Affectionately known as ‘Spy High,’ the campus was a veritable rabbit warren of endless hallways, cavernous lecture halls, and stone archways that led to nowhere or somewhere...if you knew where you were going, and tonight, James Bond Jr knew exactly where he was going. To find his arch-enemy. It only took him an hour, one hangnail, a broken Student I.D. card, and a cigarette break to find where his nemesis was hiding.
The towheaded boy with a body built for rugby and a slightly crooked nose (broken in one of those many games of rugby) pulled himself up and over the roof of Dormitory Q, where all the eggheads lived. He crept along the archaic HVAC units and ornate stonework until he was able to peer into the skylights above the common room. He waited until he was sure the coast was clear and the common room stood empty. He scraped the broken edge of his Student I.D. card against the glass and lowered himself silently into the common room once he was able to shift the pane. “Piece of cake.”
With stealth born from excellent genes that all the classes at Spy High couldn’t teach someone, he crept along the empty corridors until he came upon the door with the number Q10 on it. He slowed his breathing, biding his time like a good bird of prey until his quarry gave himself away. A small flash of green light from under the door told him all he needed to know. “There’s a good villain, giving away his location.” He slipped his lockpick into the doorknob. Spy High held too many secrets and too many precious assets for them to rely on digital security. Some things needed to remain secret. James smiled to himself. It only made it easier for him to do what came naturally. Sneak up on people. Slowly, the lock tumblers fell into place and he opened the door.
“Well, well, well, what have we here?” he asked from the doorway where a pair of lanky legs clad in ripped denim partially hidden from sight under a table jerked at being suddenly addressed.
“Ow! Bloody hell!”
“Such language, does your mother know you talk like that?” James sauntered forward and rested a hip against the table that the legs were under. He bit into the apple he had carried the entire way.
A long, drawn-out, suffering sigh came from the direction of the pair of legs under the table, which remained where they were. “Does your mother know I kiss you with this mouth? I promised Father I wouldn't kill anyone...on the first day, but Mother said I could. Should I say that her favorite Jimbo Jr was my first victim?”
James snorted. “Jimbo Jr?”
“Don’t think Mom doesn’t tell stories when your dad isn’t around.”
James walked into the room and shut the door. He glanced at the computer monitor sitting on the desk. His eyes widened and his eyebrows danced up to the top of his forehead. “Are you seriously trying to hack into the C.I.A. on your first day back from holiday?” He nudged at the legs with the toe of his sneaker.
“A question in the form of an answer is NOT an answer, my dear Q.E.D. What will Uncle Felix say?”
“He won’t even know I’m there, what’s it to you?”
James bent down and wrestled the lanky boy out from under his desk.
“Ow, quit it! I’m almost done down here.”
“But I want to see my favorite nerd.” James smiled down at the green eyes that were narrowed and glaring at him through crooked, navy blue, rectangular glasses. Glasses shouldn’t make someone more attractive, but whether they were on or off, there was something alluring about the dark-haired wiggling bundle of affronted human in his arms.
He bent himself to the task of snogging his nerd. When he released his prize, it was glaring at him.
“I’m your ONLY nerd.” Q said, his breathing rapid and voice husky.
“Well, don’t I get points for that?” James asked.
“No. Now, come back down here and get points for kissing.”
“Aye, aye. Cap’n!”
It’s true, James Jr. really, really hadn’t made the best first impression when enrolling. Let’s make that clear. When he was forcibly enrolled in Spy High against his wishes but as his parents' last resort, it was the last place he wanted to be. Especially since the latest incident happened AT his parent's resort.
“Just because I blew up the Croatian ambassador’s Range Rover because he was an ass to the guests, doesn’t mean I need to be put away in boarding school!” James Jr. raged. There was a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Girls and boys to be explored, should he say. He wouldn’t find that an uptight boarding school.
His father had just stared at him with a bored expression. “You need an outlet where you can be creative and where blowing things up is part of the curriculum.”
That was the last time he saw his father, before he was roughly hooded, trussed up, and shipped off. He didn’t know where he was when the hood was finally pulled from his head. It had been of a half dozen times before then and he’d made just as many escape attempts, but each time he’d been recaptured and trussed up even tighter. Eventually, he was allowed his freedom and squinted into the weak light streaming in from the windows reflecting off the mahogany paneling and furniture. Mahogany, mahogany, mahogany…everywhere. Well, if this didn’t ooze old boys club he didn’t know what did. He gave a slight shiver. Wherever he was, it was cold. There goes his tan.
A cough distracted him and he turned his head to glance at where the sound came from. A man of middle age, with steel-grey hair cut into a short military cut. James sighed. Great. Not just any boarding school. A military school. The man began to speak but James just stood up and brushed off his khaki shorts and light blue thin cotton shirt and left the room. He didn’t need an orientation lecture, he needed to get out of there. Unfortunately, his dad returned him every time he broke out, and eventually that grew tiresome, so he did the next best thing.
Refuse to make his stay easy on anyone. If there was some horrid prank or demerit to be lost, James was all for making it and losing what demerits he could if only that would make it faster for him to get out and stay out. His freshman year had been torture for everyone. Except for Edward, otherwise known as Q.E.D.
At first, Edward hadn’t cared the least about what nonsense James was up to. He kept his nose in a book and his fingers on his keyboards. Nothing James had done had rattled Edward. Even when he set fire to the library! Edward’s second favorite place. It wasn’t until James had pulled the most incredible stunt and hacked into an old forgotten satellite and threatened the entire facility with a laser beam that Edward paid attention.
Suddenly, every time James turned around, his pile of demerits that he had earned disappeared and not his doing. He would hack back into the system and try to add more if that even made sense. Whoever was doing it, even adjusted his detention time. He showed up to spend time making a nuisance of himself again one day and the Professor in charge waved him away. He was just as surprised as James. All of this meant that he had to work even harder to earn his punishment. It was exhausting. Eventually, like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum, James tired out and finally, reluctantly began attending classes and turning in papers, much to the surprise of his instructors and fellow students.
James was not as dumb as he looked. Which was what Edward had said upon their first official meeting in the well-manicured commons. James studied the slight figure that approached him where he was sitting, sulkily eating an apple, wondering how he had found himself with halfway decent grades and zero demerits. The approaching boy was focused on his phone, texting away at lightning speed. He had light brown skin, a mop of black curls that went everywhere, a dusting of freckles, and a tongue sticking out of lips that well...James wasn’t even sure a boy should own.
The boy stopped in front of James and managed to pull his attention away from his phone screen. He pushed his navy blue glasses up his nose, revealing green eyes. “So, not as dumb as we thought? Mother will be pleased that you’re at least making an effort. She was wondering if she was going to have to come down here and talk some sense into you. Or shoot you off a bridge. Seemed that worked with your father. Da said I should just let you keep shooting yourself in the foot and then rewind time so to speak to let you do it again. Said it worked on your father every time. It was an excellent continuation of an inherited psychological experiment if I do say so myself.”
And with that parting remark, Edward toddled off. His pert little backside swayed as he went along his way, not caring that he had just turned James’s world upside down. James’s mouth had dropped open. THAT was Q and Moneypenny’s son. Well, well, well. It also explained the odd signature that that long drink of hot tea left on all his work.
“That’s not true, Tanner’s kids are sort of on my favorite list,” he said, all chipper and with a false grin.
“Ha. They’re not on your favorite list because you can’t figure out when they switch identities. And they’re not even identical!”
“It would be so much easier if they were.”
“Where’s the fun in that?” Q.E.D. leaned forward and wrinkled his nose. “Have you been smoking?”
“Kiss me and find out.”
“Ew. No thank you.”
James leaned in to tease Q.E.D. with a chasing kiss but the most cacophonous noise arose from the hallway outside the room and interrupted his concentration. It grew closer and closer until two people--a girl, a boy, and a trombone--crashed into the room.
The girl spun on her heel, her backpack throwing her off balance and her red hair flared about her. “Goddammit, Mick, I told you to leave that thing in your room!”
Everyone covered their ears as Mick blew out through the mouthpiece of the trombone he was holding. His eyes were squinched shut and the effort he was producing to blow air through the trombone puffed out his cheeks and caused his face to turn just as red as his own head of hair that matched Mols.
“You don’t even play the trombone!” James yelled. He jumped up and wrestled the other boy for it.
“Get him, James! Make him regret it! Hey, Q.E.D, my laptop’s gone a bit bonkers, can you look at it?” The girl waved her laptop in his direction as he eyed the wrestling match happening in his doorway.
“Sure, Mols. Have you tried-” He stopped mid-sentence as she kicked his ankle on the way to sit on his desk.
“If you ask me if I’ve tried turning it off and on again, I’ll have Mick kidnap James and hold him for ransom until you get it going again.” Mols plopped herself on Q’s desk and dangled her feet and set her laptop down. “Fix it. Please.”
Threatening, kidnapping, and holding people for ransom seemed to be Mol and Mick’s specialty. Q.E.D had no idea how they weren’t over at Villain U, but since they had connections to the better half of the spy world, it was fortunate for everyone that the dastardly duo of Molly and Michael Tanner stayed at Spy High.
“Such drama,” Q.E.D. sighed. He rose slowly from the floor and dusted his hands on the back of his jeans. “I was just about to hack into the C.I.A. but yeah, okay, I’ll get your old jalopy going.”
“James?” Mollie yelled over the noise still happening from the doorway. “When you’re done, can you help us with the physics homework?”
“Again?” James yelled back over his shoulder. He caught Q.E.D’s wink. “Sure. Mick, I swear to God if you don’t give me this trombone, I’m going to bend it in half! Whose is this?”
Mick came up for a breath. “Dunno really. Some kid had it and I wanted it, so I took it.”
“Mick!” Q.E.D’s voice came out shocked.
“What? I didn’t fight him for it! I stole it fair and square. Picked the lock to his room and everything. I’ll put it back when I’m done with it.”
“For God’s sake, Mick,” Mols mumbled. She dug around in her backpack until she found a tablet. “Let James go so he can help us before we have to face Professor Can’t Be Arsed To Teach.”
“Me! He jumped me first! I was just taking my new trombone out for a spin and I was suddenly attacked. Oof!” Mick let out the sound a bagpipe makes when it’s dying as James stepped on his stomach and wrenched the trombone out of his hands finally.
James held out a hand for Mick and pulled his dying ass off the floor. He waved Mol's tablet away when she handed it to him. “No, Mols. It’s paper and pencil for physics.”
Mols made a whining sound. “Why can’t we just do it on the tablets, it’s easier and neater!”
“No, the paper is better for physics. I can feel it.”
“Ugh, you’re so annoying!” She kicked Q.E.D. in retaliation.
“Stop it,” Q.E.D. muttered and swatted her.
“Stop kicking my boyfriend and maybe I’ll help you.”
“Help us, or he gets it.” Mols crossed her legs and pushed one of her ‘special’ pens into Q.E.D.’s neck.
He squealed. “James!”
“Don’t ‘James’ me, you made it for her!” James led Mick over and tossed the trombone on the bed. “Suffer the consequences. Now, what is it you don’t understand?”
In a hidden bunker, far, far away in a land of darkness and shadows lay the infamous Villain University. The place where the heirs of the ghosts of SPECTRE inhabit the underground tunnels located under a man-made lake.
Plans were being made. This year they would succeed where their parents had not. They would take over the school, and then...the world.
In the library way after curfew at a rectangular shaped table sat four young adults, their faces lit from below by the flickering edges of a candle flame, because what are villains if not those that break all the rules? While the school was full of other such misfits and ne’er do wells, these few had gravitated towards each other. The fifth person was sitting cross-legged in the center, her hands on her knees meditating as the quiet conversation of her henchmates sat around. She was the official leader of the group, won in part by determination, intimidation, and the fact that she was a cold-hearted bastard. She sighed at the constant grinding noise that kept interrupting her meditation.
“Mandy, stop filing your teeth. It’s disturbing my dark thoughts.” She cracked open an eye and glared down at Mandy.
“Thorry, boss I wore them down a little bit trying to break into the cafeteria for snacks. Gotta keep them in tip-top thape if you want me to gnaw the ankles off of subversives.” The girl Mandy, short for Mandible, returned to sharpening her row of stainless steel teeth, a gift from her mother, and her infamous father JAWS before she arrived on her first day of school. She had used it to threaten Bram the first day they met until the other girl had almost suffocated her in calm retaliation. They’d been best friends since.
Bram, with her shock of white-blonde hair, was the daughter of none other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld. She too had a scar running down the side of her face that ended at her mouth. A souvenir from an unfortunate skiing accident that also just by chance happened to kill the boy she had been interested in...until she found out his interests lay elsewhere and it was time for him to go. Oh well, she survived her first assassination attempt through an avalanche. Like father, like daughter.
Joaquin was the progeny of Silva and Severine, a boy with dark eyes, dark wavy hair, a beautiful baritone and a body half covered in burn scars. He was classically trained in opera and tended to sing as he committed acts of pyromania as a child. He had been raised by his nan, who was none too pleased with his obsession with fire. He kept a lighter hidden on his person all the time to entertain his friends and make his enemies cry. He idly flicked it open in his hands now, playing with it with his flame-scarred hands.
Midas leaned back in his chair, his thick, muscular frame nearly too much for the poor chair to bear, it creaked and cracked beneath him. He put his hands under his head, ruffled his red hair, and yawned widely. The son of Auric Goldfinger, he had a wicked golf swing and a mind like a steel trap for business and strategy.
Banks was a quiet, nervous, twitchy string bean of a young man with slicked-back dark blonde hair, brown eyes, and a constantly pursed mouth. He was the son of Le Chiffre and Valenka. Very studious, very good with numbers and cards. He was the Student Body Treasurer, elected by intimidation from his group of friends. He pulled a pack of cards out and sent a card flying toward Joaquin, who caught it and lit it on fire.
“Mi Amor, you know what I like,” Joaquin said, winking at Banks. He dropped the burning card on the table. Maybe it would burn its way through, maybe it wouldn’t. Either way, people would know he had been there. “If you give me more, I’ll give you a kiss.”
Banks snorted and leaned back, folding his bony little fingers over the cards. “Give me a kiss and I’ll give you a card.”
Joaquin’s eyes lit up and he leaned forward. Their lips met over the combined flame from Joaquin’s lighter and the fuel Banks’ card provided.
Bram sighed and shoved them backward. “Okay, now that THAT’S out of your system. We need to plan our next move.”
Midas threw himself forward until he landed almost all on the table. It shuddered under his weight. Bram frowned down at him.
“Our time has come. Graduation is only a few months away. We can go out with a bang, or…” Bram’s voice trailed off as she looked around.
“I say we go out with a bang,” Joaquin said. He lit a playing card and flicked it towards the library stacks. His friends turned to watch as the flame ate at the books on the bottom shelf.
Fast forward. Spy High was being attacked.
“You said this was just a drill!” Mols yelled as debris fell down from where they were hiding.
“I said the end of year graduation games is SUPPOSED to be drills!” Q.E.D. shouted back at her. “But this…” His voice trailed off.
“But this!” Mols howled. She lunged forward as something exploded quite close to their hiding spot. “We’re gonna die in this, Q.E.D.!”
“I don’t understand. This isn’t how it was described on the website! Uff!”
Something thudded into him, knocking him backward. His head hit the floor and his glasses were thrown askew.
“Ow, yourself! You’re too bony by half to land on.” James groused as he rolled himself off of Q.E.D. A large duffle bag landed between him and Mols.
“So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, these aren’t the games. Spy High is under attack.” Q.E.D had to yell to be overheard.
Mols rolled her eyes. “Of course it is, why wouldn’t it be. We need an adult!”
“We are the adults,” Mickie answered her. He had appeared when James had launched himself at Q.E.D.. He too was carrying a large duffel bag and a laptop bag slung across his body.
“You are the farthest thing from an adult Mickie if I ever saw one. We’re just kids. Kids in a campus that is exploding all around us, we have to get out! And where have you been all this time?” She kicked James in the shin. “I was worried when I couldn’t find the two of you!”
“What?” Molls asked.
“Weapoooooooooons.” James drew the name out loud and slow. “Mick and I broke into the armory while you guys were running around like chickens.”
“And I got Q.E.D.’s laptop and phone.” Mickie thrust a laptop bag at Q.E.D. “Here, take it. Point an ill-tempered satellite with a laser beam at them or something.” He shoved the bag in Q.E.D’s chest when he didn’t take it.
Mols was already digging through the stash of ‘weapons’ that James and Mickie had absconded with and came up with a bazooka. She grinned.
“Now that’s more like it.”
“Now do you think we need adults?” Mickie asked her.
James shook his head. “There aren’t any. Remember, our profs and parents are out of the games. It’s up to us.”
Q.E.D snorted and finally started rooting through his laptop bag. “What do you mean by us? Can you do more damage on an android phone in your pajamas before your first cup of earl grey?”
“No. I can do it naked on my iPhone. Wanna see some pics?”
“Ew, an iPhone. Peasant. Hand me a gun while I see what I can link up to.”
“Snob.” James kissed him briefly and placed a rifle near him.
“That’s a bit overkill, don’t you think?”
“This is war,” Molly said, “the games are over and now it’s time to go hunting.”
James grinned, Q.E.D. continued hacking into long-forgotten weapons systems and Mickie helped himself to a belt of grenades. It was go time.