This means war.

Oh, Gordon and Alan have gone too far this time. Too far! Everyone's got at least one embarrassing high school photo, right? I am no exception. But what I never expected was to see a thousand copies of a pimply-faced Scott Tracy papering my bedroom walls.

Oh… This. Means. War.

I love my little brothers. I really do. But sometimes it is my duty to deliver a full-scale big brother butt-kicking. Because I have a rule. If you ask for it, I have to give it to you.

I jabbed my communicator with far more force than was necessary.

"John, come in. I need your help."

My redhead brother's hologram appeared, ethereal and blue. His arms were outspread as they always are when he floats in Five's command module.

"What's up, Scott?"

I didn't say anything. I just gestured at the walls, the floor, every possible surface of my bedroom.

"Oh, wow," John breathed. "That's…terrible."

"I know," I replied, allowing the wave of sympathy to wash over me. It was terrible.

"Truly, truly awful. Why did mom ever let you get that haircut?"

My face fell. Right.


"Seriously. It's terrible."


"And that shirt –"


My brother clamped his lips together and nodded, pulled back to reality.

"You're missing the point entirely – as usual," I said, voice full of scorn. "But seriously. Look at this."

John's eyes were transfixed.

"I'm trying to stop but I can't…"

"This means war, you realise that?" I said.

John turned at that, his mouth forming a small 'o'.

"Scott, no."

"Yes, John."

"Scott, no."

"Yes! I need to reassert my dominance as head of this pack. I cannot allow them to get away with this!"

John shook his head, his hologram flickering blue as he rubbed his cheek with one hand.

"Scott, we're not dogs. We're humans."

"Silence, Spaceman!" I said, feeling the unadulterated fury of a prank war overcome my senses. "I need you. Down here. Right now."

John raised his hands.

"Oh no. No way. Ask Virgil. Not again! I had enough last time when they put tabasco sauce in my shower faucet. Why the heck do you think I stay up here so much? They can't get me."

I turned to the hologram, and from the look on John's blue face I knew the fury had turned to war paint on my face.

"There's no way I'm getting out of this, is there?" he asked. "Can't you just recruit Virgil?"

"No," I said, balling my hands into fists. "Virgil has always been the neutral ground. Virgil is Switzerland."

"And what am I?" John asked.

"You are Chewie to my Han Solo. Robin to my Batman. Toto to my Dorothy –"

"Oh, so I'm a costume-wearing Wookie dog? Real smooth, brother. I definitely want to come help you now."

I knew I wasn't getting anywhere with this tack, so I did something that I had not done in over a decade. I got down on my knees and begged.

"Please, John. Do it for me. I need you."

John's lips disappeared as his mouth became a thin line and I could see the vibration of frustration in his shoulders. His mind was saying no but his heart was whispering, Yes, yes. Do it for your big bro

Eventually, my puppy-dog eyes worked.

"Alright, alright!" he said, throwing his arms up – which put him into a spin. "I'll be down in an hour. For crying out loud, what did I do to deserve this?"

I stood up and dusted off my knees.

"Thanks, brother," I said, giving him a wink. "You won't regret this."

"Oh, Scott," he said, head in his hands, "I already do…"


We waited for a little while before we struck. Indeed, at first we weren't sure what exactly we were going to do. It took an accidental stumble to figure everything out.


I turned to see John hurtling to the kitchen floor, arms wind-milling, and then there was a sickening crunch as his knee struck the tiles. I won't repeat what he said; needless to said, Grandma would have been appalled.

"You okay?" I asked as he pulled his knee up to his chest.

He interrupted his inspection of the damage to give me a withering glare.

"I am fine," he ground out.

I winced as I saw the mess his knee was in.

"That'll bruise," I said.

He gave me another look of death.

"I know that, Scott. Thank you very much for the update."

I shook my head and shrugged.

"Touchy, touchy," I said. "What the heck did you fall over, anyway?"

From his vantage point on the floor, John pointed at a box that had been tucked under the dining table. It looked big – and very suspicious.

"It's addressed to Gordon," he said, sliding it out. "And it's already been opened."

He pulled the cardboard flaps open and peered in, then looked at me.

"I know what they're planning," he said. "I've seen it done before, back in college."

"What?" I asked, my chest tightening.

He pushed the box towards me and I looked in. Oh, it was on. It was full to bursting with rolls of Saran wrap – or Reynolds wrap, or Clingfilm, depending on where you're from. That delightful, clear substance that, if you're lucky with the lighting, you can't see.

"I wonder what they were planning on wrapping?" John asked

"God only knows," I replied, "but they aren't going to get the chance." I looked at John my eyes ablaze with the desire for revenge. "We need to play them at their own game."

"And what?" he asked, inspecting his injured knee again. "Wrap up Three and Four?"

I shook my head.

"Can't jeopardise the outfit," I said, even though I knew he wasn't being serious. "No, but I have a better idea…"


Hidden deep in cover between a few tropical plants, we watched and waited. Oh, it was so perfect. We had covered every inch so perfectly that you couldn't even tell it was there. That wrap was pulled so tightly that only the sunlight would betray us. It was smooth as glass.

"I don't think they're going to fall for it," John said.

"Stop doubting my genius," I snapped, adjusting the focus on my binoculars. "It'll work."

So we lay in the wilds of the poolside fauna, predators – or rather, a predator and a grumpy assistant – awaiting our prey.

Within a half hour, they appeared, clad in ridiculous swim shorts. But there was a problem. John grabbed my wrist.


Virgil wasn't supposed to be there too.

"It's fine," I whispered. "He won't be the first one in. It'll be Gordon."

But it wasn't. God, fate, the universe, Dad… Whatever you wanted to call it, there was some force at work that had set out to foil us.

My heart thundered with each step Virgil took up to the diving board.

"We have to stop him," John hissed.

But it was too late. Just as we leapt from the bushes, Virgil had pushed off. Everything was in slow motion as he rose into the air in an elegant twist. He looked at the water below, then turned to us, a look of pure betrayal in his eyes. But there was nothing we could do.

"You bast-!"

Gordon and Alan watched, eyes wide and mouths agape, as Virgil bounced on the impossibly taut wrap, flying into the air, all arms and legs and unadulterated rage. He hit the film again and this time disappeared through it.

"We're dead. Totally dead," John said.

"Yup. Two dead men."

Then Virgil confirmed it.

"Who did this?" he screamed, fighting his way through ripped wrap. "I will kill you."

Gordon and Alan were jabbering and pointing at us and laughing. At that, Virgil turned his burning eyes at us and I knew we were doomed.

"I'm going back to the office!" John said, turning tail and fleeing.

"Traitor!" I yelled.

But then I was saved from solo punishment. John's knee gave way beneath him and he hit the deck.

At that point, Gordon and Alan pounced.


My yell was futile. Our youngest brothers scooped John up between them, and easy feat, considering he weighs approximately the same as two feathers. They started swinging him towards the pool.

"Three, two –"

"Don't you dare! I swear –"


And so, a redheaded blur flew through the air, screaming at the top of his lungs, until he hit what remained of the wrap and tumbled into the water.

He surfaced to the sound of Virgil's laugh of revenge.

"I'll kill you all," John said, flailing in the water. "I swear, I will. By the old gods and the new – and that includes you, Scott! This was all your idea!"

All four sets of eyes were on me. I knew the jig was up.

So I did the only thing I could think of.

I ran.