The day started out normal. Scott and Stonebridge were having a cup of Joe when suddenly an explosive went off near their vehicle!
Their vehicle still smoldering on the city streets, Stonebridge pulled out a Kevlar vest from his knapsack and tossed another to his partner. Like clockwork they heard the staccato sounds of gunfire.
"We're the targets! Let's move!" Stonebridge called out as he ducked behind a hotdog stand, spilling his coffee over his neatly pressed pants.
"Damn! They've got us surrounded! They're firing at us from all sides!" Scott shouted as a round blasted the car door he was using as a shield. "Any ideas, buddy?"
Stonebridge assembled a manly gun from his knapsack and fired off a few manly rounds.
"Follow me!" he commanded as he did a series of kickass parkour moves and landed in a city park.
Scott made a friend in the park, but now wasn't the time or place for flirting, especially when the baddies were throwing around C4. He joined Stonebridge by the fountain and ducked to avoid flying shrapnel.
"I'll friend you on Facebook, honey."
Stonebridge stole a parked motorcycle near the fountain and noticed a suspicious figure on foot. He expertly maneuvered through the gunfire and met up with Scott.
"I'm going after Target 1. You take out the snipers!" With that he pulled on his retro shades and sped off.
"Next time I want the motorcycle!" Scott yelled at his partner's retreating back, just in time to see the Brit pop a wheelie. He quickly took out the two snipers along the rooftop, thinking he'd cleared them all, when—"Shit!" Scott saw the grenade land near his feet and he barely had time to throw himself behind a park bench when it exploded.
Stonebridge coasted next to the retreating figure and drew his weapon.
"On the ground, dirtbag!" he warned, attempting to cut the man off with his stylish motorcycle skills. The mystery man was wearing glasses, an immaculate suit and dialing out…on his cell phone?! Before Stonebridge could react, a kidnapper van darted out from a side alley, heading straight for him! That four-eyed freak had called for back up!
Scott searched for his weapon but the force of the explosion had knocked it out of reach. He saw his new attacker draw near with another grenade ready to fly from his hand. The agent thought fast and threw sand at the man's face while scrambling to his feet.
"Grant, come in, we need cover!" Stonebridge radioed in as the van approached. Silence. "Dammit!" He ditched the motorcycle and retreated through a series of fenced in backyards by foot, hoping to find their escape chopper in one piece. He shouldn't have been surprised when he found Section 20's helicopter compromised…and his location surrounded by hostiles!
Scott sent a manly punch flying at the man's face and cracked his neck before he could release the grenade. He swore and picked up his fallen rifle. "Scott to Stonebridge, come in. Stonebridge, report." Static. "Shit," he said to himself and made a beeline through the park in the direction of the chopper. "Hang in there, buddy. I'm on my way."
Stonebridge grabbed one of the closest baddies in a chokehold, but the punk was prepared and jabbed a syringe into his arm. Michael felt himself getting drowsy.
"Scott!" he yelled as he began to sag to the ground.
Scott had a brief flashback about his time as a Roman hot mess, but then he shook his head and came to his senses. He heard his partner call out his name. In the next second the kidnapper van crossed his sight from his perch across an abandoned warehouse. He saw the compromised chopper and a thug throw a familiar figure into the vehicle.
"For Christ's sake, Stonebridge! Guess I'll have to follow them and see where they take him."
The British agent came to just as the van trundled to a stop. It was dark and he'd estimated he'd been knocked out for at least four hours. Of course his takers had stripped him of his weapons and his favorite shirt! They'd pay for that. Preferably in trunk loads of US dollars. He was unceremoniously tossed out of the van, coming face-to-face with the glasses guy from earlier—obviously their leader!
Not to be outdone, Scott also ditched the shirt to showcase his chiseled six pack of steel. He immediately regretted his decision as a thorny bush jabbed him in the ribs. From his super secret hiding place on a cliff ridge, he could see Four Eyes exchange words with Stonebridge.
"Sorry, pal. But I'm about to crash this party AND do it in style," the American said to himself and shrugged a canister from his pack. He tore off the tab with his teeth and threw the canister next to the van where a deep purple fog hid Stonebridge and the baddies from view.
"Alright, jerk face, what's with the attack on me and my partner? And why didn't you just kill me when you had the chance?" Stonebridge growled as the other man polished his glasses.
"You may call me the Marksman. I brought you here to send a message to your precious Section 20. We're gonna bring England to its knees! And your employers, Sergeant, will learn that not even the best can stop me!" At that moment, heavy purple gas encased the area, and Stonebridge took that time to disarm a baddie and crouch for cover. Good man, Scott!
"Looks like Prince Charming had to come to your rescue," Scott said sarcastically as he hauled the Brit away from Four Eyes. He threw something unceremoniously into his partner's arms. "A spare shirt. You're welcome. And you might need one of these bad boys, too." He pulled a pistol from his belt and handed it to Stonebridge. "NOW can we kick some ass?"
"Hey, I was handling it!" He threw on the offered shirt and delivered a roundhouse kick to the fool trying to creep up behind him. "Would it have killed you to mount a rescue before they threw me in that disgusting van?" Stonebridge pistol-whipped another loser before taking cover against a nearby building as the purple mist dissipated. Where was the Marksman?
"I would've, but I didn't want to be thrown in with your sorry ass," came Scott's retort. He flung himself behind one of the henchmen's trucks for cover. He shot a few rounds into the disappearing purple smoke and cussed as a bullet ricocheted by his head from return fire. "You wanna help out, Big Boy, or am I gonna have to do all the heavy lifting?"
"My bad, your highness. Next time I wake up from being drugged, I'll be sure to think of your convenience first!" Stonebridge rolled back toward the kidnapper van, confident Scott would continue to draw enemy fire. "I think the Marksman is toying with us. Keep an eye out for him! There's gotta be some clues as to what he's planning and I'm guessing they're in there. Cover me!"
"Hurry up, buddy, I can only hold them off for so long!" Scott shouted as he tossed another grenade toward three men flanking him from the right. He aimed his gun to fire and cussed when he didn't feel the recoil. "I'm out! I'm gonna use my sidearm." He pulled out the Glock as his partner took his place by the kidnapper van. "You have 30 seconds before they surround you. Look fast!"
Stonebridge felt something was off. The Marksman was planning something big, but what? And why capture him with the knowledge backup would arrive instead of executing him by the helicopter? The interior of the van was empty, save for the syringe used on Stonebridge. He pocketed it, hoping some useful information could be taken from the fluid and stepped back out into the fray.
Comms were still down, despite Scott's attempts to contact the colonel. The onslaught of bullets forced him to retreat until he was standing back to back with the Brit. "We're totally fu—" His words were cut off by the sound of a large explosion ripping from the kidnapper van. Debris from the vehicle fell around them, narrowly missing his head by inches.
"Please tell me you swiped something valuable from that rust bucket before they blew it sky high!"
"Just a sample of the drug they used on me. Might be something if it leads us to a buyer or location, but it's not much. We'll have to take it back to the lab." The large explosion was more than enough of a distraction for the agents to slip away unnoticed and unscathed. As they weren't able to contact Grant on a secure line, immediate evac wasn't an option. Three buses, a tandem bike, and a couple jet skis later, they found themselves back at HQ.
"What the hell happened out there? We were running blind! Where was our air support?" Scott shouted at the colonel as he threw his useless comms on the stainless steel table. Tech support muttered something vague about radio wave interference then returned to doing important looking stuff on their computers. "Stonebridge got a syringe and I lost a shirt. Can anyone tell me who the F if the Marksman?"
Stonebridge sent the syringe off to their on-base lab and got his injuries from the explosion checked out before joining his partner's debriefing. Colonel Eleanor Grant gave them each a beady glare. "We did what we could on our end. So suck it up, soldiers. Now, about the Marksman…" She ruffled through some highly classified documents before pulling out a thin manila folder. "He's a ghost. Presumably deals in neurological warfare and nano technology. No one has ever seen his face and survived…except you, Michael. That can't be a mistake."
"Relax, colonel. The reason Stonebridge survived is because we handed the Marksman's ass to him on a silver platter," Scott said and lit a cigarette next to a table laden with explosives. Sinclair interrupted the meeting as he burst into the room.
"Major?" the colonel said, addressing Sinclair with a stern eyebrow raise.
"No time, Eleanor. We just received this in the mail." He handed a package to her and she pulled out a timer from within, slowly ticking away the seconds. "We believe there's a bomb hidden somewhere in this facility."
"One day and I'm already sick of this fruitcake!" Michael snapped, examining the timer. Ten minutes. Sinclair eyed Scott suspiciously.
"We were out of radio contact with you both for quite awhile. SOMEONE informed this Marksman character or one of his lackeys of our location—" Michael glared at his superior, effectively cutting him off.
"Stuff it, Major! We can discuss this later. Scott, with me—let's canvas this place and stop that bomb!"
Scott gave the major a sloppy salute before following Stonebridge out of the meeting room.
"I'm impressed, buddy. Maybe you're not such a wussy girl after all." They circled the main floor but found nothing amiss. Scott drew his gun, every nerve on edge. He checked his watch. "Five minutes till we're sitting in paradise sipping martinis with our maker." A sound caught their attention from a rusty door leading down into the boiler room…
Michael rolled his eyes but didn't comment. He knew Scott used dumb insults as a coping mechanism, but the Brit was super cool and suave and didn't have to stoop to that level. They reached the door and Stonebridge pulled it open—no one was in sight.
"Going to the right!" he called, but his body automatically charged left. Strange. "Uh, I mean left," he added lamely, walking further into the room. The bomb! It was sitting on the floor. Stonebridge crouched next to it while Scott stood watch. The intercom system crackled to life and the agent followed Sinclair's hurried instructions on how to dismantle the bomb. "30 seconds!" Michael warned, wiping sweat from his brow. He distinctively heard the Major tell him to cut the blue wire…but he once again felt unable to control his actions and severed the green one.
Scott squeezed his eyes shut, preparing for his fiery tomb...waiting…waiting…he cracked an eye open.
"F me, we're alive!" He didn't wait for Stonebridge to stand before he clocked him in the face. "What the hell, man? You could've blown us up! My life goal is to die in a blaze of glory! Not die in a..in a…in a BLAZE!" He noticed a blinking light from the corner of his eye and lifted his gaze to the ceiling. "Shit! We're being watched!" He aimed his gun and shot the camera from its perch.
Scott's punch sent Stonebridge sprawling across the floor. The Brit sat up slowly, gingerly touching his jaw where a bruise was sure to form.
"What the hell, Scott?!" he barked, which unfortunately didn't sound too intimidating thanks to his goodie-too-shoes accent. He honestly didn't have any memory of the last few minutes, but he doubted any wrongdoing he did would have resulted in anything too serious. He was Section 20's Boy Scout, after all—he was literally always right and stunningly awesome. A closer inspection proved the bomb to be a fake. Wait…a bomb? "I mean, what? What? We're supposed to be reporting in to the colonel! What are we doing here? How hard DID you hit me, you jerk?"
Scott punched the Brit again, right in his large, British nose.
"Don't play dumb with me, Mike! I saw it all! Maybe you're the snitch Sinclair was talking about! Did you and the Marksman share a few beers and make up a secret handshake while I was tracking your ass through the boonies?" Scott ran his hands through his gorgeous, rugged hair to calm his handsome self down. He sighed and helped Stonebridge to his feet. "Forget I said that. Listen, you're the best goddamn soldier Section 20 has. I don't know what's going on in that thick head of yours, but we'll figure it out. Just…let ME carry the bomb, okay?"
"Okay, I obviously missed something otherwise you wouldn't be using me as a human punching bag!" Michael countered, trying to stem the flow of blood from his nose. A big boom sounded nearby, rattling the various items in the room.
"There was a second bomb! SHIT!" Scott cried as he hurtled out of the room, no longer caring for safety protocols. Michael followed suit, trying to make sense of it all. It wasn't natural for him NOT to remember what had transpired in the last—he checked his watch—twenty minutes. At last, they came to the sight of the explosion…the onsite lab. The syringe was destroyed. Thankfully the lab had been vacated and no one was injured…but who had set the bomb? The last known person in the lab was… "Me." Michael gasped in realization.
"This doesn't make any sense! We SAW the timer! Why did this bomb go off minutes after the timer stopped?" Scott ushered Stonebridge out of the smoldering remnants of the lab and shoved him into a spare room. "Hands up, Harry Potter. I need to search you real fast before the colonel starts sniffing around." He patted the Brit's vest pockets and pulled out a handheld remote. "Shit, man! You must've pressed this sometime after the first timer went off—you've been carrying the detonator the whole time! If anyone finds out…you're dead, buddy. I'm talking like treason, royally screwed, career ending dead! We gotta hide the evidence!" Right as the door slid open Scott threw the useless detonator in his boot and tried to act natural. "And THEN I told her, let's save water and shower together!" They laughed nervously as the colonel entered.
"I don't think an attack on Section 20 is very funny, gentlemen," Grant snapped as she surveyed the damage to the lab. "Especially since you disarmed a fake bomb instead of finding the real one!" Stonebridge began to speak but Scott beat him to the punch.
"Hey, we were being watched! This attack was planned!" Grant rolled her eyes.
"Obviously you two were tailed coming back here. That's the only explanation." Stonebridge cut in before his partner could interrupt and knelt on his knees like a crybaby cribsey.
"IT WAS MY FAULT I'M SORRY!" He wailed until the colonel backhanded him sharply.
"Oh, grow up, Michael! You're the best, sexiest spy we have. No one blames you."
"Enough!" she countered, smashing a manila folder in Stonebridge's face. "Our sources indicate that Queen Elizabeth's birthday bash is being held at Buckingham Palace this afternoon. Marksman and his confederates might show their ugly mugs. Suit up and try not to embarrass yourselves."
Within the hour the hunky studs were departing the two-seater private jet that dropped them within walking distance of the queen's royal birthday celebration. Scott scoffed when he saw the castle surrounded by its palace guards.
"Take a look at Sleeping Beauty's castle. You should feel right at home here, Your Britishness." He ducked Stonebridge's left hook with a swagger. He'd already hit the liquor during takeoff—part of his alias as he planned to cause a drunken distraction in the middle of the dance hall. "Remember, I can't make it inside if I start yapping around like a Yankee Doodle American. You gotta use that dopey, smartass Brit accent and talk our way inside. Then it's open bar time and MAYBE a quick fling on the side before shit goes down."
"This is a mission, not Disneyland. And the women here are CLASSY, Scott—no way in deliciously hot tea would they fall for a wanker like you." Stonebridge had confided in Scott about the mind control voodoo crap but they both agreed to keep that info from Sinclair and Grant until they figured out how and why it was happening to him. Michael wove his way through the crowds and horse drawn carriages and strode up to an official looking guard/bouncer. He mustered his most posh accent and drilled the poor sod with a withering James Bond expression. "We're esteemed delegates with names on a need to know basis and from a classified nation. Everything about us is classified and above your pay grade except for the fact that England is better than America." Security was pretty tight, but Michael figured the guard would be duped by a dash of British flattery.
"Then, by all means, enter!" the guard said happily and ushered them both inside the palace.
The duo entered without incident and Scott managed to mumble a "swell morning, eh, chap?" before his hick accent nearly gave him away. Ladies wearing pounds of money in the form of exotic jewels drew his gaze and it was up to the Brit to redirect his attention as he discreetly speared something sharp into S's wrist. He coughed loudly to cover the American's foul language.
"It's a tracker, DAMIEN. I have one, too. If something happens, we can find each other with these techno watch do-dads that I swiped from the technology lab. If I go astray and plant bombs in the basement…" They stared at each other.
"Well…did you, MIKE?" Silence. It was clear that the sexy six-pack didn't know if he'd already sabotaged the big birthday for Her Highness. "Whatever. I'm thirsty and ready to get smashed. When you give the signal I'll throw myself on the five tiered cake."
Stonebridge muttered something very unBritish under his breath in response before completing his sweep of the area. Most of the party was held in a large, open area, which left the balcony as the most effective place of attack. He made his way to the balcony, peering out across the street and mentally reviewing any matter of assassination scenarios.
"Fancy meeting you here, Michael." The agent spun around at the abrupt creepy voice and came face-to-face with the Marksman! "I hope your friends liked my demonstration at Section 20. Although, of course, you were the star performer. One could say, THE PLAYER." Michael grabbed the jerk by the collar, careful to obscure them both from the view of the crowds and partygoers.
"You son of a—"
"That language, with the Queen present? Tsk, tsk. Those little nanobots in your bloodstream will be a bit more civil, won't they?" Stonebridge scowled and tried to signal to Scott, but he was too busy teaching the barista how to dance the Macarena. "Now, we will succeed in our plan for tonight, but you've got to play your role as well. In a few moments you will forget this conversation and you'll be driven to kill your dumb American partner. Have FUN!"
"Shots all around!" Scott declared, slamming a fistful of knuts and sickles he'd nicked from Stonebridge earlier on the counter. He winked at the barista who slipped him a piece of paper with an accompanying sexy smile. He staggered drunkenly as he flipped the paper over—"CHANDELIER. WATCH OUT." His fuzzy brain was still trying to figure out what the hell a chandelier was when something snapped from high above and the crystal coated ceiling decoration listed dangerously to one side.
"SHIT!" he cried as the posh crowd gasped at his American vulgarness. The blaring of trumpets signaled the arrival of the birthday girl herself, who walked briskly down the center of the ballroom. "YOUR MAJESTYNESS! THE CEILING WHATEVER THINGY IS GONNA FALL!" A swat team of British intelligence swarmed him just as the chandelier broke free from its binding and fell toward the marble floor. They ignored Scott for a moment, allowing him the chance to pull out his concealed weapon and shoot the chandelier in mid air. The impact sent crystal shards flying in all directions and the Queen was ushered into a lavish room for her safety. He slipped out of view of prying eyes and reached for his comm. "Michael, it's started. They just tried to kill the queen! Where the hell are you?" He activated his watch to see if he could locate his partner.
"Scott! What the hell just happened? Don't TELL me you already jumped into the cake!" Michael commed back, trying to push his way through the crowd of panicked hoity toity types. "The crowd's too thick, I can't get to your position! We'll have to rendezvous someplace else!" Stonebridge sidled next to an immaculately crafted pillar and reviewed their options. "Let's meet in the first floor kitchens. Sounds like Queenie has already been moved to a safe location. We gotta make sure it stays that way! See you soon." Michael ended the transmission and smirked. If his bait came willingly, killing his partner would be easier than he thought.
Scott pocketed the comm, took one last swig of fire whiskey, then meandered toward the forgotten gigantor cake with a trembling pastry chef standing guard of his life's one shining achievement.
"Outta the way, Cake Boss," he quipped and made quick work dropping him into a neck hold behind a curtain and donning the chef's apparel. He stuffed the floosy tower hat on his head, swiped the side of the cake for a spot of creamy icing, then tucked his gun into the waistband. "Time to move," he said cryptically to no one in particular then slipped unnoticed into the panicked crowd. He glanced at his GPS watch and frowned. He didn't see Stonebridge's tracker in the vicinity, even though he was steps away from the kitchen. It was only after he fumbled with the swivel door in a drunken stupor that the thought occurred to him that maybe Stonebridge never put a tracker into his wrist at all. Maybe he only did it to mark Scott…as his target. "F me," he drawled and reached for his gun.
The nanobots soon completed their incubation period and were hard at work channeling Stonebridge into the perfect bad guy. They stripped him of his empathy, penchant for the rules and love of tea—pretty much everything that made him an insufferable stick in the mud. But Michael didn't mind! Oh no siree, criminal activities were now cool and hip thanks to his nanobot friends…and first on the agenda was the assassination of his best friend. He couldn't remember the last time he was this happy! Stonebridge chuckled at the American's feeble chef disguise and followed him silently into the kitchens. He aimed his Glock. Party time!
"Michael, if you're here, think about what you're doing, man!" Scott said, ducking behind an oven rack with his gun held close to his chest. "C'mon, don't give me an excuse to whip your ass! You and your bad teeth are better than this!" He knew it was a low blow, but British jokes were too good to pass up. He shifted his balance slightly and eyed a set of stainless steel pots hanging above his head. He saw a flicker of movement in their reflective surface, signaling the arrival of his former partner. He stood and took a cheap shot in Stonebridge's direction, throwing the chef had at him for added effect. "Cut the tea and crumpets crap and get right to the Big Ben of the problem. How long has the Marksman been pulling your strings like a damn Pinnochio puppet? Why the hell do you like Doctor Who? And lastly, do you even LIKE being British?"
Michael looked appalled Scott would even question the awesomeness of his British heritage.
"God save the Queen, Scott! And for the record, no one likes the reboot Doctor Who anymore! They just pretend that they do!" Stonebridge leapt like a wushu prodigy, completing five aerial twists before landing spectacularly in front of his partner. His back twinged a little upon impact but he managed to keep his face super passive. Hell, he wasn't twenty anymore and he would definitely feel THAT in the morning. "The Marksman will complete his plan for world domination and sadly, you won't be around to see the dawn of a new day!" He shoved Scott against a ridiculously expensive freezer and threw a satin napkin at him for good measure.
The force of Stonebridge's shove sent Scott reeling majestically backwards. He pivoted and caught the Brit with a solid right hook. The satin hankie Stonebridge threw covered his eyes for a brief moment, obscuring his vision long enough for his hunky partner to aim his Glock right at Scott's gorgeous, model-esque hair.
"Goodbye, Scott. I'll miss all the time we spent killing countless terrorists in fiery explosions with classified weapons we shouldn't even know about, getting ass drunk on high end priority missions, working out so much just so my arms will look like Hulk tree trunk arms compared to yours and having the best damn friend a soldier could ever hope to have. But screw friendship, I'll be ruling the world!" Scott held his equally muscled arms above his head in surrender and tried to flex.
"Yeah, too bad you won't see the new world either, Princess Buttercup. Well now, how did this get here?" Scott opened one of his hands to reveal a grenade.