The morning after Grenade Day, The Grenadier was woken by the vibration of his cell phone on the coffee table next to his couch. He tried to ignore it, but it was too late – he was awake. He lurched to a sitting position where he grabbed the remote to turn off the TV.
“After everything I’ve done for this country,” he grumbled, “can’t they just let me sleep until noon?”
He reached for the offending cell phone and stopped himself from pressing “ignore” when he noticed that it was his best friend, The Bro, calling him. He answered instead.
“Hey Bro, what’s up?” he asked grumpily.
“Oh, nothing, bro.” The Bro paused. “I mean, not nothing. I need your help, bro.”
The Grenadier sighed.
“Fine. What do you need?”
“Well, bro, I got kidnapped by these ninja guys.”
“Yeah, I know. Crazy, right?”
“You sure they’re ninjas?”
“Well OK, dude, I’m not sure they’re actually ninjas, but they all had masks on and they snuck up on me. They had me down before I knew what was going on.”
The Grenadier grimaced. Ninjas or not, if they took The Bro down that easily, they were trouble. The Bro’s entire life revolved around fighting. He made his living staring in cheesy action movies and competing in steel cages. He was a master of virtually every fighting style and he was battle proven. The man had saved The Grenadier’s life on multiple occasions.
“How are you calling me? Did you steal a phone from a guard? How much time do you have before they discover it?”
“Nah, bro,” The Bro said. “I’m not there anymore. I totally escaped and stole my phone back on the way. Didn’t you recognize the number?”
“Oh,” The Grenadier said, confused. “So, what’s the problem?”
“Cause, bro, they still have The Princess!”
Within seconds, The Grenadier was at his front door, throwing it open. He kept his phone to his ear, listening as The Bro described his location. He slammed the door behind him and didn’t bother locking it He just started running down the street in his pink fuzzy slippers, shedding his bathrobe as he ran and exposing his ancient t-shirt.
As he sprinted down the street, The Grenadier took stock of his surroundings. Overhead, the moon was burning faintly in the day sky. In one of the yards he passed, The Grenadier noticed one of the kids from the night before holding a cell phone. Before long, the internet would probably be twittering about this, or whatever it was they did, but he didn’t care. He just needed to get where he was going fast. If only he owned a vehicle!
At that moment, a black van careened around the corner at a speed that was clearly in violation of the local speed limit. As the van approached The Grenadier, it screeched to a halt and the side door slid open.
“Get in!” Government Steve ordered from the back seat.
“Whatever you want, I don’t have time for it!” The Grenadier yelled.
“What I want is to help you rescue The Bro. Just get in.”
As much as he didn’t want to get involved with Government Steve, there was no time to hesitate. He jumped into the van. Not bothering to buckle his seatbelt, The Grenadier turned to Government Steve.
“How did you know where I was going?” he asked suspiciously.
Government Steve grinned. “We have your phone tapped, of course.”
The Grenadier scowled. “We’re going to have a talk about that later.”
Government Steve shrugged and gestured for The Grenadier to put his cell phone in a dock near the front of the van. The conversation was put through the van’s speakers and a screen popped up showing a map of the city. Within seconds, The Bro’s location was pinpointed. Within ten minutes – they somehow got all green lights – they met The Bro at a public park near the center of the city.
“Wait,” Government Steve said, “We rush here to rescue him and he’s just sitting on a bench with two beautiful women?”
“Yeah, that’s him,” The Grenadier said as he opened the door.
“It must be nice being rich and famous,” Government Steve bemoaned.
“Nah, this would happen before anyone knew who we were. We used to go to the club sometimes, when we were just out of training. Every time I turned around, he was talking to someone else. It just got worse when he started dancing. He claims learning to fight made him a good dancer. It didn’t work for the rest of us.” The Grenadier shook his head. “Come on, Bro. We need to move!”
The Bro got phone numbers from the women and climbed into the van next to The Grenadier. Sitting in such close proximity, The Grenadier couldn’t help but see the scar on The Bro’s face. Normally, he didn’t notice it anymore.
“Hey, Grenadier. Thanks for the rescue, bro. Hey, Government Steve. Sweet ride, bro. Thanks for your help too.”
“I’m glad I could help,” Government Steve said. “Now, let’s regroup and plan our next move.”
“Regroup?” The Grenadier said incredulously. “Our next move is to kick down the door and rescue The Princess. You can be a part of that, if you want, or you can drop us off here.”
Government Steve held a hand up in placation.
“Think about this for a second. They have ninjas, or men good enough that The Bro would call them ninjas. They are organized and will be expecting a rescue attempt. If you rush into this, you’ll be killed or captured, and The Princess will be no better off.”
“But, they might kill The Princess if we don’t hurry,” The Grenadier countered.
“No, they won’t. This is a trap and The Princess is the bait. You don’t kill the bait when it still might be useful.”
The Grenadier ground his teeth.
“Are you sure about that?” he said slowly. “Can you guarantee it?”
“Professionals don’t hurt their bait,” Government Steve said.
“That’s not a guarantee.”
“I can’t give you a guarantee. But, what I can give you is a secret headquarters full of high-tech gadgets and a group of highly skilled fighters with nothing better to do.”
The Grenadier grunted. He wanted to say “no,” but that sounded really cool and, more importantly, really helpful. It was just that he had always told himself that he would never work with Government Steve. With a sigh, he gritted his teeth and swallowed his pride.
“Fine, take me there.”