"This was by far the best week yet," I said to the assembled teams in front of me. "But I have to pick a winning team, and that means someone will be fired."
"But, like, you all did really good," Claire added with a smile.
"Victorious Secret," I started the judgment. "You worked well together as a team, with Gyrobo effectively pulling it all together at the end. For once, Koma, you didn't completely screw up. You netted your team ten million and even got some painted rocks through a side deal of your own."
Koma looked at me distrustingly.
I continued, "Wolverine, a ransom note taped to a safe on top of a Deadpool is a great way to deliver your message. However, you could have ripped apart the Ninja Brats easily, and that would have sent an even stronger message. When you listen to that female voice in your head, nothing good comes from it. I've been married for over 15 years. I know these things."
Wolverine growled something under his breath.
Moving on, I said, "Ciera, maybe you're not thinking enough with your head and instead thinking with...well, whatever it is you females have. Brad Pitt was a terrible choice of target. Other than him being a celebrity, and your attraction to him, there was no reason for it, was there?"
"Uh," Ciera said, "Umm...he's hot, though."
"Henchman," I gazed over at the man in the biohazard outfit. "Pistol-whipping Brad Pitt...that almost gives a reason for picking him in the first place. Otherwise, it was bland, generic, like an everyday henchman. If you want to make it in this business, you have to be World's Toughest Henchman. You got your guy, though, and that's what counts."
"Does that mean we won?" Henchman asked.
Ignoring him, I looked over at Team One. "Now, there's the issue of you people, who chose to kidnap me."
Jon looked nervous. Now that he was sober, it seemed he was thinking more clearly and possibly regretted his actions.
"Jon, I'm concerned about your drinking. Or I was, until it made you man up and pull an impressive stunt like this."
He smiled nervously.
"Kidnapping me was an interesting choice, which is why I let it happen. Obviously, Nepharia, your womanly wiles would never work on me. I'm a nerd. Notice the glasses?" I pointed to the horn-rimmed frames. "But I decided to go along with it to see where this would lead. That, and I wanted to lure out Abrams. At any moment I could have killed your entire team."
Claire balked, "Ugh! You could have, like, told me you were faking. I was, like, so worried! Me and Mr. Muggles even formed a search party."
"Relax, Claire Bear. I'm very well-trained in the art of selling paper," I explained. "I was in no danger whatsoever. But that brings me to the issue of the ransom. In my line of work, if you're captured, nobody knows who you are. Primatech would never, ever pay a ransom. They only went along with it because denying any knowledge of me wouldn't make for good television. You didn't really think that through, it seems, and for the ransom, the best you could come up with was a 'big bag o' cash'. This is Primatech. You could have demanded an unlimited supply of paper and paper products, or vials of mutant-making serum, or The Haitian."
Jon replied, "With a big o' bag of cash, we could get our own Haitian."
I nodded and turned toward the Professor. "A very action-oriented scene for a crippled. Holding your own against The Haitian, impressive work, Charles."
"Thank you," he replied lifting a glass of cognac.
"Now, let's get to the winning team," I said, changing tones. "The kidnapping. Jon and Nepharia's infiltration of Primatech and teleportation of me was far more engaging and exciting than Victorious Secret's simple, pistol-whipping Brad-snatching. One point for Team One."
Nepharia grinned evilly.
"Next up, the exchange. Professor Xavier's epic three-way with Primatech agents and Trekkies was excellent. Kicking Brad Pitt out of a van in a parking lot can't come close. Team One, two points."
Koma began looking at me suspiciously again.
"Ransom creativity. We had a big bag o' cash versus ten million and remembering something about egg machines. It turns out the big bag was stuffed full of singles, and Gyrobo's confusing demand tips the scale in his favor. One point for Victorious Secret, two points Team One.
Jon looked inside his big bag o' cash, then let out a, "Good grief!"
"Target creativity. I suppose you could argue kidnapping me was an obvious choice," I began, "but then so too is kidnapping a celebrity. I think Jon's team showed some real initiative by coming for me, and doing so first. Another point for Team One. Three points Team One, One point Victorious Secret."
Ciera frowned, "I'm not a mathematician, but this isn't looking good."
"Last point," I said, "teamwork. Both teams worked very well together this round. Gyrobo, even though he was in some other place and time during most of the task, was able to pull his team together and orchestrate a mediocre kidnapping. Jon, despite being drunk, was able to execute a grand kidnapping with each teammate playing a vitally important role, and doing so superbly. The truth is, I don't know who should get this point. Either Victorious Secret by a nose, or both teams get a point. It doesn't really matter, since either way Victorious Secret loses."
"Aww, shucks," Gyrobo buzzes.
"Gyrobo. You were The Boss on this task. Pick two people to join you back in the boardroom. One of you will be fired."