I sat smiling at my teammates as I popped a grape into my mouth.
“Guys, we’ve been doing great,” I grinned. “We’re on a tear, winning an unprecedented 3 challenges in a row.”
“I’d think it was unprecedented,” Nepharia smiled slyly. “This is the first time this game has been played.”
“Right,” I nodded. “And since I am, ipso facto, El Jefe for this week’s challenge I thought I’d reward us all with a picnic lunch.”
“Jon, you do realize that we’re in the boardroom, don’t you?” Professor Xavier asked. “Having a picnic indoors is a little unusual, to say the least.”
“Yeah but I don’t want to have it outside,” I explained. “Too many ants. Anyway, I’m the ipso facto El Jefe and Team One’s been an unstoppable juggernaut—”
“I don’t think ipso facto means what you think it means,” the telepath interrupted. “And please refrain from using the word juggernaut if you can. There are some bad memories there.”
“OK whatever. So we have a real opportunity to shut down the other team with this challenge. Sure Gyrobo shed a little dead weight in the last few rounds, but he’s going to come out tougher than ever. He’s going to eat lightning and crap thunder. Literally. I’ve seen him do it. That’s why we’re going to work harder as a team to snuff him out.”
“Um Jon,” Nepharia attempted to interrupt.
“Yeah, he’s going to come out of the gate swinging,” I continued. “He’s going to be tough, like one of those little tough animals with the claws that are sharp... what are they called? I dunno, doesn’t matter. That’s why I’m going to pull out the most dangerous secret weapon of all.”
I paused for effect.
“Teamwork. He doesn’t have any teammates anymore, so he’s going to have to do all the work himself but we’ll be working together, like a well oiled clock or something and bingo! His house of cards will come tumbling down like so many dominoes. Checkmate.”
Nepharia rolled her eyes.
“That’s right, we’re going straight for the jugular, or whatever his robot clown hybrid equivalent is, and we’re going to slice it open and he’s going to be thrashing on the ground bleeding all over the place and messing up the carpet and dying. Figuratively speaking of course.”
“Ahem, Jon,” Xavier cleared his throat.
“Oh yeah, Gyrobo knows that it’s 4th and long and he’s down by 5. He knows he needs to go the whole nine yards and he’s going to try a flea flicker, statue of liberty, end around halfback option pass, hail Mary hook and lateral. But you know what that pass is going to do?”
“I’m not even sure what you’re talking about any more,” Nepharia answered.
“He’s talking American football terms again,” Xavier sighed. “Is it football season already?”
Ignoring their comments, I answered my rhetorical question. “That pass is going to clang to the ground.”
“Jon,” Xavier interrupted. “I appreciate your enthusiasm and all, but I have to tell you. We’re not working as a team anymore.”
Nepharia folded her arms across each other. “I wasn’t going to tell him.”
“What do you mean we’re not working as a team?”
“We need to work alone to complete this task,” Xavier explained.
“Uh, yeah,” Nepharia added.
“Well that does put an interesting spin on my plan,” I rubbed my chin in deep contemplation. At least I was contemplating thought. “I tell you what, we still got all this food here. Why don’t we just enjoy this meal as a last function of a team?”
I stared at my new opponents as they happily munched on their picnic foods. Professor Xavier eyeballed me back, but took a bit of cold chicken in silence. Nepahria’s gaze shifted back and forth between me and Xavier as she popped a cube of Colby jack into her mouth. My eyes darted between the two as I munched on a handful of BBQ potato chips. Xavier looked at Nepharia, then at me as Nepharia looked him and then at me. We looked at each other. Oh yes, the competition is on.