90 seconds to clear the facility.

A single shot rang out, followed immediately by Flints agonizing scream. Drawing his pistol Chuckles maneuvered closer to the action and as he drew down on the unsuspecting snake who stood over Flint, Flint waved him off without the cobra trooper ever knowing how close to death he was.

Chuckles wrestled with Flints decision as he disengaged then realigned his weapon, clearly conflicted. Again Flint's eyes conveyed his intent along with another dismissive gesture seemingly intended to stop the guard from squeezing off another round, was really telling Chuckles "Go!"

Flint launched into another bout of painful yelping to keep the guards attention and cover any sound Chuckles might make on his exfil.

Slinking into the shadows and keeping low between the vehicles, Chuckles made his get away.
 The door to the third floor stairwell burst open and a gunman armed with an AK-47 moved towards Flint and the Cobra who were reacting with equal surprise to what sounded like a car wreck outside.

Tactically sweeping his field of fire as he moved, the Cobra in coveralls turned and covered the far side of the garage as he barked over his shoulder.

"Comms are down and we got some kind of nonsense at the gate Sir, whats the situation here?"

The viper smiled as he brought a combat boot down hard on Flint's wound, keeping his weapon and sure fire focused on the Joes face. Flint winced and played up the pain. The viper backed off and relaxed his weapon only slightly.

"What we got here..." he said looking to the trooper "is some junky piece of shit aspiring burglar, or so he'd have us believe."

"Is he alone?" the trooper asked nervously scanning the sea of vehicles.

"Seemed to be, why don't you zip him up, then take a team through here... and be REAL thorough!"

"You want 9-1-1 in on this Sir?"

"Nah, I think our guys are going to want to talk to him, awfully convenient this fucks walking around in here with our systems down!"

"Roger" The trooper slung his rifle and produced a set of flex cuffs.

the vipers boot smeared some of Flint's blood and he looked at the mess with some displeasure "and get a detail up here to clean this shit up!"
15 seconds...Chuckles slid down the drainage pipe and dropped from about 10'. Landing, he broke into a full sprint as the seconds ticked down. As the alarm on his wrist watched flashed and beeped he slammed the door on the suburban and his eyes met Lady Jaye's, who now knew for certain, Flint wasn't coming home from this one.

She set her jaw and maneuvered the suburban through side streets back onto the highway as Chuckles provided Joe base with a SITREP

"I say again....Objective complete, two en route to the roost, that's two en route to the roost, ETA two zero Mikes"

"Understood" came breakers solemn reply. He knew by the personnel count something had gone horribly wrong.

Lady Jaye glanced sideways through teary eyes at Chuckles as the suburban weaved through morning traffic

"He's alive Lady Jaye and he's gonna be okay, Flint waved me off to not blow the op, He..."


Chuckles caught the hammer fist she threw at his face, distancing himself while pinning her arm down

"Easy Alison...Shit, will you listen, flints GOT a plan and we're going to get enough Intel from this to do some real damage!"

snatching her arm back she glared at him and looked away

"FUCK YOU Chuckles!"

--------------------End Chapter 1-----------------