G. I. Joe Fan Fiction ❯ The Gunner and the Grease-Monkey ❯ Chapter 5

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

GI JOE Season 3 : episode 1
“The Gunner and the Grease-Monkey”
Chapter 5
Crimson Guard Stronghold - ???? hrs
RoadBlock's journey back to consciousness was slow and painful. When he was finally self aware, he started to open his eyes, but quickly shut them because of the bright light that shone overhead. He surmised that he was on the ground laying on his back. He started to rise, however his muscles were still flaccid from electrical shock. Moreover, his head was nestled into something that was warm and soft, so he gave in and allowed himself that comfort. He squinted his eyes to allow them to become adjusted to the light before opening them fully. His vision was blurry at first, but it eventually came into focus on a familiar face. His head was resting on CoverGirl's lap; when she noticed that he was awake, she looked down at him as he looked up at her. Her hair dangled to where it brushed against his cheek. The way she was stroking his forehead with her fingertips was very soothing to him. He reached over to touch her but something stopped him. He looked to see that both of this arms where chained at the wrist - a stark reminder that they where now prisoners. With a groan, he forced himself to sit upright.
“Are you okay? You had me worried there for a second,” CoverGirl said.
“Yea, actually I haven't slept this good since we left the States,” RoadBlock said rubbing the back of his head. As he took a look around, he noticed that they were locked in a small musty cell illuminated by a single light in the ceiling high above. The only way out was through a thick rusted metal door. The surrounding masonry was riddled with mildew and slime. RoadBlock tested the chains around his wrists - they were solid stainless steel with each arm bound by a separate chain that was bolted to iron moors. The moors themselves were roughly waist-height from the floor. There was some slack in the chains that allowed for limited movement, but for the most part they were bound to the wall. He saw that CoverGirl was similarly shackled. “At least they spared no expense on the handcuffs. Where are we?”
“Same place, just further underground.”
“Well at least we know why Adjani ordered the electrician report.”
“Yeah, I was pondering that as well. It does seem unusual to run power to an undeveloped land plot.”
“That should've been a red flag. I feel like an idiot for not seeing it before.”
“Hindsight is 20/20 RoadBlock. Besides, they hid it exceptionally well in a mountain of paperwork and red tape.”
“It is odd that Cobra could run an operation out here for so long without anyone noticing.”
“Well I took in as much as I could on the trip down here. From the state of disrepair and the general disorganization, I'd say that this base its not permanently manned. A way station perhaps?”
“I would tend to agree with you, did you notice how surprised the guards were when we entered the command center? They obviously haven't bothered to set up any kind of surveillance, otherwise we wouldn't have been able to waltz right up in here.”
They heard the lock on the door disengage. The door swung open; two crimson guardsmen entered. One carried a TASER and the other carried a tray with 2 bowls. RoadBlock and CoverGirl stood up to face them. The first guardsman shot RoadBlock with his TASER. RoadBlock, presumably still weakened from his first shock session, immediately fell to the ground in a seizure.
CoverGirl took up the slack in her chains, reaching over as far as she could with her foot, and kicked the TASER wire out of him. The first guardsman charged her with fist raised. She didn't have time to retreat so she started to get her guard up to block. However, she didn't have enough slack in the chains to raise her arms either. Unprotected, she took the full brunt of the punch. She staggered backwards, as everything began to go dark, then slumped to the ground.
RoadBlock reached for the guards throat cursing him. His arms moved as though he were pushing through molasses; his legs dragged as if they were bound by lead weights. The guardsmen remained just out of reach, taunting him. He shot RoadBlock with his TASER again, sending him writhing on the floor.
“This is for my mates that you sent to the infirmary,” the guardsman said.
RoadBlock screamed as his body bucked uncontrollably. Apparently satisfied, the first guardsman withdrew the TASER and walked out. The remaining guardsman dropped the tray to the ground and left as well.
“Bon appetite JOE,” he said before closing the door behind him.
The contents of the bowls spilled onto the ground - what was supposed to be their 'food' looked more like something that should have been flushed down a toilet. The roaches on the tray, having eaten their fill, scurried to hide in the nearest available crack in the floor.
RoadBlock opened his eyes and launched to his feet. Although it was painful, much of his response to the TASER shots were theatrics put on for the guardsman's benefit. He knew that, at their core all, Cobra's are sadists and the guards would not have left until they were sure that he was sufficiently tortured. He was going to need all his energy to escape and it would not serve him or CoverGirl if he pushed himself past his pain threshold in some misguided act of defiance. To engage in such heroics now would have been prideful and stupid. The first order of business was to care for his injured teammate. The shackles prohibited touching her with both hands so he took up as much slack as he could with his left arm and leaned over her as far as he could. He then took her with his right - paying special attention to her head and neck as he cradled her in his chest. He felt her scalp for contusions; there was already a bruise forming on her cheek where the guardsman hit her. He brushed the dirt and lichen from her face and hair. Her body was tense, her breathing was shallow, and her eyelids fluttered as her eyeballs rolled up into their sockets - she was fighting for consciousness. RoadBlock whispered her name, her real name, into her ear and her body immediately relaxed in his embrace.
The rhythmic cadence was comforting to CoverGirl's ears. It was steady, it was warm, it was powerful: she felt safe. She kicked and swam hard to break the surface of her consciousness. When she awoke, she bolted upright with a gasp. She came to find that she was leaning on RoadBlock, who had his back against the wall and his arm draped around her for support. When she got her bearings about her, RoadBlock helped her sit up.
“I uh...thanks,” she said.
“You're welcome.”
She winced as she rubbed the spot on her cheek where the guardsman hit her. It was numb in the center, but sore around the edges. She looked at RoadBlock and her expression became sullen. He was seated with his left arm precariously stretched as he pulled against the chain. The arm was completely supinated at the shoulder. The veins bulged as they struggled against gravity to deliver blood to the oxygen-starved muscles. She surmised that she must have been out for a while, and during that time RoadBlock put her comfort ahead his own. She turned away from him to hide her angst.
Upon seeing her expression, he tried to put her at ease by saying, “nothing like a good stretch to loosen you up.” He released the tension in his arm and massaged the sore muscles.
Their attention was turned toward the door as the lock was disengaged. Inside walked a tele-viper followed by the Crimson Guard Commander:
“Tomax!” RoadBlock exclaimed.
Upon seeing RoadBlock, Tomax squinted and put his index finger to his mouth - tapping his lips with his finger as if trying to recall a name.
The Tele-viper, perceiving Tomax's memory struggle, interjected, “Hinton, Marvin...Primary Military Operational Specialty: Heavy Machine Gunner...Operative Name: RoadBlock.”
“Thats right,” Tomax said, snapping his fingers. “RoadBlock.” He looked over to CoverGirl, “Who's the girl?”
“Accessing facial recognition database...Match found: O'Hara, Shana...Primary Military Operational Specialty: Counter-Intelligence...Operative Name: Scar--”
“I am not Scarlet you moron!” CoverGirl said. At this point a 3rd figure entered the room.
“That is CoverGirl luv,” said Zarana, correcting the tele-viper. “She's a washed-up model turned mechanic.”
As she came further in the room, CoverGirl noticed she walked with a slight limp.
“I see time hasn't improved your fashion sense Zarana,” CoverGirl said. “How's the shin?”
“I imagine its doin' about the same as your jaw dearie,” Zarana replied. She stood next to Tomax, taking his arm, and kissing his cheek.
“You must forgive the accommodations," Tomax said, "this place used to be a safehouse for the French resistance during World War 2 because of its strategic location and ample water supply. We only have one true holding cell and its taken at the moment.”
“I take it that you're holding Adjani prisoner as well? What have you done to him?” RoadBlock said.
“You mean the private investigator? Lets just say the interrogator got carried away and made a mess of things.”
“Is that supposed to scare us?”
CoverGirl interjected, “Why don't I save us all some time here Xamot...”
“Thats Tomax...”
“Whatever. We all know this is the part where you threaten us with bodily harm if we don't tell you everything we know. Correct?”
“In which case, we'll shoot back with some witty repartee like...Help me out here RoadBlock.”
RoadBlock shrugged his shoulders, “...I got nothin'.”
“The difference here JOE,” Tomax said, “is by the time we're done with you, you'll be begging to tell us at what age you stopped wetting the bed.”
Having said that, Tomax, Zarana, and the tele-viper leave the room.
“How could you do that?” CoverGirl said.
“Do what?” RoadBlock replied.
“You let him have the last word. You never let the bad guy have the last word - especially if its a funny.”
“Sorry, I'll be sure to remember that the next time we stumble upon a secret terrorist cell hideout." RoadBlock placed both feet against the wall and pushed hard . On pure muscle-power he was standing perpendicular to the wall and parallel to the floor.
“RoadBlock what are you doing?”
“One more zap of that TASER and I won't have the strength to try this later.”
“RoadBlock, you can't break those chains.”
“The chains may be unbreakable, but look at the moors they're attached to. Decades of oxidation from the humidity has made the iron and surrounding concrete brittle. Do you remember what I told you back in the States the night before we left?”
“Yeah, I take it that this is the part were we, 'pull it out of the fire at the last minute'?”
RoadBlock arched his back and bucked as hard as he could against the wall. Bone and sinew strained against steel. Steel strained against iron and concrete. Each gave as much ground as they were willing to give: something, or someone, had to break.
“I swear Tomax, your goons are worse than the Dreadnocks,” Zarana said.
“Well my dear, they need an outlet after having been inactive for so long,” Tomax replied.
They made their way to the infirmary where a medi-viper was treating a number of guards for severe injuries.
“When you're done here, see to our guests," Tomax said to the medi-viper. "This time no summary executions without my approval, is that understood?”
“Perfectly,” the medi-viper replied.
“You can do whatever you want to the girl, but I want the man left relatively unharmed. He will make an excellent candidate for the MAMBA program.”
“Thank-you sir,” the medi-viper said, “I'll be sure to take my time.”
“Sicko pervert!” Zarana said as she walked away with Tomax.
“Careful dear,” Tomax said. He held the infirmary door open for her and they left the room, “One day he might have to save your life on the battle field.”
“I'll slit my wrists first luv,” Zarana said with a saccarine smile.
“Bitch,” the medi-viper said under his breath once Tomax and Zarana were out of earshot. He couldn't imagine what Tomax saw in her; she was too disrespectful of male authority. It went against the natural order of things. Afterall, men are the penetrators and women are the receptors. He would never tolerate such behavior from his girlfriends - although his girlfriends never survived the first date. He opened his special medical kit to examine the instruments inside. Everything had to be in its proper place for his special guests. When he was satisfied, he closed the kit and carried it with him out of the infirmary. He was escorted to the holding cell by a single guardsman; it was obvious that Tomax didn't trust him to restrain himself. His professionalism was never questioned before when the Crimson Guard Commanders were together - before that pink-haired hillbilly came between them. It just goes to show what happens when you give a woman a little authority. No wonder the organization is in jeopardy - the two pillars of the Crimson Guard are too busy fighting over a woman of all things. If she ever comes across his table, he'll have to arrange for an 'accident' - something subtle of course.
He and his escort entered the cell holding RoadBlock and CoverGirl. He placed his medical bag on a table near the door and unraveled the contents. He reached in and systematically pulled out each instrument, holding it up so the light would gleam off of the silver finish. Each time he held up a scalpel, he eyed CoverGirl in the reflective surface. Her reactions were better than foreplay. He carefully arranged them on the table on top of a sterile pad, then turned to the prisoners.
“Lets begin,” he said.
The guardsman shot RoadBlock with his TASER; sending him to the ground in a fit. The medi-viper approached CoverGirl, being sure to stay well out of RoadBlock's reach. He grabbed her face at the jawline; she struggled at first, but stopped resisting once he tightened his grip causing her to wimper in pain.
“My, you are a pretty one.,” the medi-viper said. He examined the bruise on her face, “Don't worry, I wouldn't dream of ruining this face.”
He dug his thumb into her bruise. CoverGirl cried out for mercy; her pleading diverted the attention of the guardsman managing RoadBlock's TASER. The Guardsman turned to look at her - which was the cue RoadBlock was waiting for. He pulled out the TASER wire and sprinted towards the Guardsman, dragging his chains behind him. The Guardsman froze in shock as RoadBlock whipped his chains around. The chains cut the air with a hiss; each end having a concrete bludgeon attached. Before the Guardsman could draw his gun, two wrecking balls of concrete smashed simultaneously on both sides his helmet, rattling the skull inside.
The Medi-viper turned to the source of the noise and saw RoadBlock standing over his unconscious escort. Before he could scream for help, CoverGirl kneed him in the groin. The medi-viper grabbed his crotch and doubled over in pain, to make matters worse on his way down his jaw met CoverGirl's other knee on its way up. The medi-viper fell to his back, rolling on the floor in agony. His screams were replaced by a gurgling sound - his jaw had been dislocated.
“Dang girl,” RoadBlock said. “Why do you females always have to go for the nuts?”
“I don't like playing the part of the 'damsel in distress' - even if its just acting. I had to take it out on somebody. Besides I get the feeling he deserved it more than most,” she said, kicking him again on the ground. The medi-viper fainted from the pain.
“What a poser, he screamed like a girl,” RoadBlock said.
He kneeled over the guard and searched his pockets. He took out the keys and walked over to CoverGirl. He unlocked her handcuffs. Likewise, she did the same for him. She gasped as she examined the lacerations on RoadBlock's wrists from where the chains dug into his flesh.
“Oh my God, RoadBlock. You need stitches,” she said.
“Its just a few scratches.”
“Stop being macho,” she said. She went to the medical bag and retrieved some iodine and gauze. She walked back - giving the medi-viper another kick on the way for good measure - and treated RoadBlock's wounds. “This should at least keep it from getting infected.”
“Good as new. So whats the plan?”
“How about we get the hell outta here.”
“Yes ma'am,” RoadBlock said in agreement.
RoadBlock undressed the medi-viper and gave the clothes to CoverGirl. As for himself, he dressed in the Crimson Guardsman's uniform. They left the cell and proceeded to the upper levels.
“What is it?”
“This uniform is too tight.”
“Look at me. I'm swimming in these pants and you don't see me complaining.”
“I don't know how these guys breathe in these things. And the inside of this helmet smells like ass!”
“I swear RoadBlock, sometimes you're worse than a chick.”
“I guess it could be worse...at least its not my Army Greens.”
“Do you think we're going to be able to pull this off?”
“Yea, as long as no one looks too closely. Which means you have to stop walking like that.”
“I can't help it, I have hips!”
When they arrived at the upper level, they stopped talking and moved quietly through the corridors. CoverGirl walked behind RoadBlock and kept the medi-viper's medical bag in front of her to hide her gait. Upon rounding a corner, RoadBlock suddenly stopped, causing CoverGirl to almost bump into him. He continued and she resumed following him; when she rounded the corner after him, she saw what gave him pause: Mr Aloof was walking in their direction. CoverGirl shrank behind RoadBlock as they approached the behemoth. When they passed, she felt a chill go down her spine as the ground vibrated with each step he took. She let out an audible sigh of relief when he disappeared down the way. When they rounded another corner, a tele-viper crossed their path and entered a room across the hall. RoadBlock followed him, but stopped short of entering; instead he looked up at the ceiling and back-tracked to an access panel.
“What are you doing?” she whispered.
“That's the tele-viper that was with Tomax.”
“This may be our only chance to get some real intel.”
“How are we going to do that, just walk in there?”
“No, thats to risky,” he said as he removed the access panel.
“How are you going to fit in there? Its too small.”
“For me it is.”
“Great,” she said with her hands on her hips. She crawled into duct and RoadBlock put the panel back in place,”you better be here when I get back!”
“This should lead to an air duct in the ceiling above, good luck.”
It was a tight fit between the crawlspace of the service hatch. CoverGirl inched her way patiently until she got to the adjoining air duct where it fanned out, giving her more room. Before reaching the air grate leading to the communication room, she gave pause as she came across a brick of C-4 in her path. She examined it briefly: it was a 10-pound brick set with a remote wireless detonator. It was most likely put in place as part of some kind of self-destruct protocol. She had been around C-4 enough times to know that it was relatively safe. She saw no reason to abort, so she continued on - giving the C-4 a wide berth. She made her way to the air grate leading into the communications room. Between the flaps of the grate, she could see the Tele-viper jacked into a display terminal. Tomax and Zarana were talking to a third party on the screen who she could not see from her vantage point, but whose deep-voice she recognized immediately.
“Communications link established,” the tele-viper reported.
“Report,” Destro said - his voice thundered over the comm link.
“Don't bark orders at me Destro,” Tomax said in an annoyed tone. “I'm keeping you informed as a courtesy.”
“Then I courteously ask you to: Report!”
“We currently have two members of the GI JOE team in custody. It seems that my coming here may have been premature.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because they sent a chef and a mechanic. The private investigator probably knew more than they did - which is next to nothing.”
“It has been my experience to never dismiss GI JOE so lightly.”
“It has been mine as well, which is why we are questioning them at this very moment.”
“Good. How has the MAMBA performed in the field?”
“Better than expected. We've acquired some real-time battle data against the JOEs: his speed, strength, and stamina are well above peak-human. Outfitting him with the new body armor alloys has made him nigh invulnerable.”
“I think one of the JOEs would make a worthy test candidate.”
“Is that wise?”
“Don't worry, the process removes all vestiges of free will. He'll be made sufficiently pliable with the new technologies we've acquired.”
“Just don't loose sight of the ultimate goal of the MAMBA project. We can't afford to spend millions using trial-and-error.”
“Whew, is it me or did it get hot in here all of a sudden,” Zarana said as she wiped the sweat from her brow. She checked the environmental controls then put her hand up to the air vent. “I don't feel any air coming out of there.”
In a panic, CoverGirl crawled back the way she came as quietly as she could. Zarana dragged a crate over to the air vent. She stood on the crate, allowing her to reach the vent. Before she removed the grate, however, an alarm sounded all over the complex.
“Something wrong?” Destro asked in a sarcastic tone.
“Do you think the JOEs escaped?” Zarana said.
“Impossible,” Tomax replied. “Give me a SITREP now!” he said to the tele-viper.
“Reports are coming in from our forward positions,” the tele-viper replied. “French special forces have penetrated the complex.”
“It appears your problems aren't over yet,” Destro commented.
Tomax gave the 'kill' sign to the tele-viper to end the transmission, “stay here and coordinate our forces, try to jam their comm links,” he said. He turned to Zarana and took her by the arm, “come my dear, such matters are left best to underlings.”
Tomax and Zarana left the room, much to the relief of CoverGirl.
CoverGirl made her way back to the access panel. She found RoadBlock standing guard outside. She kicked the panel open and joined him in the hall. She could hear the faint sound of gunfire and explosions coming from the ceiling overhead.
“Is that alarm for us?” RoadBlock said.
“No, I think the Action Team is here.”
“Talk about good timing. Did you overhear anything?”
“I'll tell you on the way out of here. I don't want to get caught in a cross-fire.”
CoverGirl ran through the corridors with RoadBlock behind her. Relying on her memory, they were able to find the stairs leading to the next level up. The stairs between floors was connected by a narrow catwalk. The echoes of gun fire could be heard high overhead. CoverGirl looked down over the railing: it was pitch black.
The catwalk led to the large circular corridor where they started. All they had to do was follow the perimeter to the service hatch. Suddenly they were met with a hail of gunfire. RoadBlock grabbed CoverGirl, jerking her so hard that her hair fell out of her helmet. They took cover in an adjacent corridor.
“Who's shooting at us?” she said
“RoadBlock peeked around the corner, then immediately drew his head back as bullets ricocheted against the wall.
“Its friendlies, we can't fire back,” he said.
“Lets tell them that we're JOEs.”
“Be my guest.”
Pinned down, they were forced to go back the way they came. When they got to the catwalk, they were met by a squad of Crimson Guard troopers followed by Mr. Aloof. The troopers passed them on the catwalk to engage the French military forces. They continued along the catwalk and passed Mr. Aloof. They were about to step off the catwalk, when CoverGirl let out a shriek as Mr. Aloof grabbed her by the hair. Mr. Aloof dragged her along kicking and screaming.
RoadBlock hit Aloof's forearm with his rifle butt causing him to release her. Aloof swatted the rifle out of RoadBlock's hands, picked him up, and threw him to the other side of the catwalk. RoadBlock landed hard on his back, he grabbed the railing to keep from falling over the side. It felt like his wrists were on fire as the wounds opened up again. He started to see flecks of crimson appear through his bandages.
Meanwhile, CoverGirl recovered the rifle and unloaded the entire clip into Aloof. After she was out, she retreated to a corner but Aloof followed her and cut her off. RoadBlock came from behind and smashed his shoulder into Aloof to pin him against the wall. Aloof pushed off the wall and sent them both stumbling backwards. RoadBlock regained his balance, grabbed Aloof and hip-tossed him over the railing. However, Aloof managed to hold onto RoadBlock's lapel and they both fell over the side. CoverGirl ran to the ledge and searched the darkness - there was no sign of either of them.
RoadBlock splashed into the waters far below the catwalk. The thick leather of the Crimson Guard's uniform offered some protection, but it still felt like slamming into a brick wall. Luckily, the helmet he wore had inlets that automatically closed, presumably as a defense for chemical attacks, but it worked just as well for water. The self contained breathing apparatus inside had enough air for a few minutes - plenty of time for him to get a second wind and swim back to the surface. When he broke the surface, he swam for a ledge that led to a tunnel carved out in the rock. There was no light, but the night vision in his helmet helped him to negotiate the path. Although RoadBlock hated Cobra, he was always impressed with their level of technology. He came across a maintenance hatch and went inside, ending up were he started on the level containing the holding cells. At least he would be able to retrace his steps and maybe find CoverGirl on the way.
As he made his way to the level entrance, he could still hear the sound of gunfire - although it was fainter because he was deeper underground. He smirked as he passed the prison that he once occupied; the guards that he and CoverGirl overpowered had since reawakened and were banging on the cell door. He doubted if anyone would come down to let them out anytime soon.
Once he left the area of the holding cells, it was deathly silent. The corridors leading to the stairs were housed in thick concrete so not even the sounds of the battle above could filter through. The only sounds that accompanied him were the echoes of his footsteps as he walked. When he came to a fork in the hallway he stopped. As he tried to remember whether to make a left or a right, he noticed that he still heard the echo of footsteps. Obviously, he wasn't the only person on his way to the floors above. Moreover, the footsteps were louder than his own, implying that the person casting them was considerably larger than he was. Of course there was only one person it could be, afterall if he survived the fall, it was reasonable to assume that Mr. Aloof had also.
The time for running was over; this thing was relentless and would never stop hunting them. But if he is going to face him, it shouldn't be in these narrow corridors. He remembered that right before the stairs there was an antechamber - that should give him the room he needs. He decided that he would make his stand there, so he continued on.
Once he made it to the antechamber, he walked around to get a feel of the room, looking for slippery spots and other such perils. He took off his jacket so his movements could be as free as possible. He removed his helmet to maximize his field of vision. He readied himself mentally for battle: this was not one of Cobra's low-rent mercs that he could wipe his butt with any day of the week, rather this could very well be the fight of his life. If he was going to survive, he would have to flip off that switch that all civilized men have in their brain that keeps the savage side of human nature in check. Because of the way he was raised, he was always careful when he used his strength in such a base fashion for fear of hurting others - even on the battlefield. Such humanity would not serve him here against an enemy who was significantly stronger. His only regret was that he didn't have a weapon: or did he? The thick leather jacket, wrapped around his arm, would make a decent shield. The helmet, cupped over his fist, could double as a bludgeon.
When Mr. Aloof arrived, he found RoadBlock standing in the middle of the antechamber. Aloof stopped, regarding him for a moment, then continued walking toward him.
RoadBlock decided to set the pace of the fight and came at him with his helmet swinging. The hits he landed were solid, but merely bounced of Aloof's body armor. He had to change his target. He made a feint to the abdomen, then redirected the attack to the face. The sound of the blow echoed through the room. The force caused Aloof to take a step backward. It hurt him, but not enough. RoadBlock followed up with another strike, but Aloof caught the helmet in his hand.
The two men stood there - neither one giving up ground. Aloof tightened his grip on the helmet until it cracked like an eggshell. Pieces of the helmet where scattered to the ground. The only remnants left were a single shard that remained in RoadBlock hand.
RoadBlock gripped the shard tightly between his fingers; he would have preferred it to be his Ma Deuce, or even his pistol. However, he was a soldier long enough to know that battlefield conditions were hardly ever ideal. At least the shard he had in his hand was hard and had a cutting surface. The combatants circled each other looking for an opening - a weakness. RoadBlock decided to scale down the pace of the fight by refusing to make the first move; afterall there was no reason to rush just yet.
Aloof attacked first with a punch to the face. RoadBlock deftly avoided it and countered with an elbow to the ribs of the exposed side - it was like hitting sheet metal. Rather than following it up with a combination, he elected to step back to a safe distance. He surmised that this attack, although strong, was phony and designed to bait him into making another mistake.
Aloof rushed him again, this time the attack was committed. RoadBlock deflected the hail of blows, but each block reminded him of the lacerations on his wrists. He was forced to change tactics: using speed to evade the flurry of punches. As each punch passed dangerously close, RoadBlock got a sense of the sheer power put behind every one of the lethal blows.
He was not going to win this fight defensively. The only effective attack he has landed so far was the strike to the face. As a result, his strategy was simple: get to the head. The head is a weak spot of arteries and nerve clusters, where life bubbled close the surface. A well placed strike there would give him the stopping power he needed. There was only one problem: the head is a highly mobile target that is easily defensible. To get to it, he would have to neutralize his enemy's defenses: the shard he held in his hand was the key.
After Aloof threw another punch, RoadBlock ducked and drove the shard between a gap in the armor searching for the subclavian artery deep into the armpit. He was rewarded for his assault by a solid backfist to the head. He was able to turn into it, thus lessening the force of the blow, however he was sent reeling backward into a wall.
Pressing the advantage, Aloof lept towards RoadBlock with a flying kick. RoadBlock barely regained his balance in time to twist his body out of the way. The kick narrowly missed his chest; instead it pummeled the wall behind him with the force of a sledgehammer. RoadBlock could feel the wall reverberate against his back from the shockwaves.
Fortunately, the power put into such a kick left Aloof overextended and off balance, with RoadBlock positioned under his leg. RoadBlock plunged the shard as hard as he could into the inner thigh - it was like pushing through steel wool as the shard penetrated flesh and muscle. For the first time, Aloof roared in pain. However, RoadBlock paid a price as well: he sprained his wrist and was forced to drop his weapon.
With his other hand wrapped in the jacket, he couldn't waste precious time trying to retrieve the shard. That didn't matter because he got the opening he was looking for. With his good arm, he threw an uppercut that connected square on the jaw. Aloof stumbled backwards; the time for pugilistic elegance was over. From now on it was a street fight and RoadBlock held nothing back. Only adrenaline - sweet adrenaline - allowed him to push through the pain in his wrists.
However, in time his adrenaline ran out and fatigue began to take its toll on RoadBlock. He didn't realize, until now, how much the TASER shots had weakened him. It felt like his heart was about to burst; he had to slow down or drop from exhaustion. He hesitated, his chest heaving; what little wind he had left was evicted by a punch that Aloof slipped into his midsection.
RoadBlock retreated to the other side of the room, all the while grabbing his belly. His vision blurring, he willed himself to stay conscious. His reserves were depleted, he saw that Aloof was still going strong - or so it seemed at first.
He noticed that Aloof walked toward him with a stagger. Moreover, the arm where he stabbed him was dripping blood. Maybe this was the opportunity he needed: muscles deprived of oxygen become lethargic, and if the blood loss in the arm was significant, it wouldn't be able to move fast enough to defend the head.
He quickly put together a plan of attack, however in order for it to work, he would have to bait Aloof into delivering a killing blow. He exaggerated his fatigue by slumping to his hands and knees and pretending to faint. Actually, he didn't have to exaggerate much; once he allowed himself to relax, his muscles became flaccid again and did not want to obey his commands. He gave in to his exhaustion for the moment and concentrated instead on gathering his strength. He had to breathe to get his body out of oxygen debt. He remained completely still so the heart could do its job. The beating in his chest was so loud he almost didn't notice when Aloof was standing over him with both fists raised overhead, ready to give the coup de grace .
At the last possible second, RoadBlock rolled to the side of Aloof's bloodied arm as the fists came crashing down. At the end of human strength, he lept into the air directly above Aloof's exposed head. He channeled all of his 225 lb. frame through his elbow into Aloof's temple. Bone grinded against bone as his skull fought against the force. The skull held - but the neck did not. Mr. Aloof fell to the floor; his body twitched, then it was still.
CoverGirl retreated to the level below. She couldn't escape, but she couldn't go back the way she came either. The only option was to avoid contact with both sides and try to find RoadBlock - assuming he survived. She hid behind a niche in the wall as a squad of Crimson guardsmen marched past. When it was clear she resumed to the next level down, moving as far away from the sounds of battle as possible. When she passed a utility closet, the door suddenly opened and someone pulled her in. Before she could scream, a hand clasped over her mouth. She was about fight back when she recognized the voice of her captor.
“Its me Mademoiselle.”
“Evrard?” She turned around and indeed it was agent Evrard dressed in Action Team tactical gear. Relieved, she hugged him. “How did you know it was me?”
“If more medi-vipers walked like you, I would join Cobra myself.”
“I see,” CoverGirl said blushing. “How did you find us?”
“After our 'car accident', I figured I should keep a closer eye on you. When you did not check in, we tracked you car to the motel and followed your tracks to this installation.”
“I'd never thought I'd say this, but thanks for stalking me,” she said with a smirk. “So whats the plan? Where's the rest of your team?”
“I separated from them in order to flank Cobra. We don't have much time, so we need to move now.”
“What about RoadBlock? He's still out there.”
“All in due time. He will have to fend for himself for now.”
After RoadBlock recovered from the battle, he retraced his steps back to the communication bunker. He had to get a message out in order to coordinate with the Action Team. He wasn't privy to the DGSE's command frequencies, but he did know how to contact GIJOE. When he entered the room, the tele-viper was busy at a computer terminal so he didn't notice him at first. When he did finally look over to RoadBlock, the word 'INTRUDER' flashed across his HUD: RoadBlock forgot he no longer had his helmet to conceal his face.
The tele-viper rushed him, but RoadBlock was not in the best of moods, so he probably kicked him harder that he intended when his foot smashed the tele-viper's HUD. And he would most likely later regret stomping on the tele-viper's wrist as he reached for a silent alarm - breaking it in the process. But he would most definitely feel guilty tomorrow for picking him up afterward and throwing him in to a nearby crate, thus reducing it to splinters.
RoadBlock accessed the communication terminal and tapped into GI JOE's satellite feed.
DialTone immediately broke into the feed, “This is a restricted frequency, you are in violation of United States Federal law...”
“DialTone, this is Staff Sgt. Marvin Hinton. Pass code: YO JOE VICTOR FOX-TROT 547”
“RoadBlock! Where have you been? Are you alright?”
“I'm right in the middle of snake central. I need you to get a message to Dr. Metier at French intelligence...”
“Oh right, you wouldn't know...Dr. Metier is in custody. Agent Evrard is in charge now.”
“DialTone, tell me exactly what happened.”
“When you didn't check in, Evrard contacted us. He started an investigation and in the process found some Cobra paraphernalia at Dr. Metier's residence. He's currently leading a strike team to rescue you.”
“Yeah, by the sound of things they're here, but its total FUBAR. Are you still in contact with the strike team?”
“No, they've gone dark.”
“I need you to get on the horn with the Director, CoverGirl and I are in extreme danger.”
“What, you mean more than you already are now?!”
“Yes...Its not Metier.”
CoverGirl followed Evrard through the corridors of what appeared to be the command bunkers. She was impressed by how quickly and efficiently he moved. They haven't met any resistance yet, although she considered that most of them were engaged with the rest of the Action Team. They ducked into a larger dimly-lit room that looked like a receiving area.
“We have to make a stop here then we will rejoin the others to find RoadBlock. I need you to act as lookout,” he whispered.
“If I'm going to cover you, I need ammo - this AK I've been carrying around is out,” she said.
“Of course,” Evrard said, eyeing her warily. He checked the clip of his FAMAS then discarded it, he replaced it with a fresh clip from his pack, then handed her his rifle.
CoverGirl nodded and stood by the entrance. She saw Evrard remove an object from his backpack as he walked off. When he came back, she noticed that he flipped a switch on a small device before putting it in his pocket.
“What is that?”
“No time to explain. We should go.”
Ignoring him, she walked to the spot where he was working. Her eyes widened at what she saw: a 10 pound brick of C-4 wired with a remote detonator - the method of wiring on the device looked familiar.
“What are you doing?” she asked.
“It is just a contingency. The hatch on the other side of that wall is the most likely route of escape. Its just to insure that Cobra can't get away while we pinch them off.”
CoverGirl walked back to Evrard. Instead of joining him, however, she hauled off and punched him in the face. He fell to the ground rubbing his jaw.
“Just what the hell is French intelligence trying to pull here Evrard?!”
“I don't know what you're talking about.”
“I saw other charges just like this planted in the ventilation system by the communications bunker. I'm willing to bet there are others scattered strategically around the base. This isn't a rescue mission, you're here to blow this all up!”
“If you had the opportunity to take out the Crimson Guard in one clean strike, wouldn't you take advantage of that?”
“Thats not the point Evrard...” She suddenly stopped. Her eyes widened when she came to a horrible realization. A chill went through her body as the blood left her extremities. Her heart raced and pounded so hard she thought it was going to beat out of her chest. “To take out a facility of this size using C-4 ordnance would take days to plan. You would have to know the layout - especially to get around undetected. You've been here before.”
“Finally putting it together are you?”
CoverGirl immediately raised her weapon and pointed it at Evrard. Evrard pulled out his backup pistol and did the same to CoverGirl; the two were at a stand-off.
“Oh my God...Oh my God...You're a frikkin' Siegie.”
“I was wondering if you would ever catch on.”
“It was your dish that was poisoned at the restaurant...The brake lines on your car were cut...They weren't trying to kill JOE's, they were trying to kill you!”
“Clever girl.”
“You were going to walk out of that hatch and bring this whole facility down on everyone. Why?”
“I don't think this is the time or place Mademoiselle.”
“We're going to make time Evrard! Why all these games? Is this some kind of Crimson Guard civil war?”
“Not so much a 'civil war' as it is 'going on strike'.”
“I don't understand.”
“The fall of CobraLa, left Cobra in shambles. Reports started to trickle here and there that everyone in the upper ranks was dead. As time passed, it seemed that those reports were true; there had been no official word from anyone in authority for months. Many of us in the Crimson Guard resigned ourselves to live out our lives in cover. Afterall, we had money, power, and influence - not a bad severance package. Some of us got married and started families. We even sought each other out and formed our own regional fraternities.”
“You and Gaschot! That's how you conveniently found his stash; you knew where to look.”
“Very good. Oui, we were friends.”
“So the same phone call he got 6 months ago was the same call you and the others on the list got. You were being reactivated.”
“But your name didn't show up on the database query.”
“I told you there were exceptions, high-ranking members of the military and intelligence is one of them.”
“So I take it that, rather than reporting for duty, you guys gave notice.”
“Oui, some of us were still upset from when we found out that CobraLa planned on infecting all of humanity with mutagenic spores. Our commanders did nothing to protect us, they were only worried about saving their own asses. So we refused to be sheep any longer. Of course Cobra would never let that stand. There are other cells that are willing to follow our lead, but only if we win here.”
“So why involve GI JOE?”
“When my friend Marius died, I knew it wouldn't be long before they would come after me. I figured that a GI JOE presence would flush out Tomax and Xamot. If I managed to take them out, it would break the back of the Crimson Guard. Besides, you JOE's have always had a knack for foiling Cobra's plans.”
“Is that why you came on to me so strong?”
“I'm afraid so. You are very beautiful mademoiselle, but I was more interested in you as a means of protection. That, and it would look suspicious if I uncovered all the clues by myself - I had to nudge you and RoadBlock in the right direction a few times.”
“I can't believe I actually thought you were cute. All of this was unnecessary Evrard, you didn't have to kill those kids just to get our attention. We would have helped you; protected you. We still can.”
“I'm sure, but I would have to give up everything I've worked for. I've grown very fond of my power, I've even decided to take advantage of this little drama to remove that idiot Metier from office - giving me a clear line to the position. With my knowledge of Cobra operations, I could put together a task force even more effective than GI JOE. ”
“In other words, you want to have your cake and eat it too. Spoken like a true Cobra.”
“Don't be so naïve. We shouldn't be fighting; this is how the game is played. Why do think its called 'Black Ops'?”
“That crap might fly with Delta Force, but I'm a GI JOE - and I 'm going to stop you.”
“How are you going to do that with an empty gun? Do you think I would have given you a loaded weapon if I thought I might have to kill you later?”
CoverGirl was about to call him on his bluff, but upon re-examining the weight of her rifle, she could tell that the balance was off. Her heart sank with the realization that he did indeed give her an empty clip.
“You are a good soldier," he said, "but I know you've been trying to stall me. Unfortunately I can't wait any longer trying to convince you.”
“Why did you bother to wait if you were going to kill me?”
“I have no desire to kill you. Not all of it was a game - I was hoping against hope that you would at least sympathize if I offered you the Crimson Guard on a platter.”
In desperation, she spat in his face and started to run away. Evrard wiped the saliva from his face with his hand and licked it from his fingers. He took aim at CoverGirl's back as she ran.
“Goodbye beautiful one,” he said. He closed his eyes as he pulled the trigger:
CoverGirl shrieked and instinctively fell to the ground in a defensive ball. She didn't even feel the bullets enter her body.
She screamed again as the sounds of the bullets echoed in her ears. But something was wrong: she was still alive. She dared to look; she couldn't believe what she was seeing. RoadBlock was standing between her and Evrard. He was shielding her with his body.
Tears rolled down her cheek as she cried out his name. She could hear the splatter of each bullet as it tore into her teammate. RoadBlock went down on one knee, but still defiantly faced Evrard.
She cursed Evrard with a string of obscenities that overrode the din of the the bullets. She fought against her rage and her panic to calm down and think. The precious time that RoadBlock bought her was about to run out. She knew that the gun Evrard was firing was in semi-auto mode: 15 armor-piercing bullets fired in 3-round bursts. She frantically started counting back the number of bursts in her head - was it 3 or 4?
She ran out as fast as she could from behind her human shield to engage Evrard. With a smirk, Evrard trained the pistol at CoverGirl's forehead and pulled the trigger.
Evrard's eye's widened as he realized he was empty. By the time he ejected the magazine, CoverGirl had already ran half the distance between them. She gripped her rifle in her hands, by the time Evrard reloaded and chambered, she was within 10 feet of him: this was going to be close. She explored all her options for her initial attack. One option was to throw her rifle at him as a diversion; she dismissed that idea. Although it had no ammo, the rifle would still serve her better as a bludgeon. For another option, she could meet the enemy head on with all her power; she dismissed this as well. Although a flying kick would be effective, it is too easily countered.
She didn't know what to do; she searched the recesses of her memory for something in her training that could help. Being one of the only 3 women above the grade of E-4, it was only natural to make comparisons between the female JOEs. She recalled that BeachHead once made the comment, 'Scarlett is the martial-artist, Lady-Jaye is the brawler, but CoverGirl fights like a girl.' She always understood it as a compliment - she had no qualms about fighting dirty if it meant she would win.
Taking this into consideration, she finally decided to turn her training off and let instinct take over, just as Evrard aimed his weapon:
CoverGirl tucked into a ball and used her momentum to roll forward. Evrard cursed when he missed - the shots fired high above her. When she passed his leg, she vaulted to her feet - they were now standing back to back. With a prayer on her lips, she twisted her body and swung blind with the butt of her rifle. Evrard too spun around to reacquire his target. His gun hand met the end of her rifle butt at terminal speed. CoverGirl allowed herself a sadistic smile when she felt the rifle butt break his fingers like twigs. Evrard screamed as his gun was knocked across the room.
CoverGirl drove her foot into Evrard's knee; she was disappointed that it didn't break, but at least it forced him to kneel. She raised her rifle high ready to smash it against his skull, however, Evrard anticipated the attack and speared CoverGirl's exposed solar-plexus with his fingertips. As he stood back up, he butted her with the back of his head. She staggered backwards. Evrard reached for her, but she rolled away to regroup. She felt dizzy, apparently she was still suffering from the concussion. She shook it off and swung her rifle furiously, being sure to stay on the side of his injured wrist and knee. She continued to punish his forearm as he raised it to protect his head.
In an unexpected move, Evrard transferred all of his weight to his injured knee and spun around to dig his heel into her hip. The sudden jolt caused her to drop her rifle. Evrard spun in the opposite direction with a haymaker aimed at CoverGirl's head. She ducked the punch and jabbed at the ribs on his exposed side, however, Evrard brought his elbow back to block the jab. She raised her leg to knee him in the chest, but he punch-blocked her knee and followed it up with a backfist. She spun around and landed on her back. Her eyes rolled up into her head and she blacked out.
When she came to, she saw Evrard was heading for his gun. She must have been out for only a couple of seconds. She got up to her feet, but fell back down as she lost her balance. She knew that if Evrard got to the gun it was all over. She fought against the blood rushing to her head and forced herself to stand. She ran as fast as she could at Evrard. The room was still spinning, so she kept her eyes focused on Evrard for a stationary point of reference. She jumped on his back - wrapping her arm around his neck and her legs around his waist.
Evrard screamed in a murderous cry as he forced his legs to stay upright against the sudden load of her added weight. CoverGirl used the distraction to assert her grip: she hooked her feet and squeezed his diaphragm between her thighs; she locked her hand around her forearm to complete the choke-hold and scratched at his eyes with her free hand.
Evrard flailed in a berserker rage, slamming her into the wall behind them, but she was dug in like a tick. He pulled her head back by the hair; she screamed as her hair strained at the roots. She forced her head forward against the hair-pull and bit his ear off. Evrard clawed for her eyes, but she moved her head out of the way and bit into his hand. When she tasted the salty mix of sweat and blood, she bit harder until tooth struck bone.
In one last desperate act, Evrard used the last of his strength to jump backwards into the air. He hoped to sandwich CoverGirl between himself and the floor, smashing her skull against the ground in the process. However, this is what CoverGirl was counting on: in mid-air she twisted her body and they both fell on their side. Her leg was crushed between Evrard and the floor, but it had the benefit driving her thigh deeper into his gut - what little air Evrard held onto was lost.
They were both winded, but CoverGirl had the luxury of breathing. She breathed hard to replenish her reserves as Evrard gasped for a wisp of sweet air - he was denied. His face turned red, his eyelids fluttered, and his breathing became shallow. When CoverGirl felt the pulse in his neck beat slow and hard against her bicep, she knew it was time to stop.
She relaxed her grip and kicked him off her leg. She briefly searched Evrard and started to crawl the rest of the way to secure the gun. It was then that she heard someone clapping:
“Bravo, my dear,” Tomax said as he stepped out from the corridor. “You may have just singlehandedly saved the Crimson Guard from defeat. I am in your debt. Now, I don't mean to seem ungrateful, but you are a loose string that needs to be cut.”
He raised his weapon to CoverGirl; his finger tensed on the trigger. CoverGirl slowly raised her hands to revealed an object she held in her palm. Tomax recognized it immediately as a remote detonator. He lowered his weapon and looked around. CoverGirl pointed with her eyes for him to look up. He saw the stash of C-4 hidden in the shadows in the ceiling above him. It was then that Zarana entered.
“Tomax, the Froggies have broken our lines, we have to leave now!” She stopped and gasped when she saw CoverGirl holding the detonator. “She'll blow herself up along with us, she's bluffing!”
Tomax and CoverGirl's eyes met. They stared each other down intently.
“No she's not,” he said.
“Whatever you're going to do, do it quick,” Zarana said before leaving.
Tomax regarded CoverGirl one last time. He bowed his head to her.
“Well played milady,” he then raised his weapon and aimed it at the unconscious Evrard.
Tomax emptied his entire clip into Evrard's body, leaving behind a bloody clump of chopped meat and tattered clothes.
“Mission accomplished,” he said before disappearing into the hatch.
CoverGirl let out a sigh of relief. Still dizzy, she crawled over to RoadBlock. When she saw how still he laid there, the tears started to flow again. She wept over her fallen teammate with her head on his chest:
She shot up when she heard the familiar sound. It wasn't possible. Those were armor piercing bullets - even if he was wearing type III body armor he should be dead. She removed his Crimson Guard Jacket and was relieved when she found no traces of blood. But how was he still alive?
“Sorry I took so long,” RoadBlock whispered weakly, “I had to go back for the MAMBA's flak jacket.”
Tears of sorrow now replaced by tears of joy, CoverGirl removed the body armor and loosened his clothing to allow him to breathe freely. She grew concerned when she saw his torso riddled with bruises. His body felt broken as she moved him into a more comfortable position.
“Dang girl, if you wanted to feel me up all you had to do was ask,” he said with a weak smile.
“Shut up. You're going to be okay. You have to be okay.”
“I know,” RoadBlock said, wiping the tears from her face.
“Does it hurt much?”
“Naw, its cool girl,” he said, dropping his hand. “Just...don't make me laugh.” He closed his eyes and passed out.
Suddenly, a team of paramilitary troopers stormed the room. It was the DGSE Action team, and they all had their guns trained on CoverGirl and RoadBlock. To her horror, CoverGirl remembered that they were still dressed in Cobra uniforms. She was careful to keep her movements very slow. She couldn't understand the orders they were shouting at her in French, so she responded with the one word she knew they would understand:
“American!” she shouted.
The Action Team leader circled around with his weaponed trained. He shone his light on RoadBlock, then on CoverGirl. He motioned to his teammates and they all lowered their weapons. He then said something to her that he knew she would understand:
End Chapter 5.