G. I. Joe Fan Fiction ❯ The Gunner and the Grease-Monkey ❯ Chapter 4

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

GI JOE Season 3 : episode 1
“The Gunner and the Grease-Monkey”
Chapter 4
DGSE Headquarters - 0625 hrs
RoadBlock staggered sleepily the next morning into DGSE headquarters. The events of the past few days had begun to weigh heavily on him. The lack of sleep didn't necessarily bother him, but usually he would have had the choice of either cooking his favorite dish or shooting his Ma Deuce to take the edge off. Neither of which has been an option of late.
Since he and Cover Girl no longer had a car to share, he awoke extra early so he would have time to take the trolley and stop by a convenience store for some groceries. He hoped to go into the staff kitchen and whip up an omelet before he had to report for duty. He arrived in the cafeteria and was pleasantly surprised: most of the floor was devoted to the kitchen. The facilities were on par with the equipment back home. In the self-serve area there was a Conti z500 espresso machine - they weren't even supposed to be on the market until next spring. As he continued to survey the rest of the food court, he noticed that there were a few stragglers left over from the graveyard shift reading the morning paper and drinking coffee. In the far corner, he saw CoverGirl. She was easy to spot since she was the only other person in the building besides himself that wore a U.S. standard issue Army uniform. As he approached, he noticed she was also drinking coffee and reading some reports - apparently getting an early start on the day. She looked lost in her thoughts as she read the papers scattered across her desk. She held a coffee cup in one hand and had her head cradled in the other - although it was covered by her auburn hair as it draped down to her sleeve. When she perceived his presence she looked up at him and gave him a smile.
“Good morning Marvs,” she said.
“Good morning Courtney.” He had woken up that morning in a bad mood. Moreover, he was resigned to wallow in his self-righteous grumpiness - it was the only outlet he had to vent his frustrations. However, upon seeing her, he found himself cheerfully returning her smile against his will. How did she do that to him with just a look?
“Gee you look like crap. Rough night?”
“Yeah, I had a hot date.”
“Oh? How did it go?”
“Well, I got beat down, humiliated, and thrown out of a car.”
“She sounds like a handful - assuming you're not into that,” she said, with a wicked grin.
“No. And to top it all off she didn't even put out.”
CoverGirl rewarded his sarcasm with a punch to the arm.
“Here drink this Mr. Grumpy,” she said, handing him her coffee, “before you say something else that you'll regret.”
“Damn,” he said, after taking a sip, “this is some good coffee.” He took another sip, “I reiterate: damn.”
“I know! The scuttlebutt is that Metier imports this custom blend directly from Brazil. No one knows whats in it, and he won't tell.”
“Brazil you say?” He took a larger sip and swished the beverage around his tongue several times before swallowing. “I detect a Typica and Bourbon blend. However, those beans have a high natural acidity thats not present here; he must balance it out with a milder Columbian hybrid.”
“Thats amazing Marvs! Do you think you can figure it out? I could probably use that info as currency around here.”
“Yeah, but I'll have to drink some more to be sure,” he said, before he took another sip.
“Great, while you're up would you be a dear and bring me back another cup also... Don't look at me like that, you just drank all of mine!”
RoadBlock went back to the self-serve area and returned with more coffee. He placed a fresh cup next to CoverGirl and happened to look over her shoulder to see what she was reading.
“Getting an early start?” he asked.
“Uh huh. This is the result set from the query we put in with DialTone,” she said, handing him a single sheet of paper with a list of names.”
“This is great! Are Metier and Evrard aware of this?”
“Yes, I put copies in their In-boxes. Although this isn't a comprehensive list - it only involves the metropolitan areas. Most of the outlying districts aren't computerized yet so we have to wait for the hard copies.”
“Its still an excellent start.” He placed the page down and picked up another set of reports, “Whats else is in here?”
“DialTone was very thorough. He included bios of everyone on the list. So far everyone fits the profile: all well-to-do citizens, pillars of the community, no criminal records. Its encouraging, but it proves nothing.”
“Look at it this way, it doesn't disprove anything either,” he said, as he took the seat next to her.
“You're right. Oh by the way, this envelope came in with the report. It was marked for your eyes only, so I figured it would be safer if I held onto it before you got in.”
“Thanks,” RoadBlock said. He broke the seal on the envelope and started reading the contents inside. “I asked MainFrame to dig up some additional dirt on Evrard and Metier. You know, the stuff they don't tell you in the official reports. Hmm...”
“What is it?”
“Evrard's service record: Its a boring read, but nothing short of exemplary. I thought BeachHead was by-the-book, but he's got nothing on this guy. Its technically flawless.”
“What about Metier?”
“Metier's is more colorful. He majored in sociology and international politics. Graduated top of his class, and did his dissertation on the dynamics of terrorism. He's brilliant, but was considered sort of a rebel for his unorthodox views. Apparently, he's been transferred to 5 different government agencies in as many years. I guess he doesn't like to stay in one place for very long.”
“Either that or he has trouble getting along with the status quo. I seem to remember him mentioning having contact with GI JOE before. What does it say about that?”
“I'm just getting to that part. Here it is. The Worldwide Defense Initiative: security was headed by Stalker, Lady Jaye, Gung Ho, and Spirit...this was GI JOE's first recorded encounter with Zartan. He kidnapped Dr. Metier and assumed his identity to gain entry in an attempt to sabotage the conference.”
“Metier failed to mention that little tidbit of information. Its interesting that both times he tried to get this project off the ground, there's been Cobra involvement. Talk about lighting striking twice in the same place.”
“Not to mention he's been compromised before. Do you want to entertain another coincidence theory?”
“No way. So what are we going to tell theses guys about what we saw last night? We have a meeting at the beginning of our shift.”
“I've been meaning to ask you because I'm not sure myself. It could be the Algerians, or Cobra or some other player.”
“My money is on Cobra.”
“Maybe, but I just wish we had more to go on than just our gut. Did you get a good enough look at the girl we tailed for a description?”
“No, between the fighting, the noise, and the flashing lights it was all a blur. What about you? You had to have gotten a good look at her when she brought us our food?”
“Well,” RoadBlock said blushing, “I wasn't exactly checking out her face...”
CoverGirl punched him in the arm again.
“Ow!” he exclaimed, as he rubbed his arm. "You hit the exact same spot."
“Men!" she said in an annoyed tone, as she folded her arms. "Anyway, what about that big Frankenstein wanna-bee in the trench coat? I figure that must've been a B.A.T.”
“A Battle Android Trooper? No it wasn't.”
“How can you be so sure? I've seen a B.A.T. throw an AWE-Striker, I've seen them dust themselves off after falling off of skyscrapers, I've even seen them push through a few dozen rounds from an M60-”
“But you forget I fought this guy up close. He was wearing body armor like a man. He was breathing like a man. And he stank like a man.”
“But no man could do the things he did. Even Serpentor wasn't that strong.”
“No not Serpentor. But the last time I fought something like that it had wings - bat wings.”
“What? Oh no! You're not thinking what I think you're thinking are you?!”
“Cobrala's Nemesis Enforcer.”
“Please don't tell me those guys are involved. I thought we wiped them out.”
“I don't know. This guy didn't have the wings, but he was just as strong and twice as mean.”
“This is all giving me a headache,” she put her coffee down and massaged her temples. “So what do we say?”
“We really can't say anything: information regarding Cobrala is at least 10 levels above top-secret. “
“You're right, but I can't help feeling like a bit of a hypocrite.”
“You know secrets are all part of the game.”
After a quick breakfast, RoadBlock and CoverGirl finished going over the reports and headed upstairs for their morning debriefing.
“By the way,” RoadBlock said, “how did you get here so early?”
“Evrard gave me a ride,” she said meekly.
“He knew our car was totaled; he was so sweet to have offered.”
“You couldn't have given a Brother a call? Maybe I wanted a ride too.”
“Well I felt bad about everything you went through last night. I figured you would want to sleep in, so I didn't wake you.”
“Well you should feel bad. You know when this gets back home the other JOEs are going rub my face in it. Its bad enough that I have the same first name and initials as that boxer guy.”
“Yes Marvs, but you're way prettier than he is. Besides, you have nothing to worry about. That fashion show was small potatoes. What loser would've been up last night watching that?”
Relieved, RoadBlock nodded his head in agreement. They got off the elevator and checked in with the floor guard. RoadBlock held the door open for her as they entered the main office. Once inside they found the morning shift busy at work. When they were spotted, however, everyone stopped what they were doing and looked at RoadBlock. It was completely quiet in the office, you could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, they all chanted in unison:
After the initial shock, RoadBlock turned to his right to scold CoverGirl, but she wasn't there. He turned to his left, then to his back - she was nowhere to be found. Alone he walked through the crowd of agents as they teased him at his expense. However, he took it all in good stride, after all, he had to admit it was a little funny. He entered the conference room to find Metier, Evrard, and CoverGirl waiting. CoverGirl was careful not to show any expression of humor in her face. Evrard was sitting quietly next to Metier, who was reading a section of the newspaper that had a picture of RoadBlock and CoverGirl from the fashion show last night. Metier put down the paper when he noticed RoadBlock come in.
“It has come to my attention that we had a break in the case last night,” Metier said.
“Yes,” Evrard said. “We Identified a suspect but she got away before we could apprehend her. She had help of course.”
“I see,” Metier said. “Why didn't you call in the Action Team for support?”
“There was no time,” RoadBlock said after he sat down at the table across from CoverGirl. “Besides, we didn't want to attract any undue attention to ourselves-” RoadBlock stopped himself too late. He cursed inwardly at the sheer stupidity of his last statement.
Metier, acting oblivious to the irony, responded, “So this is how you normally tail suspects in America?”
RoadBlock looked to CoverGirl for an answer.
Yes?” she said hesitantly.
“Yes,” RoadBlock parroted back at her in agreement.
“Yes,” they both answered in unison as they looked back to Metier.
RoadBlock added, “Its GI JOE special surveillance tactics training...stuff.”
“Fine,” Metier raised his hand at RoadBlock - signaling him to stop while he was ahead, “thats all we need to say about that then. First things first, what do we know about the suspect?”
“We had the shellfish analyzed,” Evrard said. “It was tainted with a very aggressive derivative of saxitoxin. Certainly fatal, there probably would have been no foul play suspected because it so closely resembles the toxins associated with standard Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.”
“So it would appear,” Metier continued, “that whoever is killing off Cobra agents tried to kill the three of you last night-”
“Wait a minute,” CoverGirl interrupted, “lets rewind that. You said Cobra agents in the plural. Whats going on here?”
“I'm sorry mademoiselle, we just found out ourselves,” Evrard said, “We did some checking on the names in that list of possible Cobra spies you gave us: out of the 36 possible suspects, 15 of them have died over the course of the past 8 months. Their deaths at the time were all non-suspicious; having ranged from car accidents to apparent suicides.”
“Thats almost half - with the same M.O. as Gaschot,” RoadBlock said, “that can't be a coincidence.”
“Agreed,” Metier responded, “I am forced to acknowledge that there is a link between the Algerians and Cobra.”
“The prevailing theory is that there is some sort of war between the two factions,” Evrard added.
“But why are they carrying it out in secret?” CoverGirl pointed out. “That's not the usual M.O. - for either of them. Have there been any 'accidental' deaths on the Algerian side?”
“None that we've noticed. All known Algerian cells and suspects have been relatively inactive,” Evrard said.
“So either Cobra's elite are getting their butts kicked by these loosely-organized fundamentalist upstarts, or there's another player at the table,” RoadBlock mused.
“Is there something else that you haven't told us?” Metier asked.
RoadBlock looked to CoverGirl for an answer.
No?” she said hesitantly.
“No,” RoadBlock parroted back at her in agreement.
“No,” they both answered in unison as they looked back to Metier.
“In that case lets continue,” Metier said. “without more to go on, lets redouble our efforts on the Cobra connection. The best lead we have so far is the information we got from the widow Gaschot. I want to re-interview her immediately.”
“Why are we wasting our time with dead suspects?” CoverGirl said, “why don't we track down the remaining suspects on the list and round them up?”
“As you know mademoiselle, in keeping with the Crimson Guard M.O., it is implied that the suspects are all men of power and influence. We cannot simply 'round them up' without due process - the legal ramifications could jeopardize the entire project. I know the concept may be foreign to you Americans, but we are still a country of laws,” Metier said.
RoadBlock quickly turned to CoverGirl - ready to intervene in case she decided to rebuke Metier's sarcasm. He was relieved that CoverGirl bit her tongue, although he was sure it was not without considerable effort on her part.
“Dr. Metier, surely there would be no harm to ask them a few questions?” Evrard said.
“I don't think that would be prudent.” Metier replied. “We don't want to potentially alert Cobra that we've uncovered their spy network. Like any other, this situation calls for patient intelligence gathering. We will keep the suspects under surveillance. In the meantime, RoadBlock I would like you to accompany me since you have a rapport with the widow Gaschot. Evrard, I would like you and CoverGirl to find the whereabouts of the private detective she hired.”
“His name is Guillaume Adjani; we haven't been able to account for his whereabouts since his last meeting with the widow,” CoverGirl added. “I suggest we start at his office for leads.”
“This is reasonable,” Evrard said.
“Make is so,” Metier said.
With the meeting adjourned, the four of them left the conference room.
14th arrondissement - 0913 hrs
The drive was quiet on the way to the widow Gaschot's home in the outskirts of Paris. This was the first time RoadBlock has been alone with Metier for any extended period of time. He dreaded that Metier would feel obligated to fill the silence with idle banter.
“So how long have you been with GI JOE?”
“Almost since the beginning.”
“Is Gung Ho still with your unit?”
“Yes he is, why?”
“I am very fond of his gumbo.”
“You've tried Gung Ho's gumbo?”
“Oui, a long time ago, but I never got the recipe.”
“I'll pass it along the next time I see him.”
RoadBlock elected not to press the conversation. After all, he was not fond of small talk - especially with strangers. To his relief, the car phone range and Metier picked it up. After a brief conversation, he hung up and turned the car around to go back into town.
“Is something wrong?” RoadBlock asked.
“There has been a new development. We are on our way to another crime scene.”
6th arrondissement - 0919 hrs
CoverGirl and Agent Evrard arrived at the office building of Guillaume Adjani - the private investigator hired by the widow Gaschot. When they arrived, they were initially barred from entering the floor that contained Adjani's office space. After getting approval from building management, they were led to the appropriate floor by the manager. They were shocked to discover that the floor was in the middle of repairs due to extensive fire damage. CoverGirl already knew where this was going: the further into the building they got the worse the damage was. She stopped when she got to the obvious epicenter of the blaze.
“Let me guess, this is the office space that Adjani was leasing,” she said.
“Oui mademoiselle,” said the manager, “it is also the believed origin of the fire. The repairs are on hiatus pending an investigation by the insurance company.”
“So arson is suspected,” Evrard pointed out, “Was anyone hurt in the fire?”
“No, but we have yet to hear from Monsieur Adjani, his rent is long overdue.”
CoverGirl went inside and had a quick look around. Everything was burned to a crisp.
“So what are the odds that Adjani turns up missing right before his office catches fire. It looks like someone was trying to cover their tracks,” CoverGirl said. She carefully walked around a charred desk chair - almost slipping on the surrounding soot that caked the floor. “We've hit another dead end,” said CoverGirl.
“Actually CoverGirl,” Evrard replied,” this is most encouraging. According to his file, Adjani was very good at what he did, he was a police detective before he retired,” He also took a quick peek inside from the door, but did not go inside himself. “If someone went through such lengths to cover their tracks, it suggests that he was on the right trail.”
“I'll buy that,” CoverGirl said. She opened a nearby file cabinet, the papers inside were reduced to ash. “But the trail here has gone up in smoke, so to speak.” She wiped the dirt from her hands on her dress as she walked out to join Evrard.
“Monsieur, where do you keep the mail for Mr. Adjani?” Evrard asked of the manager.
They were directed to the mail room and were granted access to Adjani's post office box. Evrard quickly thumbed through the stack of letters.
“What are you looking for Evrard?” CoverGirl asked.
“A man of Adjani's talent does not come cheap, there are expenses to be paid - expenses that can be tracked...Viola! His credit card statements,” Evrard triumphantly handed her the envelopes.
“Gee, its a good thing they didn't burn down the entire building,” CoverGirl quipped.
CoverGirl and Evrard left the office building with a renewed confidence. They finally had some solid leads. As they drove back to DGSE headquarters, she looked through the letters, it was a futile effort since she couldn't understand French. She was resolved not to let these letters out of her sight until she could get back with RoadBlock - although Evrard had been helpful, RoadBlock was the only person she fully trusted. She looked up from her papers after they came over a hill. She glanced at the tachometer and noticed that their speed was steadily increasing.
“You're taking this hill a little fast aren't you Evrard?”
“I think we have a problem, the brakes aren't working,” he said stomping hard on the brake pedal.
“Did you try the parking brake?”
“Yes, no effect. I can cut the engine and we can coast down.”
“If you cut the engine, you'll lose steering...There's an intersection coming up, blare the horn!”
The warning came in time. The oncoming cars yielded allowing Evrard to blow through the intersection safely.
“I have airbags, what if I steer the car into a building and try to scrape it along its side,” he said.
“Are you kidding? This car is made out of tin foil, at this speed we wouldn't survive. You need to snake turn to slow us down...Watch out for that trolley!”
“I see him, hang on!”
Evrard cut the wheel hard to the left. They avoided the trolley, but banking at that speed caused the car to lean heavy on its right side. The car's inertia lifted the entire left side off of the ground. For one terrible moment it was engaged in a deadly balancing act. Thankfully, gravity brought the car back down on all 4 tires. Unfortunately, Evrard had to hit the gas to supply enough power to the tires in order to re-align the car. This caused them to descend even faster down the hill.
“That was too close!” she said in relief.
“There's to many obstacles in the road for a snake turn. If I turn too sharply we'll barrel roll.”
“But we've got to slow down...wait a minute. We can shoot out the tires. The friction from the undercarriage should do the trick.”
“Good idea. Shoot them all out now!”
“No, you're going to need the front two to steer. We should only shoot the back tires.”
“Well what are you waiting for? Do it.”
“Okay here we go...Wait a minute! I just thought of a problem: as soon as I shoot one tire out, we're going to fishtail. We need to shoot them at the same time so we don't flip over. You're going to have to help me.”
“I'm otherwise engaged mademoiselle!”
“I can't do it by myself, my arms are only so long!”
“This car is 'tin foil' right? Shoot them from inside the cabin!”
“Okay, give me your gun.”
“Hurry!” he said as he unholstered his weapon and handed it to her.
“Shut up, I'm trying to concentrate.”
CoverGirl leaned precariously over her backrest to face the rear of the car. With a gun in each hand, she angled each arm in alignment with her best guess as to where each tire should be with respect to the interior of the cabin. She steadied herself and cleared her mind of all external distractions - focusing only on herself and the two rear tires as the vertices of a deadly triangle:
The car shuddered then suddenly dropped. CoverGirl was relieved to see they were now leaving a shower of sparks in their wake as the car's undercarriage scraped along the roadway. The car was going noticeably slower by the time they reached the bottom of the hill.
“CoverGirl we've got another problem - I just lost steering, and we're about to smash head on into the side of that building!”
“And we're still going too fast! I have an idea hold on!”
In desperation, CoverGirl shot the front passenger tire on her side. As she hoped, the car teetered on its remaining tire and slowly started to veer toward the passenger side away from the perpendicular. They still hit the building, however instead of slamming into it head on, they ricocheted off like a billiard. The impact sent them in a violent spin that snapped off the remaining tire from the axle. Fortunately, this caused more friction as the entire undercarriage was now in contact with the street. The car, amid a torrent of sparks and fiberglass fragments, finally came to a stop in the middle of the intersection. Evrard and CoverGirl climbed out - they were shaken but glad to be alive.
“Are you okay?” asked Evrard.
“Yea, and you?”
“I'll live...if you'll excuse me, I'll be over there puking my guts out.”
“Sure, have fun with that.”
19th arrondissement - 1008 hrs.
RoadBlock and Metier arrived at the crime scene. In usual fashion, DGSE forensics agents were already on the scene, circumventing the local municipal authorities. The senior technician on site recognized Dr. Metier when he pulled up with RoadBlock. He went over to greet them.
“What have you found?” Metier asked.
“The authorities pulled the body out of the canal early this morning. He was killed with a single gunshot wound to the head - possibly a 9mm caliber. Time of death has not been determined yet. A reg flag came through our department when he was identified as an Algerian national. We have confirmed his identity as a suspect on our terrorist watch-list.”
“More than that,” Metier said as he looked at a picture of the victim, “He is a cell leader - the same cell leader that was supposed to meet with the students the other night. What are your thoughts RoadBlock?”
“At first glance, I would say it looks like that maybe the Algerians are not involved in the murders at all since they are victims themselves.”
“I would agree.”
“But it raises a bigger question: assuming it was Cobra, why go through all the trouble.”
“Maybe it wasn't Cobra, like you said there could be another player.”
“But how do we know, it seems like we're going in circles.”
“In such things RoadBlock, it is my experience that you hardly ever know anything. All we can do is follow the evidence. Right now it still points to Cobra.”
DGSE Headquarters - 1300 hrs
After a quick debriefing, CoverGirl and Evrard were ordered to report to the infirmary for an evaluation. She didn't understand what all the fuss was about, all she and Evrard suffered were minor cuts and bruises. When she came out, she saw RoadBlock was waiting in the hallway. He was leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. She was touched by the look of concern he had on his face when she came out.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yes, it was no big deal.”
“Thats not what I heard. So what happened?”
“Someone cut the brake lines. It wasn't obvious though; they were frayed to make it look like normal wear-and-tear.”
“I'm not liking this, this the second time someone has tried to kill us in as many days.”
“But now its time for us to go on the offensive,”she said handing him some envelopes.
“Whats this?”
“Adjani's corporate credit card statements. If we find out where he's been spending his money, we find out where he's been.”
“Good thinking, lets get to it.”
Hours pass. RoadBlock and CoverGirl work frantically to reconstruct Adjani's investigation. After dozen's of phone calls and faxes made between them, it was apparent that the biggest challenge proved to be overcoming the endless red tape in dealing with bureaucrats. At the end of the second shift, They retired to the cafeteria for an evening repast.
“Mmm, this is good. What is it?” CoverGirl asked, before taking another bite of her dish.
“Pansette de Gerzat,” RoadBlock replied, “basically its Lamb.”
“I have eaten better in the past 3 days than I have in the past 3 years. How do you do it not to get fat?”
“Its all about portion control,” he said as he refilled their wine glasses, ”that and stomping a few snakes now and then.”
She raised her wine glass to that before taking a sip, “Speaking of stomping snakes, what do we know so far?”
“We know that before his disappearance, Adjani visited a motel about 50 miles outside of town on the way to Orleans. Around the same time he requested an electricians report on a plot of land not far from the motel. Did we ever get a fax back on that report from the utility company?”
“Yes I have it right here,” she pulled the fax out of a file folder in her briefcase, “they were required to bring the wiring up to spec before they could be added to the grid. And I think you were going to check who they were.”
“Right. It was a private company but I wasn't able to find out the name. However, according to the regulatory agent I spoke to, that patch of land has been sold and resold over the years. Apparently, it was built on top of an ancient cistern and a lot of company's have tried to extract the water to resell it.”
“Resell water?”
“Yea you know, 'natural bottled water' - its a big fad nowadays.”
“I see.”
“Anyway, extracting the water is too expensive to make a profit so all the previous owners have gone out of business. And it looks like this latest owner is no exception. The paperwork on it hasn't moved for years.”
“Man, talk about a cold lead.”
“Yea, but if Adjani took the time to go there, then we should at least check it out.”
“You're right, but lets wait till morning. I'm not to eager to get behind the wheel just yet. That reminds me, will we have a car by tomorrow?”
“Yea, they're going to drop it off at the hotel.”
“Good, lets put it under your name this time.”
“Sure, but why mine?”
“I don't think the rental agency is too fond of me, seeing as how I raped the last two cars I rode in.”
Motel d'Leon - 1000 hrs
The next morning RoadBlock and CoverGirl set off on their fact-finding road-trip. They settled in a small rural town just off of Autoroute A71 roughly halfway between Paris and Orleans. They settled into the Motel d'Leon - a small privately owned inn headed by an elderly man who seemed very friendly. The old man remembered Adjani and arranged for them to stay in the same room. Once in the room, they looked for clues but found nothing in the way of new leads.
“The innkeeper was very chatty with you,” she said, while fixing her hair in a mirror.
“Yea he was very friendly. I guess he doesn't get many patrons,” he said, as he bent over and looked under the bed, “that would explain how he remembered that Adjani checked in here.”
“Well if Adjani was here, he didn't leave anything behind.”
“Thats not too surprising,” he got back up and sat on the bed, “I guess we should head over to the private land plot,” he then pulled out a road map from his pocket and unfolded it in his lap.
“How far is it?” she said, as she sat down next to RoadBlock to examine the map.
“Just a few miles off road. Well within walking distance.”
“You mean we're not driving? Why?”
“For one thing the road map doesn't show any access roads. Secondly, when I was talking to the old man about Adjani, he remembered him going out on foot after he checked in. If we're going to do this right, we might as well follow in his footsteps exactly.”
“That old man sure is a nosy little busybody.”
“Its not like there's anything else to do around here.”
“I'm glad I at least brought my civies this time.”
When RoadBlock and CoverGirl arrived at the private land plot, they were surprised to see the primitive state of the land in terms of development. RoadBlock had to double check the map to make sure they were in the right place.
“Yea this is it,” he said, putting the map away afterwards.
“Of all the godforsaken - there's nothing here!” She kicked over a nearby rock in frustration.
“It has been a long time. Maybe they pulled out and cut their losses.”
“I would hate to have driven all the way here and have nothing to show for it.”
“We can give the area a quick sweep,” he shielded his brow from the sun as he surveyed the land. His eyes eventually settled upon a small collapsed building in the distance. “Lets start over there,” he said pointing at the edifice.
CoverGirl followed RoadBlock to the dilapidated structure. Under a pile of debris near one of the remaining stable walls, they found a service hatch that led underground. RoadBlock opened the hatch squatted next to the opening and looked inside.
“You're not thinking about climbing in there are you?” CoverGirl said. With trepidation she leaned over RoadBlock's shoulder from behind and peered into the darkness.
“You're the one that didn't want this to be a blank trip. Don't worry, I brought along some flashlights”
Having said that, he tossed her a flashlight and they descended down the hatch via a ladder. At the bottom of the shaft, they got on a catwalk that led to an open passage. The passage looked like it was part of larger circular corridor: it stretched on either side for as far as they could see and broke off into a number of smaller hallways.
“This is more like TunnelRat's gig,” she said, looking around. Over the edge of a railing, she noticed a rusty generator that had fallen into disrepair. Every where she shone the light on the contraption she caught a glimpse of rodents and other vermin as they scurried away back into the darkness. “Eww, it looks like we're not the only ones down here. Will you take a look at all this junk, it has to be about 50 years old.”
“Yea, old equipment but new wiring,” he said, as he flashed his light on a nearby wall where some electrical conduits were bolted. He ran his hand along the length of the conduit. “Do you still have that wiring map from the electrician's report?”
“Yes here it is,” she unfolded the paper and held it up to the light. “Well it certainly looks larger in here than it does on paper.”
“Its my guess that we're here,” RoadBlock said, pointing at a spot on the paper. “It doesn't look like there's anything interesting along the perimeter. I think we should go into one of these access corridors. We'll criss-cross the area a few times then call it quits.”
“Fine by me,” she said ,as she put the map back in her pocket, “I don't mind the darkness, but this humidity is going to wreak havoc with my allergies.”
“We are sitting on top of a cistern. Its probably fed by an underground river.”
They followed the circular path and turned into one of the access corridors. CoverGirl took out a handkerchief and covered her nose to relieve the stench of mildew and vermin. The hallway echoed with a crunching sound as they walked over the algae-encrusted floor.
“They got it wired and plugged into the grid, so where's the light switch?” RoadBlock said.
“Maybe they haven't paid their electric bill.”
“Hey, did we make a right and then a left back there? I'm a little disorientated.”
“I think it was a left at the barrels of toxic waste, and a right at the rat droppings,” she said as she hopped over particularly large puddle. “I just had to wear my favorite boots today.”
“Sorry. Lets just keep going straight. We're bound to hit the perimeter sooner or later.”
“This labyrinth is certainly a perfect metaphor for our mission isn't it?”
“How do you mean?”
“They're both full of twists and turns that lead nowhere.”
“I like to think we've made some progress. Although I don't know what we're going to do if this trip doesn't pan out. Hey! I think I see daylight coming out from under that door up ahead. It must lead back outside.”
“Good lets get out of here. To tell you the truth I'm tired of following all these dead ends - I'm starting to feel like the donkey led by a carrot stick. You know this mission is going to go nowhere if we can't even prove that Cobra still exists.”
RoadBlock opened the rusty door, expecting to find the exit back to the surface. Instead He and CoverGirl found a large room filled with electronics. They were surprised to see that monitoring the equipment was a room full of Crimson Guard soldiers. For the first time in 2 years GIJOE and Cobra stood face-to-face. For what seemed like hours both parties looked at each other with apprehension - neither one knowing what to expect from the other.
“Excuse us, we have the wrong secret terrorists hideout,” RoadBlock said. He calmly closed the door and barricaded it with his arm. “RUN!”
“Not without you!”
“One of us has to make it out of here to warn the others!”
She knew he was right, but that didn't make abandoning him any less painful. She ran back the way they came. She got halfway down the passage when the hallway lit up brightly and an alarm rang. As she came upon an intersection she saw shadows cast from 3 guardsmen coming up from around a corner. She broke into a full run and jumped into the air. Her timing was perfect - as one of the guards appeared, he met the full force of her flying kick. He slammed hard against the opposite wall and did not move.
She landed on her feet then immediately pounced after the second guard; she drove the spike of her heel into the pit of his stomach. It had enough penetration to knock the wind out of him and cause him to double over. She finished him off with an ax kick to the back of the head, breaking her heel off against his helmet.
She no longer had the advantage of surprise; the remaining guardsman charged so fast that she barely managed to sidestep his punch as it grazed her jaw. Enraged, he came at her again. She grabbed his arm and flipped him over her shoulder. However, he rolled with the attack, caught her on the hip and reversed the throw. She fell hard on her back and tried to recapture the air that left her lungs. Before she could even breathe again, the guardsman was already on top of her and had her pinned down to where she couldn't move. She kicked and screamed desperately to no avail. Suddenly she saw a massive hand slap around the grill of the guardsman's helmet. It was RoadBlock.
RoadBlock hoisted the guardsman to his feet by the rim of his helmet and slammed him back down with a devastating hammer-fist to the face. By the time CoverGirl got back up, there were guardsmen in front of them and behind them. RoadBlock picked up the unconscious guardsman at his feet and plowed a path through the oncoming enemy.
During the scuffle, CoverGirl was able to slip by, but before she could reach the exit, someone grabbed her at the waist and pinned her against the wall with one hand: it was Mr. Aloof. CoverGirl pulled out her .45, but Mr. Aloof snatched it from her and, in a frightening display of strength, crushed the barrel between his fingers before discarding the mangled pistol to the ground. All CoverGirl could do was look on helplessly as more and more guardsmen came upon RoadBlock.
First five, then eight, then ten guardsmen joined the fray. There was no room to maneuver in the narrow passageway so winning this fight was a matter of simple brute strength. The only advantage RoadBlock could count on is that there was no need for precision: it was hard not to throw a punch without hitting someone. Four guardsmen managed to break through his defenses and pile on top of him. RoadBlock was no stranger to ground fighting so, as they were kicking him, he coiled his body into a ball and used this time to rest as he fended off the attacks. He scanned the area looking for CoverGirl - hoping she was able to get away. He was horrified to see she had been captured. He exploded to his feet, sending 3 of his attackers flying. He no longer had the luxury of strategy - he had to get over to her fast. He suddenly felt a searing pain rip through his arm: someone shot him with a TASER. He pulled out the wire and stuck it into the neck of the the remaining guardsman who still managed to retain a hold on to his leg. His limbs where now completely unfettered, but before he could do anything, he was suddenly hit with 3 more TASER shots. RoadBlock succumbed and fell to the ground - his body shaking violently in convulsions.
End Chapter 4