I do not own Carmen Sandiego in any way, shape, or form.
This is something I wrote while contemplating the back to school craze in August. Feels weird not having to attend college anymore, but that doesn't mean my experiences have to go to waste. Hope you all enjoy!
Carmen took a deep breath and adjusted her backpack. She'd never needed to carry one at VILE as the lessons taught in those classes couldn't really be found in textbooks and the tests were all practical. The weight at her back felt... pretty weird, if she was honest.
"Oh man, check it out!" Zack laughed. He tilted his hat up and pointed to one of the buildings. "This place has an all you can eat buffet today!"
Ivy snorted, adjusting her backpack over one shoulder and putting a hand on her hip. "Really, Bro? Food? Right now?"
Zack shrugged casually. "We're at college, Ivy! Ya know, hanging at the quad, joining clubs, having small parties in the dorm common rooms!"
"Studying, going to class, passing tests," Carmen interjected calmly.
Ivy snorted at her. "If we feel like it," she snickered. "They're on our time, not the other way around. We're the ones paying to be here."
"Technically, none of us are paying to be here, but still," Carmen warned them. "Try not to draw attention to yourselves. We're here to make sure the Golden Falcon stays in its case. Last thing we need is Countess Clio or Dr. Maelstrom getting ahold of it."
"Roger that, Carm," Zack agreed. "So, I'm gonna make sure there's no VILE activity going on in the Dining Hall."
Before Ivy or Carmen could say anything, Zack was off, heading to the buffet. In his defense, he hadn't eaten the entire train ride to the campus, so they cut him some slack. Ivy turned to Carmen instead. "So? What d'ya wanna do? Check out clubs? See when sports tryouts are?"
"You can," Carmen told her with a smile. "I'll keep myself in shape in a... different way."
"Recon?" Ivy smirked, lowering her voice.
"Bingo," Carmen chuckled. "They're bound to be on our tail."
Ivy raised her hands. "Got it, got it. Just don't get too distracted with your little girlfriend."
They shared a laugh and split off. Ivy headed toward the information tables to check out the clubs while Carmen slipped into the shadows and started looking for suspicious activity.
Students, professors, weeping parents, older students hanging out and catching up. "Huh, seems like a pretty normal place so far."
"You call all those people gathered in a single place to study normal?" Player snorted in her ear.
"Well it is," Carmen chuckled. "For people who actually go outside and get sun."
"Pfft, sun? Who needs that?" Player threw some darts at a board as Carmen only laughed harder. "So, no sign of anything suspicious yet?"
Carmen looked all about. "Nope. Everything seems fine. Good work on, um, getting us in."
Player shrugged before throwing another dart. "No big. And once the Sesquecentennial Falcon Ceremony is finished, it'll be like you all just dropped out. By all computer accounts, it'll be like you were never there at all."
"Perfect." Carmen straightened up and stepped from behind a tree. "Guess I'd better go get us settled in our dorms, huh?"
Carmen heard Player typing furiously. "Yeah, lemme just see where you'll... uh oh." The typing stopped. 'Got some bad news."
"Who are we rooming with?" Carmen groaned. Of course they couldn't get rooms together. She had only ever lived with Zack and Ivy. How was she going to deal with living with another person for two months?
"Uh, it looks like a bunch of aliases if you ask me," Player muttered. "Zack is rooming with someone named Flash Sentinel."
Carmen gritted her teeth. "Crackle. Of course he'd be on this. A school with a huge electrical technician department, how could Gray resist."
"Ivy is in a room with someone named Tora de la Reine."
"Mixing languages, huh?" Carmen rolled her eyes. "Tigress. She never was creative."
Player chuckled as he looked at the last assignment. "Well, you definitely got the luckiest end of the deal. Your roommate is Juliet Argent."
Carmen was really glad the communicator was in her ear because if she'd been holding it, she would've dropped it. A slow grin spread over her lips. "Zack and Ivy are going to be so jelly."
"Best not tell them your roommate, but definitely let them know theirs," Player laughed. "Don't want them to provoke any operatives."
Carmen thought a moment. "No..." she said slowly. "Ivy and Zack aren't as familiar with those two as I am. They can't recognize them on sight. Let's let them act the way they normally would around a college roomie and move in if they might be in danger. If we keep them unsuspecting that way, they're less likely to be seen as a threat."
"Alright, Red, you're the boss," Player agreed. "So, what are you gonna do?"
Carmen laughed. "I'm heading to my dorm room, of course. Can't wait to get settled in, meet my Res Adviser, get to know my roommate."
"It'll be good practice for when you both retire and move in together," Player teased.
"Ha ha, very funny." Carmen switched the communicator off and started for the dorms. This might not be so bad after all.
️ ️ ️-
"Chase, you need to head to the men's dormitory," Julia told her partner irritably.
"I don't understand why Chief could not have gotten us rooms right next to each other," Chase grumbled with a slight pout.
Juliet gave him a flat look and pointed to the sign right above their heads. It read "Women's Dorms". Chase frowned harder.
Julia sighed and lifted her suitcase. "We just need to stay for two months, Chase," she reminded him. "We just need to make sure no one steals the Golden Falcon."
"And by no one, you mean Carmen Sandiego." Chase smirked. He hoped the scarlet outlaw would make herself known. He would love to catch her red handed.
"Or VILE," Julia reminded him sternly. "Now, go get settled in your room. We can meet up later to discuss class schedules and meeting times."
Chase groaned, bordering on a whine, and hefted his own suitcase. He slunk off to the Men's Dorms. Hopefully his roommate wasn't too annoying. Julia watched him go with mild concern and made her way to her own dorm room.
She unlocked the door and found a bag already laid on the bed on the left. Alright, then. Looked like she was taking the one on the right. Setting her suitcase down, Julia began to unpack.
A shadow rose in the window and she gasped as it slid open. She relaxed when a familiar pair of gray eyes met hers and a catlike smile stretched over lips she'd kissed only days ago. Carmen chuckled as she slid into the room.
"You realize we're on the third floor," Julia giggled.
Carmen shrugged and lounged on her bed. "Eh, we're facing the forest. It's not like anyone saw me." Julia shook her head and Carmen spotted a shadow out of the corner of her eye, also climbing the building. Tigress must also be on the third floor, or on the top floor.
She must've been doing recon, too.
Carmen stood and draped her arms around Julia's shoulders. It was nice having someone shorter than herself around so she could do things like this. "So, Chase with you or did Chief let you out on a solo mission?"
"He's getting settled in his room," Julia told her. She paused to test the solidity of the walls before lowering her voice and asking, "To be clear, you're here to...?"
Carmen understood the question and smiled. Julia always had to make sure so she knew what story to give Chief should anything go awry, which it always seemed to with Chase, Zack, and VILE around. "I'm here to make sure the Sesquicentennial Falcon Celebration goes off without a hitch. No stealing necessary."
Julia relaxed. "Well then, as roommates, it's only fitting we... get to know one another."
Carmen slid onto the bed and brought Julia into her lap. "I like the sound of that."
️ ️ ️-
The next morning dawned bright early and way too soon for any of the undercover agents. The alarm blared in Carmen's room and she and Julia were instantly awake, ready to start the day. Ivy groaned as the alarm went off and Tigress echoed her sentiment, slamming a fist down on the snooze button. Zack and Chase both snored right through the alarm, their respective roommates staring at them incredulously. Of course, Crackle really didn't care, plus, it was the first day. Everyone had different classes at different times.
Carmen stepped from the dorm room and nodded to 'Juliet' as they went their separate ways. She headed up to Ivy's room and found her friend racing down the hall, backpack in hand. Carmen chuckled and waited for her to catch up. "You good, Ivy?" Carmen snickered.
"We both slept in late," Ivy shrugged. "Tora hates getting up early as much as I do."
Carmen stopped herself from commenting something that sounded too familiar. Instead, she smirked, "Sounds like they found you a perfect roommate, then."
Ivy snorted. "At least I got up. Wanna bet Zacky's still fast asleep."
Carmen shrugged. "Not much of a bet if we both know it's true."
Out of the corner of her eye, Carmen spotted Chase Devineaux sluggishly dragging himself toward the exit. "Ah, crud," she grumbled, stepping behind Ivy to quickly redo her hair. "I was hoping to go a little longer without bumping into him."
Ivy kept still so her friend could change to a punk rock do. "Facial recognition disruptor. Good call."
"Gotta play it as safe as possible," Carmen kept her head down as the two of them passed by Devineaux. Thankfully, he was too tired to notice them.
Once out of sight and earshot, Carmen let out a breath of relief. "I'll definitely have to be on my toes here. If he spots me, it might blow my cover... and his. I'll be fine, even if VILE agents know I'm here, but he'll have to report to his superiors and that'll be no good."
"No worries, Carm," Ivy told her with an encouraging smile. "We've got your back." She frowned in confusion and asked, "Wait, can we call you Carm? What IS your name?"
Carmen grinned and held up her student ID. "You're looking at one Carmelita Smith."
Ivy smiled and nodded. "Good call. So, what are we on today? Recon? Investigation? Maybe some one-two punchin' a VILE bad guy?"
"Nah," Carmen told her. "Just do what you would if you were going to college for real. If you see something suspicious, definitely call it in to Player, but no need to go looking for trouble on the first day."
Ivy nodded and headed off to her first class. Just like rooms, Player couldn't get them all the same class schedule, either. He was a hacker, he could only do so much before he drew attention to himself. Carmen slipped a pair of lensless glasses over her eyes and headed off to her own class. With any luck, she wouldn't bump into anyone she knew all day.
Julia strode through campus, heading for her first period. She had actually kind of missed the college atmosphere. Sure, no college had the exact same environment. Larger colleges were more friends-only oriented while smaller colleges were more community oriented, but she liked them all regardless. The studying and professors, the knowledge and dining hall, the study groups and depressing all nighters, it was so nice to feel it all again.
Of course, she remembered she was here on a mission and her time in the environment was limited, but still. She would enjoy it to the fullest.
A shadow moved off to the side and Julia raised an eyebrow. She still had another hour before her first class, so she decided to take a look. In the bushes, she found someone crouching down, examining something.
"Excuse me," she called. "Do you need help?"
The person, a woman with platinum blonde hair, glanced up with a scowl. "No, I'm fine, just tying my shoe."
Julia took in the woman's strap heels and blinked at her flatly. "Alright, if you say so." She backed away and continued on her way. She did take note of the woman's face for any future encounters. It could be just some random college student, but one could never be too careful.
Tigress let out a breath of relief as the intruder strode off. She turned back to her wristwatch and hissed, "Still no sign of the bird on your end either?"
On the other line, Crackle leaned against a school building. "Nope, not a single trace or gold sparkle anywhere. Guess is, they're keepin' it locked tight til the ceremony. We'll have to lie low until the day of or the day before."
Tigress groaned in irritation. "Two months stuck sharing a room with someone else, going to class, doing homework, and listening to our neighbors have dorm parties? This is the worst!"
"Look on the bright side," Crackle laughed. "At least you're here for something you're actually good at, Cosmetology!"
"...I guess this isn't all bad," Tigress muttered.
"That's the spirit," Crackle chuckled. "Best be off ta class. Don't wanna draw attention to ourselves on the first day."
Tigress rolled her eyes. "Yeah, whatever. Catch ya later."
Standing, she hefted her messenger bag on her shoulder and stepped from the bushes. Guess she was stuck going to class for two months. Better make the most of it. Once they had that bird, she was blowing this popsicle stand as fast as possible. Until then, hello world of makeup.
And there ya go! Not sure if I'll be doing more for it, so I'll mark complete for now, but I hope you liked it all the same!
Remember, sneak peeks and updates are available on my tumblr, gothalbinoangel-fanfiction. You can also ask questions, there. I'll be opening commissions again soon, too!