Arriving to whip both the Joes and Green Shirts into fighting trim is the Ranger called Beach Head. First day out in training, Reed and Beach Head's personalities collide in an explosion that has t...
DISCLAIMER: I don't own G.I. Joe, which makes me want to cry, because if I did, I'd own Beach Head, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Duke, Hawk, and a ton of cute guys...
AUTHOR: Zpan Sven
AUTHOR'S NOTES: I do own Mercury (Private Patricia Elizabeth Reed), Chaplain (Sophia Deheune), COBRA Televiper Fredrick "Freddy" Michealson (Codenamed Virus), Fredericka "Rikki" Michealson, COBRA ninja viper Eric Leum (Codenamed Black Mamba) and COBRA Viper Jonathan Helmsley, Jamieson "Jamie" Helmsley, Xanatos, and Ryoko. Takes place during issues seven through nine. Many thanks to the great Wolfman for helping me with the revision of this fic and the writing of my other Joe fiction!
/"Speaking over communicators."/
STORY SUMMARY: At the USAF Olympics, Hawk catches sight of a potential Joe days before the reemergence of Cobra. After Cobra resurfaces, he recruits the young Private. Just how will this Private aid in the battle against the forces of Cobra and what is the secret that resides in the Private's past that Hawk knows?
CHAPTER SUMMARY: Arriving to whip both the Joes and Green Shirts into fighting trim is the Ranger called Beach Head. First day out in training, Reed and Beach Head's personalities collide in an explosion that has the Veteran Joes and the Green Shirts diving for cover so not to get caught in the crossfire. Will they survive the war of wits and wills? Will Reed manage to overcome the seemingly immovable hurdle Beach Head to finally become a Joe?
WARNINGS: Violence, language, mild sexual situations
GENRE: Action & Adventure/Romance/General
ARCHIVE: ask, and ye will more than likely receive!
CHAPTER THREE: IN BEACHHEAD'S ARMY NOW
Location: Wright Patterson Air Force Base, //Fairborn/ //Ohio// /
PFC Patricia Reed stood stiffly at attention between two of her fellow classmates, as a new face graced the assembly area in front of their formation. Unlike the short, hairy, burly, spittle-coated drill sergeants that had been berating them so far, this one virtually towered over them. The muscular soldier before them, apparently a veteran of numerous brushfire wars, paced in front of the assembly of Green Shirts without uttering a word, his mere presence intimidating the younger soldiers.
/Now, this guy seemed much tougher and a whole helluva lot meaner than my last drill sergeant/, Reed thought as her eyeballs followed the man in his long, deliberate steps.
Compared to the other Green Shirts in formation, Reed was smaller and thinner, even after being almost fully recovered from the mistreatment and neglect that had defined her childhood in the county foster care system. And because of her thin, petite frame, she was often the target of her previous drill sergeant.
At first, she was treated like she couldn't do the same as her male comrades. The harassment and belittling stopped, of course, after she ran the others into the ground during P.T. by doing almost three to four times more then her male comrades.
Looking at the balaclava wearing man as he occasionally paused and bullied some of the other 'Shirts, Reed wondered if he would eventually do the same to her.
The other drill instructors had introduced the new face as Beach Head. He was to become the Green Shirt platoon's senior instructor. It wasn't hard to tell the man had the walk of a veteran D.I. and he was an Airborne Ranger to boot. For all of the recruits, he would serve as their mommy, their daddy, their disciplinarian and teacher, all rolled into one, as they went through their quest to become the newest members of G. I. Joe.
When the Senior D. I. finally stopped his pacing and paused to allow his steely eyes to burn into PFC Reed, she idly wondered what he saw when he turned his gaze upon her. Perhaps everyone perceived her the same way, as a snow-white, scrawny, teenaged /boy/. Certainly, they all thought of her as someone who was too much of a weakling to be the winner of an Armed Forces Olympics gold medal for Track and Field, much less a combat soldier. Her looks were certainly deceiving.
Reed's pale, cold eyes stared up at the imposing figure of Beach Head with a bored expression crossing her lips. Her slightly pointed chin was angled upwards as she tilted her head back to return his dissecting gaze. Unconsciously, her face took on the look of someone with a rather belligerent attitude... she was giving him a "Don't fuck with me" stare.
Reed's nostrils flared slightly, as a strong scent of body odor from Beach Head crossed the small air space between them. The pungent sensation in her nose spoke volumes about the senior drill instructor's grooming habits. /Hmm, he's also a "nature boy"/, Reed thought, remembering back to high school, where she had met similarly uncouth young men. All of them were hard core hunters and had rather nasty temperaments besides. She doubted that the grown up version would be any easier to deal with.
"You're too puny ta be a real fuckin' soldier!" Beach Head barked at Reed derisively, "Ah could snap ya in two with mah little fingers!"
"Try it and see where it gets ya." Reed growled in a low tone, her pale eyes cold and narrowing in disdain. She could tell Beach Head was thinking that she was a 'he'. '/Damn sexist pig...'/
"Don't piss me off today, Rawhide," Beach Head snarled. "Or else I'll twist off yer head an' shit down yer neck!"
"Don't try pissin' me off," Reed shot back. Beside her, a couple other Green Shirts were staring in a horrified awe at her audacity, while in the distance, Shipwreck was making a betting pool to see what would befall the poor young 'man'.
Beach Head towered over Reed, pointing his long, bony finger into her chest, as if trying to stab through her uniform with it. "Why, you scrawny, back-talking, sonufabitch... I'm gonna P. T. your ass until you die! You're not fit ta be a man in MY G. I. Joe Team!"
One of Reed's blonde eyebrows began to twitch as Beach Head poked her breast -- unknowingly right where she had a scar, making the sensitive area hurt more then it would normally under the same treatment. Under the Ranger's finger, the pectoral of the young 'man' before him gave way, surprisingly soft and pliable on the lean whipcord figure of the young Green Shirt.
"I can handle anything you throw at me. Now move your finger," Reed said through clenched teeth. "Or yer gonna lose it!"
Beach Head kept prodding at her chest. "Hmm. Private Reed... Ah hope you haven't unpacked. Ya'll ain't stayin' here fer long."
Reed's fists slowly clenched at her sides and her fair complexion gradually beginning to redden as she fought to control her temper.
The Sergeant Major looked up and down the ranks and then started laughing. "Ha! A puny thang like ya'll wants ta be a REAL soldier? If you don't ring yourself outta this program, little man... Ah'm fer damn sure that ah kin fuckin' break ya."
"One: I am not a MAN! Two: Get your hand off my breast!" Reed shrieked, her voice rising into a decidedly angry feminine shriek.
In the distance Hawk was cursing and Shipwreck was laughing himself silly at the Ranger's new situation, the betting pool now including Beach Head getting kicked in the groin.
Beach Head wasn't moving fast enough for her liking. Reed's hand shot up, gripping his finger in her slender, seemingly delicate hand, and twisting it painfully away from her chest.
"It would take more then you to break me, old man!" the young Green Shirt recruit spat, her eyes an almost electric blue from her anger. "I can take anything you can dish out!!"
Beach Head bent his outstretched finger, rolling it into a fist with the rest of his hand and taking hold of Reed's wrist. He pulled her roughly out of line and drew her off balance, tossing her down hard onto the concrete sidewalk in front of the assembled formation. Swiftly she rolled to her feet, one knee aching from absorbing the brunt of the fall.
"Only a select few females are welcome in this outfit, little girl," Beach Head said derisively. "Ah don't want yer fuckin' ass here to sully their reputations. Seek life elsewhere."
All of the men that were observing the exchange gasped quietly, but were too afraid of Beach Head to intervene. They could hear Reed's knuckles crack as her hands curled into fists. Hawk was shaking his head from a distance, seriously considering that Beach Head might be going too far for the class's first day.
PFC Reed stared at her oppressor, with an eerily blank gaze that could almost be akin to looking through the tall Ranger. The angry fire in her eyes quickly cooled to a calm alertness, as if she was preparing for combat. She was either readying herself to be attacked, or planning to initiate an assault of her own against Beach Head for his insults.
Her feet shifted slightly, as her body settled ever-so-subtly into a defensive stance. She kept her balled fists loose by her sides, ready to lash out in a moment's notice. Reed's slow and deliberate positioning wasn't learned from any formal martial arts training - rather, it was picked up from her childhood of fighting on the streets for her very survival.
Had the times been different, her right hand would've instinctively gone for the razor-sharp, saw-toothed M-9 bayonet blade that hung from her equipment belt, much like the rusty, blood-stained switchblade she carried in her jeans pocket as a kid. But she had fought the urge to escalate the situation by drawing her bayonet against Beach Head.
Reed's emotionless eyes became locked on Beach Head's, calculating the danger she faced. Her mind raced to analyze how big a threat the burly Ranger would be, and how much effort it would require to take him down unarmed. She also kept tabs on where Beach Head's hands moved, ready to strike out with a fist of her own if he tried to make a move on her.
Unconsciously, Reed shifted her weight to her left foot and centered her balance. She was ready to spring into action. Her body was tight and primed to dodge Beach Head, with fists poised to counter-attack against any move that he made.
"Don't move a twitch, if you value your health," Beach Head snarled at Reed, whirling on his heels to face the rest of the rawhide class. He raised his voice to make sure all of the assembly heard him, even though his normal speaking voice boomed.
"/Lesson one/, you rawhide meatheads," Beach Head began, his voice carrying across the parade field. "/IF/ you want to survive G.I. Joe transition training... IF you want to earn a code name and join MY elite fighting force... IF you want to earn the respect of the people that thought you might have the swingin' dicks ta cut it as a Joe and invited ya here... Ya'll need to learn that this force is a TEAM/. There is no individuality here. /We all come home, or nobody comes home! You slimy tadpoles will all pull your weight together, or you'll be goin' home with yer tails between yer fuckin' legs!"
Beach Head paused for a moment and then added, "/Lesson two:/ Ah'm the sole deciding vote, whether you stay or go. So, you WILL impress me, or you WILL leave! Do you turds get me?"
"/We get you, Sergeant Major!/" the assembly chanted, Reed included.
Beach Head began to pace up and down the lines. "You shits-fer-brains are gonna learn that there's lots worse things ta be afraid of other than me. Death is gonna whisper in yer ears every night, and yer all gonna feel like ah'm killin' ya slow, just ta watch ya suffer. Ah don't give a rat's ass. My job is ta make ya ready fer war - the dirtiest, bloodiest, grittiest kind - up close an' personal. Now, the way ah see it, none of you fuckin' slimebags stood up ta help yer FEMALE counterpart here. NONE of ya. So, ALL of ya owe me one hundred fifty Marine pushups. Get on yer fuckin' faces!"
Reed dropped into the exercise easily, weight braced and ignoring the throbbing of her knee. By now it was probably a dark black and blue. As Reed was working at her pushups, she could see the muddy tops of Beach Head's boots square off in front of her. Her lips pulled back to bare her teeth into a savage, silent growl.
"Soon as you finish yer pushups, rawhide," Beach Head said softly. "Get ta the dispensary and pay Lifeline a visit. Have him check yer knee out before we take our first morning jog together. Ya get me?"
"It's fine," Reed growled.
"It won't be after twenty-five miles, kid," Beach Head said. "Don't be a stubborn little bitch when ah give ya an order."
"Twenty-five miles?" Reed said with a defiant huff. "Sounds like fun!" A savage grin crossed her face, as she made her defiance of Beach Head's abuse known.
The Ranger turned to walk away from the group of recruits, leaving them to finish their assigned exercises. "If ah don't see a chit from Lifeline sayin' that he checked you out, Reed," he added, "yer gonna do fifty miles today. Ah will run yer narrow ass until you fuckin' die... because mah opinion of you hasn't changed. You don't belong here."
"You'll get the chit," she growled. "And you'll see, old man/... I /am a Joe."
Beach Head either didn't hear Reed's last growl, or he ignored her as he walked away to his office, leaving a pair of assistant instructors to walk through the rawhides, shouting and urging them on to finish their pushups.
Location: //Philadelphia/ Naval Base /
Not even a full day had passed since Beach Head's arrival and the platoon had been suddenly shipped out to Philadelphia to what was a decommissioned Naval Base at first glance. Slowly the security increased as word trickled among the ranks of the Green Shirts of a Cobra assassin -- a ninja of all things -- calling himself Storm-Shadow had somehow breached security and was out to kill the General! When word came from Mainframe that the would-be killer had been spotted, they moved. Reed's heart pounded in her ears as adrenaline raced through her veins.
No way in hell was this ninja freak was gonna get the General! Her boots echoed loudly as Reed hauled ass down the corridor following Beach Head, with Clutch and several other Green Shirts trailing behind them.
Reed easily kept pace with the sprinting Ranger, a fact that caught Beach Head's eagle eye. He was quite surprised at her endurance - which nearly matched his own - and made a mental note to keep tabs on her running ability. So far, she had shown no signs of fatigue, despite having to charge about the facility in full combat gear.
"C'mon, you pansies!" Beach Head barked at the Green Shirts and trailing Joes, "Let's move it!"
"Hey, Beach Head, we're not your PT victims. We're movin'!" Clutch shouted at the Ranger.
"/Pssh/! Ah know you, Clutch. If ah was a hot piece o' tail and you were after my number you'd be up here runnin' circles around me," Beach Head growled.
"I ain't hot by no man's ideals, but if tellin' him I'm a girl will get him movin', have at it!" Reed quipped from her place beside the Sergeant Major.
"That's a girl?!" Clutch eyed the lean form that was effortlessly keeping pace with the burly Ranger. Now that Reed mentioned it, the backside of the young Green Shirt was distinctly female in shape, even with the slightly baggy BDU pants she wore...
"May I kick him later, Sergeant Major?" Reed snorted.
"Hey, it worked," Beach Head said, a smile forming under his balaclava. Rounding a corner, the Ranger raised a hand to halt the rest of the patrol. Carefully gripping the doorknob to General Tomahawk's office, he counted to zero in his head, checking over his shoulder to make sure someone had a ready weapon; Reed was ready and waiting, a throwing knife in one hand, and her firearm in the other. Then he charged inside, while the "tail end Charlies" struggled to catch up.
"Alright, you made your poi...WOAH!" Clutch trailed off, staring in shock at the destroyed ceiling tiles as he and the others entered the General's office. "What happened here?"
"What's the SIT-REP, Flint?" Beach Head asked calmly of a dark-haired man in a beret standing in the room, as he shook his head in disbelief. Reed found Flint's face vaguely familiar before remembering him from when the Green Shirts were introduced to the veteran Joes.
"I don't know how he got here, but Snake-Eyes showed up for Storm-Shadow's little party." Flint reported grimly. "This base has so many corridors and secret rooms that we're sitting on our thumbs until Mainframe gets a lock on him. I just hope he can hold Storm-Shadow off 'til then."
"Mainframe?" Flint said into his wrist-com. "We can't catch Storm-Shadow if we're using canes and walkers. I need a location before..."
"Everyone!" Mainframe's voice suddenly came over the com units. "We've got a lock! They're in the tech lab, Sector Five. Looks like the ceiling finally gave out. I have a visual on Snake's com screen and it looks like Storm-Shadow's still in the rafters. Be careful."
"On it!" Flint took off, leading the others out of the room save the ninja. "Kamakura, you know what to do."
"Yes, sir." The Ninja apprentice replied, eyeing the damage, mentally calculating how much effort it'd take to get up into the broken ceiling tiles.
Flint was in the lead, charging down the corridor towards the tech lab. "They're just through that..."
"Take cover!" Stalker shouted, when the door ahead suddenly blew outward towards them due to a sudden explosion. The Joes and Green Shirts ducked for cover, narrowly avoiding being harmed by flying debris. When it cleared, they leapt back into the corridor, weapons held at the ready.
"Storm-Shadow, stop!" Flint bellowed at the ninja running through the smoke towards them, Snake-Eyes in hot pursuit, "There's nowhere to run!"
To their collective shock, Storm-Shadow suddenly launched himself into the air, twisting his body in mid-air over their heads and landing behind them, running down the corridor. Snake-Eyes followed suit. The other Joes' eyes and heads swiveled around quickly to follow the direction the ninja used in the direction the two ninjas had taken off in.
"Uhm..." Stalker was speechless, as were several of the other men.
"Well fuck." Reed's sudden vulgarity seemed to sum up how they all felt.
"Move! Move! Move!" Flint roared, spinning around to continue the pursuit, Stalker in the lead now. "Mainframe! I need that hallway sealed off! Don't lose them!"
"Targets are proceeding to Sector Four. At least that's away from Hawk's corridor." Mainframe reported. "Looks like Storm-Shadow's priority now is himself."
Ahead of them Snake-Eyes tackled Storm-Shadow before the Cobra ninja kicked his counterpart away.
"Let's see if that visor of yours protects you from a flash bomb." Storm-Shadow sneered as he let one loose a few centimeters away from the man's metal visor, blinding him. Spinning around swiftly, he launched himself through the closing blast doors.
"He's getting through the door!" Flint shouted as Snake-Eyes shook his head to clear his vision, forcing himself to stand. Half-blinded he attacked the doors after they slammed closed.
"Snake-Eyes! It's okay. Mainframe will open it back up." Beach Head told the commando.
/"Already on it!"/
"Good boy." Beach Head purred darkly, lifting his weapon. Reed swallowed hard, unsure of the thrill that unexpectedly shot through her when the Sergeant Major purred.
"Looks like he's headed towards the Mess Hall./ After that I'm in the dark..."/ Mainframe informed them as the blast doors slid open. "...he's nowhere to be seen."
"Not a problem," Flint reassured the tech as he led them through the opened door. It wasn't Mainframe's fault that there hadn't been enough time to fully wire up the base with surveillance equipment.
"Up the stairs and to your left."/ /Mainframe guided them from his post, going by the blueprints available to him on his monitor.
"Alright, everyone! Spread and search." Flint barked. "Trash cans, cabinets, closets, tables! Look everywhere! No one leaves the fair until someone wins me a ninja!"
Reed looked around, her keen eyes not catching sight of the ninja. Where was he? The fine hairs on the back of her neck rose - she had the feeling that she was being watched.
"I have this sneaky suspicion that we're being watched." Flint growled, unknowingly echoing Reed's instincts.
"You can watch me take this bad boy out." Beachhead snorted in disdain. "This ninja kung-fu crap is highly overrated."
"I'd like to see him kung-fu my foot outta his ass." Reed mumbled behind the burly Ranger, her weapon held at the ready as her pale eyes scanned their surroundings.
"The rafters!" Flint yelped the warning too late.
"What?" Beach Head snarled at the sudden movement behind him, freezing when he felt the razor sharp blade of Storm-Shadow's katana millimeters away from his throat, even through the thick, woolen knit fabric of his balaclava. The Ranger could hear the nervous gulp of a male Green Shirt, alerting him to the fact he wasn't the ninja's only hostage. The two hostages dropped their weapons, remaining calm. The scowl on Beach Head's face was evident, even with the balaclava he wore. The Sergeant Major could see the anger in Reed's pale eyes as she leveled her weapon at Storm-Shadow's head, the sights tracking as the Cobra ducked his head behind the Ranger's.
"No one moves! No one fires!" Storm-Shadow ordered coldly, eyeing the Joes and Green Shirts. "...and no one has to die. Release the elevator!"
"Mainframe..." Flint took a calming breath, trying to control his anger. "...open the elevator door."
"Don't worry about us! Do what you have to do!" The Green Shirt urged them.
Reed kept her weapon level with Storm-Shadow's head, her eyes cold; the ninja found them eerily familiar but pushed it out of his mind to focus completely on the matter at hand. Shifting her weight, the female Green Shirt looked at Flint and Stalker from the corner of her eye, awaiting an indication from either of them to attack.
"Silence!" Storm-Shadow snarled at the Green Shirt.
With a soft ding the elevator doors slid open. Storm-Shadow kept his eyes on the Joes before him, not seeing the figure waiting for him in the elevator. His Green Shirt hostage, however, did. A grin formed on the hostage's lips as the waiting man made a motion to remain quiet with one hand, his sword held at the ready in the other.
"Wise choice, Flint," Storm-Shadow said smugly.
"Nice to see you here." The Green Shirt grinned at the elevator's occupant.
"What?" Storm-Shadow began to turn to see what his hostage was talking about, his blades drooping slightly.
"Welcome to the party, Kamakura!" the Green Shirt cheered, as he turned his body slightly, giving the ninja apprentice a clear shot. Kamakura drove his foot into Storm-Shadow's shoulder.
"I came back for a rematch!" the apprentice snarled. "Anyone want to join?!"
"Don't mind if ah do!" Beach Head growled, slamming his elbow into the Cobra ninja's head. "Keep the elevator open!"
Retaliating with an elbow to the Ranger's gut, and knocking the wind from him; Storm-Shadow moved swiftly, locking his ankles around Kamakura's throat, bringing a soft "/Gack/!" from him.
"/Hungh/!" Beach Head grunted, getting his wind back. He lifted his weapon, only for Kamakura to be thrown into him. "/Ugh/!"
"/Oof/!!" Kamakura grunted as his body was slammed into Beach Head's.
"I'm afraid you're still of use to me, so until then..." Storm-Shadow grabbed the Green Shirt by the shoulder, throwing him into the elevator. "...stay in the elevator!"
Kamakura had rolled out of the elevator and was rising to his feet as the Green Shirt was forcibly thrown into the elevator. Behind him was Snake-Eyes and Reed charging into the fray. In unison Reed and Kamakura lunged. Storm-Shadow slammed a fierce high kick into Kamakura's head while shoving Reed head first into the elevator. The young female Green Shirt sprawled on the ground before Beach Head, her head spinning. She could hear Storm-Shadow's taunt of "Until next time, /Silent Master/!" followed by a strange metal cutting into metal sound.
The elevator doors closed with a cheerful /ding/. Pushing herself to her hands and knees, she lashed out with a back kick, striking the ninja in the back of the knee. He caught his weight, looking incredulously at the youngest recruit as she forced herself to her feet. Head swimming, she could hear the other Green Shirt and Beach Head getting to their feet as well. The battle wasn't well remembered, flying fists and feet along with the fear to use a firearm due to accidentally hurting a comrade. Soon all they knew was blackness, until...
...another soft ding pervaded their consciousness along with Flint's soft, "Aww, man."
The male Green Shirt had been stripped to his undergarments and made a soft groan of pain as he stirred, lifting his head. Beach Head was sprawled atop Reed in a protective manner, shielding the petite female with his own bulk. Several Green Shirts took guard positions around the opened elevator, watching the activity out of the corner of their eye.
Flint's orders buzzed in Beach Head's ears as he lifted his head wearily. He could make out the small form under him and recalled shielding her with his own body. Behind him he could hear another Green Shirt was aiding the stripped down male. Pushing himself up, Beach Head held his ribs, pain shooting through him. Vaguely he could make out Shipwreck talking and Snake-Eyes walking further into the elevator.
A soft moan escaped Reed and he looked down at her, his vision slightly blurry; the recruit's helmet was gone and he had a memory flash of her using it as an impromptu weapon, hitting Storm-Shadow across the face with it before being taken down with a palm strike across her face.
"She's got a concussion." Beach Head grunted, his Southern drawl slurring together, an obvious sign of a head injury. "Took a couple blows to the head."
"Sounds like you've got one too, Sergeant Major. Lifeline will get a look at all of you." A Green Shirt told him reassuringly as he helped the burly Ranger to his feet.
"I'm fine," came Reed's somewhat garbled voice. Her pale eyes were open and unfocused as she tried to sit up.
"Stop bein' a stubborn little bitch and let Lifeline look at yer head. That's an order!" Beach Head growled at her.
"With all due respect, Sergeant Major; you first," Reed retorted.
The two bickering soldiers were hauled off to the Infirmary, much to the relief of those around them.
Several days passed after the attempt on the General's life and training continued. Many of the Green Shirts dreaded when P.T. came and already a small number had dropped out from the sheer intensity of the training. Reed's attitude was unchanged, constantly taking anything thrown her way and doing it without complaint. Even when they were 'off' hours, Reed was doing some form of P.T. preferably running or pushups. One night, after all were sleeping, something unexpected happened.
Lying curled up on her bunk, alone in the female half of the barracks, Reed waited for all the noise to settle before drifting off to sleep herself, a left over habit from her childhood. Finally her eyes closed and she began to doze.
An hour passed and a shadowy figure made his move, moving stealthily from the men's half of the barracks into the female's half. Standing over Reed's sleeping form, he struck, only to be surprised when she was suddenly rolling out of the way before he could disable her knee cap.
"You're not the first one to try that," she said softly. Not wanting to wake anyone, she leaped silently across her bunk to attack the male Green Shirt. The soft sounds of fists and feet impacting with flesh echoed in the room. In short order, she was kicking the battered and bruised man out of the female half of the barracks, with a contemptuous sneer. "Out, weakling. If you can't make it, don't try knocking out your competition - leave!"
The commotion stirred the rest of the recruits in the barracks, along with Beach Head, who was lurking around the instructors' bedrooms at the end of the long and open common room. He was waiting when Reed tossed the offending Green Shirt onto the floor, smashing his face into the hard tile. It must have been one hell of a fight from the sounds they had heard and from the odds - the attacker was near in height and build to Beach Head himself. Silently the Ranger promised himself to get a look at the surveillance video later to observe Reed's fighting style.
"Well, well, well, if it isn't Mister Snuggles again," Beach Head snarled. Assigning the ex-Delta Force Green Shirt the "unofficial codename" of Mister Snuggles was a calculated decision, since the man was highly competitive and also observed to be willing to hurt his own teammates to get ahead.
"Mister Snuggles, it looks like your teammates have had enough of you. Instructors!" the Sergeant Major bellowed, motioning to summon two of the Green Shirt platoon's "mother hens". "Take this piece of shit out of here, and show him where we put pieces of shit like him."
Reed made a snort of disgust, cracking her knuckles as she watched her would-be attacker being dragged off.
Beach Head pointed his finger at Reed, leveling it right between her eyes. "You should be catching yer Z's," he said. "Report to the administrative building one hour before chow to swear a statement and Article 132 charges against Mister Snuggles. He's going into the deepest shit hole I can find. Go back ta readin' the tea leaves under yer eyelids!"
"You got it, Sergeant Major," she said with a yawn, turning around and heading back into the female half of the barracks.
Mumbled remarks among the other trainees passed rumors that Beach Head was planning to take Mister Snuggles out and practice his tank driving skills on him - with the Green Shirt greasing the tracks of the Ranger's favorite Mauler. Then again, it wasn't like the man didn't deserve it - he had crossed the line with the idea of taking Reed out of play.
"Sleep, little babies!" Beach Head roared over his shoulder. "Lest ah infiltrate yer dreams and turn 'em into nightmares!"
The male recruits scattered, heading back for their bunks.
Later, in his own bedroom, Beach Head was looking over a particular file marked 'Reed'. He wanted to see if there was something else on the intended victim. SFC Grey, Reed's senior drill instructor, reported that Reed has been cold and emotionless during training and was always the last one to stop in PT despite being the first one to start almost an hour before the others to 'warm up'. Her records on the firing range were the best among her squad, almost never missing a shot. When she let loose with throwing knives, her true skill shined through, and her aim was unerringly accurate.
Beach Head found a cryptic entry into her summary records that mentioned Reed being involved in an Article 134 investigation. Although the entry was brief, it spoke of an altercation in barracks between Reed and another recruit, with serious facial injuries being inflicted. Reed had been reprimanded by the senior drill instructors for not bringing the matter before them, but no other action had been taken.
The Ranger frowned at the information he could glean from the report. Although it didn't significantly enlighten him, he gazed at the female half of the dormitory. His own observations during the preliminary in-processing, and his gut instincts gave him some insight into why Reed was so prepared to take Henderson on so effectively. '/She must sleep with one eye open, and be ready to move at a moment's notice/,' he thought.
Rolling his shoulders, he closed the file and prepared for some shut-eye. It was going to be a long day pounding some knowledge into the Green Shirts' heads.
Morning was a beautiful thing - unless you were a Green Shirt under Beach Head's training regimen. Then it was Hell on Earth, a torturous process feared and avoided - if one could - and for the unlucky saps who couldn't, then the smartest thing to do was keep their heads down and let any smart mouthed idiot nearby take the brunt of the tyrant's wrath. Morning chow was a favorite respite from the constant abuse. It wasn't fancy, but it sure beat eating mud, courtesy the Ranger's size eleven combat boots being pressed against the back of someone's head during the first round of daily calisthenics.
"In all honesty, Beach Head..." Flash asked as he watched the Green Shirts eating their morning chow, standing beside the burly Ranger. "What do you think of them? Any of them going to make it? And what's this I heard from Law about some guy attacking the General's recruit Reed earlier?"
The mentioned Green Shirt recruit was sitting away from her male counterparts, eating in a swift, precise manner.
"Some will make it, and some won't," Beach Head replied, "each one according to his... or her... talents. As for the other thing, the incident concerning PFC Reed has been handled. There's no need to spread rumors. She really had little to do with the offense. However," Beach Head added with a chuckle, "Order and Junkyard have a new playmate in their K-9 run while Ah decide what to do with one of the washouts."
"Some of the guys are worried the attacker might have been a Cobra plant. Mainframe and the others are already hacking into his background files to check for inconsistencies." Flash murmured softly, not to alert any of the Green Shirts to the rumor.
"Flash," Beach Head warned softly. "You might be an original Joe 'round here... but forgive me for saying... Shut the fuck up /right now/. Ah told ya not ta screw around with rumors. They're bad for morale."
"I'm only giving you the heads up on what's flying around -- these kids will hear it sooner or later. I and the others are doing our best to keep things quiet, but you know how certain members of the team like to talk when they get drunk." Flash stated.
"Sounds like I need to shut down the E-Club again," Beach Head said.
"I'll bring the video camera." The Joe veteran grinned. Seeing Shipwreck getting his ass kicked by Beach Head was always priceless entertainment.
"Look," the Ranger continued. "Ah kin take care of my recruits. They're fixin' ta start the survival phase of the selection. Gettin' them out into my element will help. Ah've got mah own methods fer sniffin' out the enemy."
"Good. We don't want a repeat of what happened earlier. I swear the General's living up to his Tomahawk nickname."
"What does the General have to do with the incident?" Beach Head asked. "Ah had the bastard cooped up in the dog kennel."
"Don't ask me, he heard about what happened and he just got that look. You know, the one that could make Cobra Commander piss himself." Flash said, swallowing hard.
"I don't know much about PFC Reed's background, or why the General was so involved in her specific recruitment onto the team," Beach Head said. "I recommend we leave her out of as much as possible. And, by the way, Flash, I cornered the market on dirty looks that make Cobra Commander piss himself."
"So that's where he picked that one up from," Flash joked before clearing his throat. "I hope you don't have any trouble on the survival stage. God knows, that's what we don't need. Talk to you later, Beach Head. Have fun torturing your Green Shirts." Flash headed off for his own morning chow.
Beach Head simply replied to Flash with a nod of his head. He thought very carefully about Flash's suspicion about Cobra agents trying to infiltrate the Joes' recruiting process from other parts of the military. Despite quadruple-thick levels of OPSEC, and everything related to personnel handled in-house, there was still a risk.
Reed leaned back in her chair, her plate clean, looking around at the other recruits warily, wondering if any of them might get it in their heads to make a repeat of Mister Snuggles' sneak attack.
Beach Head looked over at the recruits that were still eating, as he considered another round of washouts before the first bivouac outing. He noticed Reed sitting by her empty food tray. "Hey! Cupie Doll! Front and Center!"
Reed blinked, wondering where he'd gotten the "Cupie Doll" name for her, before rising to do as ordered.
"Come on, troop," Beach Head growled under his breath. "I ain't got all day."
She presented herself front and center, eyeing him warily. Now what did he want? She was cramping -- not like she was telling him that -- and had been enjoying not moving. "Yes, Sergeant Major?"
"I think it's time to give you a new nickname," Beach Head said. "General Tomahawk and I are becoming partial to Mercury, actually. Mercury implies speed, since you seem to be running circles around yer colleagues over there."
"Mercury? I like that. Roman god, the messenger of the king of the gods because he was the fastest of them all, and the like. Speaking of code names] -- just what is a cupie doll anyway?" she asked, raising a brow at him.
"It was a little girl's toy, before plastic and Barbie dolls," Beach Head said. "Cupie is short for 'cutie pie'. They used ta give 'em out in carnivals fer playing the games of skill. Real easy to break. That's what you reminded me of, when this class started," the Ranger added.
"Ooohkay. I won't even ask why you'd know something about the dolls little girls play with...." her lips curved into a smirk.
"But that ain't the only business I need ta speak with you about," Beach Head said after a moment. "You're doing exceptionally well on the ranges. Ah wanna see how good you are at adapting to unfamiliar equipment. You have a one-on-one training session with Low Light on the sniper course while the others have basic weapons assembly practice. Ah know you've mastered assembling yer M-4 and M-16 in the dark. No matter what ah think, yer grades don't lie. You just might have a remote shot in Hell of joining MY Joe team. Mind you, it's still a slim to none chance. Don't fuck it up, kid."
"I won't, old man." Every time he called her kid/, she called him /old man -- seemed fair to her, even if it riled him.
Beach Head began to turn red, since he abhorred being called old. "Outta mah face, Scumbag," he blurted out a bit too loudly, drawing a few passing glances.
"See ya at the morning run, then again after my training session with Low Light," she said with a smirk, turning away from him to put up her empty food tray.
"Sheesh... women..." Beach Head mumbled, returning to his paperwork and lunch. He proceeded to sign off on the washout orders for a dozen rawhides from the class. The news would come from the assistant instructors right before the class's obligatory morning run.
Reed gritted her teeth as she went through the morning run, painful cramps lancing through her abdomen. No way was she gonna whine to the old man - no way was she going to give him a 'weakness' to deride in front of the others. The heavy pack she carried was ignored, the weight part of her own now. Even with the cramps and heavy pack, she was ahead of the others. The miles seemed to fly by and they were soon back at barracks. Heading for the women's shower, Reed looked forward to the hot shower waiting for her, hoping it would help with her cramps. Dragging herself from the shower's heat, she dried off and dressed in a fresh set of BDUs, heading off to meet Low Light.