"Last of the boxes unpacked," Richard announced, brushing off imaginary dust from his hands. "Looks like I'm all settled in."
"Chuffed to hear it, Hammond," James answered back. "I think you're really going to like it here." He looked around. "Where's Clarkson?"
"Taking a look around the island, you know Jeremy," Richard said. "Makes himself scarce when there's manual labor."
James nodded. "Definitely an administrator," he said. "Remind me of that when we get around to writing threats of annihilation and filling out health and safety forms. How in the hell did you two ever manage to defeat me, considering Jezza's antipathy toward actual work?"
"Seriously, how much work does a hammer involve?" Richard shrugged .
This was the early days of moving in. Admittedly Jeremy and Richard were pretty toasted when James first suggested the hollowed out volcano in the South Pacific, but it sounded like a fantastic idea drunk or sober. After carpet bombing Number 10 with water balloons as a political statement, an idea Jeremy and Richard shared in place of James using a guided bomb to take them out, they figured it would only be right to join forces with James May when he was in full Evil Genius mode. And this also provided a way to really keep an eye on him to stop him from going completely batshit and taking out the planet in the process. It was one thing for him to develop death rays and guided bombs to deposit on Whitehall; when James really went round the bend he wanted to experiment with splitting atoms in his garden shed. Nobody wanted that. The hollowed out volcano was a way of getting away from it all for a time, allowing the recharging of batteries, and perhaps it wouldn't be as fun for James to split atoms anymore.
"I'm going to take a look at the sunset," Richard announced. "Wanna come with?"
James took a look around, then shrugged. There was work to be done, but there was a part of him that thought he should really lighten up for a bit. Giving word to a minion to show up in a few minutes with drinks, he followed Hammond outside to potentially find Jeremy and enjoy the early evening.
They weren't alone out there. Richard sent word for Mindy and Jeremy's girlfriend to come out, they were joined by Andy Wilman, drinks were served and both lobster and crab offered while other Minions set up as musicians playing the Ink Spots and island music as the sun set, offering a lovely end to the day. They had seen this while on the freighter sailing to this spot, but nobody was tired of seeing this beauty yet, and James had yet to draw up any plans for world domination; in fact, he wasn't even finished unpacking all the boxes of his invention materials yet. So they spent the evening laughing and singing and having a big island-warming party for themselves. The real work would start tomorrow.
It took Jeremy two days to come up with a reasonable Policies and Procedures manual for the hollowed out volcano. Of course what preceded it was two days of discussion by the three plus Andy, a few surreptitious redundancies by Richard and Jeremy to keep James on the straight and narrow, followed by three days of Jeremy loudly complaining that he'd been ordered to write it because it was a debate whether he or James was the best writer, and he correctly pointed out that everything was supposed to be split three ways, followed by James and Richard making the executive decision to take him out on a boat, bash him in the head with a hammer, and feeding him to sharks if he didn't shut up and write it. The manual contained everything necessary: the power structure and hierarchy, agreements on splitting profits made from ransoms, the duties of each of the three, rules and regulations for Minions and policies for their advancement. There were even procedures in place for buyout options on partners without said partners facing buyout courtesy of execution; this was added by Richard for the eventuality of he and Jeremy needing an escape when James became so batshit he decided to seize power and kill them.
According to the manual, James was in charge of Research and Development. Overall he was the boss, but he was on the creative side. He was the inventor and planner, allowing him the space to hone his Evil Genius skills like back home in the garden shed, except now he'd have the best tools and equipment. Ideas were his purview.
Jeremy was the lead administrator, responsible for supervision of Minions and paperwork. This really wasn't the best use of Jeremy, but as James was already in charge of R&D, and Andy had decided this was May's kingdom, he had to be put somewhere. And keeping Jeremy busy kept him from staging some kind of coup and pretty much messing up everything. And James was really going to put him to good use when it came time to write demands for ransom or to rule the world.
Richard was responsible for promotion of James and their mission, especially to the other Evil Geniuses out there. He had a promotion frame of mind, especially from his days in radio and a television presenter, plus he had PR experience. So his job was to make sure the other Evil Geniuses left them alone and weren't trying to claim James' ideas for taking over the world interfered with their plans, or that he had stolen their idea. Even though James could be completely batshit as an Evil Genius, Richard admired his originality. As well as his ability to poach eggs the way he liked.
With everything established and settled, all boxes unpacked and everything sorted, everyone settled down to life in the hollowed out volcano. Pretty soon the first greetings were sent out by Richard, saying hello and asking for a meeting to present themselves. All three dressed up really well, took a speedboat to each lair in the metropolitan Evil Genius community, and introduced their new presence. The other Evil Geniuses played things close to the vest. Some of them had been in the Evil Genius community for many years, a few of them descendants of other Evil Geniuses, and tended to look down their collective noses at who they considered interlopers, those late to the game and yet to really establish their name. But they didn't want to reject the trio outright, as there was the possibility they were serious and could exceed expectations. They were also not entirely anonymous; the Evil Geniuses had indeed heard of this new group, as celebrities and their carpet bombing of Number 10 with water balloons, though there was debate over which of them was the true Evil Genius. Some whispered it was Clarkson, though James came off quiet and unassuming, a stereotypical Evil Genius personality trait. A few, usually after more than a few drinks at Evil Genius cookouts the trio had not been invited to, theorized Hammond might be the one, though the others tended to look at the ones who suggested this sidelong, wondering if they'd indeed gone batshit.
One day, a month or so after making the rounds, Richard received word from a minion that a message had arrived, via dolphin. He walked down to the dock to find a dolphin with a letter, wrapped in a waterproof wrapper:
c/o The Hollowed Out Volcano
Greater Metropolitan Evil Genius Community
We, your neighbors, welcome you to the Evil Genius community. We will visit today with a lair warming present and baked goods in hopes of forging good relations.Sincerely,
A few hours later the minions witnessed a small submarine depart from the neighboring island and make its way to the dock. James, Richard, and Jeremy were on hand to greet who emerged. Out stepped two people, a man and woman. She was tall and a striking beauty, with black hair and porcelain skin. The man was shorter and stocky, dressed all in black and looking as if he desperately needed some sun, or at least a tanning bed to make him a bit orange. "Good day," the man announced. "I am called Boris, and this is my beautiful wife and partner Natasha." Boris extended his hand.
Richard, impressed by an Evil Genius approximately his own height, stepped forward and offered his own hand. "Welcome," he replied with a smile. "I'm Richard, and this is Jeremy and James."
"Ah! James!" Natasha answered with surprise and a prominent Russian accent that matched her husband's. "We know of you! You maxed out a Bugatti Veyron! And yet you are called Mr. Slow."
"Captain Slow, actually," Jeremy corrected her.
"And you need no introduction," Boris laughed, turning his attention to Richard. "They call you the Squirrel! It's nice to meet a man of the proper height, so I can look them in the eyes."
"I do appreciate that," Richard smiled, giving a smug glance over to James and Jeremy. "I keep telling these two, in spite of their nickname of 'Hamster', they are really too tall."
"We have arranged a tour for you," James announced. "I'm afraid things are still a bit unsettled, since we're just getting started. Please follow our Minions and we shall join you shortly." Boris and Natasha walked away with the Minions and James turned back to Jeremy and Richard. "What do you think?" He asked them.
"They seem nice enough, but I would watch them," Jeremy observed.
"All the same, they did reach out to us," Richard argued.
"Which makes them more suspicious," Jeremy argued back. "We've sent out greetings to everyone and while they've been polite and formal, these two seem overly friendly."
"Perhaps," Richard stated. "Or perhaps you're just a bit hurt they referred to our nicknames, yet didn't refer to you as an orangutan."
"Maybe they can't pronounce it, Squirrel," Jeremy replied. "I think I like that better."
"That means I'll have to come up with something else," Richard snarked, "like 'Moose'." Jeremy frowned.
"Okay, they're here and neighbors, so let's go be good neighbors," James answered. "Come along, Moose and Squirrel." He walked away.
Richard glared at Jeremy as he chuckled. "Not one word, Clarkson," he warned. "Not one fucking word."
The tour was cursory, and Boris and Natasha brought along freshly baked cookies and a bottle of wine, as well as a laser optic sight for future weapon builds as a lair warming present. But Jeremy did notice the new neighbors seemed overly curious about the workings of their workshop, potential inventions, and who actually built things. As the couple boarded their submarine to return to their island, Clarkson noted to himself those two were definitely worth watching. As if he didn't have enough trouble watching out for any sudden mood swings from James.
The first sign of trouble from the neighbors was fairly minor. Well, minor considering it was a party and the Russian music being played was a bit too loud. Considering Boris and Natasha's lair was a quarter mile away across open water, it was 2 AM, and the music was loud enough to be heard inside the hollowed out volcano, it was more than a fairly minor problem. When it started happening seemingly every week, Richard was asked to go over and politely ask them to stop. And it did, for all of one week.
The struggle with Boris and Natasha continued. They "accidentally" left sea mines in the established waterway between the islands, they jammed radio communications with their more powerful radio array, which interfered with a declaration James was making to get the government of of Fiji to pay a ransom or they'd plant their own sea mines (Hammond and Clarkson felt uncomfortable with this, but they needed to play along, they really didn't have any sea mines, and the Fijians paid), and drunk Russian minions would venture over to the hollowed out volcano and attempted to climb to the top so they could take a piss in it. It was a bitch to clean that off the roof.
When some drunk Russian minions left something more solid (and smelly) than pee on the roof of the hollowed out volcano that had to be cleaned off, Jeremy decided he needed to have a word. He resolved to be polite, but turds on the roof were a bit much. Marching resolutely to the dock, he was suddenly assaulted by a bright light that practically rendered his sunglasses useless. "What the bloody hell--!" he spluttered . He had to freeze in place for a moment until he could see again, feeling a bit like a baked potato wrapped in tinfoil, then he launched the boat and motored over to the island.
"Do you suppose he will remember they probably have weapons?" Richard asked James, watching on a monitor in the control room.
"I think they'll find out he's a massive idiot," James answered.
Jeremy piloted the motorized raft by himself, grumbling the whole way because the flashes of bright light continued. He knew they had to be watching him on the monitors the way Richard and James were; he hoped they wouldn't see this as a hostile act and simply blow him out of the water, though the light being flashed on him and nearly blinding him, not to mention giving him a sunburn, sure as hell appeared hostile as he got closer.
"Well, he avoided the sea mines," James stated back in the control room.
Richard shook his head. "Luck," he replied. "Chances are the ape will find one on the way back."
"How will we know?"
"We'll hear the bellow of rage all the way in here."
Jeremy tied his raft to the dock, then stepped out, seeing what looked like a giant reflective dish on top of a fortress-like building. He also saw a couple of people on the roof pointing the dish toward the hollowed out volcano. One looked like a minion, but the other was short and pale and was yelling at the minion in Russian, giving him instructions. "Oi! Boris!" Jeremy shouted.
Boris noticed Jeremy stating up at him and walked to the edge of the roof. "Greetings, Moose," he called down.
Jeremy frowned and stared up at the dish. "What is this thing?"
"A light refeactor," Boris answered. "It captures light and concentrates it into heat."
"Uh huh," Jeremy acknowledged. "Well, do you mind pointing the giant Wok out to sea? It's making us feel like an overgrown bag of Jiffy Pop."
"Oh, but we have to experiment!" Boris whined.
"Then point it at one of your sea mines--you know, the mines you say you planted by accident but you've not bothered to remove?" Jeremy argued testily. "And one more thing...would you mind keeping your minions on your own island? They're getting drunk and we have to clean what they leave behind off the roof of the hollowed out volcano."
Boris shrugged. "Minions are minions, Moose," he said. "They go where they go."
Not to the roof of my island to take a wee, they don't! Just stop it!" Jeremy stormed back to the dock, untied the raft, and left.
James and Richard watched as Jeremy piloted the raft towards their island. "He held his tongue better than I thought he would," Richard observed dryly.
"Much better," James agreed. "Apparently Boris is going to let him just say his peace and return."
Richard was quiet. "A thousand he hits a sea mine?"
Jeremy got within sight of his dock, then it happened. There was a blinding flash of light, then he felt himself launched. Jeremy landed in the water as the raft exploded.
"What the--?!" Richard nearly shrieked like a girl. "That wasn't a sea mine!"
James shook his head. "That came from Boris," he announced in shock.
Back in their control room, Natasha was smiling with accomplishment. "So much for Moose," she reported.
"Now let's take care of Squirrel," Boris grinned. Flipping a few switches and turning dials, the Russian Evil Genius pushed a button. From the light refractor on the roof came another shaft of light. Aimed directly at the hollowed out volcano.
"INCOMING!!" James yelled. He and Richard dove under a table as there was an explosion above them. The roof came down with a shuddering clang, sheets of sheet metal disintegrated.
"You alright, May?" Richard asked when the dust settled.
"Of course, Squirrel," James answered. Richard glared at him. They crawled out from under the table and stared up at the sky now appearing instead of the roof, just as a soaking wet Jeremy appeared in the control room.
"One thing's for sure," Jeremy stated, staring up angrily. "We just declared war on the fucking Russians."
On their island, Boris and Natasha were throwing themselves another party. It had been nearly a week since they'd blown the roof off the hollowed out volcano without a response, and they figured they'd put the new neighbors in their place. So they were enjoying themselves on the beach that evening with their minions and a few invited guests from the metropolitan Evil Genius community.
Which was fine until the entire group was unexpectedly pelted with a ton of garbage. It was actually the contents of the hollowed out volcano's compost heap. A great smelly mess.
"You have excellent aim, Hammo," Jeremy acknowledged proudly in the control room. "Who'd guess you know how to aim a giant trebuchet?"
Richard smiled. "Who'd guess James knows how to build a giant trebuchet?" He replied. "Then again, it is James, so..."
James smiled. "You suppose that taught them a lesson?" He asked.
"A stinky one," Jeremy stated. "Impressive. We should at least be able to get some sleep tonight."
"Think again..." Richard answered, staring at the monitor. "Incoming!" Everyone got to safety just as another blast hit and shattered the newly repaired roof.
Waiting a moment until they made sure another blast wasn't coming, James, Jeremy, and Richard crawled out from their corners. "We've got to do something about that light refractor," Jeremy grumbled. "Apparently now they can store the energy to use it after dark."
Just then they were pelted with the contents of Boris and Natasha's compost heap, fired expertly through the hole in the top of the hollowed out volcano. "Oh, cock," James sighed. "They have their own trebuchet."
The battle between the neighbors continued. There was loud music blasted back and forth, including a healthy selection of Genesis songs courtesy of Boris and Natasha, meant to drive Richard into a rage. Every other day the roof of the hollowed out volcano was blasted open again. But the boys were hardly slacking. Somehow Jeremy managed to snag a sea mine without blowing it (or himself) up and towed it to Boris and Natasha's dock without being detected, effectively making their submarine useless, as the mine was parked so close to the submarine, the slightest knock against the mine would launch the sub to Guam; Jeremy was certain a minion had been exiled to Siberia for that cock-up. Then Richard used the Trebuchet to deposit the trash that had not been considered acceptable to the compost heap onto the other island, giving the Russian minions something more to do than point a giant Wok at them.
All of this, of course, was a diversion, because James had decided he'd had enough and was going to deal with the Evil Genius Neighbors From Hell once and for all. He shut himself away in his lab and cued the music----Bach, mostly--and when Bach couldn't be heard Jeremy and Richard could hear James humming along to himself, which is what he normally did when working on something. But he wouldn't let them see it until he was finished. Neither Jeremy not Richard were sure how to interpret this; they were supposed to be watching him, making sure he didn't go batshit and start getting delusions of grandeur, and this situation with Boris and Natasha had the potential of batshit written all over it in big capital letters. On the other hand, the neighbors had made complete horses arses of themselves and needed a comeuppance only worthy of an Evil Genius.
A few mornings later, as Jeremy, Richard, and Mindy shared breakfast, James emerged from the lab with a rather smug grin. "It's done," he announced. "Come and see."
All three stared at each other and shrugged; nobody could come up with a reason not to see the new creation. They followed James outside to the other side of the island. In place of the Trebuchet something very large was hidden underneath a tarpaulin. "Now when the halfwits get around to blowing off the roof of out lair, which I suspect they'll do after they've finished eating their blintzes, we'll have one hell of an answer." He pulled the cover off and all three gasped.
It was the biggest death ray James had ever built. It could easily launch its beam the half mile distance between the two islands and lay waste to Boris and Natasha. "Oh dear God, look at it!" Richard squeaked . Jeremy and Mindy could only stare dumbfounded. "Don't you think it's a bit, you know, enormous?"
James sighed. "Hammond, do you have any idea how much it costs to replace that roof every single day? " he asked. "We can't blackmail enough countries for ransom to make up the difference. Plus, they are definitely cutting into my sleep time, and you know how tetchy I can get when I've not had enough sleep. This will take care of them."
"James, this will destroy their island," Richard countered. Over James' shoulder he could see Jeremy point to his own temple and draw an imaginary circle. "At least let me try to warn them what we have."
"The last time I tried that, Richard, Boris used the Magic Wok to blow me out of the water," Jeremy reminded him. "And that thing wasn't even up to fill power yet."
"You're not going over there to get blown up," Mindy told him firmly.
"You can try to communicate with them," James agreed , "but not in person. They can already blow the roof off our lair. We're not going to find out if you can survive a Wok. I may have built a death ray, but I'm not unreasonable." He turned and headed back to the lair.
"All the same," Richard muttered to Jeremy, "be ready with the sledgehammer. When we're done scaring the Russians, we need to bash it to pieces."
Richard managed to reach Boris via Facebook, a feature the New Evil of evil geniuses possessed that the Old Evil didn't understand. "What is it, Squirrel?" Boris asked, irritated. "My wife and I are eating our morning blintzes."
"Boris, listen very carefully," Richard told him. "We have a new weapon pointed at you, something that can take out not only your light refractor, but the whole island. Unless we call a truce between us, right now, it's going to be used."
Boris laughed heartily. "Why would I be afraid of any weapon of yours?" he replied, wiping tears of mirth from his cheeks. "All you and Moose and the Slow One will make is a larger weapon to fling more garbage at us. There is no truce."
Richard sighed. "Boris, take a good look at the satellite images," he pleaded. "You claim you don't have a satellite trained on us, but we know you do. Now, does that look like an improved Trebuchet to you?"
Boris stepped away from his webcam for a few minutes. When he returned he was shaking his head with contempt. "What you've made is what I call a bluff," he said. "You have made something that looks scary and isn't." He then gave a cold but hearty laugh. "Now I will show you scary." Richard could see him reach for the button.
"Down!" Richard shouted to Jeremy and James. They ducked just in time. As Richard covered Mindy there was a blast and once again the ceiling collapsed.
Jeremy stated up when the dust settled. "You know, that short arse is really pissing me off!" He roared. "He has somehow managed to become worse than you, Hammo, and that's saying a lot."
"It's not over yet," James warned, staring at the monitor. "The pillock is firing again." All four ducked again as the volcano was rocked by the second blast. And now James was angry, really and truly angry; it took a lot to get him there,but Boris had done it. Without a word James stood and strode to a control panel, turning dials and flipping switches. He turned to face, Jeremy, Richard, and Mindy. "Time to fry the giant Wok!" He announced as he flipped one final switch.
All of them watched on the monitor as the death ray raised and aimed itself. "Are we really sure about this?" Richard asked doubtfully. "Killing them might not be a good move. The Evil Genius community might see this as a bit excessive."
James smiled. "Hammond, I'm surprised at you!" he replied. "Surely you realize I can't just whip up a death ray, charge it, and make it fully operational in the time it takes for me to whip up a shepherd's pie. These things take time to be perfected, especially something this big."
"So are you saying the death ray doesn't work?" Jeremy asked.
"Oh, it works," James assured him, "but not as a real death ray. As a light refractor, however, it works just fine." With that he flipped one final switch. The death ray hummed and throbbed, then finally a beam of light emanated from the end, hitting the dish dead-center. The dish shattered into thousands of pieces.Jeremy, Richard, Mindy, and James raised a cry of victory.
A moment later the computer beeped. It was Boris. Boris did not look happy. "But...how?" He asked. "Our intelligence did not show either Moose or Squirrel to be smart enough to--"
"Because you were not dealing with me, Boris," James replied, his voice calm. "Thunderbird Fat and Thunderbird Short merely distracted you from the one doing the real work around here." In the background Richard, Mindy, and Jeremy were seen nodding furiously.
"But you used our light refraction technology to make the weapon," Boris stammered. "The blueprints and design were top secret and written in Russian. How did you--"
"Surely you know better than to post your secret plans on the internet," James grinned with self-satisfaction. "I have to admit I don't know completely about how the internet works, but even I know better than that! The moment you posted your question on your design in that crowdsourcing chat room, all your ideas became public domain. So with that and the help of Google Translate, I read them. Now...let me give you my demands, Boris, while I have you here. You are going to leave us alone. You will not point any more weapons at us. If you rebuild that infernal Wok you will not make us the subject of your experiments in light refraction. In fact, you will completely sod off."
Boris glowered. "And if I do not?" He asked petulantly.
"In a few more hours this death ray becomes fully operational," James answered back. "So take a good look around at your island and your minions and decide which things you want to keep and what you want destroyed. So what shall it be? Are you going to leave us alone, or would you and Natasha like to recreate the Lost City of Atlantis?"
There was a pause. "We will yield," Boris replied dejectedly.
"Very good," James smiled. "If you'll excuse is now, we have to go replace the roof again. And sending you the bill for repairs, which I'm expecting you to pay. Surely you don't want to look bad with the other neighbors over damaging property and not paying for it. Some might not take it as well as we have."
Just before logging off Richard realized he had one final thing to say: "By the way...my wife is prettier than your wife!"
"Guys! You've gotta come see this!!" Jeremy announced from the control room a few weeks later.
Richard and James both rolled their eyes as they ran to the control room, wondering what could possibly be happening now. But what they saw on the monitor was a pleasant surprise: Evil Genius movers at Boris and Natasha's island.
"What do you think happened?" Richard asked as they stared.
"Frankly, I think some of out Evil Genius neighbors realized we weren't so easy to get rid of," Jeremy grumbled. "Perhaps Boris lost some of his Evil Genius privileges."
"Or perhaps they're moving to a place not in range of our death ray," James suggested. "At any rate, it appears we'll get some new neighbors, and this time they'll know not to mess with us." James walked away to resume his breakfast.
"You know," Richard observed with a smile, "I never thought I'd appreciate having a death ray sitting in the front lawn. Though we will have to take steps to disable it soon to keep James from going Batshit and threatening any more of out neighbors."
Jeremy nodded. "Probably should do that tonight." There was a beat. "A million I can use the death ray to hit that sea mine in the dock and launch that submarine to Guam?"
The glow in Richard's brown eyes was unmistakable. "You're on."