Wednesday, 20 August 2014

GI Joe Reloaded Preview

Sometimes I marvel at just how much talent the GI Joe customs community has. Anyone who follows Joe customizing or even just peeks into that section of certain forums will be familiar with Icecreamman's work. He is a prolific and talented customizer who has been at it for a few years. So when he wrote to me describing his latest project - GI Joe Reloaded - I was intrigued.

He has lined up an impressive roster of over 40 customizers to work on this (including my very small contribution) and will start rolling out the roster of new characters on September 1st. Icereamman has given me permission to follow the project here as well, so I'll be posting weekly recaps of all the new figures and vehicles.

I'll let him take it from here, in his own words. The original post can be seen here: 

https://www.og13.com/forums/showthread.php?12059-G-I-Joe-Reloaded
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''With the growing threat of terrorism all over the world, G.I. Joe, the world's finest special mission force, has leveled up the game and recruited more soldiers from various military units to join their ranks. Now G.I. Joe is mightier than ever, ready to eradicate terrorism and uphold peace, justice and liberty.

More than 30 new recruits. Plenty more reasons for Cobra to be scared of. Who are these brave soldiers? Which military unit do they come from? Meet them all and learn who they are in September and witness...

G.I. JOE RELOADED

New G.I. Joe member/s will be introduced each day starting September 1. So be there when the revelation begins!


Yes, I'm pulling a Resurgence stunt! LOL

But seriously, a few weeks back, I've assembled a few base figures and I intended to custom a "concept" team of G.I. Joe like Tiger Force or Battle Force 2000. But Resurgence made a huge impact on me. I was really inspired by the work OB and the Resurgence crew are doing, and since I really wanted to do something special to celebrate my 1st year anniversary as a member of the Syndicate and my birthday, I've decided to make my G.I. Joe "concept" team like a new season team of Sunbow cartoons with a whole bunch of new characters. The good guys first. (Cobra Reloaded next?)

I know the idea is quite ambitious and Resurgence really set a high standard. I just feel its quite fun to do a big project for the first time, to feel the rush and challenge myself.

But there is truly more fun and excitement when brothers come along to join the ride and give support. That is why I am so thankful and honored that G.I. Joe Reloaded will showcase outstanding customs from the industry's top talents: MSWI, RATFINK, Hemblecreations, ManyMackCreationz, Phantro, Syndicate Customs, Chaos Customs, Mayhem Customs and more.

With this project, we pay tribute to all the artists behind the comics, filecards and cartoons we all loved. To all the talents behind the action figures and vehicles that made our childhood exciting which up to now has been part of our lives.

But most importantly, this project goes out to the real heroes, the military, the police, the firemen, the doctors, the teachers, the men and women who risk their lives to make the real world a safe and better place for all of us. We salute you.''










Thursday, 14 August 2014

50th Anniversary Hardtop

As a kid, I never had the Defiant. It came out later in the ARAH run (1987) and I was growing up and leaving Joe behind at the time. Although I was aware of its existence, I did not really notice it until I started collecting as an adult. Like many, it is part of my list of large playsets to acquire when I have the means and the space to do so.

In the meantime, I turned my attention to the crew. One of the more obscure characters from that period was definitely Hardtop. He did not really get much media exposure at the time and he certainly was not as exciting for kids as his Astronaut partner Payload (also included with the Defiant).

Still, when a buddy of mine asked me to make him a modern version of Hardtop, I thought it would be fun. This one will soon be traveling to his new home. However, I ended up liking the result so much that I'll have to make another one for myself.

Enjoy!

OB




Monday, 4 August 2014

GI Joe Resurgence! Digital Repaints by DanOfTheDead

If you have ever visited Joecustoms.com's custom gallery, you have certainly come across some of DanOfTheDead's awesome work. Last week, on the last day of Resurgence, Dan sent us some digital repaints that he did using photoshop and pictures from our reveals. After that, GITrekker, our filecard expert, took the time to write new filecards.

Here, in his words, is what he came up with.

Enjoy!


From the desk of Danofthedead:

I've been following the Resurgence project with a great deal of interest. I love large scale projects, and I have admired the work of many of the involved collaborators for a while. I knew I wanted to offer my support beyond telling them all "Good job!" I know projects like this can be draining, and there's a sadness to see them draw to close and letting go of them. I tried to think about the kind of support I find most fulfilling, as well as what kind of response Resurgence deserved being presented as a real toyline that could have / should have been.

I came up with the idea of digital repaints. It's a close to customizing these virtual offerings as I could come, and I believe that customizing is one of the highest compliments a toyline can get. It says, "this thing you made makes me want to make things." I showed the Resurgence gang my first two ideas, mostly to get their blessing because I didn't want these to come across as trying to "fix" their ideas... then built upon their concepts, and Hasbro concepts, to celebrate what I love about G.I. Joe, customizing, and the Resurgence project.


"Revenge of COBRA" 7 Figure Box Set, $41.99 MSRP

COBRA COMMANDER is back with an onslaught of reinforcements! These COBRA troops are re-armed and ready for battle. Deploy them with the rest of your G.I. JOE: RESURGENCE action figures, vehicles, and playsets and find out if G.I. JOE has what it takes to defeat COBRA, once and for all!

"Crimson" Cobra Commander

The obligatory red-repaint figure. I knew I wanted to do a 7 pack, like the recent online exclusives, and while my goal was to do a repaint of each of the COBRA army builder figures, I needed one more to finish off the set. The original Resurgence color scheme is beautiful, and one of the most eye catching customs I've seen in a long time. Initially I thought to give him the "Back in Black" treatment, but realized that "just paint it black" is a bit of a crutch to make a figure look "cool," and one we've seen an over abundance of in lines like Rise of Cobra. Resurgence is notable for it's use of vivid colors, so I decided a crimson repaint, with a few black detail areas, was more appropriate.





Motor-Viper (Track-Viper Repaint)

A simpler idea than most of the others, and one I don't feel came out particularly well, I tried to do the Track-Viper in the older Motor-Viper color scheme. I think the Resurgence Track-Viper is such a spot on update of the original figure that there's not much room left to play... other than another Python Patrol repaint.




Cobra Air Crew (Gyro-Viper Repaint)

The Gyro-Viper, like the Track-Viper is such a spot on update of the original figure that I didn't see much room for altering it without trying to make it a distinct trooper. I also wanted to address the odd color scheme of the Gyro-Viper, which seem to fit in with either the blue and black of most Cobra Troops, or the Black/Gray/Red scheme common to many of the pilot figures. I thought perhaps this blue repaint would serve as crew/gunners for vehicles like the Venom Chopper.





Black Light IG Flamethrowers (Pyro-Viper Repaint)

When I showed the Resurgence crew my first two concepts, I asked if they had any ideas for other repaints and Oreo Builder suggested trying an Iron Grenadiers color scheme. This was also a chance to flex some photoshop muscles to see if I could convincingly turn a primarily white figure black, which I think came out pretty well.








Python Create-A-Cobra

I couldn't resist trying another Python repaint after the Viper came out so well. This one is based on the Python Trooper (which confusingly uses the Officer body) and was another interesting challenge to try and take the black parts and make them believable gray.






Python Viper

This was the second figure I played with recoloring, and came out good enough that I decided it was a concept worth following up on. It's also one of my favorite Resurgence figures. The Resurgence Viper is a great update to the original. Recognizable, but nicely tweaked for a bit more modern look.






Stealth B.A.T. (Classic colors B.A.T. repaint)

By far, my favorite Resurgence figure. The new BAT design is great, playing up the robotic elements and giving him plenty of firepower. And the red looks great too. The color scheme reminded me of the Inferno BATs, so I had to try and take a step back along their uniform history to see what this new design would look like in classic black.



Friday, 1 August 2014

GI Joe Resurgence! The Break of Peace - A Short Story by Lifeline_MD

Lifeline_MD, the author of GIJoe: Heroes and Terrorists, an ongoing fanfic saga on Hisstank.com was so inspired by Resurgence that he offered to write a short story for a new short story based on its characters and storyline. We are proud and honored that Lilfeline_MD took the time and effort to put this together. Thanks man

- Bucky, Dusty79 and Oreobuilder


Now on to the story:




G.I. Joe Resurgence: Issue 1: The Break of Peace
by Lifeline_MD

The Blockbuster Return

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Flagg

Stalker pressed the bandage firmly against his forehead. Nope, still not helping.

“Yep. Still spooky,” he shook his head. Ohhhhhh THAT was a bad idea.

He stood next to Hawk looking at a bank of old monitors staring at 18 images displayed there. New Joes who had never seen action before. The same bank of monitors, Hawk had claimed, had been taken from the old PIT, and had been used to evaluate every team of Joes, starting with their original group under General Flagg all those years ago.

“Makes you feel the years doesn’t it?” Hawk nodded from where he was sitting, his arm propped on the console, the fiberglass cast hardening slowly.

“Like this didn’t already,” Stalker replied just loud enough to be heard.

“Hey, at least you weren’t driving with Skidmark,” Hawk sighed. “So our intel about where Cobra was holding Duke was wrong. Hopefully Beachhead comes up with something better by the time he reports in.”

“How is Skidmark?” Hawk turned to where Lifeline was standing.

“Alive. Barely. Those new BATs did a number on him before you managed to evac.”

“Will he make it?”

“I honestly don’t know. Carla and Stretcher are with him now. We’re spread pretty with all the physicals that you need us to do.”

“You have gotten to the new guys, right?”

Stalker certainly hoped so, he was willing to give the new guys a shot, but it still wasn’t the same as guy he knew he could trust his life with.

“I checked them out personally, they’re all fit to go. Medically anyway. I’m pretty sure half of them could use a psychiatrist. So if you guys want to pay for another five years on the GI bill…” Lifeline grinned.

“You already got ten out of it,” Hawk reminded him, “don’t push it. What about the rest of the team?”

“I’ve had to let Carla, sorry Doc, still not used to calling her that, take care of those. Stretcher and I tried, but we’ve been way too lenient for old times sake. Even guys like Gears are pretty long in the tooth now, let alone the original team, er, no offence.”

“None taken,” Hawk sighed. “I hate to say it, but time marches on. How are Bree and the kids?”

Stalker turned back to the monitor. He was glad his kids were off to college this year. If Cobra came knocking, at least they wouldn’t be around. Still though, he felt old.

As his eyes scanned the computer read-outs one more time, the door to the room burst open, and in stormed Beachhead. Or rather, stormed as much as he was able supported between two greenshirts.

“What the Snake happened to you?” Lifeline asked grabbing his med kit.

“I got him Hawk. I finally got him.”

“Duke?” Hawk asked his voice hopeful.

“Yeah that too. Firefly. Buried the bastard in his own explosion. He won’t be bothering us anymore.”

Stalker felt his jaw open, “you’re sure?”

“I didn’t see a body. But there’s no way anyone could escape that.”

“I hope you’re right,” Hawk clapped Beachhead on the shoulder. “Sorry. That’s not the first time we’ve thought that though. But I hope you’re right. Now where’s Duke?”

“Mauritania. Some desert terrordrome. Coordinates are on the map in my pocket.”

Lifeline fished around and handed the map to Hawk, “I’ll get him in the shower and patch him up. Get our boy back.”

Stalker leaned over the balcony railing into the air above the training room and exercised a Master Sergeant's voice he hadn’t used on anyone but his kids in almost a decade, “All Joes On Deck!!”

By the time he and Hawk had reached the bottom of the stairs, two straight lines had already formed.

“ATTENTION!”

Sixtee pairs of booted feet snapped together instantly. Well, they’re well trained anyway, Stalker admitted to himself. Now which one was missing? He started counting heads.

“All right Joes, listen up,” Hawk ordered in parade ground voice, “you’ve all been cleared fit for duty. And that first duty isn’t going to be an easy one. I remember this team’s first mission ever, rescuing a civilian from the clutches of Cobra. Yours will be even more dangerous, rescuing a member of this team from Cobra.”

Whispers passed through the assembled group.

“This is not just any Joe, but a high value target for Cobra. Duke. Many of you have heard of him, some of you have even met him. It goes without saying that the information he holds is crucial to our operation. If I know Duke, he’ll die before he gives up this information, but they still have the Brainwave Scanner, and now a man who knows how to use it. You will be briefed on route about the staff of this garrison. You have one job, to get in, and get Duke out. If you can capture...or kill...any Cobras in the process, that’s encouraged, but don’t let that distract you.”

Hawk gestured to a side door, and two men came walking in, “These men will be in charge of the operation.”

Stalker turned, and his jaw dislocated, that...wasn’t possible.

“General Warhorse is a formerly retired close friend of mine. He will be leading our armored divisions from now on. This will be his first command, and I expect you to give him the same respect you would give me. And this is Thunder.”

Stalker couldn’t believe it. That...wasn’t possible. Thunder had died in Trucial Abysemia twenty-five years ago with Doc, Breaker and the others. This couldn’t be...it just...couldn’t!

“He’s a long time member of the team. He has something of a ...reputation. He will be overseeing this operation as my personal eyes and ears. It will be his opinion that determines whether you stay Joes or not. Tailspin, Riptide, a word about transport arrangement, the rest of you, dismissed.

Stalker made his way towards Thunder, still unable to believe his eyes, when one of the new Joes spoke up.

“Excuse me, sir? Where are we being deployed?” Deep Freeze Stalker was prettty sure. Of course, the profuse sweating in even the cool air of the Flagg was probably a give-away.

Hawk turned, “Mauritania.”

The man blanched “But when I signed up you said ‘No Desert Missions’! You SPECIFICALLY SAID…..”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Off-shore, near Nouakchott Mauritania

“Approaching Landing Zone!” Shipwreck announced from beside Riptide at the helm of the ORCA.

Landslide tried to hold his stomach in as the landing craft bounced along the wave-tops, and reminded himself for the dozenth time that there were mountains coming. He leaned his head back against the tread of the Slugger. He looked over Breacher beside him. The man seemed half asleep.

“Hey,” Landslide attempted.

“Hey,” came the reply of a man just waking up, “what’s shaking?”

“This bother you at all?” Landslide nodded to the tank they were leaning against.

“The mission?” Breacher asked, “or the driver?”

“The second one.”

“Probably bugs all of us. How’s a guy who’s been dead for a couple decades running the show? I don’t know. And I doubt they’re going to tell us any time soon. We’ll know when we need to know. Just let it alone.”

Landslide pursed his lips, but let it drop, allowing his eye to wander over the other Joes assembled in the landing craft. They’d had a little time to meet one another during their training, and evaluations. But there was still a lot to learn about one another. Bulkhead was fiddling with some wiring in a hatch that by rights he shouldn’t have been able to fit inside, and Broadside was polishing the gun mounted above it.

He decided to wander over and see if the naval guys had any insight on how to not get seasick. Again.

He could see the coastline approaching, looking just as dry as he expected it. Only one flake of colour, a nice bright red. Well, at least the landing zone is easy to spot, he joked to himself.

“Hey guys,” he smiled as he approached.

“Hi” mumbled Broadside, still not looking up from what he was doing. If Bulkhead responded, Landslide couldn’t hear it.

He sighed, and leaned against the side of the boat, resting the side of his head against the cannon barrel. The spray in his face felt nice.

“Um...guys…”he ventured, “are we meeting anyone?”

“Huh?” Broadside grunted.

Landslide pointed. The red spot was growing larger, and had resolved itself into some form of armored hovercraft painted red. It almost looked like there was an insignia on the … oh come ON.

“ENEMY OFF THE STAR...er...POR...er...LEFT SIDE!” he yelled.

That got the boat moving.

“All right Lubbers!” Yelled Riptide, “this is going to be fast and dirty, when the ramp drops, get in gear!”

Bulkhead extracted himself from the electronics panel and slammed it. “Its going to be like that is it? Well that’s just fine by me.” He grinned, picking up his rifle.

The enemy craft speed towards them, the first two shots from its main gun falling short, before the third connected with the armor on the side of the boat. At full speed the two craft closed quickly on each other, and Bulkhead could see a pair of Eels and a BAT clinging to the side of the Cobra craft. Bulkhead lined up his shots and started firing along with the other Joes who were close enough to the bow.

None of their shots came close, but they at least kept the Eel’s heads down. The BAT didn’t miss though, its shots started clanging off the wheel-house almost instantly, and as the two craft drew abreast, both it and the two Eels leaped aboard onto the ORCA.

Well, the Eel that didn’t get impailed on Riptides well-aimed pike. The Bat landed next to Bulkhead, and attempted to wrap its clawed hand around his rifle.

Bulkhead was having precisely none of that. At this range, he wasn’t letting any stray shots injure his teammates, even as the boat crashed onto the shore and the tanks rumbled into motion before the ramp was even down.

He slammed the end of his rifle into the BAT’s head and chest as hard and as fast as he could eventually exposing its neck long enough to rip out some of the delicate internal circuity.

Behind him, he could hear Broadside mumbling to himself, “windspeed twelve knots, north-north-east eighteen point five degrees, negligible shell drop, enemy approach speed twenty-two knots…”

The read boat was approaching again now. A man with flowing brown hair and a bushy beard starting to go grey was leaning out the top hatch, screaming something unintelligible as he shook his fist.

With the rest of the Joes now disembarked, Broadside swung the ORCA’s main cannon around and dropped his crosshairs dead center on the man’s beard, twitched it lightly left to counter the drift, and began to squeeze the trigger before a fist to his jaw took him off his feet.

As he lay on the deck he looked up into another bearded face.

“No one” growled Shipwreck, glaring down as he wrapped his hands around the stocks of the gun, “shoots my son.”

“Except me.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Trarza Desert

“They SPECIFICALLY said…” Deep Freeze muttered under his breath.

Sun Devil groaned, and looked over at Splashdown who shook his head, and mouthed ‘leave it be’.

Sun Devil gritted his teeth but nodded. The three of them were on point, and there was no point in making a scene. Not that the noise would give them away. The Crusher and Slugger were kicking up enough of a dust trail, it was somewhat surprising that Cobra hadn’t spotted them already.

It had been almost five hours since they landed, and even the most incompetent Cobra should have figured out where the landed Joes were headed by now. He couldn’t help but wonder about a trap.

“There,” Deep Freeze pointed, “finally, some water.”

“Well I’ll be,” Sun devil growled with a sense of admiration, patting Deep Freeze on the back to acknowledge his find. “There is an oasis here.”

Splashdown tilted his head, squinting, “Trees, and I think a well beside the pool. No. Not a mirage. I’ll radio the column.”

Sun Devil scratched his beard and nodded, the three changing their course.

Twenty minutes later they reached the oasis.

Splashdown surveyed the area as they approached.

“A good place for us to pitch camp,” Sun Devil suggested.

“Well, at least there’s shade,” smiled Deep Freeze, his friendly personality finally returning after hours in the baking sun. “Dibs on putting up the tent and the air conditioning unit.”

Sun Devil and Splashdown exchanged glances.

“Air Conditioning unit?”

“Yeah. Got it from Dusty before we left, all mine bitches!” Laughed Deep Freeze, heading for a spot between a trio of trees.

Splashdown chuckled, and Sun Devil rolled his eyes, walking toward the nearest tree.

He pulled his machete from its sheath, and hacked off a dead branch from the nearest tree, sat down, and began to carve a divining rod for the rest of the march.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you,” Splashdown commented idly as he stared up at the tree.

“And why not?”

“See those leaves?”

“Yeah? Just like every other of the plam trees on this continent.”

“No. You see how the veins of the leaves are paired? This is a Alficans subspecies. Careful not to cut yourself. The sap is poisonous.”

Sun Devil looked from his knife, to the carved piece of wood and back. “You sure?”

“One hundred percent.”

Sun Devil grinned as he set the stick down beside him, “that’s what I love about the desert. Everything’s trying to kill you.”

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Akchar Desert - Thirty-two Hours Later

Landslide reached down and pulled the rope up a little more, watching, but still not believing what he was seeing, as Tygg’s front paws scrabbled on the stone pulling both him and Tango onto the ledge.

“You do know that Tigers should not be able to survive in the desert...right?”

“You know that,” Tango replied, “I know that. But Tygg doesn’t know that,” he nodded to his pet tiger, shrugged and lay down on the rock, crawling up to the edge of the lip behind Eagle Eye, next to Thunder.

Landslide shrugged and followed, watching the big cat curl up contentedly in the sun. The turrets of the Terrordrome came into view as he reached the edge of the cliff. Not the same as the old ones that he’d been briefed on in training, but designed to blend into the surroundings. The armored plating was painted the same dust brown as the surrounding landscape, and either fake or real rocks merged the building with the cliff behind it.

Tango was staring through a pair of binoculars, and started describing the terrain between their position and the terrordrome as soon as Landslide had pulled out a pen and paper.

“Pretty much flat from here on over. There’s a small ravine off to the south, running about forty degrees. Could be something in there, not sure.”

There wasn’t all that much to sketch out. Laying the drawing next to the most recent satellite imaging provided by Dial Tone, they looked mostly similar, except for the ravine that Tango had spotted, and the addition of the Terrordrome.

Landslide frowned, “let me borrow those.”

Tango handed over the binoculars, juggling them from hand to hand as he pulled out a candy bar and began to chow down.

A quick inspection confirmed the ravine as described. But those didn’t appear overnight, and not in an arid climate like this. After thirty years spent up and down all the major mountain ranges of the world, Landslide felt something was off.

“They’re hiding something in there. But I don’t know what.”

“Don’t look at me,” Tango shrugged, “never been in a desert before yesterday.”

“I got this.”

“You, no wait!” Before Thunder could stop him, Eagle Eye was slipping over the edge of the cliff towards the open field leading to the ravine.

Landslide handed the map back to Tango, “get this back to the team. I’ll go after him.”

Tango handed the map to Tygg, who took off down the cliff.

Thunder turned to watch, “is that a tiger? Or a mountain goat?”

“Pretty sure its a tiger, but I think he’s been reading too much Spiderman with me.”

“You just get used to the crazy ninja with a wolf,” muttered Thunder to himself, “then someone one-ups that…”

Landslide was sure he saw Tango smirk a little behind his bandana.

“There he is.”

Landslide followed where Tango was pointing. Indeed, there was Eagle Eye, just visible, moving towards the ravine.

“If they see him….”

The words weren’t even out of Landslide’s mouth when the distinctive shape of a HISS tank crested the edge of the ravine and headed directly towards Eagle Eye, who abandoned any pretense of stealth and ran for the nearest cliff.

Landslide and Tango began to return fire, at first at the HISS, and then at the stream of Vipers who began to appear from the same ravine.

A handful of Vipers went down before they responded. The edge of the cliff protected them from the worst of the fire, but as he saw a grenade sail over the lip, Landslide acted on instinct.

“Get down!” he yelled at the other two Joes, throwing himself on top of the explosive, and bracing himself.

He didn’t have time to complete the mental prayer he was saying before he felt himself kicked off the grenade, and watched, with his jaw open as Thunder, still laying prone on the mesa, kicked the grenade into mid air as it exploded.

He looked his commanding officer in the face, unable to hide his surprise.

“Don’t be a martyr son. Its not nearly as good an idea as you think it is.”

Thunder winked.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outside The Terrordrome

“Move move move!!” came Thunder’s orders as he slid down the mesa he’d been on.

Groundpounder was already on the move with Tracer, running towards the sounds of gunfire. First Aid and Breacher had headed off already to catch up with Eagle Eye. Those three had been assigned by Warhorse to take care of getting in, and getting Duke out.

The tanks and Groundpounder’s group would engage the Cobra defense forces and keep them occupied.

A green blur whipped past Groundpounder as he ran. He shook his head. Throttle and his bike looked more like something out of a science fiction movie, not a soldier. He still wondered what he was doing with the team. That sort of out of the box thinking was what made this unit. Every guy here had something unique to offer the team. Experience, brilliant ideas, inventions, things that a simple soldier like Groundpounder didn’t understand, or try to.

Tracer planted himself at the base of the cliff and Groundpounder slipped behind a boulder next to him. He had only one job, keep the two tech-heads safe.

Throttle was too fast for Cobra to catch, he was pretty sure, but Tracer seemed to get lost in his own world the second his little robotic menaces were released.

As if on que, Tracer dramatically punched a button on his wrist “player three has entered the game!”

Three PAC/RATs streamed out from behind the Slugger, and onto the battlefield, clouds of sand blooming behind their high speed tires. Their cannons began to unleash a constant fire towards the Cobra Vipers, dropping several who obviously expected these PAC/RATs to be as full of malfunctions as the old versions.

“Combo! Double XP!” crowed Tracer.

Groundpounder added what little fire he could, but between the PAC/RATs and Groundpounder’s worry of a missed shot hitting Throttle as he buzzed around the battlefield, the canons of the LCV taking out treads of the increasing number of HISS tanks, leaving them easy targets for the Slugger and Crusher.

The Vipers were now getting wise, and taking cover behind those disabled HISS’s though.

“Awww...Combo breaker!”

“Regrettably, I feel compelled to inform you that is not all that shall be broken in your immediate future. However, I am willing to give you both a fighting chance.”

Groundpounder spun to face the new voice, but Tracer was lost in his own little world.

Ok then. Its up to me.

In front of him was a man in a pink gass mask and hazard suit.

“Of course, that means you’ll have to see me.”

Even though he couldn’t see the man’s face, he could hear the smirt, and as a pink cloud of gas erupted from the canister the man dropped, he could suddenly no longer see anything.

His mouth and nose were filled with the most disgusting mix of skunk, old socks, and jockstrap that he’d ever experienced. He couldn’t breath, when he did it only got worse. His eyes were closed, and when he tried to open them they were blurred with tears. Training took over.

He lashed out with his rifle to the left, knowing that his opponent would dodge to the right, and countered with a foot sweep. It connected.

Not only did it bring his opponent down to the ground, but it told him where the man, Stinkbug, the ame came to his mind unbidden, was going to be laying. He launched himself on top of his prone opponent, and landed. He still couldn’t see the man, but he could feel his hands around the man’s throat.

Well, maybe this whole G.I. Joe thing is for me afterall...

Behind him he could hear Tracer yelling “Breath THOSE points Cobra!! whahaa!”

Now if only I could breath.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside The Terrordrome

“If the Joes are here, we need to….kik...kik...kik...terminate Duke with extreme prejudice,” Glitch insisted, trailing Monarch across the command suite.

“I make the decisions here,” Monarch boomed without turning. “We’re evacuating, and we’re taking the prisoner with us.”

“NO.” Boomed a new voice. One that made both Glitch and Monarch flinch.

“Commander!” Monarch snapped instantly to attention and turned to face the giant display screen along one wall of the command center. “How may I serve my Leige?”

“Is the chip implanted in the prisoner?”

Monarch turned to Glitch, “if this one knows how to use the new Brainwave Scanner it is.”

“I was the one who redesigned the Brr...Brrr...Brr...MindScanner myself. Myselflessnesslittlepony. Brony. Forchan. It is perfect!”

“Is the chip implanted?” repeated Cobra commander, beginning to sound impatient.

“Yeeee...yeee….yeee...correct Commander.”

“Good. Leave him for the Joes to find. And sacrifice that Dreadnok if you have to to make it look real. But make sure you destroy everything else. Do NOT fail me Monarch.”

“No my lord!” Monarch bowed as the monitor winked off.

“You heard him,” he growled to Glitch. “Destroy everything.”

“You!” He ordered the nearest Gyro Viper, “find Scavenger.”

He reached for his tablet, his hand groped empty table. Odd, Monarch thought, I’m sure I set it there.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside The Terrordrome

Eagle Eye peaked around another corner of the basement maze. Not a sole in sight. Ever since the last alarm had started going off, they had only seen the backs of Cobras. That was fine by him. The more they saw them running away, the more they knew they were headed to the heart of the place where Duke was.

Breacher tapped his arm and pointed left. Eagle Eye nodded. Assuming Cobra hadn’t changed their schematics in the last ten years, they were going the right way. First Aid followed as they moved down a hallway, then a staircase that ended in three locked doors.

“Bingo” Breacher smiled, raising his visor and taking a deep breath, and bellowed.

“Good afternoon Cobras. My name is Breacher. I believe that some of you are holding a friend of mine. I know you’re just doing your job, but I would like to discuss conditions for his release!”

A moment’s silence followed.

“Go away ya trash!”

Eagle Eye pointed to the right door. As did First Aid. Breacher nodded. Of course, the stench of the unwashed was something of a giveaway to start.

“Well Mr. … what shall I call you? You’re trapped,” Breacher’s statement was punctuated by another shell hitting the side of the Terrordrome. “And as you can hear, you are fairly well surrounded. But that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to be reasonable. If you surrender the prisoner, I’m willing to give you a fair chance to escape with the rest of this base. If you surrender without a fight, I may even help you leave.”

The door cracked open, and something circular came out, First Aid had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck in the head. Eagle Eye turned to look at the object imbedded in the wall.

“Is that a record?” he asked incredibly.

“That was some Elvis!” Came the shout from behind the door, “And I got hit top fifty right here for you!”

Breacher wasn’t as fast, this record caught the side of his vest, tearing a ragged gap before the door slammed closed again.

Breacher cursed under his breath as First Aid took a look.

“Didn’t penetrate. But those things are sharp.”

Eagle Eye nodded, moving a little out of the line of fire as Breacher spoke up again.

“I’ll give you that one. But lets be reasonable here. You have one of our men. We have all of you. I’m offering a fair trade. His life, for yours. Don’t be silly, we can all get what we want.”

“Ge’ lost” came the voice. “Ain’t no one who tells Ol” Riff Raff whatta do!”

“Well, we have a name now,” Breacher said quietly. “Dreadnok garbage guy right?”

“That’s the one,” confirmed First Aid. “But with the way he smells, are we sure Duke hasn’t died from asthma yet?”

“All right Riff Raff. I know you’re getting paid to be here. I’m sure that the Pentagon would be happy to double your fee to get Duke out of there.”

“Blow it out yer tail pipe! I got a bullet here with yer precious soldier-boy’s name on it.”

“Now lets be reasona-”

Breacher was cut off by a loud gunshot. His amiable expression disappeared as quickly as he snapped his visor back into place.

“Now Breacher,” started First Aid, but it was too late.

The massive ram was already off his shoulder and swinging. By the time Eagle Eye or First Aid moved, Breacher was already through the door. Or rather over what was left of it. It was only as he squatted in the entrance that Eagle Eye realized the door was resting on top of what used to be a Pyro-Viper.

There were two more in the room. Were being an appropriate past-tense Eagle Eye realized, as both lay at what would be impossible angles. To one side Breacher was swinging the ram wildly at what could only have been Riff Raff who was struggling to make himself small and dodge the blows that would surely have caved in his skull.

There was a small pop, and then a sizzle, as Riff Raff began to seizure. Eagle Eye lowered his pistol and looked at First Aid. In one hand she held her medical kit, and with the other she held a tazer, connected to Riff Raff by two wires.

Well...that works.

“All right,” Breacher said, breathing heavily, and regaining his composure as First Aid switched off the tazer, then picking up Riff Raff by the neck, “now WHERE is Duke?”

The Dreadnok tried to laugh but could only wheeze, “he ain’t here. Ain’t been here for a month.” He continue to laugh, and it was only as his wrist flicked that Eagle Eye saw the lighter fly and the fluid leaking from the tanks on the back of the Pyro-Viper.

“Look out!”

Half the room was instantly engulfed in flames.

“Get us out!” yelled First Aid.

They ran into the hall, Breacher dragging the prisoner. But without the door, the flames continued to spread with the leaking tanks.

“Radio command, we’ve got to pull out,” Eagle Eye instructed, “if Duke’s not here then-”

There was a banging from the middle door, and the Joes exchanged glances.

“You don’t think…” started First Aid.

“Only one way to find out,” Breacher replied throwing Riff Raff against a far wall, before hammering down the door.

Behind it lay a sight that Eagle Eye would have had a hard time identifying. A gaunt, emaciated man lay on the ground. Tatters of a black shirt and green standard-issue pants clung to him, and a blonde beard sprouted from his chin, almost making up for the creeping baldness of his head.

“Let me guess. You’re the new guys?” the man choked out with a rasp.

“Yes SIR!” all three answered in unison. Some habits died hard, no matter what was going on.

“You want to get me out of here before we all burn to death?”

Breacher reached down and effortlessly scooped Duke into his arms.

They ran through the door, and up the stairs. Riff Raff was already gone, but as the fire spread behind them they had no time to worry.

At the top of the stairs First Aid turned right, Eagle Eye left.

“Its this way!” she yelled.

“I know. But if Cobra’s pulling out there’s something we can get!” Eagle Eye yelled back. “You two go. I’ll meet you at the rendezvous point!”

“Sir?” Breacher asked, looking at the man he was carrying.

“Let him go soldier. After working with Snake Eyes, I’ve learned to trust the crazy ones.”

First Aid nodded her agreement, “I can’t treat Duke here. And we can’t waste time chasing him. He’ on his own.”

As the flames crept after them, they ran.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Outside The Terrordrome

Wall Cloud clutched the railing above his head as the Crusher rumbled over the ground. Why the heck am I in a tank? Why the heck am I in a TANK? Does NO one in this outfit pay attention to our job descriptions?

“All right you stupid lookin’ tin cans. Meet my twelve-tonne-Can Opener!” Warhorse yelled.

I’m pretty sure they can’t hear you sir. Wall Cloud shook his head. This guy might not be THE George Patton, but he sure tried to act like him.

Even over the rumble of the treads, he could still hear the ear-shattering boom of the Slugger’s cannon firing, and the distant explosion as one of the HISS Tanks outside disintegrated.

“Cloud. Get your ass into that turret, and give me some cover fire.”

There was no choice but to obey.

“Paratrooper in a tank, Arctic soldier as desert infantry,” muttered Wall Cloud to himself, “no one around this outfit knows how to plan a mission.”

He opened the hatch above his head, and immediately ducked back inside as Warhorse took the direct route to assault the nearest HISS, plowing into it full speed and mowing it over. The crazy old coot was going to get them killed.

Still, Wall Cloud pulled himself up, and grabbed the machine gun, checking that the belt was still feeding properly, and then opening fire on a Track Viper in a nearby HISS dumb enough to be sticking his own head out of a turret, praying that one of them wouldn’t do the same to him.

A few dozen meters away the Slugger had dug in, and was firing away at the wall of the Terrodrome, blasting rock, metal and the occasional HISS to shrapnel. And if Wall Cloud’s brief glance was correct, Thunder appeared to be cheering each time the cannon went off.

Still, as long as...whoop!!

Wall Cloud managed to slam the hatch just as the shell from a distant his crashed againsst the rear of the Crusher. And for a moment all was silent.

Well, at least I’m not dead!

“Sonovabitch of a piece of shit!” he could hear Warhorse cursing, and then the distinct bang of him punching something.

“Sir, I’m not sure…” Wall Cloud started as he leaned down into the cabin.

“Shattup!” Puch. “I’m” Punch. “Gonna.” Punch. “Get this” Punch...and slowly the engine rumbled to life. “THERE. Back to killing snakes!

Everyone. In. This. Outfit. Is. INSANE!

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inside The Terrordrome

Eagle Eye slipped quietly around the corner, Hawk’s orders echoed in his ears, ‘You have one job, to get in, and get Duke out. If you can capture...or kill...any Cobras in the process, that’s encouraged, but don’t let that distract you.’

Well Duke was out, so nothing to distract from now. He crept down the hallway, hearing voices ahead. Eagle Eye didn’t really expect to capture any of the Cobras still in the base, but if he could get a look at who was here, or better yet, their evacuation plans, that would be invaluable to Hawk and the rest of the brass.

Once more, his earbud crackled, Warhorse’s gravelly voice, “all Joes, pull back to Muster Point Beta. That means you Eagle Eye! Get your butt out of there.”

Tapping a switch on the outside of his helmet, Eagle Eye shut out the noise. Two minutes, thats all I need. I’m almost there.

He reached the last corner. He could tell by the way sounds were echoing from the departing Cobra, that it opened into a much larger room. He waited, and listened, nothing seemed to be too close. Slowly he eased his head around the corner, low to the ground. No one seemed to notice. There were only a half dozen people still left in the room. A couple more vipers, carrying a box out the door, two Data Vipers likely scrubbing the computers, and then two he recognized from his briefing notes before the mission, Monarch and Glitch.

Well isn’t this my lucky day? If I can take down either of those it will be a huge blow to Cobra. A smile creased Eagle Eye’s lips behind his helmet. Slowly he reached over his left shoulder, raising his cannon into place, this was too easy, he thought as the targeting icon slid over the console to Monarch’s left. Just as it locked into place, he remembered that it made a loud click as it slid into place.

Too late!

Glitch dived for cover out the door, but Monarch launched himself across the room towards Eagle Eye. So much for take them alive.

Monarch pulled both his pistols and began to unload their clips towards where Monarch was crouched behind a desk. He was pretty sure that at least one of the shots clipped Monarch, but he couldn’t be sure where before return fire forced him to duck back behind the corner.

“Kill him!” he heard the order being given, and more shots began peppering the wall beside his head.

Reaching into one of the slots on his armor, Eagle Eye produced a small square box, hit the switch, tossed it into the room, and turned away.

His helmet protected him from the flashbang’s effect, but when he turned the corner, he realized that so had the Vipers. The only saving grace was their momentary surprise. He was able to take one down before the other dove for cover through the same door Monarch must have exited while out of sight.

No matter, Eagle Eye vaulted the intervening obstacles, reactivating his shoulder cannon, firing as he came through the door. One shot took down a Data Viper across what was revealed to be an aircraft hanger.

The realization that he couldn’t see the viper came just in time for Eagle Eye to throw himself to the ground, bullets whipping through the air where he’d stood from behind him. He fired over his shoulder as he rolled away.

Well, that’s my luck quota for the week.

The Viper dropped, clutching the vulnerable soft-spot between his collar and helmet as Eagle Eye clambered to his feet.

Across the hanger, he could see Monarch hauling himself into a black aircraft with broad wings and a clear cockpit, the...Vulture? He couldn’t remember. Beside it, who Eagle Eye suspected was the pilot was disconnecting hoses and slamming a plate back into place. A tray of food and a sleeping bag were kicked out of his way as he hurried to the other ladder.

You’re not getting away that easily.

He lined up a shot with his cannon, fired, and watched it bounce harmlessly off the armored canopy. He saw the pilot, he was sure he should know the name, shake his fist and….

Oh no.

Eagle Eye did not make the door before the plane opened fire. The explosions lifted Eagle Eye off his feet and into blackness and pain.

Several minutes passed before he regained consciousness. He was pretty sure that there was an angel looking down on...oh wait…no...just First aid. And she was yelling. No...the voice was too deep. Must be Warhorse.

As Eagle Eye began to lose consciousness again, he thought he saw something dart across the corner of his vision. A woman, in gold and black, running out the hanger door.

No. Couldn’t be.

Blackness descended again. But this time without pain.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Outside The Terrordrome

Tailspin put the Barnstormer hard over into a bank abandoning his run on the closest Venom Chopper just as one of the Slugger’s shells tore through the rear rotor housing. Most had escaped, but the Joes had taken down at least four.

There was still no sign of the stealth craft. Hawk had take him aside before his launch from the Flagg. If they could rescue Duke, and word from the ground was that he was going to be ‘A-O-K’, then he was to try and ground the Vulture before Cobra could make any more of it.

Of course the circling Exo-Vipers in their SCRAMjets were making things more than a little difficult. They were speedy little things, and though their small arms just bounced off the Barnstormer, if he hit one mid-flight, Tailspin knew not even Ace could have held things from a fiery crash.

Instinctively he twitched the fire control, twin lances of 40mm tore through one off the SCRAMjets, shrapnel peppering the Barnstormer as he flew through the cloud. Fire was now consuming two thirds of the Terrordrome below, and Tailspin almost reached for the dump level of his old cropduster. That’s one fire I don’t want to put out.

He threw the Barnstormer into a corkscrew dive to avoid the turbulence of the updraft, just in time to see a dark shadow dart from the mouth of the Terrordrome. There you are!

Correcting the spiral, Tailspin slid in behind the Vulture, a twitch of his finger riddled the air where it had been with fire. He followed into the steep climb, losing a burst of fire whenever the other plane darted into his crosshairs, but not making the novice mistake of keeping his finger on the trigger.

The Vulture was fast, but Tailspin kept himself from falling too far behind. His combat instructors would be horrified with the maneuvers he was making, but the crowd at any air show would be on their feet. It wasn't often that he was thankful for his brief career in stunt flying, but it was paying off now.

Or rather, it was until he was caught by the oldest pilots trick in the book. As he attempted a side slip spiral to keep inside the Vulture's turn radius, the other pilot hit the air breaks and was suddenly behind the Barnstormer.

Well that was dumb.

Now Tailspin found himself dancing out of the way of enemy 40mm. Once again, he thanked whatever twist of fate had put him in so many air shows, but now it was time for a different tactic. He slammed the stitch forward, making an abrupt dive for the desert below, the Vulture careening after him. Barely 50 meters above the ground Tailspin finally hauled back on the stick, levelling out a few scant meters above the ground.

The wake of his engines kicked up a giant flurry if dust, just like a field of fallow would billow behind his father's old crop duster. At least these days he had more to protect his face than a worn out old scarf and hand-me-down sunglasses.

He wove between dunes, the shriek of missile locks screaming in his ears. He threw the Barnstormer on its wing as two streaks of death passed on either side, detonating in the sand ahead.

A better pilot might have found a way to avoid the cloud, he chided himself afterwards, but Tailspin plowed right through. By the time he made it out the other side, the Vulture was nowhere to be seen.

He circled vainly back the way he had come before realizing that someone was shouting at him through his headset.

"I'm sorry, would you repeat that?"

"Get your nancy-boy ass back here," snarled Warhorse, "we need evac now. Unless you'd like one hot cup of Joes back here?"

"No sir! Sorry sir!"

Tailspin could see the cause of the general's concern. The flames engulfing the Terrordrome were climbing even higher, and it was a challenge to land the Barnstormer, even with its advanced stabilizers, against the updraft.

No sooner was the rear hatch open, and Joes came piling in. Tailspin counted at least four wounded, but at least they all looked alive.

"Everyone in?"

"Accounted for!" Replied Thunder, "take us up!"

Tailspin obeyed, even as the cargo door closed.

"My tank," grumbled Warhorse.

"My bike!" Added Throttle.

"My creations!" Whimpered Tracer.

"Don't worry boys," came a strange hoarse voice that Tailspin could only assume was Duke, "I'm sure Uncle Sam will be happy to buy you all some new toys after a successful first mission. Yo Joe!"

"YO JOE!!!"