Picking Up The Pieces, Part 3: Bored Meeting

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(August 6th, 2008)

The Malefico boardroom was crisp and clean; there was no sign of the battles that had raged through it only a few weeks earlier. The only hint that there may have been an issue was the lack of Dr. Ecch’s signature blue chair at one end of the long, red oak table that filled the centre of the room. While the doctor had been able to acquire two chairs for his office and his primary lab, they were still waiting on the third. As it was, he was sitting in a simple leather chair, drumming his fingers on the table.

“It’s just not the same without the controls.” He muttered the statement under his breath, but he still drew the attention of Tom Johnson, the CFO, who was in the process of giving a complex report. Tom coughed gently.

“Boss? Is something the matter?”

“No, no. Just thinking about… things.” Ecchs waved his arm vaguely. “Go on. You were at how our expenses are down this month? Somehow?”

“Yes. As it happens, your insurance policy was very good, and while it doesn’t cover our normal hero fights, it does cover terrorist activity, which the Antihero attack is being qualified as. So no costs there.” Tom paused for just a moment, then continued with a smile. “Which means that we had a couple million dollars of our reconstruction budget floating around this month, which meant more investments. Dividends for all of our shareholders.” He paused again, glancing around the room. “So you three should be happy.”

Nightshade, sitting to the right with her feet up on the table and her chair tilted precariously backwards, grinned and gave Tom a thumbs-up. “I didn’t even know I got dividends.”

“Well, you are a shareholder. To the owners go the spoils, and all that.” He nodded to the third of the four people listening to his briefing. “Same with you, Dr. Byron. Just a few thousand dollars, nothing fancy, but it’s nothing to sneeze at.” Ada Byron nodded once, smiling slimly.

Sitting across the table, Josh took notes carefully, typing away on a laptop. Normally, the minutes would be automatically recorded by the microphones in Dr Ecch’s chair, but with it out of the way, it was down to him. Typing furiously, he almost missed the start of the next discussion.

“Now, moving on to the evil side of the business.” Tom smiled apologetically. “Usually, E-Man, this is what kills us. No offense.”

“None taken.” Ecchs nodded faintly, starting to tap on the leather arm of his chair and then breaking off sourly. “Usually?”

“We made out like bandits. We’ve got orders for Ultiminions around the block. Everyone saw constructed minions take out Antiheroes, and they want in.”

“It was like, five hundred minions against sixteen Antiheroes. And they only got three of them.” Nightshade spoke up, pushing forwards as she slid her legs off the table to let her chair smack back to the floor.

“Exactly. An amazing result.” Tom pressed a button on his pointer, and the slide on the wall switched. “We’re queued to sell ten thousand as soon as possible. They’re flying off the shelves faster than we can get bodies in.”

“Which might actually be a problem. Mass-producing any zombie-based minion is always tricky on the supply-side; not many people want to zombify their dead.” Ada leaned forwards thoughtfully. “The robot parts means one corpse can cover five Ultiminions, but it’s still an issue.”

“Right. Check with Scotland; last I heard, that whole Highlands Vampire fiasco was still going on, and all those reconstituted corpses have to go somewhere. Might as well be us.” Ada nodded thoughtfully, making a note, and Ecchs pressed on. “So Evil Business isn’t pulling us down so far this quarter?”

“On the contrary, big boss. It’s actually turning a profit. A good one.” Tom grinned. “It doesn’t hurt that the Champions are busy with all those posers –” He broke off abruptly, seeing a stormy expression starting to form on Ecch’s face, and then pressed on as quickly as possible. “Anyway, pure profits on that side. Pretty much our best quarter ever, overall. We might even manage some growth.”

“Very nice, Tom. Good report.” Ecchs stood abruptly, a forced smile on his face. “Pass it around the office, and tell everyone we’ll have a particularly celebratory party. I figure if we’ve got that much extra capitol, we can blow half a mil on a party.”

“Sounds like a plan, man.” Tom snapped his fingers, ending in a point towards his CEO. “I’ll go spread the word.” Turning on the spot, he hurried out of the room while it was still on a high note.

Nightshade checked her fingernails. “So, you snapping now?”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Ecchs forced the words out.

“Oh, please. We haven’t gone after the Champions since Judgment bought it. Why the hell not?”

“They’re busy.”

“So un-busy them.” Nightshade smiled widely. “I wouldn’t mind turfing a few of these wannabes.”

“We can’t just…” Ecchs trailed off, meeting Nightshade’s eyes. Gradually, his smile grew to match hers. “I like the way you think, Vice-President. Ada, let’s go make some monsters.”

“Yes, sir!” As Ecchs turned to leave, Ada and Nightshade shot each other thumbs ups. It had been a nice vacation, but the real villain of Patchwork City was back on the job.

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