The Company Apprentice has ended
Heroes Blogs | Moose Humor

Sunday, August 30, 2009

You're Hired!

Coming back from the commercial break, the audience erupted into spontaneous applause, brought about by the lighting of the applause sign.

"Let's here from the people whose opinions don't matter at all," I suggested. "Henchman. Who would you hire?"

"Gyrobo, of course," the non-descript baddie answered.

"Ciera?" I asked.

"Gyrobo!" she happily cheered the mechanical maniac's name.

"How about Koma, perhaps the most controversial Australian contestant ever on The Company Apprentice?" I asked. "What's he got to say?"

In that odd accent of his, he replied, "I'm going with Gyrobo."

"Even though he had your former team capture and interrogate you?"

"Because of it!" he announced proudly. I always suspected he was a masochist.

"Wolverine?" I continued.

"Xavier," he said, then growled, "Hold on there. Out of my head, Chuck. Hire Gyrobo."

"Well, all four of your teammates think I should hire you. What do you think about that?"

"Hmm..." Gyrobo contemplated, "I'm flattered and legally blind in some states."

"I see," I said, moving quickly to Charles. "Now, let's see what your team thinks, Professor. Mr. Muggles, who should I hire?"

I looked over at the loser bench, but didn't see my wife's Pomeranian. "Mr. Muggles? What happened to Mr. Muggles?"

A stagehand came and whispered about the dog's agent requesting a cash incentive for his appearance on the finale. I remembered how this show has no budget, and moved on. "Bernard? Who would you hire if you were me?"

No response.

"Well, come on, then. Answer," I insisted.

Still, there was no response.

"Umm, who is Bernard?" Charles asked. "I'm sure he'd say you should hire me, but I just don't know who you're talking about."

"Bernard," I repeated the name. "You know, the doofus boy that I fired in the first week."

"Oh, me?" Bernard asked.

"Yeah, who should I hire?"

"Uh, it's Lyle," Bernard replied.

"Lyle isn't one of the options," I explained. "Either Charles or Gyrobo. Who should I hire?"

"This is too hard," Bernard cried. "I don't want to be special anymore. Can I please just go home? The camera lights are giving me a sunburn." The scrawny loser darted out of the studio, shielding himself from the glaring studio lights with his hand.

"Jon?" I said looking over at our trusted intergalactic gladiator. "What say you?"

He hiccuped and passed out.

"Great," Nepharia rolled her eyes and pried an empty bottle from his hand, "more Irish whiskey. I'm sure when he's sober again, he'll go with Xavier. And I'm going with Xavier, too. You should obviously hire him."

"One out of four ain't bad," I nodded at the professor.

"Not bad at all," he replied.

"This is it," I announced. "It's time for me to make the decision. Professor, you lost the very first task as project manager. Nepharia was the only one that thinks I should hire you, and with her being a Sith, I have to assume it's all part of the Emperor's grand scheme. That makes me think you're a pawn. Gyrobo, though, he's not a pawn. He's a Queen. He can move anywhere on the board, and he does, usually to places he has no business going. While you've been a tough competitor, Gyrobo has continually shined on every challenge. Nobody else has come close."

"So, you're saying," Xavier rubbed his chin as he spoke, "that it's a tie?"

"What I'm saying," I explained to the contestants and the audience, "is that this competition is over. We have our Company Apprentice."

The audience leaned forward in their chairs awaiting the announcement.

"Professor X," I said.

"Yes?" he waited.

"Don't pick him!" Gyrobo warned. "I was manufactured to do this job."

"Charles..." I continued. "You're...fired. Gyrobo, you're hired!"

The Company Apprentice

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Final Boardroom

"Ten of you set off on the most grueling job application process the blogosphere has ever seen," I said dramatically. "You two are all that's left. And now, one of you, like eight before, will be fired. Are you ready to find out who will be The Company Apprentice?"

That cued the theme song music, and the live studio audience began cheering.

"The world has been waiting," I read from the teleprompter, "for weeks, and we have finally arri--Was that Jimmy Fallon?"

We all waited as security escorted the so-called comedian from the premises.

"Now, we have finally arrived," I continued, "at the moment where somebody will be hired."

There was more cheering, and a gasp from Jon.

"Gyrobo," I spoke the name of everyone's second favorite robotic clown. The audience cheered, and there were a few screams admitting to feelings of love for the oddball.

I waited for the enthusiasm to die down, and moved on, "And Professor Xavier." The audience cheered once again as I spoke the name of everyone's fourth favorite rumored sex offender.

Once the crazy outburst calmed, I began my judgment. "You two have out performed all the others, and you're both showing me today, in this boardroom, how much you truly want to be The Company Apprentice. Gyrobo, I appreciate you dressing up as a woman in an attempt to lure me into hiring you. Mind you, hiring females can come with so my legal technicalities. And Professor, the mustache is a great touch. It makes you look truly....well, something. I just don't know what."

"Ah, stuff it Bennett," said the bald teach.

"It's Bennet," I corrected him.

"I believe I will spell your name however I choose," he replied, "after all, I'm the one with the gun."

The audience cheered enthusiastically. Someone shouted, "I love being shot!"

The Haitian tensed. "It's okay," I said to my trusty foreign friend, and he relaxed back in his chair. "Why the violence, Professor?"

"We all know you're going to hire Gyrobo. This so-called contest is rigged," he explained. "So, I thought I'd take matters into my own hands. I don't need a job this badly, but I would enjoy the parking space in the city that comes with it. I'm not one for the subway, and I can't rightly walk in my condition, and taxis....forty dollars for a ride into Manhattan?"

"Well, actually," I said, "the job doesn't come with a parking space."

"Oh," Charles lowered his rifle. "Well, carry on then."

"But you shouldn't worry. I really haven't made up my mind yet, and this contest definitely isn't rigged."

The audience erupted into applause.

"Oops. Sorry 'bout that Mr. Bennet," the crewman in charge of the applause sign said embarrassingly.

"You're fired!" I said to the schlub.

"Hey, you can't fire me. I'm with the union," he replied in a thick Brooklyn accent.

"Why didn't we think of that?" Jon mumbled to the other former contestants sitting on the loser bench.

Mr. Muggles barked.

"Let's get on with this," I took back control of the show. "Now, let's see here. Gyrobo, you did some good work taking down Australia, and by that I mean Koma. Your team man and duck handled Australia's least genius evil genius. Your humiliation of the Queen....did that ever happen? I don't read the tabloids. I'm hoping the plan worked, though. It was a good plan. And a smart move going after the Queen of England. Most people forget that wrinkled bag of bones controls most of world, not just her little island of Brits."

"But," The Haitian interjected, "there was no mention of Rupert Murdoch."

"Yes," I said, looking critically at Gyrobo's clowny little face. "He's perhaps even more of a threat than their border fence. And you let him go on unscathed."

"There just wasn't time to scathe everyone," Gyrobo explained in his defense.

"Now, Professor, you went up against the single most evil and powerful organization on Earth, with perhaps the exception of the Vatican. I'm sure it was a very taxing challenge."

"Boo!" The audience said in unison. I threw my speaker phone at the aforementioned schlub. He quickly flipped a switch and the audience applauded my delightful pun.

"You made excellent use of your X-Men team," I said. "It must be nice to have a special ability for any situation at your disposal like that. That's our ultimate goal here at the Company. However, I'm not sure exactly what Nepharia was doing. A Sith is a far more valuable asset than a mere mutant. They get lightsabers!"

"Well, she..." he began. "...maybe I should reconsider shooting you."

"No need to shoot me, Doc," I assured him. "It's still anyone's game. I want to know why the two of you want this job. Why should I fire the other one? Why should I hire you? You have both given superb performances. And I'd like to see what the other contestants think, too. Who should I hire? How was it working with these two? Let's find out, after this."

And with that, we cut to a commercial break. What happens next in the boardroom? We'll have to wait and see.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Duck and Cover

“Can’t… break… free…”

The now finger-sized Captain Koma struggled valiantly against the rubber bands binding him to my shoebox. It wasn’t enough to extract his national secrets and cupcake recipés — no. He would soon be witness to the abject humiliation of Australia’s most respected and underweight prime minister in 300 years.

I pulled back the curtain and surveyed Canberra. “Think of it, Koma. In each building, there is at least one toilet and sink. AT LAST, my extensive knowledge of plumbing espionage is paying dividends!”


“You know so little. Imagine,” I whispered, caressing the $80 million mainframe, “we can hear every conversation conducted in any loo in the city. Even the prime minister’s headquarters’ hindquarters.”

He banged his head contemptuously. The ducks were waddling closer and closer to the box. “What are you going to do to Rudd?”

I laughed. “You want to know my plan so you can escape and foil me! How delightful.”

I ate another candied yam from my tray of caramelized vegetables. This one was shifty, this Koma.

“You’re planning to spring coils of wires out the toilet and give him a massive coronary?”

Persistent little bug. “Ha! No… all I need are the records. Do you know who he’s called from that toilet? How many people he’s conference called? Once the public gets wind of this, they’ll be clamoring to put Ron Howard back on top!”

“Toy fiend! I mean, you fiend! I mean, wait — what?”

“RON HOWARD! Brilliant plan of mine, it is, bringing in a deposed former leader to create the appearance of legitimacy whilst I pillage your treasury.”

“You’re confusing politicians and Hollywood show-folk again.”

I sneered. “If you’re referring to my 2004 campaign to stop Jim Carrey from becoming president of the good ol’ U.S. of A. then you really didn’t pay any attention to my manifesto. He couldn’t have been president — he may have been a senator, but Jim Carrey was born in Kenya.”


“I don’t much care for the local pronunciation, thank you.”

Alternating the z-control knob brought up an oscillating display on the LCD output. The prime ministerial toilet was online!

“It is now…” I counted the ticks on my analogue watch, “3:25 PM, local time. As his usual habit, Kevin Rudd will now enter his private restroom and order a large pizza with extra garlic.”

“His one weakness! How did you—”

“You forget, I’ve been analyzing his sewage and communication lines for weeks. There’s nothing I don’t know,” I sprayed, spewing bits of hydraulic cupcake onto the nosy homunculi.

“No harm can ever come to the prime minister while in the sacred confines of the ‘Marble Ministry,’” Koma declared, referencing the common phrase coined for the prime minister’s secret, state-protected toilet.

“Really?” I asked, arching my left eyebrow while drawing in my lip provocatively. I grabbed a taped-up microphone and flipped to the out line. “KEVIN RUDD! THIS IS THE SPIRIT OF LOW-FLOW PLUMBING!”

The speakers buzzed. “If it isn’t the anus of the body politic.”

I have never been more insulted by anything said over the public airwaves, and immediately moved to censure the originator of that sentence. “Who is this?”

“Lars Plumberdale, executive flush co-ordinator.”

He sounded so familiar, but I couldn’t place the voice. “Where’s Kevin Rudd?”

A flushing sound drowned out any further communiques. Somehow, my plan to wiretap Kevin Rudd’s toilet and force him to publicly admit his office was haunted had gone horribly awry.

By now, Koma had freed himself and was using the broken rubber bands and a toothpick as a makeshift harness to bridle the carnivorous duck. “Come on,” I said, plucking him up like a tick on a dog’s ear.

The confused (and probably dyslexic) duck chased after us as I shimmied down the spiral staircase to the hotel’s lobby. I threw the concierge a dirty look and violently knocked over a potted palm tree. The security guards were too busy racing to fetch dustpans to remember my boyish good looks when the police would ask for my description.

Cleanliness. It had always been Australia’s Achilles heel.

I crossed the street discreetly, keeping my juggling act to under five pins and only one flaming chainsaw. Large men with swords and walkie-talkies stood outside the federal palace, flexing and keeping watch. There were more men than usual; something had happened.

“Howdy!” I shouted, trying to pull off the old “Dancin’ Texan” maneuver. “I’m here to see Kevin Rudd. You may have heard of him—”

“Nobody gets in,” the largest, angriest man said. His sunglasses were bulging with muscles, and his shoes looked like they could spit iron bullets.

“But I’m here to see him!” I danced. “He paid good money to see a leprechaun fight the world’s smallest kangaroo!”

They studied Koma closely. He put up a fight and totally beat on one of their moustaches, but I think what convinced them was the green suit I’d forced him into, and the shillelagh glued to his arm.

“Coming through!” I brayed, tossing aside interns and coatracks with equal measure. Finally, I arrived at Kevin Rudd’s office. He stood there, mouth agape, awed by the little man struggling in my fist.

“Is he rea—”

“Enough idle chatter. I’m the fabled garbageman-savant, Lou Tintarello. You may remember my travails on the US Board of Landfill Ecology?”

He hesitated. “THE Lou Tintarello?”

“Well, I ain’t his one-toothed grandpa. My grandpa was a circus performer, juggled from sunup to sundown until his shoulders gave out on him. Then he settled down and became a lion tamer. Tell me everything about the current plumbing-related mishap.”

Rudd wavered. He may have been wearing a large coat to hide it, but one arm was half the size of the other. “Someone stole an ancient statue from my private washroom.”

“Fascinating,” I said patronizingly. “You did a good job!”

“Where was your flushing co-ordinator?” Koma yelled from my hydrogenated vest pocket. “Lars Plumberdale?”

“I don’t have a flushing co-ordinator.”

“REAL Australians let the Coriolis Effect do their flushing,” I said with an air of unearned expertise. “This crime was obviously perpetrated by Ron Howard in an attempt to humiliate you.”

“Why? Why would Ron Howard do this?”

“POLITICAL REVENGE. Canberra’s most prestigious periodical, the Daily Beagle, has already confirmed as much.”

It was amazing someone so idealistic could survive the rigors of Australia’s cutthroat system of kickbacks and daily elections. He even had all his original teeth!

“What should I do?”

I weighed his options. “Australia’s border fence is a proven farce. Likely, Ron Howard has absconded with your statue to his homestead in the Philippines.”

Rudd slammed his tiny fist on the porcelain sink. “What can I do?”

“I’ll need surveillance footage from the room.”

“It’s a toilet.”

“You’re right, I’ve already got what I need. Here,” I handed him a piece of paper with an address on it, “at 7:45 PM tonight, Ron Howard will be at this address AND disguised as an old lady. Apprehend him at all costs!”

He saluted me. “You’re the best, Mister Tintarello.”

I stamped out of the building, touching each desk obsessively on the way.

“It was a long con, but we nailed him, Koma!”

The microscopic varmint gnawed to escape my denim slacks. “What? By getting him to go after Ron Howard?”

“You think I’m a no-neck who buried his head in the cat litter when it comes to Australian government, you frivolous bogart! Rudd wasn’t my target.”

He squirmed uncomfortably. “Then what…?”

“It was STAGED for you. So you wouldn’t warn him,” I said as I picked up pace.

My elaborately laborious plan was now hurtling inexorably to fruition! I flipped the lid to my portable mobile cellular devicicle and called mister “Plumberdale.”

“What’s going on?!”

“Plumberdale? The leak’s been mended. Repeat, the leak’s been mended.” There was a chuckle on the other line, then it went dead. I tried to resuscitate — no luck.

“This was all a wild goose chase to humiliate Ron Howard, wasn’t it? What’ve you got against Opie?”

“I don’t understand that reference, not being Australian. It was never about Howard, or Rudd. This was about getting a pot-shot at Australia’s REAL leader.”

“Was that a clone of Rudd?”

“Yes, but the original didn’t matter anyway. Remember, I’ve got all Canberran toilets wiretapped. Even toilets with… diplomatic immunity?”

He stared incredulously. “What does that mean?”

“My intended target has always been Australia’s rightful ruler, the Queen of England.”

His jaw dropped like a tea tray. “That’s…”

“When Rudd’s surly, surly swordsmen drag her out of her bath, the resulting diplomatic incident will shame them both and likely cause the British Empire to fracture! Warlords will roam the Outback once more, as it was in the days when Ron Howard’s iron fist was law!”

“But the statue…”

“The Torso of Artemis. I let Karl take it. After all, what use is it to him when the world’s only expert in ancient Greek belly dancing is… me? It’s about as useful to him as…” I had pretty much checked out by then. “You know, maybe a box. With another box in it.”

“WHY?! Why did you need to take me through all that?!”

I stopped. We were there. “Why, to distract you.”

A big sign hung over us, white letters on a green board.

Canberra Duck Park

Team 1 cracks open a can called whoop-ass!

Sometimes it comes in handy having your own private army. Jon had successfully managed to gain useful intel on penetrating IRS headquarters, despite the aid of Private "Game over, man" Hudson. In the meantime, Nepharia was completing her own part of the master plan.

I telepathically communicated with the leader of the Gold team. "Psylocke, engage."

"Yes, Professor," my psionic ninja responded in her alluring English accent. Her squad, which also included Nightcrawler, Shadowcat and Gambit, snuck into the IRS building, using the codes Jon had obtained. Shadowcat, by hugging Psylocke around the waist, phased both of them through the building to Commissioner Shulman's office. There Psylocke used her mental powers to peer into Shulman's mind and then broadcasted the image to Gambit who, using a special high-tech device built by Forge, was able to encode the images on a disc which he transmitted digitally back to me. Nightcrawler snuck into the women's executive bathroom because, well, he's into that kind of thing.

With the mental images from Shulman's mind now in my computer system, I copied them onto a zip drive and handed it to Quicksilver. "Take this to the Blue team leader," I instructed. With a mind-numbing burst of speed, he ran to the Treasury Building in Washington, DC where IRS Commissioner Shulman was part of a panel chaired by Secretary Geithner. Shulman was in the middle of a Power Point presentation to the press about new revenue sources.

Quicksilver handed the zip drive to Mystique who was loitering in the back of the room. She instantaneously transformed herself into Stone Philllips and proceeded to storm to the front of the room. Her bold, masculine stride intimidated everyone she passed. No one challenged her as she marched onto the dais.

"Mr. Commissioner," she said to Shulman in a perfect imitation of Stone Phillips' commanding voice, "enough of this farce!"

Shulman gasped and shrank back before the power of Stone Phillips. "The public has learned of your plans to tax children's toys . . little, innocent children's toys . . 100 percent! Have you no shame, sir!" Mystique's voice thundered now. "How are the little children suppose to get The Rise of Cobra toys?? 100,000 children are marching on Washington as we speak! And it be on you're head, jackal!"

"Wow, that Stone Phillips is impressive," Secretary Geithner whispered to Neal Wolin, his Deputy.

"But what is even more egregious is that you plan to tax the Interwebs. The Interwebs! The last bastion of freedom and lawlessness in this world and you sir want to destroy it! One million online porn addicts are massing outside this building as we speak!"

The assembled press corps gasped. Shulman looked horrified. A dozen camera flashes went off in his face.
"But this," Mystique held up the zip drive, "this is the most . . disgusting . . depraved . . depths to which a mind can sink." She plugged the drive in the computer and put the image taken from Shulman's mind up on the giant screen behind the podium.

"This is you, at the Burning Man festival. This is the man that wants to steal from our children and deny us our internet porn."

The press screamed in horror as the cameras caught all the humiliating chaos. In the immortal words of our President, Mission Accomplised.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kidnapping Koma

I couldn't believe my ears.

"You want me to kidnap and interrogate Koma?" I asked Gyrobo. "But...but..."

"Why, yes my dear. You'll be perfect at it!" the robot said cheerfully. "After all, he's been gunning for you since day one. Wouldn't you say you have an axe to grind?"

"Hmmm, since you put it that way..."

"I knew you'd agree. Here, when you're done use this on him." Gyrobo handed me a small device.

"What will it do?" I asked, hoping my still wild electrical charges wouldn't fry the innards.

"Oh, you'll see." He laughed somewhat maniacally.

"Well, ok." I retreat to the inner rooms Gyrobo set aside and contemplate my next move. Obviously Koma is expecting us. It was nice of him to let us know where he's at. 2 hours south of Melbourne...unless it's a misdirective...

Wolverine storms in. "I can't believe that punk called me smelly."

I look him up and down. "I can't believe he called you little."

"So darlin'...want some help."

"Quite. Let me call the boys and we'll be on our way." Shatner and Kenobi have been hanging around me ever since I gave them those jobs when we were doing the Dagobah gig. I place a few quick calls on me cellphone and soon Kenobi materializes in front of me and Shatner beams in. "Ok,Kenobi...I need you to scout this out. Find Koma. He is really two hours south of Melbourne? Shatner...when Kenobi sends the word, I'll need you to either beam us there...or..."

"" Shatner grins evily.


While we wait, I indulge a little.

Just a little.

A few happy hours later, Kenobi gives us the location.

"So, do..." Shatner asked.

I consider. "Kenobi, lure him outdoors...and then Billy-boy, you beam the cocky aussie here..."

"Yes, Your majesty," Kenobi said with a nod of his head, disappearing again. I never should have told him I was a princess.

Shatner rubbed his hands gleefully and began chattering into his communicator.

I tune mine into Kenobi's end and listen...

"Now!" Shatner shouted.

A stunned Koma was deposited infront of us.

I nod to Wolverine who knocks the Aussie upside the head and ties him into a chair. Too bad there wasn't more of a struggle, there's nothing quite like watching male muscles. But that's beside the point, isn't it? Bennet would accuse me of thinking like a man and give me a hard time about it.

Rising slowly to my feet, I toss the rest of my wine into Koma's face.

"You!" he cries, waking back up. "I should have known it would be you, you red-headed..."

I can hear the electricity crackling at my fingetips. Koma apparently brings it out in me. "Go me a more time..."

Koma reconsiders. "Uhm, red-headed amazon..."

"That's better." I move slowly, gracefully around the table. Reaching out my hands, I act like I'm going to caress his cheek.

"No!" He starts crying. "Please! The last time you touched me, I was out for hours."

"That would explain your sudden obsession with ducks," I reply remember how I had accidently knocked him unconscious. He was never right after that.

"Actually, I've always loved ducks," he said, still sobbing.

"Nevermind." I reign my power in. "Come now, Koma. Don't make this hard for any of us. Just tell us what we want to know, and we'll go easy on you"

"Like I believe your promises. I don't know anything about the beer consipracy. Nor do I know the combination code to the Australian fence."

"Or the secret ingredient to the beer, I would imagine."

"Don't be ridiculous. Everyone knows it's kangaroo pee..."

"Do you think I'm that stupid?" I demand. I step closer to the silly purple man and get in his face. "Kangaroo pee doesn't explain the addictive quality, or the mind numbing side effect that allows the drinker to be hypnotized and seduced."

Koma doesn't answer and I realize where he's looking. I slap him hard. "Quit looking at my boobs!"

"But you put them right in my face!"

"That doesn't give you permission to stare!" I walk away. "Wolverine, beat some sense into him."

"With pleasure."

"Noooo!" Koma starts crying again. "Please, don't..."

"Then give me what I want!" I storm back to him. "Tell me the numbers, the ingredient...everything!"


In a heart beat, I change tactic. "Koma, Koma, Koma..." I lean in close again. "Would you like to see them closer? What about touch them? Be with a real woman instead of those lame synthoids."

"I think I'm gonna be sick," mutters Wolverine.

"Give me a real woman and I will!" Koma nearly shouted. "You're no woman..."

I slap him again, this time releasing a touch of electricity. Just enough to put a glaze in his eyes.

"I've seen her in the bath," Wolverine admitted. "She's more woman than you'd ever be able to handle, bub."

"You weren't supposed to tell!" I hissed.

"7 - 4 - 4 - B..." Koma started to drool. "5."

I transmit the numbers to Gyrobo, hoping the silly purple man isn't just rambling.

"Hydroxy Solution #248, with a dash of NHY-987-O."

Well, not sure what to do with that but I'm sure it'll come in handy sometime.

"Go on Koma...what else..." I give him another small zap of electricity.

"I love ducks..."

"That's no secret...unless you mean..."

"I'm wearing pretty underwear..."

"I see."

I call Gyrobo. "What do you think?"

He laughs mechanically. "The code's legit, as are the ingredients. Good job, girl. Now use that button on him and leave him to me."

"Ok Boss," I reply. I snap my phone shut.

"I know now's not the time for a stupid question, but..." Wolverine scratched his ear. "Why do we need the combination to the fence? Why can't we just have your...Billy-boy beam him in and out?"

"Australia raised their Ionized Particle Shield when we beamed him out," Shatner answered from the corner, managing to string an entire sentence together. But it didn't last long. "Can't...beam...through."

"Good enough?" I asked Wolverine as I pulled out the device Gyrobo had given me.


Koma was still spouting information. "Cylons are coming...soon..."

"Thanks for the warning." I point my device at him and press the middle button.

"Whoa..." we all manage to say.

Our eyes clear and we wait for the little dots to disappear.

"Where's he go?" Wolverine asked.

The ropes around the chair are empty...we search the room frantically...

"Ow!" I exclaim as something bites my ankle. " he is...

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: Ohhh, that BURNS me up

“Buddy, you want another one?” the bartender asked. “Are you gonna drink that one or make love to it?”

“Ha ha, if he was making love to it, he’d be done already,” I slurred as I slammed my hand on the bar. My own drink spilled from the enthusiasm. “Just kiddin’ man. Hey barkeep why don’t you give him a refill when you get me one. ‘Preciate it.”

“Thanks,” the guy in the nice suit next to me nodded as the man behind the bar worked up two more drinks for us.”

“Hey no problem,” I sloshed back at him. “I’ve got nowhere to go right now, really. I was in this game, you know Company Apprentice?”

“I don’t think so,” he shook his head.

“Yeah well it’s big, lemme tell ya,” I replied. “But then they fired me even though I put my résumé on paper. You’d think a paper company would appreciate that, but nooooo. So then what do they do? They go and then ask me to come back to help out my former teammate. Can you believe it?”

“I guess not,” he answered noncommittally.

“But I’ve got a plan,” I hiccupped triumphantly. “I’m gonna screw them all up just like that one chick did on that other Apprentice. What was her name? A’Mimosa? Amaretto? You know who I’m talking about.”

“Heh heh, yeah.” He held up his newly filled glass. “Hey, cheers, man.”

“You got it.” I sloppily clacked my glass against his and took a sip. “Hey, I’ll be right back. I have to drain the main vein.”

I stumbled past my new friend and into the men’s bathroom. As I stood in front of the single urinal, I heard the door open behind me.

“Jus’ a minute,” I called. “Occupied.”

I stuck my thumbs up just as I felt the garrote hit my neck.

Anyone who’s been in the business knows a great way to set up someone perusing you is to act drunk. It will make them think they have the advantage which actually puts you at an advantage. To drink a lot without getting drunk takes a little timing, ice to water down your drinks, and you have to spill a lot.

With my thumbs giving me just enough breathing room between the wire and my neck, I threw my body down and tossed my assailant right over me.

“I should kill you now, but I need you alive.” I quickly wrapped him up in my Superman S-Symbol Snaring Kit. Then knocked him out with a punch to the jaw.

My name is Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator. I used to be a contestant on Company Apprentice until…
Bennet: Blah blah blah. You’re fired.
When you’re fired, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no plane ticket home, no pencil sharpener or LED keychain tchotchkes. You’re stuck in whatever city they dump you in.
Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: Where am I?
Nepharia: You’re still in New York, idiot.
You do whatever work comes your way. You rely on anyone who’s talking to you. A lightsaber-happy dark Jedi.
Nepharia: Should we stab them?
An old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI…
Private Hudson: You know spies… game over for them, man.
Other friends too…
Private Hudson: [Phone rings] Hey is that your mom again?
Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: No, it’s Professor X, dummy.
Professor Xavier: Someone needs your help, Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator.
Bottom line? Until you figure out who fired you… you’re not going anywhere.
Oh yeah wait, it was that tool Bennet.

“I’ve got everything we need man,” Hudson grinned. “Check it out! Independently targeting particle beam phalanx. Vwap! Fry half a city with this puppy. We got tactical smart missiles, phase-plasma pulse rifles, RPGs, we got sonic electronic ball breakers! We got nukes, we got knives, sharp sticks...”

“You sure we’ll be OK in this factory?” I asked.

“Yeah, my buddy owns it but it’s going to be closed for quite a while,” Hudson answered. “Looks like the economy is hitting the novelty dog poop business pretty hard, too.”

“Good,” I smiled. I had noticed our quarry tied to his chair had woken up but was still feigning unconsciousness. I tipped my head quickly towards him, Hudson smiled and walked over to the man.

“Wakey wakey,” the private said as he slapped the man in the face. “Hey Jon, I say we grease this rat frack son of a bitch right now.”

“No no, not yet,” I prodded Hudson away from him and looked down at the guy. “Tell me, what’s your name?”

“West,” he sputtered. “Agent Elliot West.”

“Look West,” I answered. “Can I call you West?”

He gulped and nodded.

“Look West, I don’t want to unleash the beast here.” I threw my thumb back at Private Hudson. “But he’s really itching to shoot something—”

“Or someone!” Hudson interrupted.

“Or someone right now,” I continued. “I know you’ve been following me and I’m just a little bit miffed that you are.”

When you have to get info out of someone, the classic set up is always the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine. It’s well known and anyone with the right training can avoid succumbing to it, but there’s no doubt to its simple effectiveness. Of course with Hudson, you might call it the Good Cop/Dumb Cop routine.

“You’re being investigated because we got a tip that you were plotting an attack against the IRS,” he sputtered. “I was ordered to follow you to check it out. I’m just doing my job.”

“I know,” I answered. “I’m the one who made the tip.”

“You what?”

Hudson put the barrel of his pulse rifle against West’s temple. “Lemme kill ‘im,” he growled. “Come on Jon, lemme kill him!”

“No!” West cried.

“Not yet,” I pushed Hudson away again. “Well Agent West, you’re right. I am in a little group called the Americans Liberating the Oppression of IRS Dollars.”

“Altoid?” he asked.

“No thanks, I just had an Ice Breaker.”

“No, I’m saying your group’s acronym is ALTOID,” he explained.

“Shut up!” Hudson slapped the agent across the face. “We don’t need any smart mouth smartness out of you.”

“OK Hudson,” I held the Colonial Marine back like a corner trainer would hold back a caged beast in a boxing ring. “Take it easy.”

Hudson feigned another strike against the agent and then stalked away.

“We want you alive, Agent West,” I said. “Because I want you to get me into the IRS office.”


“I know there’s a security system and badges and codes and I just don’t have time to deal with all that,” I explained. “I need you to get me in and then I’ll turn you loose.”

“Don’t turn him loose,” Hudson pleaded. “Let me have him.”

“You’re going to turn me loose? I don’t believe it.”

I leaned closer towards West. “I’m not a killer like this guy,” I assured him. “In fact I’m more like you. You and I are a lot alike; I just want to do my job and then go home to my wife and kids.”

“I’m single…”

“Well you get my point nonetheless. And you will help and there’s going to be no funny business or else…”

I pulled Betsy, my blaster pistol, out just enough so he could see it.

“OK OK,” he sighed.

There are several ways to get into a high security installation. You can go in with a squad of well-armed and well-trained commandoes and guns blazing or you can do it the sneaky way. With the sneaky way, you can get in and do the damage from the inside before anyone knows it.

Agent West led me through the secured office. I kept a close eye on him to make sure he wasn’t tipping anybody off. He played it smart though, and soon I was in the main computer room.

“You’re gonna hack into the systems?” he asked. “No way. It’s triple layered super encrypted. Nothing on Earth can get through that.”

“Fortunately, I have this.” I pulled the Intergalactic Serial Port cable out of my Wristcomm and plugged it into the port on the mainframe. In no time at all, I was in the system and putting the false information into the system.

“What are you doing?” he blubbered.

“Just sending out a few official memos,” I answered.


“Oh yeah, and I can’t have you blabbing about what happened here, either.”

“Bu-but you said that you weren’t going to kill me!” he babbled.

I sighed. “Yeah, I know.”

I shot him with the sonic disrupter on my Wristcomm. He’ll remain unconscious for at least a day from the blast. Long enough for the memos to circulate.

Memo 1

Memo 2

Memo 3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

They are out there, somewhere.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The following public service announcement has been brought you by Victorious Secret

Hello I'm Wolverine, star of movies, cartoons, and more comics than any one person can buy each month. I want to talk to you about Australia. Yes I know most of you think that it's a harmless little continent where ducks appear like magic in microwaves, and koalas become your friends.

It's anything but that. For years they have been trying to sell you swill that pretends to be beer. This is what they want you to think about Foster's

But I stole this from this flyer that shows what they're really planning.

That's right they want to destroy America's brain cells with Kangaroo pee. Now normally I wouldn't care since I'm Canadian. But being a member of the X-men I have to see the ill effects of Foster's every day.

Yes a very well known X-man drinks Foster's: Cyclops. Here he is thinking an under age rock monster is a beautiful woman.

Worst yet Foster’s also has mutating properties, look what drinking it did to this poor young lad.

That's right it turned him into a monster, now poor Eddie's dream to sleep with a barely legal leather wearing motorcycle riding super heroine is forever out of reach.

Still not convinced that Foster's is evil, and Australia should be completely destroyed for inflicting on us? Well look what a lifetime of drinking this bilge water has done to pro wrestler the Ultimate Warrior.

Do you want your entire flamin' country to be like that? And Australia won't stop with the US. Oh no. They want to rule the world. Imagine the entire world but Australia being like the Ultimate Warrior. That's not a world I want to live in. This is why I hope that you will join Victorious Secret in destroying Foster's and Australia forever. This has been a Public Service Announcement.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Final Task

Congratulations. You are the final two. One of you will become The Company Apprentice.

At the beginning of this competition, you were a sad bunch of equals. But Gyrobo and Professor X, you both proved to be more equal than the rest. That is why you're still standing, and they're fired.

These lesser beings are here to fulfill the role of the common foot soldier, a vital part of any organization, good or bad. You two must prove your effectiveness at leading unimaginative and expendable peons such as Ciera, Wolverine, Jon and Nepharia.

Jon, stop picking your nose. This is a ceremonious occasion!

Professor X, you are the El Jefe of Team One. Jon and Nepharia are your two foot soldiers that will be assisting you on this task.

Gyrobo, you're The Boss of Victorious Secret. Ciera and Wolverine have been recruited to do your bidding.

"Gee, I wonder what Koma's up to these days. It's just not going to be the same without him on our team."

That is highly irrelevant, Ciera. But now that you mention it, I can't help but ponder about what the purpley numskull is doing....

...Well, that passed. Now, to the task at hand.

This task is war. Literally.

You each will be assigned a top notch organization to wage war upon. Failure is simply not an option. We're not in France. This is America. We fight until there is nothing left to fight for, and even then we don't surrender. Cease fire, maybe, but never surrender!

"Go Joe!"

Thanks, Jon.

For this challenge, you will be required to capture and interrogate a member of your enemy organization. Make them talk, by whatever means necessary. There are secrets in their heads, and you have to uncover it. Find out something unknown about the organization and its doings.

You will also need to wiretap their headquarters. Infiltration techniques are all up to you. Simply ensure that you can acquire live audio and video feed of their meetings and conversations.

You will also need to launch a public campaign to discredit them or their public interests. An organization is only as strong as its backing. Destroy whatever it is that's providing them with support, financially or otherwise, by demoralizing it in the eyes of the public. Call them out in a panel discussion on FoxNews. Blame them for Global Warming. Accuse them of wanting to pull the plug on Grandma. (Only five dollars for my twelvth birthday? Really?) People will respond, and without the people's support, either directly or through complacency, no organization or movement can survive.

Finally, you must deal the fatal blow. Humiliate their leader. Simple. Sweet.

Now, which organizations are the unfortunate targets of your power-hungry feast?

Gyrobo, your enemy organization with which you'll be warring is Australia.

Professor X, the organization that will be receiving the blunt end of your ugly stick is The Internal Revenue Service.

Final Challenge

  • Capture and interrogate group member

  • Wiretap headquarters

  • Destory public interests

  • Humiliate leader

This is it. Your final task. Put your cronies to work effectively. Dominate your selected enemy, and prove that you have what it takes to become The Company Apprentice!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You're Fired: The Final Two

"Four of you remain," I said to the remaining four. "You are perhaps the most talented, most mysterious and most expendable four people in the Universe. But two of you are going to prove to be a bit more expendable than the others and will be fired....right now."

Jon gasped.

"Let's find out who it should be," I suggested and pulled out the evaluation cards from my briefcase. "Here is what your interviewers noted about you."

"After reviewing your résumés and looking over the notes left by your interviewer," I stated, "it's going to be a difficult decision."

Claire added, "You're just, like, all really good and stuff. Really."

I continued, "But it's time to get rid of two of you."

Jon gasped again.

"Nepharia," I looked at the evil face, half-hidden by the far more evil cloak. "You've performed quite well. You kidnapped me. You gave us YouTube cats. Your logo was cool and three-dimensional."

"Jon," as I spoke his name, the so-called gladiator gasped. "A great performance from you as well. Uncle Yoder's, a MonkeyBoy in your subconscious Force cave battle, and consistently good work despite an Irish hangover."

"Gyrobo," I looked next to the clownbot. "It's no secret that you've managed to really shine throughout this competition. What is that? Titanium finish?"

"I'll never tell," he answered coolly.

"Well, regardless, you've done good work. A battle of wits with your physical examiner. Traveling through time. Threatening to force Angus McGriddle into owning a dog."

"Professor," I said turning my attention to the pretend crippled. "You designed great hats for your team. Showed great directing ability. Quayle hunting. A very good job, Charles."

"Thank you," he replied.

"So, that's why my job is really tough at this point," I explained. "I've got to axe two people right now. Jon, I was disappointed you didn't kill Serpentor yourself. It doesn't seem like you've had as many lifetime kills as Professor X, who's had almost three thousand, according to his self-written résumé. While you do good work, and you manage to really shine on the business side of things, I don't know how suited you are to the other half of the double life required by The Company. So, Jon, you're fired."

Jon gasped.

"You can go now," I said. We all watched as the Action Man leave the boardroom.

"Whew," Xavier sighed. "I really thought I might get fired today. Stupid Dr. Manhattan. He's just upset because I made him wear clothes."

"It's not over yet," I announced. "There's still one more person to fire."

We could hear Jon gasp from outside the boardroom.

"Gyrobo. You've proven your knack for mystery during this competition," I complimented him. "You've not only managed to complete the mysterious tasks themselves, but you did while the mystery of your own life swarmed around you. However, if there's anywhere that you're lacking, it's in team management. You haven't been able to lead your team to victory. The Company works on the principle of 'One of us, One of Them,' which one you are, I'm not sure. But the point is we need someone who can make those around them better.

"Nepharia, you've managed to do that well. For an evil Sith, you seem to be really good with teamwork. You've got a great set of skills, and really are a vital tool in any circumstance. But I'm concerned how effective you are as a leader. Though you did win Yoda's task as El Jefe.

"Xavier, you're on the opposite end of this. More fit to lead, but you lend nothing to your teammates, aside from your orders. However, what you lack in physical skills, you more than make up for with mental ability. You've won a task as El Jefe, but also lost one. But the loss was most likely the fault of my family rather than your leadership. You did a good job, even on that task.

"This is the toughest decision yet. I'm going back and forth on this. I'm still not really sure who to fire, but I have to fire someone.

"I think you're great. I think you've done a great job all through this competition. But I have to say, Nepharia, you're fired."

Nepharia powered down her lightsaber, deciding not to kill me, and left the boardroom.

"Congratulations, Charles and Gyrobo. You're the final two. And you'll be going up against each other in one final task to prove who has what it takes to be The Company Apprentice. But first, it's time to pick your team."

The boardroom doors opened and in walked Wolverine, Ciera, Jon and Nepharia.

"You each get two, and we'll take turns picking. First pick goes to whoever calls it first."

One day in front of the vending machines

Friday, August 14, 2009

Interview with the Time Vampire

The whole row of crystal glasses shattered in rapid succession. Each chandelier shook, and the light-bulbs flickered and sizzled like bacon on a griddle.

Nixon was back in town.

I tented my hands in silent prayer. The smell of dampness and unnatural cold seeped into my body, it draped me in its toxic blanket. From the oppressive shadows, a silhouette shone against the boardroom wall like moonlight through cracked cellophane wrap.

Nixon was back in town.

“Nice day out,” I choked.

Quick as death, the imposing interviewer snared me with his talons. “SILENCE!”

He still wasn’t over our last encounter. To escape his massive gambling debts (I’d egged him on at the bookie’s) Richard Nixon had had no choice but to fake his own death and live a secret new life as a blacksmith in the old west. He’d become quite adept at mending wagons and shoeing horses, but the fact remained…

“You’re the last witness,” he rasped, his skin sagging like over-stretched rubber bands. “You brought them right to me!”

“No… I can’t be. There’s Ford—”

“Ford’s dead! Chuckle-head choked on his own necktie.”

I sighed. It was still hard to believe that that lovable oaf had fallen under the reaper’s sickle.

“Wait a minute… something doesn’t add up,” I puzzled, “Gerry was an expert knot-tier. How did he…?”

Nixon crack-a-lacked his knuckles. “Everyone has an off day.”

“I swear I didn’t tell anyone about you!” I professed. Nixon was unmoved. “Maybe my dentist, but he’s taken a vow of silence.”

“What’s his name?!” Nixon whipped out his infamous hit list. Every person on that list was automatically denied service at the post office. Even in “death,” presidential power is strong.

“Um… Karl… uh, Überdale. That’s who my dentist is.”

Nixon clicked his fountain pen. “How many ‘goobers’ in that?”

“Let’s get down to the meat and potatoes,” I thundered, full of confidence at his sudden absent-mindedness. “Are we here to do an interview or is Karl Überdale more important than you getting back to yer hosses an’ wagons?!”

That’s when the man hit the ceiling. His face grew paler, and red like polished iron. He dug his fingers so strongly into the table I could hear disconcerting snaps as the wood buckled.

He was more upright than I’d ever seen a man, his clenched jaw grinding those second-hand dentures into clouds of powder. Like a cobra, he snatched a wad of paper from his coat pocket.

“AROO! THIS your résumé?!”

He slammed down the wrinkled paper so hard it left a crater. I looked at the familiar handwriting. “Yes.”

(Click to enlarge)

The temperature fell as Nixon rose. “This is more impressive than Kissinger’s portfolio. The man never progressed past crayons.”

My heart beat faster. “Henry Kissinger could barely feed himself, and he was Secretary of State. I can tie my own shoes!” I smirked.

Those late-night stress-induced bags under his eyes contracted. Cogs were turning behind those scheming eyes. Grimly, he held up a blood-spattered clipboard.

“I got the most interesting ‘unofficial’ report from your doctor.”


“My note says I’m fit as a fiddle.”

Horseshoes clattered in his pockets. “SILENCE!”

“Are you calling for James Silence? I saw him in the lobby.”

Now he was purple. “This report is quite damaging. Your head cheese smells like feet. Your tongue depressors are too upbeat. Your appendix reads like a bibliography. You fell asleep at the switch at the electrical plant.”

“Guilty as charged.”

“And these notes about your personal life! You drive on parkways and park on driveways. Your house’s front door is out back. Your watchdog can’t tell time.”

“Hey, my dog is the cat’s pajamas!”

“You’ve called the water department to put out fires, and the fire department to put out waters. Your dehumidifier is all wet. And your toes are barely towing the line.”

“Well, all toe-ld…”

“Your bank says you made a deposit, but your therapist says you’ve withdrawn. You can carry an instrument — but not a tune. And your inferiority complex isn’t good enough.”

“Then it’s worse than I thought.”

“The story of your life is riddled with spelling errors. You’ve been seen sawing a see-saw by the sea shore. And your dog—”

“Quit hounding my dog! You’re barking up the wrong tree!”

The former president regained his composure, flustered and dazed. “It says here on your résumé that your last job was… television director?”

“I directed the first two seasons of ‘Paper Jam’ but I left over creative differences with those greedy muppets.”

He clucked, not unlike a chicken. “How does the season one cliffhanger end?”

“So, you’re a paper pusher after all?” I asked, smiling.

Nixon reeled. “You get bored shoeing horses.”

My smugness was only temporary. Night had fallen outside, as the twinkling starlight and mournful owl calls sounded. The janitor would be by soon to collect the day’s scraps.

If I didn’t close this deal soon, my teeth would end up in the rubbish bin and the rest of me in a ditch outside Burbank.

Facts and figures flooded my frontal lobe, my fractured faculties frantically foraging the fringes of the feasible for some faint, fortuitous fragment that could finagle this furious fool into finally forgiving my former flaws and fete my fortitude.

“My vocabulary ain’t bad.”


“Dude, I think he went home for the day.”

Nixon massaged his bulging temple. “That’s just the kind of talk I’d expect from a man who put a trowel in a washing machine and dug a flower bed with his trousers.”

“What…? My trousers are the pants!”

“Sit. Down.” Nixon’s shaking hand hovered just over my stool.

I thought I’d lighten the mood with a little ditty. So I gently caressed his dainty, sallow hand as I sang,

“What makes Gloomy Gus so gloomy?
And why is he so sad?
Why’s Gloomy Gus a sour puss
Who thinks he’s got it bad?”

Without uttering a word he got up and walked out of the room. He’d undoubtedly gone to put a good word in for me.

Good luck was definitely headed my way — I’d pilfered his horseshoes.

Interviewing Xavier

First I had to create a resume and now I have to subject myself to an interview? Couldn't they simply read my autobiography, It's Xavier's World and Your Just Living In It, if there was something they wanted to know about me? I waited, with the patience of a saint, in a Primatech office, chatting up a cute secretary, until my interviewer arrived. He made quite the entrance.

"Dr. Manhattan, I presume?" I asked the floating, naked blue man in front of me.

"That is correct, Professor Xavier."

"Tell me, Manhattan, is it true that your are consciously aware across all . . throughout your entire time . . Manhattan, would you mind putting some clothes on?"

He glanced down at himself, as if unsure what I meant. "Does my lack of clothes bother you?"

"Well . . it is a bit distracting. You are rather . . jiggly."

Looking into his mind telepathically, I could see that he was willing to dress, but he seemed unsure what clothes were, as if he had forgotten. He glanced at an open magazine on a desk and recreated what he saw.

"Better?" he asked.

"Yes, thank you. Now as I was asking . ."

"It is for me to ask you questions," he interrupted.

"Alright, what would you like to know?"

"On your resume, you list beings that you have killed. Why is that?"

I paused, dramatically. "Given the mysterious nature of the job that I'm applying for, I thought it might be relevant. You knew that I was going to say that, didn't you?"

"Yes, I am aware of all the answers that you will give me."

"In that case," I said, "since you already know everything I will say to you, there is really no reason for us to waste our time continuing. Such inefficiency would be an illogical use of our time."

Dr. Manhattan stared back at me, a little confused. "I suppose from a certain point of view, that makes sense," he answered slowly.

"Fine then, let's move on to the physical."

He hesitated and then shrugged. "There is a nurse on the next floor who will examine you."

I left the floating blue man in the Snuggie and headed for the nurse. She was a rather cute blond who knew how to examine a man. Unfortunately, the Haitian was standing behind a screen, discreetly blocking my powers. The physical went smoothly. The nurse did express some confusion as to why I was using a wheelchair, though. Habit, I explained.

The problem came when she wanted to administer a drug test. I usually enjoy a shot or four of Cognac in the morning to get my started, and then a few more for lunch so that I can make it through the afternoon. I didn't know if Primatech would appreciate that particular skill of mine. Being a genius level intellect, I had anticipated this moment though and arranged for Scott to stop by before my interview and provide me with a clean sample. I went into the rest room, admired my reflection for a bit, and then returned, giving the nurse Scott's sample. She tested it.

"Well the good news, Professor, is that you are drug and alcohol free," she told me. "The bad news is that you are pregnant."

Xavier's Resume

A resume? I've never written one before. I've always been . . self-employed. Ah well. Here goes.

(the F is for Fun)

OBJECTIVE ..........................................................
To create peace and understanding between human and mutantkind.

EXPERIENCE ......................................................
1963 Created the X-Men Westchester, NY
* Started Xavier's School for Gifted Children as a front for the X-Men
* Trained the mutants combat skills in the Danger Room
* Sent the team on life-threatening combat missions

1978 Lead a Rebellion Shi'Ar Empire
* Successfully overthrew Deathbird, the rightful ruler of the Shi'Ar Empire
* Installed fiance Lilandra as new Empress
* Co-Ruled Shi'Ar Empire for a period of time

1982 Created the New Mutants Westchester, NY
* Restarted school, accepting actual students
* Began training teenage students in the Danger Room
* Sent half-prepared teenagers on life threatening combat missions

EDUCATION ........................................................
1950-1959 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
* B.A., Ph.D. - Genetics, Biophysics and Psychology
* Graduated Magna Cum Laude.
* Adjunct Professor at Columbia University

ABILITIES ............................................................
Telepathy, Astral Projection, minor Telekinesis, Psionic Attack

STATISTICS .........................................................
Team Affiliations: X-Men, New Mutants, Shi'Ar Imperium, Defenders, SHIELD, Brotherhood of Mutants, X-Force, X-terminators, Excalibur, X-Factor, Starjammers, Illuminati, Project X

Confirmed kills: Human: 28; Mutant: 15; Other: 2,842

Getting Physical

"Why aren't you in that backless gown the nurse gave you to wear?" the doctor asked when he came in.

"Because I don't wear them," I said. "They are cold and make me"

He made a noise and wrote something down in my file.

"Well, it says here that you are in for a complete physical," he said.

I waived my hand and quietly said, "You don't need to take my physical."

"I don't?" he questioned.

"No," I answered.

He sighed and crossed his arms. "Now, Lady Nepharia," he began, "that Jedi mind trick stuff does not work around here."

The look on my face must have given away my surprise.

"That's right," he continued. "We have Force suppressors in some of the rooms. This one happens to be one of them."

"Whah???" I said. "Your planet doesn't even know how to...."

"Hey, watch it," he held up a finger, "We may not be fast, but we sure are slow."

I know I didn't just hear that: how did this guy make it through med school?

"So," he said, rubbing his hands together, "Why don't you remove your clothes and..."

"Listen," I interrupted, "I don't remove my clothes unless I'm alone or there are...ahem...some extracurricular activities involved: I can't see either of those conditions happening right now."

He opened up my file and raised his eye brows. "Well," he began, "I'll just have to put down that you refused your physical and it will be a mark on your record of hire..."

At this point I pulled out my light saber and turned it on: it hummed softly as I stood up from the examination table.

"Ok, you might be able to suppress my Force powers, but it doesn't appear you can suppress the power of this light saber," I said. "I'd say you have two clear choices at this point: Live or Die."

He swallowed and thought a moment then started writing. "Lady Nepharia, thank you for coming in today -- it appears you have a clean bill of health and even passed your drug test."

I smiled and took my file from him as I turned off my saber and walked from The Company clinic.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Interviewing for the Position

I tugged at my best clothes that I pulled out for this interview. I don't know why: I hate interviews and I hate Hell O'Kitty. But they made me look half way respectable in this place where paper executives walked the halls: at least we were in the executive offices rather than around the mail room. All the men wear those nice $5,000 suits that are perfectly tailored to their....*sigh*

"Ms. Nepharia," a voice called, shaking me from my silent fantasy. I looked up. "Ms. Kitty can see you now, if you will follow me."

She led me down the hall to a small meeting room where Hell sat waiting for me.

Giggling slightly, she spoke: "I'm so glad to finally meet you, Lady Nepharia!" she said as she stood up and took my hand in her furry little one and shook it vigorously.

"Thank you, er, it's nice to be here," I answered.

"Please!" she motioned to the table and pulled out a chair, "Do sit down so we can have a nice chat."

"Thank you," was all I could say. Getting seated, the little cat sat forward and put her paws on my knees.

"Now," she began, giggling once more, "tell me all about yourself -- I'm dying to hear about you: life as a Sith Lord must be *SO* exciting!"

"It has it's moments," I responded. "Aren't you going to ask me about how I qualify for this new apprentice position?" I asked.

"Well, ok," she conceded. "Can you tell me what qualifies you to work for our little paper company as a spy and assassin?"

"Well, as my former master would tell me, 'Nepharia, you have a Masters in Talking Back, and a PhD in Kicking People's Ass. Go out and put them to use.' "

"My point exactly;" she flipped her hand at me. "From what I know, you've been apprentice to people much worse than Noah Bennett and have kicked ass from one end of the galaxy to the other -- not even Mr. Bennett can make *that* claim," she said, shaking her head so furiously, that her ribbon bobbed about.

I sat a moment in awkward silence. "So what do you want to hear?" I asked.

"What does one do as a Sith Lord?" she said, cocking her head slightly. "Do you have special powers?"

"Actually, I have many," I answered.

She clapped her little paws together. "Oh, goodie!" she exclaimed. "Which one is your *favorite*!" she sat up straight in her chair, looking eagerly into my eyes.

"Well, I guess it would have to be the way I can subtly change my features -- it can help me blend in or stand out or create fear in my opponent. Depending upon the circumstance, any of these can can be useful."

"Ooooooooo," she ooo'ed, "can you show me?"

So I did.

"Oh my *heavens*!" she sat back in her chair. "You can be terrifying!" and she covered her little eyes. I reverted back to my original form.

"So," she began hesitantly, "Do you know how to do hand to hand fighting?" She seemed a little nervous after this question.

"Actually, it's one of the first things we learn as a youngling: to defend ourselves." I answered. "It still helps me to know how to do this."

She looked at the door and scooted forward in her chair and whispered: "Can you give me a demonstration?"

"Well," I began. "it's a little difficult when you don't have anyone to spar with."

She giggled. "How about we go to the lunch room?"

I thought about it a moment and nodded. "That would work."

We got up and walked to the 4th floor cafeteria, just in the entrance. I looked down at her and she motioned me further into the room:

When I got back to her, she was standing -- mouth agape -- in surprise. I wasn't sure what she was thinking.

"That.....was.....AWESOME!!!!!!" she said. "I wish I could do that."

"Of course you can," I said, "every should know how to defend herself to some extent."

"Truth be told, I've always wanted to play the bad guy, but I'm under contract to portray the nice little kitty, always a NICE little kitty, JUST A NICE LITTLE KITTY!" and she stamped her little foot on the floor. "I tell you, it just gets old sometimes going around being happy and cheerful no matter what anyone says to you."

"I'm sure it does," I commented, "Why don't you stand up to people?" I asked. "Tell them what *you* want."

"Oh," she looked at the floor sheepishly, "I could never do that..."

"That is where you are wrong," I answered. "I can feel the anger and frustration within you...use it to your advantage: it will make you strong."

"But how?" she asked.

"How do you feel when they tell you to just be that 'nice little kitty'?" I aksed.

"Well," she began, furrowing her little furry forehead, "It makes me angry."

"And don't kitties come with natural defenses?" I asked.


"Don't you have claws?" I asked.


"Don't you have sharp teeth?" I asked.


"Aren't you a natural hunter?" I asked.


Next thing I know, I find her under one of the tables:

After crawling out from under the table, she smoothed her fur and straightened the bow on her ear.

"Lady Nepharia, I think we are done with this interview," she said finally. "Thank you for your time; we will be in touch, I'm sure."

All in all, I think that went fairly well.

Who’s the Doctor

“Turn your head and cough.”

As I did so, a stream of mucus, blood, and various acidic compounds spurted onto the doctor’s immaculate pant-leg. Deeply abashed, I tried to distract him by asking about his children.

“How old is the one with the ridiculous comb-over?” I laughed, pointing to a family portrait on his desk.

“That’s me.”

I straightened my collar. “Tough room!”

These kinds of medical evaluations always give me butterflies in my stomach. And moths.

“This next section is multiple choice…”

“I can’t do it!” I sobbed, “I’m a fraud! A two-bit hooligan! Why did I think I could pass this exam?!”

“Now calm down,” the doctor reassured me as he dabbed his galoshes with a wet tissue. “Just tell me what’s up.”

“What’s up, doc?!” I sneezed violently. “My step’s got no pep! I’ve got ants in my pants! My superiority complex has an inferiority complex! I think I’ve got multiple personalities, and so do I!”

“Go on.” He took out a clipboard.

“Bright lights hurt my ears. My shadow is losing weight. And my high blood pressure is low, too!”

He scribbled furiously. “Go on!”

“I’m dangerously short for a man of my weight. My bald spot is covered with hair. And I don’t have the energy to be hyperactive,” I yawned.

The clipboard was starting to smoke. “What kind of environment did you grow up in?”

“My parents were addicted to placebos. Our house didn’t have an exit that you could go into.”

“Astounding,” he mumbled, “were you successful in dating?”

“Well, I fell in love with the baker’s daughter. Her family was rolling in dough. Then I fell in love with the mortician’s daughter, but anyone cadaver.”

“I see,” he said, putting down the clipboard. “And does your face hurt?”

I blinked. “Why, no, it doesn’t.”

“Well, it’s killing me. Here,” he handed me a form with his signature at the bottom. “I’m clearing you for work on the condition that you leave this office and never come back.”

“What if I come forward?”

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator: An Interview with a Cobra

Destro poked his head through the door to Cobra Commander’s office. “Your 3:00 is here now, my dear Cobra Commander.”

“Excssssellent,” Cobra Commander cackled. “Let me sssslip into ssomething more comfortable.”

While the Scottish weapons dealer looked on, the terrorist leader pulled off his battle helmet and replaced it with his ceremonial hood.

“Pleasssse, ssssend him in,” he hissed.

“As you wish, my dear Cobra Commander.”

I stepped into the office and placed myself in the chair in front of the Commander’s desk. He was sitting behind it, pouring over the contents of a manila folder.

“Uh, here’s the bottle of urine for my drug test,” I placed a two liter bottle on his desk. “I had to drink a lot of ice tea to fill it up. I hope it’s enough.”

“I wouldn’t worry about it, asss long ass you’re not on Venom or that stuff that Headman’s pushing, I'm sure you’ll be fine.” Still looking at the file, he took the bottle and placed it in a drawer in his desk. “I sssee you included your résumé as well as your official filecard and a headshot.”

“Yes,” I smiled. “I understand you would probably like to see a different kind of a headshot produced by one of your operatives, but so many agencies are asking for them now…”

“Heh heh, yesss,” he laughed. The Cobra leader finally set down the file and looked at me. Behind the hood, I could just make out the expression on his face change. “You! You! You’re the one who blew up my gloriousss airship! You are the one who worked with the cursed Joe team to stop my plans in Springfield! I ssshould kill you right now.”

“Whoa whoa, hold on right there,” I held up my arms. “To be fair, your assassin Zartan tried to kill me. It was my duty as a presidential candidate to investigate. Then Colonel Scar captured me and was going to kill me as well. I had to defend myself.”

“Hmmm…” Cobra Commander tapped his fingertips together as he thought.

“And at Springfield, er well…” I thought for a moment. “The fact that I’m here now shows that when I was there, I was just doing my job. Pay me now, and I’ll work for you. Pretty mercenary of me, huh?”

“Yessss,” Cobra Commander’s eyes lit up. “I do like mersssenaries… Sssso tell me, right off the bat, if you were to attack a landmark, like sssay the Eiffel Tower, how would you do it?”

“Well let’s see,” I replied. “Teleporting it away has already been done. So has destroying it with meteorites and nanotech. I would still want to do something elaborate though. Probably have a one of a kind machine made that has real unusual and hard to get components, like maybe a freeze ray that uses ionic ice from the South Pole, a rare cold metal found in a South American pyramid, and some sort of power core that we would have to steal from a research lab.”

“I like it! I’ll get my bessst men working on it right away.” He looked at my filecard again. “It says here that you’re a qualified paratrooper.”

“That’s right,” I answered.

“That’s good. You could be a Firebat pilot or a gunner on a Rattler. If your plane gets shot, you could just jump right out and parachute to the ground.”

“Er… sure.”

Cobra Commander slammed the paperwork down and placed his palms on top of them. “I tell you what, Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator, I don’t like this interview very much. I like action. Do you consider yourself a man of action?”

“Of course,” I responded. “I’m Action Man, that is I’m a man of action, you know.”

“Right, right. This issss good because I have a little test for you. Ever take a test to get a job?”

“Sure,” I answered. “I had to write a press release to get a job as a PR intern. I assume that you don’t want me to do any writing though, do you?”

“No I don’t,” Cobra Commander answered. “I have something a little more physical for you; in fact this mission will be your physical. I want you to go to Cobra Island, find a way to sneak into the base there, take out the Cobra ninja guarding Serpentor, and then kill him.”

“Kill Serpentor?” I asked.

“Yesss! I hate him! I hate that damnable clone with his regal arrogance and hisss ‘Thisss I command’ and that stupid cape!” the Commander howled. “I hate that cape. I hate him! Kill him then meet me at the Terror Drome.”

“You go it.” I winked at him and made a pistol out of my forefinger and aimed it at him, making a clicking noise to complete the effect.

* * *

The guard was bored. It was a quiet night with a full moon and no one ever attacks a base under a full moon if they can help it. There’s just too much light.

The coffee he just drank to keep him awake just went right through him. A full bladder and boredom make for a long night, so he decided to just let it out right there.

Nobody else was down by the docks. There was a small river that led straight into the Gulf of Mexico with a number of buildings built up around it. Further down were it was deeper, Water Moccasins and Moray Eels were docked but nothing was here where the water was only about a foot deep.

Splish splish splish.

The trooper looked up. Some idiot was running straight at him in the river. It wouldn’t be an attack would it? Why would someone attacking be right out in the open like that?

With a jumping back kick, I sprung up out of the water and clocked him in the jaw. I was then ready to give him my cool action line.

“I thought you’d get a kick out of that,” I smirked. Yeah, I’ll use a better line next time.

The Cobra Ninja was tougher. He was too quick and agile for me but I managed to stun him with the sonic disrupter on my Wristcomm and finish him off with a flying kick.

I then made my way to Cobra Commander in the Terror Drome. “Mission accomplished,” I said.

“You killed Serpentor?” he asked.

“Well no,” I answered.

“You failed?!” he screamed.

“No, I just subcontracted it out,” I explained. “I hired Zartan to do it.”

“You got someone else to do it?” he hissed gleefully. “I like it. Showsss that you’re definitely management material.”