The Mercer Funhouse of Horror and Cobra Commander's Fatal Miscalculation

This rather interesting and unique crossover idea was a commission of sorts from an online friend and fellow author Hildebrant who wanted me to write this out by the time of his birthday.

That…didn't quite work out as well as initially planned.

In either case, allow me to present to you my interpretation of the G.I. Joe episode "The Funhouse" from Sunbow Production's animated series G.I. Joe An American Hero. And for those hardcore fans out there might have also noticed by now, this story has now been published on the twelfth of September. That is the date of broadcast of the very first Sunbow Production episode "The Cobra Strikes" which started the first mini-series of the An American Hero continuity twenty-nine years ago that many hold dear to their hearts.

Well….those old enough to remember the show anyway….

Anyway, the following story will begin after these important disclaimers.

Disclaimer: I am not the creator of the featured franchises nor do I legally own the copyright to them and thus have no grounds in such claims. Any other similarities with other works, copyrighted or otherwise, is purely coincidental.

Mercer walked down the street, disguised as the same street thug whom he had consumed earlier to keep curious eyes away. Of course, the thug was in the middle of a getaway with some old lady's purse so it was justified in the blacklight manifest's eyes.

As he walked down the street, his mind was occupied with thoughts about the terrorist organization/crime syndicate known as Cobra in their recent kidnappings of prominent scientists of their respective fields. Though it was curious as to why those scientists were kidnapped, beyond the typically obvious goal of "ruling the world" somehow, the viral clone didn't worry too much about the cases.

Until it came close to home.

The recent kidnapping was of one Dr. Johann Hibbentrope, Mercer's mentor and Gentek's head biologist. Though to be exact Dr. Hibbentrope just had no personal connection to the viral clone, Mercer has been driven mostly by the original's wishes and goals and was the default mindset of Zeus so it stood to reason that Dr. Hibbentrope's fate was a great concern to him. From what the newscasters report, it was speculated that when Dr. Hibbntrope was spirited away from his own research laboratory at one of Gentek's many facilities outside of the New York Metropolitan area, it was by the mercenary and ally of Cobra, Zartan. A criminal whose face was largely unknown to the public at large yet his profile was classified top secret by numerous government organizations of the world's nations.

Blackwatch could never have prevented Mercer's access with a simple, strategic consume.

It was then that heard a ring tone. Though generally not out of place in a city, what was notable was the proximity of the ring tone. Specifically the cell phone itself was tapped covertly within an abandoned payphone booth. Mercer couldn't help but wonder at the rather irony of the location as he slipped into the booth and freed the cell phone. He noticed that it was one of the newer touch-screen models; to be exact the one he had seen advertised as of late which boasted its video conference as a core feature. With a simple shrug, Mercer answered the unknown call which almost immediately switched to the aforementioned video conference where the viral clone saw the cloaked face of one Cobra Commander.

"I must admit, Alex Mercer, you were not an easy man to contact." The commander stated in his rather unique voice pattern.

"That's kind of the point when you're hiding from, well everyone with a gun and an attached lab. Which includes you, now that I think about it." Mercer countered.

"Something I can almost relate to…" Cobra Commander rolled his eyes before he continued. "Getting back to the task at hand-"

"I can already assume that this ain't a social call." Mercer joked. "I can only imagine how much it cost to contact me with the phone alone."

"Unfortunately I know." Cobra Commander groaned. "It's just impossible to find one with that phone's capabilities on a pay-by-use program. I even had to sign a four-year contract with AT&T just to get one and with the surcharges that it- Do you mind! I'm trying to be rather villainous here and you're interrupting my monologue!"

"Sorry." Mercer apologized sarcastically as he rolled his eyes. "Continue."

"Anyway, getting back to the task at hand. I can assume that you have heard of the 'missing' scientists, especially the latest one to have been…misplaced?"

"So what are you going to do with them, snake breath?" Mercer teased. "Just to get at me? Oh you shouldn't have."

"The dear Dr. Hibbentrope was just an added bonus." Cobra Commander sneered. "And speaking of the good biologist…." The screen then switched to the image of a tied up Dr. Hibbentrope.

"Alex please! You have to get me out of here!" Dr. Hibbentrope pleaded. However, Mercer kept a straight face, internally knowing something that even Cobra Commander did not know as he awaited for him to come back to the screen.

"I'll take it that you want me to do something in return for Dr. Hibbentrope's safe return along with the other scientists?" Mercer asked.

"Oh it's not much on your part." Cobra Commander answered. "What is required is your presence at the quadrants that are saved in the cell phone you have now. You have twenty-four hours to arrive or I can't really guarantee the safety of your mentor." The megalomaniac laughed just as the connection was cut from the cell phone.

Mercer almost instinctively knew that it was a trap, but he would play along anyway. If only because "it might be fun" he mentally reasoned. Well that and there were still those scientists that needed to be rescued. Of course it was only a matter of time before the Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta, more famously known as G.I. Joe, would make their own rather blunderous attempt at the rescue of the scientists and Mercer had no doubt that Cobra Commander would try to take out two birds with one stone as the proverb had gone so he would have to act fast while the chance of him being hindered was lowered.

Of course, he was on the international "No-Fly" list for obvious reasons so he would have to get himself a disguise. Naturally he'll have to find himself someone bound for the location provided by Cobra, which he soon discovered that it was somewhere in Brazil. He would have to ultimately find a flyer whose destination was Rio de Janeiro. He reasoned that it would be easier to fly if he consumed someone on a lone business trip; less questions that way. Of course, he would also have to approach the quarry who would be at an airport filled with security cameras, so naturally he'll need a disguise just to approach his intended target.

Thankfully for Mercer there was just such an individual who mindlessly walked towards him as she was preoccupied with a phone call…

At the Cobra compound deep in Brazil, which was outwardly similar to an Incan-style pyramid architecturally though with a golden cobra head upon the apex of the structure, the Baroness questioned as to why Cobra Commander wanted the viral clone Zeus at the facility.

"I assume that you are familiar with his exploits in Manhattan during the Blacklight outbreak?" Cobra Commander questioned. "Or rather, how he dealt with not only the US Marines but also Blackwatch with his abilities. Just imagine how powerful Cobra would become if we could harness such power! A single legion of Cobra Troopers with Zeus' powers will be more than enough to conquer the world!"

"And I can only assume that you have a way to prevent the troopers from turning on you?" The Baroness questioned rather prudently.

"Well unlike our dear 'Dr. Hibbentrope' here," Cobra Commander gestured just as the fake Dr. Hibbentrope revealed himself to be Zartan. "The Cobra Troopers are fanatically loyal to me rather than motivated by profit, the very thought of them betraying me even if they have such a power is simply beyond them."

"Speaking of profit, the acting will cost extra." Zartan reminded Cobra Commander.

"It will be worth every penny spent once I acquire Zeus' unique strain of the Blacklight Virus."

"Somehow I doubt that Mercer will so willingly allow us to take a sample." The Baroness mused.

"That is why I had this 'Funhouse' created, my dear Baroness." Cobra Commander answered. "It'll be easy to get the strain from a corpse." He then chuckled ominously.

For Zartan and the Baroness on the other hand, though they were surprised that they made such a response themselves, simply stated. "Right…."

Some time much later, in the dead of night, Mercer stealthily made his way towards the Cobra base, to which he internally wondered exactly how no one noticed something so obvious beforehand, as he snuck from flora to flora to evade detection. He had not doubt that he could take on the entire Cobra force stationed around the makeshift Inca pyramid quite easily despite Cobra's reputation, but he was never a real fan of being a bullet sponge despite his ungodly healing and regeneration abilities.

Then at the perimeter of the patrol, he spotted two Cobra Troopers patrolling their sector of the area. It was a sound theory in Mercer's mind to go with a kind of buddy system to ensure that if something ever happened to the other, an alert is sounded and reinforcements would come quickly. Judging by the number of armored vehicles scattered about the area, said reinforcements would make any non-vehicular intrusions into so much hamburger. Of course, such a strategy did not fully account Mercer's abilities as a manifestation of the Blacklight virus as he snuck up upon the both of them and absorbed them simultaneously while at the same time muffled their screams of pure horror.

"Command to Patrol 421, you didn't respond to rotation. What is your status, over." A transmitter spoke out as Mercer leaned down to pick it up. "Command to Patrol 421 come in, over." It was just his luck for such an outcome to his attempts at infiltration, then a devious idea came to mind. While infiltration when all is quiet is difficult, one when everyone's focus is on something else made it exponentially easier, especially with Mercer's own abilities of Concealment as he shifted into the form of one of his recent victims and fired one of the assault rifles before he responded.

"Patrol 421 to Command, we had just spotted Zeus in the jungle!" Mercer cried out in feinted panic as he fired a few more shots. "We are in pursuit, but we need immediate reinforcements immediately, over!"

"Command to Patrol 421, do not pursue target. I repeat, do NOT pursue target. Heavy artillery is on its way, over."

"Patrol 421 to Command, Rodger that. Awaiting the rain, over and out." Mercer then smashed the transmitter into so much junk before he flew off into the sky and glided around the perimeter until he was far enough away to know that he won't be bothered as the Cobra Troopers were off chasing his engineered wild goose chase as he shifted form to the other victim he consumed. He reasoned that he would have his fun with the Cobra Troopers and their toys once he had cut off the head from the snake as he headed towards the snake-topped pyramid.

"Phyllis? What are you doing all the way over here?" Mercer stopped in his approach as he turned towards the Cobra Trooper who had addressed him. He could not fathom as to how the Cobra Troopers could identify one another in such a getup that he was in. "Weren't you supposed to be patrolling-"

"Wait a minute!" The other Cobra Trooper exclaimed as he readied his rifle. "I think he's Zeus!"

"So much for that idea." Mercer groaned in annoyance as he summoned his claws to eviscerate the unfortunate Cobra Troopers whose screams was a clear indication that he was not where he had reported.

Almost like clockwork did the Cobra Troopers and their combat vehicles descended upon Mercer, and just as prophesized, the viral abilities of the clone gave him an unfair advantage against the forces of Cobra as their clear-cut orders of battle quickly evolved into shrieks of absolute horror. His first victim had his torso ripped apart by the Muscle Mass which were then used as projectiles against a squad of Cobra Troopers and gave him enough time to close in with his claws to eviscerate one while the other were occupied with the line of pin-pulled grenades of the other half of the unfortunate Cobra Trooper.

Mercer then used his whipfist to latch onto a nearby vehicle and pull himself forward and, once the proper velocity was achieved, summoned his Blade to slice the vehicle in half before he leaped into the air and "commandeered" a bubble craft by absorbing it's unfortunate pilot before he crashed the machine into what appeared to be an anti-armor squad that could do barely more than scream out in shock and surprise.

Almost without delay, the Hammerfist allowed Mercer to propel himself towards another Cobra vehicle and, with near instinctual response, slammed the oversized biomass fists into the vehicle and cause it to fly in to the air end-over-end before it finally slammed into the ground and produced a brilliant explosion that covered all those within the lethal zone deadly shrapnel. Then Mercer propelled himself into the air and delivered a powerful kick onto the ground that caused the earth to shake and the Cobra Troopers to be distracted long enough to be horribly absorbed into Mercer's body and gained enough excess biomass to perform one of his favorite devastator moves and only added to the carnage and chaos that was the battle- no, the pyramid massacre.

Deep within the control room of the pyramid all the while, Cobra Commander watched the results of Mercer's counterattack against the Cobra Troopers. Yet while those of sound mind saw a mindless massacre that would haunt the dreams of many, the supreme generalissimo instead saw a masterpiece of possibilities, the kaleidoscope of future endeavors that would no doubt succeed in global domination once mastery was achieved by his forces.

"Can you imagine what Cobra would become with only a single regiment of Zeus-infused Cobra Troopers? Or even a Battalion?" Cobra Commander asked Zartan and the Baroness in almost maddening appreciation of what is shown upon the monitors. "There would be no force on Earth, Heaven, or Hell that would halt the goals of Cobra!"

Both Zartan and Baroness, upon full view of Cobra Commander's delusions, could only fear the terrors that would come if there were anywhere near such numbers of Zeus-enabled individuals, especially if such individuals ever had the idea to rebel against their masters. "I'm not sure if such numbers would be any great insurance to the continued existence of Cobra." Baroness noted.

'Much less humanity.' Zartan then mentally added. 'Not to mention the lack of any funds to acquire or things to spend upon.'

"Do not underestimate the power of Cobra Trooper loyalty." Cobra Commander answered. "They will do all within their power to appease their leader, especially if I were to acquire a more 'pure' strain now that the though had crossed my mind."

Now Zartan and Baroness were truly fearful.

It was not a full ten minutes before Mercer had slaughtered the last of the Cobra troopers. Amist the wasteland of gore and wreckage, he could only reflect upon how well the Cobra Troopers simply died.

"They're the threat to the free world? Pathetic, Blackwatch was harder." Just then, Mercer noticed a few survivors who were apparently intelligent enough not to involve themselves in the fighting. Yet they were still unfortunate as he dashed towards them and ensnared them with his claws. They knew that to resist was pointless, yet fear still illuminated their eyes.

"I'll be quick: Who knows how to get inside?" Mercer offered.

Almost unsurprisingly, the surviving Cobra Troopers argued amongst themselves to see who would be allowed to live and who would die horribly via Mercer's viral powers. Eventually, from the throng of verbal chaos, one of the Cobra Troopers spoke. "There's a hidden entryway camouflaged into the stone staircase! It can only be opened by a transmitter that is owned by a non-com or higher!"

"Are you sure there isn't anything else that you should tell me?" Mercer inquired.

"That's all we were told!"

"Well there's only one way to find out then." Mercer smirked as he ripped the unfortunate Cobra Trooper apart and absorbed his biomass into himself amidst the screams of horror, pain and betrayal. "Hn, guess he was telling the truth."

"I-I thought that you were going to spare the one who gave you the information?!" One of the shocked Cobra Troopers spouted.

"Funny, I don't remember saying that." The viral clone then smirked. "Then again, I think that I'll leave your loved ones something to bury." And with those words the Cobra Troopers were violently killed, yet Mercer struggled mentally to prevent his body from absorbing the now deceased biomass.

With an assault rifle in one hand and a recovered transmitter in the other, Mercer then entered the pyramid-like complex with the muzzle straight and true in case Cobra Commander had any other surprises in store for him. His experience back in Manhattan had taught him to prepare for unexpected surprises from others.

Just as he entered a chamber, a hatch from the stone ceiling opened up to reveal a strange device. Mercer was authentically curious as to the nature of the device as he aimed at it when suddenly the assault rifle was ripped from his arms and flew towards the device. It was obvious by now that what Cobra Commander deployed was an electromagnet.

"Nu-uh, that'll just be too unfair for what I have prepared for you, Zeus." Cobra Commander's voice echoed as a video screen was revealed that showcased the megalomaniac's visage. "And don't think about trying to take your weapon back, that electromagnet is beyond your-"

Almost without effort, Mercer used his Whip Fist to grab hold of the rifle as leverage to rip the electromagnet from the ceiling which subsequently stopped its supply of electricity. Naturally, Cobra Commander was stunned. "B-But how-"

"The Electromagnet's strong, no debate about that." Mercer explained nonchalantly. "The moorings, not so much."

"O-oh…..I see…." Cobra Commander tried to mentally recover from what was effectively a lecture in basic structural engineering as both Zartan and Baroness recovered from their individual face palm. "Anyway, welcome to my funhouse Zeus! Before you lies three entrances of this labyrinthine complex that I have constructed just for you. Two of these doors lead to simple dead ends while the lucky third will lead you straight to me, but don't think that I would call it a funhouse for nothing, for I have laid 'challenges' between you and your goal of reaching me that will push you to your-"

"Is that your plan? Bore me to death? Though I have to admit, it's a pretty original idea after all I had to deal with." Mercer interrupted in his usual manner.

"Take this seriously!" Cobra Commander yelled in utter outrage. "There is a bomb that will detonate and destroy this entire island, and you with it!"

"You do realize that I DID survive a nuclear detonation, right?"

"Um….well….." Cobra Commander struggled to regain his composure and control. "The bomb will also vaporize the scientists that I have captured, including your mentor Dr.-"

"I get it, I get it." Mercer waved his hand in a bored fashion. "I'll play your game and pick one." Unbeknownst to Cobra Commander, for some strange reason or another, Mercer already used his infrared vision to find the correct door, but decided to play along if only because he was somewhat interested to see these so-called challenges Cobra Commander had made for him. "Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe, Fuck you later, I'll just go left." He cursed in sing song to the traditional rhyme before he entered the left corridor as foreshadow of what he will do to Cobra Commander once he gets board of his so-called funhouse.

Meanwhile, within the control room at the very center of the pyramid, Cobra Commander mused over Mercer's recent actions. "Well, that could have gone better."

"I still don't understand why you simply can't just blow him up out right." Baroness complained. "Why go through with such a charade just to get a puny sample?"

"Allow him the chance to enjoy himself." Zartan advised the Baroness. "Besides, I'm paid by the hour."

"Assuming that Zeus would even take that long…" Baroness mumbled, the memory of the massacre outside still fresh in her mind.

"Brute force and direct action are too boorish of strategies to work against the juggernaut that is the Blacklight Virus under Zeus' command." Cobra Commander lectured. "This is simply a waiting game, a contest of endurance. The challenges I have set up are merely to tire him out to the point that his death is like stealing candy from a baby."

"I can only assume that you have also taken into account the numerous feats that Zeus was able to perform just now, let alone-" Baroness began.

"Of course, my dear." Cobra Commander replied before he added. "Though to be honest, I might have been too conservative in their design now that I have given it much though…"

The control room echoed from the sound of Zartan and Baroness collapsing to the floor from the sheer weight of Cobra Commander's confession.

Mercer continued down the long corridor with rifle in hand and ready for whatever surprises may come. He tried to feel anxious, but all he felt right then and there was object boredom from the sheer blandness of the stone corridor.

"Yeah, I'm not really seeing much of a challenge-" Just then, the ceiling opened up to reveal pink balloons with Cobra Commander's masked face imprinted upon them. "….Though I'm not sure if I should groan in annoyance or die of laughter…"

Mercer took one of the balloons in hand and examined it, only to find that there was no outward appearance as to their purpose. Even thermal vision does not reveal anything sinister so with a shrug, he popped one open and a mysterious powder erupted from within the object.

Just then, a video monitor revealed itself and Cobra Commander's image. "I must say that your curiosity has certainly gotten the better of you, Mercer." He gloated behind his mask. "Those balloons are filled with a highly potent hallucinogen that no human could ever resist. Even now, your mind is swimming amongst a sea of madness and illusion that-"

"Yeah, about that." Mercer interrupted. "Though I may look human, physiologically I'm not so I'm basically immune."

"Wh-what?! How could this be?! You should have been affected by the most powerful hallucinogen on the entire planet-" Cobra Commander stuttered.

"I've had worse headaches." Mercer interrupted as he continued down the hallway.

Eventually, Mercer entered a chamber that had no other doorways and indicating that he had reached a dead end. Not that he was surprised from such a fact, but rather confused by the presence of four huge Jack-in-the-Boxes. "Okay, I give up. What's this supposed to be?"

Just then, one of the boxes opened up to reveal a Jester-styled Cobra Commander robot armed with a fly swatter. Mercer simply dodged the attack and smashed the box to splinters and gears with his Hammerfists. However he was not able to rest yet as another Jack, this time with a rolled up newspaper, attempts to smash the viral clone only to be smashed itself in a counter attack. The third box opened to reveal another Cobra Jack, but this time armed with a croquette mallet.

"First a Fly Swatter, then a rolled up newspaper, and now a croquette mallet? Are you trying to piss me off because it's working!" Mercer groaned as another Cobra Jack was destroyed, much to Cobra Commander's chagrin.

Finally, the forth box revealed a Cobra Jack armed with a laser pistol. The mass of the Hammerfists did make dodging the Cobra Jack's aim slightly difficult, but only slightly as Mercer swung the Hammerfists to quickly avoid the laser bolts before they were projected, get to its blind spot and then destroyed it. "And you didn't think of using four of these laser gunners earlier? It's almost pathetic, especially since you got four jacks to an ace and you still lost. Not much of a poker player I take it then."

"Don't forget Mercer," Cobra Commander warned with great amounts of venom and annoyance in his voice as it boomed from the speakers in the walls. "The clock is ticking and you still have many more challenge to face within this funhouse-"

"Oooh, I'm scared." Mercer replied sarcastically as he walked out of the room and down the hallway back to the first chamber.

Mercer then walked down the right corridor, the assault rifle slung across his shoulders in abject boredom from the theory that many of the so-called "challenges" of Cobra Commander would be of a similar nature and equally just as ridiculous as they were easy when he spies a loading platform for a roller coaster.

"Now this is just starting to become insulting…." Mercer commented before he boarded the roller coaster car and road it down the tracks, all the while sarcastically stating periodically how "fun" the ride has become.

Then he came across a platoon of Cobra Troopers armed with an assortment of heavy weaponry and Directed Energy systems against him alongside the rails before him. "Not exactly ridiculous, but still just as boring." Mercer then leaped into the air just as the Cobra Troopers fired their weapons.

The viral clone then slammed into the ground and unleashing the biomass of the slain and absorbed Cobra Troopers outside the pyramid into the Groundspike Graveyard Devastator. The force of the attack was not only enough to cause horrendous casualties amongst the Cobra Troopers who were assigned in the ambush, but the roller coaster itself was wrecked beyond repair.

After he bore witness to the carnage he caused, he simply walked and maneuvered through the devastation as he whistled towards the next challenge area, absorbing the occasional Cobra Trooper along the way to heal his own wounds from the earlier barrage. It was a surprise to Mercer, but it wasn't too much that he could not handle with his powers.

Mercer then reached the dead end area of the right corridor, which was designed to resemble a massive bowling lane as the corridor was closed behind him. "Not sure how much of a movie buff you are, Cobra Commander, but I doubt that the bolder in Raiders of the Lost Arc was really a large bowling ball."

As if on cue, the massive replica bowling ball was launched from the far end of the lane an towards the enormous bowling pins, with Mercer in the way. With a simple shrug, he summoned his Musclemass to simply punch the bowling ball back into the launcher and utterly disabled it, if not outright destroy it. "I believe that is what they would call a 'gutter ball'. Games are just not your thing I guess."

"Joke all you want, Mercer, but once more you have chosen poorly in that you have reached another dead end and wasted more precious time-" Cobra Commander began when Mercer interrupted.

"I knew that it was the center door all along." Mercer revealed. "My infrared vision ability showed me that you were there."

"Wh-what?! You mean that you actually deliberately wasted time when you knew the answer all along? Y-you were just toying me like-"

"Well, thanks for the warmup. What's next on this borefest? And here I was expecting something exiting too…" Mercer then noted before he returned to enter the final corridor.

Mercer continued to sojourn down the near labrynthian corridor that lead to where Cobra Commander laid in wait. With what, he honestly had no clue but he could almost bet his soul that it would be something equally ridiculous given the nature of the previous encounters within the pyramid. He even questioned if he really need the assault rifle.

Just then from the dark shadows of the corridor came what appeared to be three robot doublegangers of Cobra Commander in his combat uniform, each armed with a pistol aimed at Mercer. His reply: a simple dash-by attack with is summoned Blade that completely destroyed the Cobra Commander robots in a single pass.

Not to be outdone, three more Cobra Commander robots appeared and attempted to fire upon Mercer, only to be eliminated in a parallel fashion to the first wave. Mercer continued down towards the location of Cobra Commander's command room just as a third wave of six Cobra Commander robots appeared and attacked. Once more Mercer effortlessly destroyed the robots just as he found himself within a strange arena-like chamber. "After all that and you sick tin men at me? Running out of ideas already? I'm still waiting on the 'fun' part of the funhouse of yours in case ya know. On and by the way, their aim sucks. Though then again, they were modeled after you so I guess it goes hand in hand."

"Continue your jest, Mercer," Cobra Commander gloated from the control room high above the arena floor as laser turrets appeared. "For now you meet your end-"

However, Cobra Commander was interrupted when Mercer took hold of the massive stadium light tower and in two swings knocked out not only the laser turrets, but also smashed open the control room's windows to leave a massive gash large enough to enter. "Yeah, I'll take it that you didn't plan on that as well. Looks like I win, and I didn't even break a sweat."

"Do you think that you can defeat me so easily? Cobra will triumph-"

"In case you haven't noticed, I kinda did beat you that easy." Mercer taunted. "While you're up there, you mind finding out where the nearest US Marine base is? I think I need something exiting to wipe the taste of boredom this place gave from my mouth."

"That's it!" Cobra Commander roared as he accelerated the countdown of the bomb detonation. "If I can't have your strain, no one will!" And with those words, Cobra Commander, Zartan, and Baroness escaped. Mercer, however, was close behind as he leaped into the control room and dashed after them in pursuit.

"Well this has ended brilliantly!" Baroness replied as the trio rushed towards the concealed hangar bay where their method of escape, a Firebat, was held.

"I admit, I did a slight miscalculation-" Cobra Commander began to rationalize.

"You do realize that this little incident is going to rise my price for this little job so such a miscalculation to my pay-" Zartan began.

"SHUT UP!" Both Baronness and Cobra Comander exclaimed as they boarded the Firebat and started the jet engine. They sighed in relief as the machine began to rise from the hangar floor only for a sudden jolt made their hearts skip a beat before the Firebat finally crashed onto the floor.

Then their fears were confirmed as Mercer jumped onto the front of the Firebat and ripped the canopy from its hinges. It was clear that the viral clone had sabotaged their only means of escape. "This is where you run. I'd go if I were you."

"A-and what of the scientists that are still here when the bomb-" Cobra Commander began.

"I'm assuming that you do know that I can consume others to get information by now. So I'm giving you a 'sporting chance' as it were. I mean you were kind enough to give me one at least." It only took a moment for the trio to think over the proposal before they took advantage of Mercer's rather uncharacteristic generosity and ran for their lives.

Zartan wasn't used to the idea of being at a disadvantage, be that during covert missions or at the negotiation table when the pay was considered. Of course, he never really expected that he would have an opponent such as Mercer who have absolutely no weaknesses for Zartan to exploit that have been all too familiar to the master of disguise such as money. It was too long since Zartan had to really think upon his feet and improvise, all the while the clock ticked down to his demise as he spotted Mercer between him and the control room. He knew that his chances of survival would improve if he turned off the countdown to the bomb's detonation; after all he had made sure that he also knew the code that would cancel the fail-safe plan.

Though to be quite honest, Zartan never expected Cobra Commander to use such an elementary code but then he knew better: Cobra Commander would at times use tactics that others would dismiss due to how easy they were to discover in order to throw them off. In fact, Cobra Commander almost exclusively relies upon his adversaries to overthink an otherwise simple problem. After all, it was good enough against Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta and they were the self-proclaimed greatest elite special forces group in the globe so why should it be abandoned when they failed for it time and time again?

Still, it did not provide a solution to Zartan's current with Mercer who had revealed that he could see thermal images through hundreds of meters of materiel. He didn't know how straining or easy the task was, but he couldn't take any chances, not when his life is at stake. Even so, he could not control the rate of his beating heart that one could not help but compare to a light house in a fog in such a scenario.

Just then, he heard a noise that he had not expected or rather an absence of noise. Silence had raised his curiosity, arousing terrible suspicion as he peaked to see what caused the silence. Strangely enough, Mercer was not present in any shape or form as far as Zartan could perceive. He didn't know if the viral clone was gone, lost interest, or simply baiting a trap, but with the clock still against him Zartan threw caution to the wind. In this case there was no virtue in patience.

Zartan dashed down the hall as stealthily as he could possibly perform, a grand oxymoron the action was when the master of disguise reached the control room to which the bomb controls were located. He quickly scanned the control board until he found himself upon the cleverly disguised bomb diffusely equipment. Obviously one would naturally pass over the Trash Incinerator controls if one was not intimately familiar with the layout of the base, but not to one such as Zartan. As he typed in the code, Zartan couldn't help but wonder of the double edged nature of Cobra Commander's genius and paranoia when it came to misdirection and tactical illusion. Oh how such a boon it would have been for Cobra as a whole if it had extended to the practical realm of military tactics and logistics.

Then again, Zartan would not have had such continual and well paid income if Cobra Commander was such an individual as the machine before him accepted the code and the bomb was permanently diffused. Earlier he could not fathom why Cobra Commander had utilized two different diffusing protocols but now he was glad that he won't have to worry about the halted countdown being temporary.

"Prime numbers…" Mercer noted over Zartan's shoulder much to the latter's shock and horror. "Figured that he'd do something personal or something equally narcissistic. Apparently I underestimated ol' snake head, wonder if it's intentional…"

"D-Don't do anything drastic, Mercer!" Zartan threatened. "I know the layout well enough to 'liquidate' the other scientists! I'm sure eve you wouldn't bring Dr. Hibbentrope to harm-"

"Which your mascaraed during that one transmission earlier. Honestly, I thought that you would have been a better actor."

Zartan was completely flabbergasted, how could his trickery be seen through? "Impossible! I've studied him extensively!"

"Well you missed a quirk that only those who have known him personally would have spotted." Mercer admitted, much to Zartan's horror.

"How? What was this 'quirk'?!"

"It won't do you any good: You won't live long enough." And without pause and without further word from Zartan, Mercer conjured his claws to rip Zartan's face off nearly cleanly to reveal the muscle, bone and gristle beneath.

Mercer then grabbed the back of Zartan's head and spoke one more time. "I doubt that you would have missed that face since you used so many others, your life on the other hand…" And he proceeded to slam the spy's mutilated face into the control console repeatedly before he held it down to allow the electricity to cook and steam the grey matter within Zartan's skull.

It wasn't long when Zartan was killed before Mercer let go of his skull and allowed the cadabre to fall to the floor. "One down, two to go."

Baroness hurried herself down the secret corridors that lay hidden within the walls of the compound, the exact routes and layout fully known only to a select few of the upper echelon in case of emergencies. Yet the dimly lit passageways gave a foreboding, uneasy feeling as she navigated through the labyrinth. As if the atmosphere was enough to warrant the cliché slasher movie soundtrack in anticipation for the attack by the villain, which would not be too out of place considering exactly WHOM the Baronness fled from for her life.

Unlike Cobra Commander who was simply content with just looking at the blueprints of the corridors, Baroness prefers to physically memorize the various twists and turns of the base to build upon a stronger foundation of memory if and when the knowledge would be needed upon dire circumstances. It was such prudence that had allowed her to remain a high commander of Cobra for these many years since she had become a member.

At last, Baroness had reached the end of the corridor that would ultimately open up into the jungle beyond the perimeter and salvation. She then pushed against the false wall that opened up into the Funhouse trap zone that was just a straight shot towards the exit of the pyramid-

"Took you long enough." Mercer mused as he leaned against the wall and stared at the now surprised face of the Baroness, the many hallucinogens filled Cobra Commander balloons laid by his feet. "I was starting to wonder if you got lost."

The Baroness simply stepped back from the viral clone in reflex to this sudden turn of events as she found herself cornered as prey. She knew that she could not outrun Mercer, she was only human while he was beyond such limitations. "Impossible! How did you know about the-"

"Secret paths?" Mercer interrupted with a smirk. "I did consume enough Cobra Troopers to have a general idea of how this whole 'funhouse' thing worked."

"You- You've known since then..?! You've just been toying with us?!" Baroness was absolutely horrified from the revelation. Could Mercer be more powerful than what Blackwatch had suggested?

"Well Cobra Commander did go through the trouble of setting this place so I figured that I should at least humor him, figuring that it would be interesting. To be honest, I was just bored." And before she knew it, Baroness found herself trapped against the wall by Mercer's frame and his manifested claws. It was all too obvious as to what Zeus had in mind for her. "Though it seemed kind of sad to waste such a pretty thing."

"Rape? You men are all the same!" Baroness spatted with as much venom as her courage could muster. Surely this could not be how she imagined her end.

Mercer then lifted Baroness' chin so that her eyes met with his own. "I'm not that kind." And before the Baroness could wonder what he meant by such a phrase, he used his Blacklight abilities to pop the remaining balloons of the trap and by consequence all the hallucinogenic were released. The Baroness then suffered from an overdose of the mind altering chemicals as Mercer backed away and basked upon her drug-induced paranoia and fear.

Some time later, Mercer was surprised at himself when he found that he was board of the jittery display that was the hallucinating Baroness whom reacted to shadows and mumble incoherently at the strange visions that now plague her. His curiosity was naturally peeked since he knew not of what she saw and he couldn't exactly ask the woman what she saw in her visions. He could, instead, leave her to her delusions until she rotted from dehydration and starvation since he doubted that the chemicals that gave her such vivid waking nightmares were not designed to be fatal even beyond the recommended dosage, but he was just too curious as to what she saw.

With a shrug, Mercer approached Baroness as she crawled away from some unseen terror. With her chin cupped within his fingers, Mercer then kissed the delusional brunette and allowed his viral body to consume the mentally wounded woman from the contact point. Her screams were muffled by the alien, foreign biomass that invaded her own until ultimately her flesh became his.

Mercer, once the process of consumption was completed, opened his eyes. "Huh…so that's what she saw and feared…. Funny, she didn't seem the type." He mused. "Oh well, time to get the head of the snake and end this."

It had taken Cobra Commander much time to stealthily make his way out of the Inca Temple-shaped Cobra compound and into the jungle, let alone deep into the foliage towards a secret hangar where his escape craft was hidden. He wasn't foolish enough to rely upon a single avenue of escape when a plan failed, after all he had survived this far on far worse outcomes.

Granted, only NBC weaponry would ever come close to the disaster that was Zeus, but it rhymed with similar "setbacks" when he dealt with Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta to his own well-crafted stratagems and plans. Though then again, from past encounters it took little to fool the Joes if even for a moment so it was knowledge that was not worthy to brag with his contemporaries. And though Cobra Commander had very limited combat experience before he created his organization, knowledge of corporate administration have made what would have otherwise been a paramilitary force easier and efficient. Especially since a vast majority of administrative work is logistics and it takes a great mind to logistically handle any military force, so it wasn't such a great leap of logic. It doesn't hurt that one's soldiers were fanatically loyal to their commander either.

And speaking of soldiers, the loss of men and materiel in the form of combat vehicles was a noticeable setback since the original goal of his trap was not accomplished. Of course, such men and machines are easily replaced with proper recruitment and he had little doubt that his more valued personnel would have their own methods of "tactical retreat" from the fiasco. Zartan he cared little for his fate, the mercenary that he is despite his mastery of mimicry and disguise that could be easily replaced with the right investment, especially since the chances are likely that Zartan would not be able to pick up his last paycheck.

The Baroness, on the other hand, would be most problematic for Cobra Commander to replace. She was an excellent officer who kept a cool and steady head even under the worst of circumstances presented before Cobra. It is undeniable that there would be others of such caliber amongst the throngs of the world, but to find one willing to fully commit to Cobra would be greatly bothersome. It was such a mind that would be difficult to persway to the cause that is Cobra, let alone place under mental reconditioning. Storm Shadow, the "poster boy" of the process, was an exemption rather than the rule since there already existed a mindset that was easily manipulated.

Of course, there was always Destro. Though despite claims, he was more of an arms dealer than one with the wit and intelligence for military operations necessary to replace Baroness. Oh the work Cobra Commander now must face despite his chagrin.

Soon enough, he reached the well camouflaged hangar where his escape craft lie hidden and well protected. After entering his personal combination, one that was less elaborate than his usual codes, he entered the bunker and activated the lights to illuminate the armored space. And much to his surprise, he found the Baroness in wait.

"Oh, Baroness!" Cobra Commander exclaimed in relief. "It is so nice to know that you had escaped unharmed!"

"With little help, I'm afraid." Baroness shot back.

"I have full confidence in your skills and intelligence." Cobra Commander reassured, yet he couldn't shake the feeling that something just wasn't right with the situation before him.

"Such confidence moves me so…" She rolled her eyes.

"Though I must ask, how did you find out about this bunker?" Cobra Commander inquired. "Very few alive knew of its existence."

"Zartan knew." Baroness answered. "He knew you all too well."

"Something that will have to be remedied once we regroup-" And it was then that Cobra Commander realized just what was wrong. "You took the Baroness with that 'consume' thing of yours Zeus?"

The 'Baroness' then dissolved into Mercer "And here I thought that you didn't learn anything. You deserve applause."

Cobra Commander then upholstered his personal pistol. "Don't think I am completely defenseless, Mercer!" He threatened. "I can still-"

It was then did Mercer manifest his Armor and Blade abilities. "Oh right…" Cobra Commander remembered "That too…"

Beneath the Armor, Mercer smirked. "Well be thankful for one thing: I won't assimilate you. Your aim would do more harm to me than good anyway." And with those words, the viral clone impaled Cobra Commander's stomach with his blade before he brought the blood gargling terrorist leader to him. He could barely protest before Mercer slowly and horrifically crushed his skull, the blood, gore, and grey matter oozed from the cracked skull to signify that he was no longer amongst the living. "You were once a man. Horribly scared and deformed I can only presume, but a man none the less. Now you're just a pulpy, meaty, blood stain."

Hours had past and Mercer was long since gone when Special Counter-Terrorist Group Delta, more commonly known especially among the media as G.I. Joe had arrived after reports from third parties about some battle that occurred deep within the jungle that Sparks, the group's veteran communications specialist whose real name is one Alex Verdi, was able to catch back at their global headquarters code-named "The Pitt". They arrived to survey the damage left in the viral clone's wake with unrelenting horror, which was considerable for battle hardened soldiers. Many have compared it to a third-world massacre in how the bodies were mutilated and the scrap heaps that were formerly Cobra armored vehicles. It made Courtney A. Kreiger, code named Cover Girl's own exploits in past mission and encounters seem tame and conservative in comparison, which was no small feat.

It didn't take the Joes long to discover the kidnapped scientists who were freed from their confined cells due in large part to, much to the group's surprise, one Alex Mercer aka Zeus.

"Are you sure about this?" Dashiell R. Faireborn, code named Flint, questioned.

"It's consistent with what we know of Zeus through Blachwatch." Shana M. O'Hara, codenamed Scarlett, reported. "From eye witness testimony of the scientists and," she then gestured to the aftermath. "From what Zeus left behind."

"This is just fuckin' unbelievable!" Alison R. Hart-Burnett, code named Lady Jaye, cursed. "Months of deep undercover work in Cobra with barely any success and in comes the Gentek freak and he did it without breakin' a sweat!"

"While breakin' everything else might I add?" One Wayne R. Sneeden, code named Beach Head, commented in his Alabama twang as he gestured back towards the carnage.

"Well obviously whatever Cobra Commander had planned for Zeus ended badly." Flint commented as he rubbed his chin.

"Considering that he tried an odd 'funhouse' setup, not only did he fail, but he obviously had several screws loose." Conrad S. Hauser, code named Duke, noted. "I mean who else is crazy enough to come up with such a stupid plan?"

Before Flint could respond, out came Daniel M. LeClaire and Charlie Iron-Knife respectfully codenamed Recondo and Spirit, emerged from the jungle and approached him. "Any clues as to where Zeus had gone?"

"Nothing." Spirit reported. "As if he was spirited away."

"I'd have to concur." Recondo added. "If Zeus find a way out, it wasn't through the foliage."

"Then it must have been by aircraft." Flint theorized.

"It's sound, and considering Cobra Commander it wouldn't be much of a leap in logic to theorize that Zeus found a secret escape craft for him to hijack." Scarlett stated.

"Which leaves a question of where." Duke added.

Just then, Jack S. Morelli and Alvin R. Kibbey who were code named Dial Tone and Breaker respectfully, quickly approached Duke and Flint. "We got news that Baroness is headed towards Japan to meet up with some 'Golden Fleet' of the Searrs Foundation!" Breaker announced.

"We almost missed it too if I wasn't lucky." Dial Tone added.

"Which makes sense." Lady Jaye noted. "The Searrs Foundation is both an ally and front of Cobra, but isn't the Baroness dead?"

"What we found were consistent with Zeus' 'Consumption' of his victims." Scarlett confirmed.

"But still, what does Cobra have planned in Japan?" Flint wondered. "And what is it that attracted Zeus there?"

"Well there's no use in just pondering what's what and why, we know where both is going so why not head Zeus off and finish him?" Duke questioned.

Flint, without a pause, simply replied. "Though your nearest kin will have my sympathies, you're welcome to try."

Meanwhile, aboard a Cobra transport plane, Mercer in the guise of Baroness awaited in a private cabin as he looked up the data he had copied and smuggled out of the newly destroyed Cobra base. "Now then, what 'Carnival' did you have planned at Fuuka Island, Commander." He smirked.

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen. Now I admit that it's not one of my best works (though arguably it's not my worst either) but it's…..something. Not to mention that it's continuity compared to the original series, let alone the episode itself, is shot full of holes like Emmental cheese. My only argument to the case is that certain….creative liberties were taken advantage of in order for the plot as shown to proceed as it was shown above.

Not that many hardcore fans would care about such alterations to any moment of the original series.

Before I ramble on, let me state that this work doesn't take flames too well. Brutally honest reviews….is debatable and it'll probably be a one-time thing, considering how well this story was "written", compared to my other projects which still need to be worked on to be honest. But, a harmless distraction here and there doesn't hurt the progress of such writings… theory.

Oh and before I forget, I have left five clues to Alex Mercer's next "adventure" and possible crossover that would regrettably not be rough drafted out for the foreseeable future. Those that guess correctly will get an internet cookie, and those who don't will just look stupid to those that guessed correctly. And knowing is half the battle!

Okay, I admit, that was stupid…..