In the makeshift base of the R.O.C.C. the members of Sigma six are kicking back and enjoying some a cool off period. With their recent victory of obtaining the Power Stone from Cobra they deserve some down time.
“Good job all of you.” Duke says again. “Catastrophe averted. With this-”
“Let me see that.” Hi Tech snatches their recent acquisition abruptly. “These readings are amazing…” He says analyzing the stone with a pocket scanner. “I’ll be back.” He scurries off to his lab.
“I wasn’t finished….” Duke says with a wry grin.
“You must’ve been! You stopped talking.” Heavy Duty replies.
“That’s Hi Tech for you, always researching.” Scarlet adds.
“You might want to try talking faster next time!” Tunnel rat laughs.
“Or just handing it over.” Long Range agrees.
“You’re right there. I could’ve lost a hand!” Duke admits. Everyone has a laugh at his expense. After it quiets down he addresses them again. “Where’s the resident ninja?”
“Out.” Scarlet replies. “He seemed preoccupied.”
“Well, someone ring him up and tell him to get in here. I want to lock this place up tight. No more security mishaps.” Duke says looking at all of them in turn. “Like earlier when Storm Shadow surprised Hi Tech.”
“I’ll go check on him.” Scarlet volunteers into the sudden awkward silence.
Down in the lab Hi Tech is analyzing the Power Stone.
“…figure out the elemental composition or wavelength of this energy…what kind of containment does this type of radiation need? If I reverse and up the-”
“Hey, Tech.” Scarlet says walking in. “Hard at work?”
“You bet!” Hi Tech replies eagerly. “I’ve never seen anything like it! It’s emitting so much power but I can’t figure out what reaction is causing it because it certainly doesn’t seem to be breaking down or degrading…I’m stumped.”
“Can I help?”
“I’ve been running every scan I can think of and nothing. I’m still not quite done yet. With you here I can get done a bit faster. Try bombarding it with low spectrum stuff, radio and radar waves, and things like that.”
“You think it’ll play radio stations with the signal?” Scarlet jokes.
“It’d better do something; it’s giving me a monster headache trying to figure it out.”
“Hang on.” She sits down at the console and begins running calculations since she’s also able with a computer. “Hey Tech, come look at this.”
“What do you have there?” Hi Tech reads the screen. “That’s impossible!”
“That’s what I thought too.” Scarlet agrees. “But look.”
“If that’s true then we wouldn’t be able to be in a mile radius; it’d be a fall-out zone!”
“Something isn’t reading right…” She gets up and walks over to the Power Stone with a small chisel, opening the containment field.
“Scarlet, what are you doing?” Hi Tech sounds alarmed.
“I’m just as safe doing this as sitting where I was right?” A small chip falls in the observation chamber. She picks it up and places it in a second observation chamber adjacent.
“You could’ve been killed!” The computer whiz sounds angry.
“Really?” Scarlet smiles smugly. “Look at this, big brain.”
Hi Tech reads the screen. “Oh…” He nods in understanding.
“Exactly. Your machine ran too wide a scan. It covered the whole stone which isn’t putting out cosmic radiation but really densely packed radio waves. Otherwise I’d be a blob of irradiated jelly.”
“We all would without three feet of radiation shielding if that was the case. Good call…but don’t scare me like that!”
“I’ll try.” Scarlet smiles.
“Since you were kind enough to chip off a piece of potentially hazardous material I’ll get to work analyzing it closer.
“Do you ever take a break?”
“Nope, I’m a robot. Don’t need to take a break.” He’s already glued back to the screen with new calculations in mind.
Back in the room where Duke makes his announcements Snake Eyes has returned.
“You’re back. Good.” Duke says. “Don’t leave; we’re locking this place down.” The ninja says nothing and regards them all silently, scrutinizing each of them in turn and pausing at the open door.
“Sorry I’m late!” Scarlet says walking in a bit tardy.
“As I was saying, we’ve got new security protocols in place. We’ve got some serious work to do. Long Range, first things first is security system check through and through.”
“You got it.” Replies the target acquisition expert.
“Tunnel Rat, I need you to find out where Storm Shadow found his way in or any place he could’ve infiltrated our base.”
“Alright…” He says grudgingly.
“Our last engagement we got into a skirmish, Heavy Duty if you find any holes leading in then plug em.”
In the lab Hit Tech is experimenting.
“Under the lens it looks like something you’d create in a lab…” The technology expert murmurs. “It’s got well over two hundred protons making it an element of it’s own definitely but those don’t exist too long even under ideal conditions and this isn’t degrading at all…to harness it would mean I’d have to…”
“Hey, Tech.” Scarlet says interrupting his train of thought.
“What’s the news?” He asks without looking up.
“I’m your watchdog.”
“Okay. You want to give me a hand again?”
“Yeah, sure.” She walks over to him.
“Go take a look at the data I got from the stone and tell me what you think.”
Scarlet looks it over and shrugs. “I don’t know…”
“I was thinking these readings looked compatible with our reactor’s with a few modifications. We could possibly use it as an energy source.”
“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking!”
“…but it doesn’t seem right…”
“That would make it a valuable energy source, which would explain why Cobra wanted it…”
“But it can’t just imitate a nuclear reactor without the radiation. It’s impossible, it’s too stable!”
“I don’t know what to tell you there, your argument’s with the rock not me.”
“I guess you’re right but something about this is still bothering me…”
“What’s it made of anyway?”
“I’m calling Powerstonium, what do you think?”
“Real original.” Scarlet says, smirking.
“My genius must have some use.” Hi Tech chuckles.
“Glad you’re on our side. Powerstonium…”
“I discovered it so I get to name it.” He says pensively.
“I hope you didn’t get an ‘A’ for creativity.”
“No, that’s all for ingenuity. I plan on recharging the shields and security system to full while running this whole place off this thing.”
“That’d be something to see.”
“Yeah, well give me time. It’s almost lights out.”
“Have it done by tomorrow!” Scarlet demands in her best Duke impression. “We need this ASAP!”
At Cobra headquarters Cobra Commander is giving the white ninja a hard time.
“I don’t care if he is your brother!” The boss yells. “I don’t tolerate failure!”
“Some unforeseen events occurred and…”
“Like what? Getting thrashed for our prize?” Cobra Commander yells. “We should have the second powerstone by now!”
Storm Shadow moves to speak again but remains silent. “It’s best he not know what transpired.” He thinks to himself remembering how Snake Eyes saved his life and he not only spared his benefactor but left him the powerstone as repayment.
“I’m sorry sir.” He kneels. “It shall not happen again.”
“I should hope not! I have an agenda-”
“That is going according to my plan.” Destro says interrupting them both.
The head honcho of the evil syndicate turns to his tactician. “What’s this?”
“A contingency plan my lord. Duke and his band are a resourceful bunch so one should keep a few steps ahead.”
“Enlighten me on this ‘contingency plan’ of which you speak.”
“It’s quite simple since they are so determined yet predictable.” With this statement Destro outlines his plan to his superior and elicits trademark bad guy cackling.
Early morning finds Hi Tech hard at work.
“If the readings on this are compatible then if I polarize this slot like this and place the stone here…” The lights all around brighten a bit. “Alright! We’ll be charged up in no time!”
“What are ya up to?” Scarlet asks making a sudden entrance.
“Perfect timing, take a look at this! I’ve got everything running off this rock! It’s phenomenal the energy it’s putting out!”
“Everything huh?” Scarlet sounds surprised and steps closer. “Seems hard to believe…”
“Believe it! Everything from the shield battery to the toaster’s hooked to this thing!”
“Hmm, it really is perfect…” She reaches out a hand to touch it.
“Watch it, there’s serious juice going through that! Wouldn’t suggest you touch it.”
“You’re right, should disconnect it first.” She whips out a small cutting laser.
“What are you doing?” Hi Tech demands dismayed. “It took me all morning to make that relay!”
“Taking it of course.” Scarlet replies as though it’s obvious. “Seems like a real nice thing to have.”
“That’s not me, Hi Tech!” A voice calls from the door. An infuriated intelligence officer stands in the threshold of the lab. “You’ve been duped!”
“What?” The digital master looks from one of them to the other. “How?”
“Didn’t think you’d get loose that soon, lass. I guess you found me out.” The imposter says in his normal Australian accent. You blokes are a wily lot, I’ll give you that.” The image inducer drops the illusion.
“Zartan!” Hi Tech hisses. “Sound-” He drops to the floor with a thud, his feet knocked from under him.
“Hi Tech!” Scarlet cries. She reaches for the wall to hit the alarm system but a quick shot from her own bow blaster fries the interface.
As Scarlet wakes up she can hear her comrades talking.
“I should’ve known!” Hi Tech says sounding troubled. “I should’ve caught the switch immediately!”
“None of us were ready to be infiltrated so soon.” Duke counters. “He was already in when we locked down!”
“When she couldn’t read the computer screen I should’ve put two and two together, plus she sounded weird…”
“That’s not important now!” Heavy Duty interjects. “Cobra got that rock now and no telling what they gonna do with it!”
“We’re going to have to approach it calmly if we want to get something done.” Duke says trying to maintain restore order. “We’ll need a plan.”
“…ugh.” Scarlet moans rubbing her head.
“I think chica’s coming around…” Long Range points out.
“Nice to have you back with us!” Tunnel Rat says a tad loud. “Had us a bit worried there!”
“What happened?” She asks, sitting up.
“Zartan got you to know the powerstone loose and you took a pretty nasty shock.” Hi Tech explains. “How are you feeling?”
“Fried.” She replies smiling weakly.
“You sure looked it when we found you!” Heavy Duty mentions.
“We wasn’t sure if you was…” Tunnel Rat trails off.
“So I’ll understand if you want to take some time off.” Duke says.
“No, I’m a soldier first. What about Zartan?”
“Got out playing dress up.” Tunnel Rat states. “Walked right out the front door!”
“Are you sure Scarlet?” Duke asks dubiously. “I don’t need you hurt.”
“I’m alright, I just need some air.” She replies standing wobbly. Snake Eyes offers assistance but she shakes her head. “I’ll be fine. Thanks though.”
At Cobra Headquarters Zartan is just presenting the powerstone to his leader.
“Well done Zartan!” Commander says expansively. “Destro, your plan went well!”
“I thought it would.” Destro replies. “They wouldn’t expect a sneak attack so soon. It was simple for you was it not?” He asks turning to the disguise master.
“Poor blokes didn’t know what hit em! Way too easy I say.” Zartan snorts.
“Ah, but that is what we like to hear, yes?” The Baroness says in her soft east European accent. “All plans should go so smoothly don’t you think?”
“That’d be boring.” Zartan says dismissively.
“I’m sure we can think of a way to spice things up with this!” Commander declares looking at his prize.
“I look forward to the advantage it can bring us.” Destro admits. “I hope it was worth our time and effort.”
“I am certain we’ll be able to make some use of it. The question is should the end of our enemies be swift or slow? What is your pleasure, Commander?”
Outside of base Scarlet is having a walk to clear her head. She’s still more than a little bothered at having spent the night bound and gagged in a closet.
“I should’ve been able to take him down!” Scarlet berates herself. “We were on alert, I should’ve caught him!” She slows her pace a bit. “But his hand to hand skills eclipse mine and he’s good at what he does. It wasn’t all my fault but it was up to me…I just wish I could’ve stopped him.” She stops and looks up at the sky, then around the area. She’s maybe a mile from base.
“I’m a machine and tech expert, not a front liner and he’s the best Cobra’s got…” She trails off. “I don’t see why I’m obsessing, things happen. The best of us slip up sometimes and there’s nothing I can do about it now, that’s for sure. What’s important is that we stop Cobra, bottom line. Can’t lose sight of that. I’d better get back, we’ve got work to d-” She stumbles and falls to one knee.
“Shouldn’t have walked so far, I feel a bit woozy. I guess Duke may have a point. I should take it easy a little...” She shakes her head vigorously. “Damn vertigo…” She blinks several times in succession. “Now I must be seeing things…” She rubs her eyes and looks again. “Hi Tech do you read?” She says calmly activating her communicator.
“Yeah Scarlet, I read you. Are you alright?” The computer guru sounds concerned.
“I have a question, could you bring me up on visual? I’m not sure where I am…”
“That’s strange; I’m getting a really strong signal from you not too far from here. Just head southwest and you can’t miss us. Heck, you should be able to see us from where you are.”
“Could you just bring me up on screen, I need you to check something for me.” Scarlet insists.
“Alright, just because you asked nicely.” Hi Tech fiddles with some controls. “Strange, I’m getting a signal but no picture…” He sounds puzzled.
“Yeah, all I’ve got is a black screen, is something obstructing the camera?”
“I don’t know…I guess I’ll head in…” She moves to stand.
“What’s up with the signal?” Hi Tech sounds annoyed now. “Now I can see sunlight? What gives? I’m beginning to wonder where you are myself…I’ll widen the zoom…whoa!”
On screen is a familiar figure wrapped in a black body sleeve of his creation. The only problem is the magnification is still too close and it doesn’t zoom further out. He can only see her from the waist up, standing there arms akimbo impatiently and it doesn’t make sense.
“Hi Tech! What’s wrong?” Scarlet demands.
He just watches her lips move listening to her words. It helps solidify the experience as his always working mind processes the information while his mouth drops open. “I have you on screen but my camera must be malfunctioning. The perspectives are all off…” He trails off. “You’re not that tall…” He adds as an afterthought.
“I’m afraid not.” She replies unsteadily. “The view’s pretty weird here too…”
“But that would make you…” Hi Tech crunches some numbers. “Zoom out… with distance into account…just over a hundred feet tall!”
Scarlet surveys her surroundings again. “That wouldn’t be a bad guess…”
In Cobra headquarters Zartan is trying to operate a computer terminal.
“I may not be a tech head but why is it that every time I punch in the GI Joe’s base coordinates all I can see is that girl I tricked?” He’s puzzled.
“What is the status of Duke and his team?” Destro asks from the door.
“Can’t tell ya, as much as I want to.” Zartan replies. “I can’t seem to work this thing…”
“What?” Destro walks over. “Do you have some sort of obsession over this woman?”
“No, just every time I punch in the coordinates…there she is.”
“Why is the magnification so high from a satellite?” The tactician wonders. “He zooms out. “It wasn’t that close so why is she still on the screen? Are we being hacked?”
“That’s one creative bug if you ask me…”
“Let’s pull up another angle, this camera’s been compromised.” The Cobra second-in-command pulls up another image. “There’s the base…” He says looking over the screen. “Doesn’t look like there’s any activity to report…”
“Hey, why is there a shadow over the whole thing?” Zartan asks. “It’s should be daytime; isn’t it still morning?”
“Let’s see shall we?” Destro swivels the camera. “They weren’t in the shade of a cliff before so-” The camera focuses on Scarlet from behind looming over enemy headquarters.
“Hey, is that the girl again?”
“Yes, but this is no hacker’s ruse. This is a serious matter. Look at their base in comparison.”
“When did that happen? Wait a second-”
“We need an immediate plan before we put our primary objective in play.”
“That isn’t right…”
“If properly handled it will only change our plans in a minor fashion.” Destro says already coming up with a ploy. “Notify Cobra Commander.”
“Right and he’ll believe me?”
“That is not important. He can judge for himself. We need to keep him informed so our plans can flow smoothly. More impossible things have happened.”
It’s apparent that Zartan thinks otherwise on that last point but he puts it aside. “What kind of plan do you have for that?” He asks gesturing at the screen.
Onsite at the base camp Hi Tech is running several calculations.
“Your vital signs check out normal according to your suit’s read out and I don’t see anything wrong aside from the obvious…”
“Nothing?” Scarlet asks. “But…”
“Not from here anyway, but you look fine. Not pale or shaking so…”
“How did it happen?” Duke asks.
“We’s all pretty curious about that!” Tunnel Rat agrees.
“I’d love to tell you guys but I’ll have to figure that out first.”
“Can’t you scan her or somethin’?” Heavy Duty asks. “It don’t seem like it happened out of nowhere…”
“I could…” Hi Tech hedges. “…but I’m scared of heights.”
“Es una chica muy alta.” Long Range affirms.
“Well you’ve got to try something.” Duke concludes. “Right now we’ve got to watch Cobra and keep our eyes peeled for their next scheme so we can’t stay out here all day.”
“Keep me posted. Team, to your stations!”
“Roger!” They all reply then file back into the base. Hi Tech looks around sheepishly.
“Are alright down there?” Scarlet says carefully modulating her voice. “I’m not scaring you too bad am I?”
“No, no, no!” Hi Tech says suddenly. “It’s just I need to run a scan on your molecules and you’re pretty tall now…”
“No kidding.” Scarlet giggles. “You don’t need a ladder; I’ll give you a hand if that’s what you need.”
“I’m petrified of heights.”
“Oh. Well I can sit down if that helps…” She says taking a seat. “Is this alright?”
“I get queasy on balconies…” He says sheepishly.
She sighs then looks around. “How about this?” She leans back and lies down on her back.
“I’m doing the best I can, unless you want me in a hole.” She sounds slightly irritated.
“It’s not you, I-”
“I know it’s strange but you’ve got to work with me. You’re the only one who can tell us what’s going on. I’m not going to hurt you.”
“So put your fears aside and let’s figure this out!”
“Right.” Hi Tech takes a deep breath. “I need to see your hands first. Which one got fried?”
My right.” She replies rolling onto her side. “Is this good?” She asks as she places her hands side by side on the ground.
“…” Hi Tech is still on the amazement trip trying to work out the physical equation of the female wall before him moving so easily against all known laws. He snaps back as she asks her question. “Yeah, that’s good.” He gives both of her hands the once over with the scanning device and looks puzzled at the results.
“What’s the verdict?” She asks interrupting his perpetual calculations.
“You’re the powerstone, or so it seems. It reads like your composition has changed into that. There’s no difference between your hands either by the way. My best guess is you read like that all over, though I should check.”
“Oh. Do you want me to help you with that?”
Hi Tech gives it some thought. “It’d take too long to walk around her and even longer if I had to climb up and scan her that way…” Out loud he gives his assent. “Yeah, if you help it won’t take all day.”
Scarlet reaches for Hi Tech raising herself to a sitting position. “Climb on.” She says opening her hand. He does as directed. “I’d sit if I were you and definitely not look down.” She says offhandedly as she raises her hand up rather swiftly.
“If I’m getting this kind of G-force and she’s just moving her hands her locomotion must trigger at least twice that response and…” He thinks science never leaving his mind. “That must mean…”
“Are you ready?” She asks looking at him.
Once again lost in the wonderful world of the scientific process Hi Tech returns. “Yeah. Just let me scan close by you and check the readings…” He starts as she brings him closer to her face. “Can you see alright, have you had any sensory change?” He asks abruptly.
“Everything looks smaller…” Scarlet says at length.
“It might.” He chuckles but one look down quells that. “Anything else?”
“No. Just vertigo right before this happened.”
“I’m having that right now…” Hi Tech thinks to himself as he surveys the rest of her body. “But it won’t be for much longer.” Soon he stops noticing it and is beleaguered by computations again before long. “All in proportion…height in account…and…” All too soon she sets him back on the ground. He’s almost sad. He was getting a kick out of staring but is all too happy to have his feet back on solid ground again.
“Prognosis?” She asks sitting down again.
“Umm…let’s see…where to start? You read like the powerstone all over. You’re okay otherwise-”
“Aside from the obvious.” She interrupts with a grin.
“-Aside from the obvious but I can’t find anything else wrong.” He shrugs. “I’d need to know more about it to tell you anything else…”
“We’ve got something on radar!” Duke comes over the comm. link. “Hi Tech, are you at the controls?”
“En route, what does it look like?” He replies making tracks into the base.
“Frontal assault. Full load of bats and tanks with heavy artillery on the second line.”
Hi Tech slides into his chair. “Okay, what’s the plan?”
“I need the options first! How are our defenses? Did you manage to get them recharged?”
“No. The system’s been fried since this morning. Primary power source relay’s blown courtesy of Zartan.”
“The whole defense array? How?”
“Both the shields and the defense laser system were hooked into the powerstone. When he broke the connection using Scarlet the backlash scorched the alpha energy conduit for them both. We’ve got nothing but reserve power for each.”
“That makes us sitting ducks!” Duke yells. “Long Range, is this thing ready to move?”
“It wouldn’t outrun something like that,” He replies. “Not for too long.”
“There ain’t nowhere to go anyway.” Heavy Duty says. “Ain’t no cover for miles!”
“Evac is not an option! Hi Tech, any ideas?”
In Cobra Headquarters the sovereign leader of the organization is double checking the work of his underlings.
“Destro!” The commander barks. “Is Phase 1 of your newest ploy underway?”
“Going exactly according to plan my liege.” Destro replies. “With the help of the powerstone Phase 2 will be ready momentarily. As for Phase 3, Overkill is hard at work researching.”
“Baroness, what is the status of Duke and his fools?”
“Foundering like rats in a trap.” She replies with an evil smile. “Their end shall be swift.”
“That’s what I like to hear!”
“We enter the endgame and I’m afraid Duke is just one move away from checkmate.”
At the GI Joe headquarters in the R.O.C.C. they’ve got their own plan to put into action.
“Alright, is everybody ready?” Duke calls out to his team. Various affirmatives come back to him. “Remember, watch Scarlet’s back!”
“Duke, are we ready to start?” The team ace pilot asks.
“Long Range, you got this rig facing the right way?” Duke asks.
“Just give the word.”
“Hi Tech, got it mapped out?”
“To about an inch.”
“Alright! Put this thing in gear and start pushing!”
Outside Scarlet nods and braces against the R.O.C.C. Then with a deep breath starts pushing. “I never thought I’d end up doing anything like this when I signed up…” She thinks to herself. “It’s lighter than I thought by a long shot even for me. It’s almost fun…”
Inside Hi Tech is watching their course while Heavy Duty and Tunnel Rat lie in wait in the Rhino and the chopper. He’s still double checking his calculations as is his habit.
“I have to time this right…” Hi Tech murmurs to himself. “If we move far enough adjacent to them fast enough we can broadside the whole force. This way Scarlet will have a window of opportunity before the tanks and mechs fire since they’ll have to right themselves. At least I think so…” He looks at the screen again. “They could start trying to get wise to us any second so I guess it’s now or never.” He gives Duke the signal.
“We’re ready to go!” Duke says loud into the comm. “Heavy Duty, Tunnel Rat you know what to do, Scarlet it’s go time!”
“Roger!” She says stopping the R.O.C.C.
“Right!” Heavy Duty rolls out the Rhino tank.
“On your tail!” Tunnel Rat takes off in the chopper.
“Here goes nothing…” She thinks charging in on the side of the enemy militia.
Scarlet hits them quickly moving heavy tanks aside and knocking them into each other. Kicking the mechanized units into the enemy lines decimates the formation as though a storm touched down in their midst. The battle is over before it even began. By the time they turn on the whirlwind that’s wreaking such havoc it’s too late. More shots hit friendly units than their enormous assailant who is paying them no mind. Her shielding is more than enough to brush off the hits with ease. The backup in her corner marvels at the feat of destruction at a safe distance.
“I’ll just stay out of her way….” Heavy Duty mumbles stopping the tank.
“I’m fine where I am!” Tunnel Rat decides. “If she needs help she knows where to find it!”
“This was easy!” Scarlet thinks sweeping an arm into a platoon of bats and scraping them all. “Was this the best they could do?” She wonders idly stepping on the remnants of the aggressors.
“That’s all of them, good job.” Duke says.
“That worked well, too well…” Hi Tech says with an eyebrow raised. “It can’t be a secret Scarlet’s the way she is on our side…they have to have a reason…what the- I recognize that energy signature!” He hits Duke on the radio. “Duke, we’ve got a major problem!”
“Talk to me!” Duke demands walking in. “What are we dealing with here?”
“It’s another Thor’s Hammer cannon; they just fired off a shot!”
“Run the trajectory!”
“Already on it.” Hi Tech reads the screen. “It’s not from too far away which means we don’t have any time!”
“How long till impact?”
“Under sixty seconds! This rig doesn’t have half the shielding the base did…we’re toast!”
“Scarlet, you’ve got to get clear!” Duke yells into his communicator. “They’ve fired that plasma cannon again, there isn’t much time!”
“From where?” She queries.
“Two o’clock your angle. Move out!”
“I can’t do that.” Scarlet says picking up a damaged unit.
“Move out, that’s an order!” Duke commands.
“Sorry, I’m a soldier first. I can’t leave you behind.” She turns toward the particle deflector. “Let’s knock it down!” She cocks her arm back and launches the tank at the beam reflector with her best fastball.
The pitch was on point but belated. Only ten feet from the target the projectile is obliterated in mid flight. The high heat matter stream continues unabated.
“Oh, man we’re-” Hi Tech moans.
“Hold on everybody!” All people on board brace for impact. It’s a big surprise when the base isn’t rocked by a cataclysmic blast of ionized particles. “What the-”
“AAAHHH!” The sound of Scarlet screaming is audible outside the comm. link through the vibrating walls of the base as she blocks the oncoming shot.
“Sigma six shielding can’t take that!” Hi Tech yells. “You can’t stand in for us!” He gets no response. “She can’t hear me, what to- Ah Ha!”
“What are you doing?” Duke asks over his shoulder.
“Destabilizing her suit’s shielding like before when we came against this cannon.”
“I don’t want to lose Scarlet!”
“It’s her only chance!” Hi Tech yells back. “If I don’t try then we’re all cooked! If this works I’ll be able to knock out that reflector with some of its own power!” He enters a final code at max typing speed. “Here goes!”
Outside, though it’s no less blinding, Scarlet’s cries of anguish subside as the beam stops striking her. She falls to her hands and knees breathing heavily.
“Is she alright down there?” Tunnel Rat asks.
“She looks better than the landscape,” Heavy Duty replies. “That weapon tore a big groove in it so she got off easy!”
“Scarlet! Status report!”
“I’m still here…tired but I’m alright.” She replies.
“It’s a miracle you weren’t vaporized on contact so consider yourself lucky.” Hi Tech says. “Though I wouldn’t suggest doing that again.”
At Cobra the Commander is not too happy.
“Was this a part of your plan?” He demands of Destro.
“No, this was unexpected-”
“You assured me success!”
“There is still Phase 3-”
“Overkill isn’t done with it yet, he needs more time-” The Baroness reminds them.
“All he does is float in that tube all day, how much more time does he need?!”
“You have displeased me Destro.” The Commander’s eyes narrow. “I had your assurances that this version of Thor’s Hammer would not fail.”
“The technology they used is still not understood, I couldn’t have anticipated that with its increased power supply that it would fail. There was no way-”
“No more excuses! The cannon you wasted valuable time building is up and running fully charged thanks to this powerstone but is completely worthless! We can’t even get off another shot! You are wasting my time and resources with a plan that’s falling apart!”
“Phase three will more than make up for lost time.”
“For your sake I hope so.” He turns to the Baroness. “Keep an eye on Overkill and make sure that jar of brine does as ordered.”
At GI Joe headquarters it’s time for a quick breather. Everyone is outside with Scarlet who is lying down on her stomach to better see them.
“Okay, I’ve run every test under the sun I can with the equipment I’ve got and you’re fine.” Hi Tech says. “Aside from the obvious,” This gets a giggle from the aviation expert. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”
“Really?” Scarlet sounds surprised
“Your atoms should be destabilizing at the molecular level since you were hit with that plasma beam but since you weren’t blasted to subatomic dust you’re okay.”
“You’ve got no idea how this happened?”
“Well, I’ve got a couple of theories.” Hi Tech rubs his chin. “You’re giving off protons like mad so I thought you were disintegrating but it’s clear your elemental makeup being similar to the powerstone is causing that because it behaved the same way. Between that and when the suit got shocked with you its built-in memory and shielding created a zone of dupl-”
“Can we get the guide for dummies?” Tunnel Rat asks interrupting rudely. “The SHORT version?”
“We’ll need some of that in English, Hi Tech.” Duke chuckles.
“English, now that’s hard…”
“You should try it sometime, amigo.” Long Range chides him. “It goes over better.”
“Uh…okay. It’s like this. Scarlet’s atoms were duplicated by the powerstone when she got shocked. The electrons-” He can see he’s losing his audience already. “It happened thanks to the suit. If not for that instead of being like this she’d be in sick bay. The effect was confined to the suit’s area.”
“So it could’ve been any of us?” Heavy Duty asks.
Hi Tech shrugs. “I don’t know…could be a lot of factors I’m not aware of. I’m just guessing right now.” He admits. “I’ll need that stone back to even try fixing or figuring out how it happened.”
“Are you feeling alright?” Duke asks, genuinely concerned.
“Yeah. Just a little tired.” Scarlet replies.
“I would be too if I went head to head with that many ionized particles.” Hi Tech agrees. “But she’s okay.”
“Well that’s the important thing. Are you up for some more action?”
“What do you have in mind?” Scarlet asks, intrigued.
“I was thinking we could all pay Cobra a visit and see how they treat surprise guests, what do you say?”
In Cobra laboratory Overkill is trying everything he can think of to do as ordered.
“It doesn’t make any sense!” He complains analyzing readouts of the stone. “They had it for one day and already figured out how to use this powerstone for something like that? Every calculation I’ve run has failed so far…”
“The Commander is not very pleased with your progress.” The Baroness reminds him.
“I could care less about that fool or his agenda!”
“That does not bode well for you…”
“It will mean absolutely nothing when I discover the secret they must have stumbled upon!”
“The key to the girl’s growth?”
“Such knowledge will make me invincible!”
“Ah, but you don’t know where to begin?” The Baroness smiles a malevolent smile. “Such a shame…”
In the R.O.C.C. the crew is preparing for an attack on Cobra.
“Alright! Here’s the plan one more time.” Duke says as the R.O.C.C. moves into position. “Tunnel Rat you take the Rhino Chopper and disable all the roof mounted defenses, Heavy Duty you take the tank and do the ground mounted ones. I want the both of you watching Scarlet’s back.”
“Roger that, boss!” They both reply taking off.
“Long Range, you and Hi Tech stay behind to keep an eye on things.”
“Snake Eyes and I are gonna sneak in during all the commotion and go rock hunting.” The ninja says nothing. “We’re borrowing your cycles Hi Tech.”
“Bring ‘em back in one piece this time.” The technician replies.
“You’re the commotion.”
“Let’s get started!”
Scarlet rushes in paying no heed to the defenses of Cobra and isn’t having too much trouble. First thing she does is tear off the massive cannon and wield it like a golf club to cut a swath through the security forces. Behind her are salvos of missiles hitting stationary turrets at shoulder level and bursts of tank fire taking care of the ones at ankle level. Duke and Snake Eyes shoot through the opening with next to no resistance.
At Tech Central Hi Tech is running info support.
“Okay, they’re in.” He says watching Duke and Snake Eyes gain entry. “The stone’s on the top level according to my scan, you guys.”
“Ten-four Hi Tech!” Duke replies.
“Hey, we got em all!” Tunnel Rat says suddenly.
“You hit all the stationary defenses?”
“Yep!” Heavy Duty replies. “What now?”
“I need you two on stand-by.”
“Okay, now what else?” Hi Tech checks all his surveillance again.
“We’re on the third floor, which way to go further up?” Duke asks.
“Let me pull up your location…” He pulls up a schematic of Cobra’s base layout. “It’s back on level 1! They’re moving it! You’ll have to intercept!”
“Got it! We’re heading back down now!”
“Whew!” Hi Tech exhales. “All this action is making my head spin! Finally it’s quieting dow-”
“Hi Tech!” Heavy Duty yells causing the computer genius to sigh. “I’ve got something on radar; I’m not sure what it is…”
“I’m getting it too, what’s the deal?” Tunnel Rat asks.
“I’m on it.” He pulls up his radar and perimeter scanners on yet another screen. “Whoa! You guys are looking at serious company out there!”
“Like what?” Tunnel Rat sounds dubious.
“So this is what it is like to be on top of the world…” Comes an amplified voice.
“The Baroness…” Hi Tec says sounding deflated.
“When did they figure out how to do that?” Heavy Duty wonders.
Inside Cobra Duke and Snake Eyes are biking through a hallway slashing and shooting bats by the dozen.
“H T, I’m nearly to the first floor.” Duke says. “When we get there, which way?”
“You won’t find it in there, Duke. It’s already outside!”
“So we’ll go out and have a little scavenger hunt? Sounds like fun.” Team leader says sarcastically.
“It’s not going to be too hard to find, the Baroness has it.”
“I’m on- we’ve got company!” He exclaims taking evasive action and narrowly avoiding Storm Shadow’s pounce. The white ninja whizzes past him to attack his wingman Snake Eyes who is not surprised at all. With a clang of steel they are both aerial and the cycle swerves, bumping into a wall with no rider.
“Good of you to come, luv!” Comes an annoying British accent. “We’ve been waiting for ya!”
“Buzzer…” Duke grumbles.
“Glad you remember!” He says gaily with the beam chainsaw coming to life.
“And the rest of you showed up too…” The leader of GI Joe sneers firing off some shots at the remainder of the Dreadnaughts and interminable bats.
“Of course.” Zartan says coolly. “Wouldn’t miss this for the world…” He activates his cloaking device.
“Hey, I’ve got a situation here!” Duke yells into his radio while avoiding cutter laser, blaster fire and actual fire. “I need an escape, pronto!” He pitches forward as a fist hits him in the back of the head and the whole ensemble tumbles shortly after when the building is rocked by a heavy impact.
“Working on it!” Hi Tech replies.
Duke staggers to his feet and does a leg sweep hitting two bats, a dreadnaught, and an invisible person. Suddenly he is nearly hit with a katana but just as swiftly comes the clang of steel as a friendly blade blocks it and the shadow warriors continue to engage in their battle. “Step on it!” With blasters blazing he clears a perimeter as their adversaries back up a bit. “Kinda tough, eh?” He calls to Snake Eyes.
His teammate doesn’t respond. He’s got both swords out and is guarding from Storm Shadow with one and deflecting shots with the other. He back flips nimbly into the circle alongside Duke regarding their enemy warily.
“Any time now…” Duke says voice level noting the fact that they’re surrounded.
Abruptly the floor beneath them bucks again and sends everyone thudding into the wall. An even greater force shakes the foundation of the building when a familiar hand closed into a fist slams into the wall of the hallway not too far away and leaving a gaping hole in the structure.
“There’s your out!” Comes over Duke’s comm. Link.
“Let’s move out!” Duke yells leaping astride his bike and riding out of the brand-new exit. His covert comrade is not far behind and they take the cycles full throttle through the air.
Outside it’s a dicey situation. Scarlet and the Baroness are locked in combat as the flying riders arc through the area. The limits of the machines are tested as they twist to avoid flailing arms and stomping feet.
“I see a friend of ours went through a change today!” Duke yells as he steers through all the dust the ladies are kicking up.
“Yeah, did you check her jewelry?” Hi Tech asks. “Scanners say the powerstone is in the device around her neck.”
“We’ll have to take that off her quick! Tunnel Rat, can you hit it from there?”
“No, I’d have to get close and I’d get swatted down!” The pilot of the chopper protests.
“Maybe Scarlet’ll just pound it off her….” Heavy Duty says as an afterthought. “Cause she’s taking to the Baroness, hard!”
For Scarlet this is pretty difficult.
“Those metal hands of hers are starting to hurt…” She thinks to herself. Something crunches underfoot and she pays it no mind. It’s been happening all day. “Got to get her down…”
“What’s wrong?” The Baroness taunts. “Are you tiring out?” She smiles fiendishly landing another kick to Scarlet’s midsection. “That is really too bad!” She lands a killer left cross to the redhead’s jaw making her fall, sliding a bit.
“Oww…” She thinks to herself, skidding. “Head spinning- what?” She sees Duke suddenly floating between her and the enemy operative as the agent attempts a tackle to pin her down. “No way!” She says leaning up and grabbing the Cobra member by the shirt and giving her a kick in the solar plexus along with a basic Judo throw. Her superior lands on her chest and in spite of the gravity of the situation she can’t suppress her smile.
“Good catch!” Comes over her headset. “Can I get a lift?”
“Sure thing!” She replies grabbing Duke with one hand and using the other to spring to her feet.
It appears she underestimated her opponent though for the Baroness was not down long and is advancing again. “It will take more than that to defeat me.” Scarlet raises her guard up again. “Careful!” The Baroness admonishes closing in on her.
She immediately remembers the guest in her hand. “She’s right; I can’t put Duke in danger!” She thinks to herself. This conclusion leaves her at a loss as her persistent enemy begins to attack again. “I can’t do anything!”
“Allow me!” Tunnel Rat yells firing off a salvo from the Rhino Chopper into the enemy’s face. The Baroness staggers at the sudden burst of light and newfound debris in her eyes.
“Need a hand?” Heavy Duty asks as he rams the Rhino into her foot pushing it forward slightly and helping her slip on the remains of so many bats.
The German royalty falls and Scarlet walks off a few paces and sets Duke down where he’s picked up by Snake Eyes then charges back in, trying to keep space between her and the R.O.C.C.
“Scarlet!” Hi Tech comes over the radio. “Get her necklace off! It’s how she’s maintaining her current state!” She nodes and advances on her opponent again who looks amused.
“Is there no end to your antics?” The Baroness asks as though talking to a young child.
“Not until we’ve finished here!” Scarlet replies righteously.
“Don’t you realize what kind of power this is? What you could accomplish with it?”
“I think we see it totally different ways.”
“You could have the world at your feet!”
Scarlet shakes her head. “That doesn’t make it right.”
“Cobra Commander is right; all of you are fools…” She says derisively.
The red-eyed soldier pays the remark no mind and goes to swing a hook for the face of her adversary. The Baroness steps back, giving ground more and more to the aggressive attacker. Backed against the battered building her cohorts call a base she lashes out in desperation smacking Scarlet in the face open-handed. Though it is a light blow she is staggered by the impact.
“Did that hurt?” The Baroness asks in a sarcastically sweet voice. “Poor you…” She gives Scarlet another slap. “I guess my fingers may sting a little…” She has a haughty laugh at her opponent’s expense.
“Ow…” The GI Joe thinks to herself. “Got to get that necklace off…” She grabs for it as the Baroness goes in for another palm strike.
“You’ll have to do better than that…” Another scornful snicker as her hand is caught in the steel grip of the opponent and she is given a gut punch for her trouble.
“Hang in there, Scarlet!” Duke encourages. “You can do it!”
On the roof of the R.O.C.C. Duke is planning a strategy.
“You sure you can do this, Long Range?” Duke asks. “We don’t have any more room for mess ups.”
“I never miss.” The professional marksman replies. “Just give me a chance.” He says beginning to assemble his sniper rifle.
“Whatever you guys are doing, you’d better hurry!” Hi Tech says from the control room. “Scarlet can’t take much more!”
Duke and Long Range glance at the battle. It’s hard to decipher a winning party with all the guarded blows and failed grab attempts but they can see from where they are that Scarlet’s chest is heaving from lack of wind and is more than a little flushed in the face. The Baroness grabs up the barrel of Thor’s Hammer v.2 that Scarlet was using as a weapon earlier and begins to attack the crimson haired one with it. Now the GI Joe operative is on the losing side of the altercation.
“I only need one chance.” Long Range says locking a charge into the weapon. “And I’ve got two here.”
“You ready?” Duke asks.
“Just get her to hold still.” He lies flat on the roof lining up the shot.
“Scarlet! Can you get her to hold still? Long Range wants a clear shot at the pendant to end this.”
His right hand doesn’t respond. Upon her enemy’s next attack she grabs the bludgeon and pulls her assailant close swinging her around and immobilizing her from behind. With one arm wrapped around her foe’s midsection and the other immobilizing her forearms behind her back Scarlet has the Baroness immobile. “I don’t know how long I can hold her like this!” She says worriedly.
“Take the shot!” Duke commands.
“Perfect.” Long Range mutters pulling the trigger.
The shot is dead-on, amazing everyone but doesn’t do its intended task. The precision laser burst bounces off thing air doing no damage. Everyone is mystified, Long Range most of all.
“Scarlet’s too close!” Hi Tech explains. “At her size the Sigma Six laser shield covers too much area and is too powerful for even a shot of that caliber to come close!”
“Have her turn the lady loose.” The sniper suggests sliding his spare charge in the rifle. “I’ll take it from there.”
“I’m slipping!” Scarlet sounds frantic.
“It’s okay, just let go.” Duke replies. “We’ve got one more chance.”
Unceremoniously Scarlet pushes the Baroness away. The woman takes this time to lash out with the pole at Scarlet and this is when Long Range takes his shot. His jaw drops to the floor as he only grazes the pendant since it was bouncing and swinging to and fro.
Now Scarlet is in a bind. The Baroness is trying to bash her head in and she’s too tired to defend herself properly. Her half-hearted attempts are only partially helping her escape injury.
“This is the best that you could do?” The Baroness sounds disgusted. “That’s pathetic!” Scarlet tumbles into a sitting position so tired is she. “I expected more from the ever present thorn in our side. Such a shame…” She raises the club to strike a finishing blow to Scarlet’s head. “Farewell…” She is just about to smite Duke’s second-in-command when something won’t leave her alone. It’s the Rhino Chopper which buzzes around her head like a crazed fly. She swats at it with one hand becoming thoroughly annoyed with it quickly.
“Do not waste my time!”
In the chopper Tunnel Rat is having a hard time keeping it in the air. “Fine, I just want you to have a parting gift!” He says gaily hitting the fire button to the missiles. “All out?” He fumbles around in his pack. “Then have some of these!” He yells steering the chopper with one hand and lobbing a set of charges out the hatch with the other.
Freshly blinded again with her shades cracked now the Baroness is furious, flailing her hands around in her anger. One metallic finger nicks a propeller and forces Tunnel Rat to make an emergency landing. “You I shall destroy first for not knowing your place.” She says as her vision clears.
“Oh no you don’t!” Heavy Duty declares racing to his defense.
“Fool, these toys cannot stop me…” She rolls over his tank with a toe. “You shall be next for your impudence.” She turns back to Tunnel Rat. “But you first for being so very annoying…”
“Oh man…” The explosives expert moans as her foot hovers over his vehicle. “I-”
“YO JOE!” Scarlet cries leaping into action and tackling the Baroness backward away from her comrades. Stunned by the ferocity of the sudden attack she is caught off guard, dropping her weapon as she is taken to the ground. Before she can formulate a counter attack she is slugged in the side of the head with enough force to leave her woozy.
“It’s the end of the line for you!” Scarlet yells grasping the necklace.
“I hate to admit it but I have reached the end of my rope…” The Baroness concedes writhing in Scarlet’s grasp. “Perhaps another time then…”
“What?” Then there is a flash of light and she recoils back as everyone in the vicinity is blinded. When the flash dims Scarlet only has the necklace in her hand while the Baroness is gone, hanging from a rope ladder on a getaway ship.
“It looks like out hosts are making an ungracious exit.” He mentions noting a ship flying away. “We’ll have to catch them later, looks like we’re all out of steam for today.”
“You got that right!” Heavy Duty yells. “I’m upside down in here!” He complains in his overturned tank. Scarlet puts it back right absently. “That’s better!”
“I bet Scarlet’s the one who needs a rest.” Hi Tech says. “She did the most today between battling Cobra and saving all our hides.”
“Way to go!” Tunnel Rat agrees. “I know I owe you!”
“Don’t worry about it, we’re a team.” Scarlet replies.
“Scarlet you went above and beyond the call of duty many times today. Something like that deserves a commendation it doesn’t seem like enough since we all owe you our lives…but you have it and my heartfelt thanks.”
At Cobra the commander is going over the day’s events in his mind.
“My lord, I can explain-” Destro begins. “I’m-”
“No need.” The commander rubs his chin. “Today was a learning experience. Very interesting things can be done with these powerstones, now can’t they?”
“Indeed. They are worth the time to find.” The Baroness adds.
“Yes…and one as an ace is not too bad wouldn’t you say?”
“But this one is different than the other-”
“Yet powerful all the same. It may make for a nasty surprise in the future don’t you think?” He says contemplatively looking at a powerstone.