On one side, Lycralad, Firetop, Invisible Charlie and Muriel Magnificent; on the other, the Cloud, Crimson Songbird, Green Gladiator and a rather strange-looking man with an ill-fitting suit, bad hair and a gruff voice. At the top of the table sat Tracy Major, the Prime Minister. Several chairs remained empty around the large meeting room table, but not all EFB members were in the headquarters when the meeting was called.
“Thank you for meeting at such short notice, heroes.” Tracy began. “I’d like to introduce you to Raymond Reide who has been appointed as my Controller for Superhero Teams. He is a member of my parliament, serving the Gwynnfennyferwanwey and Wesh constituency in Wales. He has many years experience as a member of government, and I feel he is ideally suited for this new position. I created this after a number of incidents, as you are aware, when unregulated superhero teams have apparently run amok and became more of a hindrance than a help to the larger community. Mr Reide will report into the Communities Minister, but will have his own department within government to assist with the running of every superhero team in the country. With the Elite Force of Britain being the premier team of the country, I felt it prudent to introduce you to each other personally. That, and to let you know that he will have his own office here within the EFB headquarters so he can be directly contacted and found by any of the other UK superhero teams.”
“Erm, thank you, erm Prime Minister,” Raymond Reide said, after noticing Tracy nod towards him. “I’m erm going to introduce a few erm changes, to all teams, not just this one, but this one will be the first. Erm, start at the top, as the erm saying goes.”
The gathered heroes sat and looked on, not saying a word.
“Obviously, erm, some of the changes will be quite erm big, but once the erm dust settles and things are more erm streamlined, you will all see the erm benefits. I will be speaking to you all individually erm with regards to the changes and erm how they affect you.”
“Erm Verdian, is it?” Raymond met Viridian in the doorway of the EFB Headquarters.
“I am Viridian.” Replied Viridian as he towered above the new superhero controller.
“Viridian. Yes. Yes. I erm do apologise for the noise and dust around here, but I’ve instructed the builders here to get started on my new suite of offices on this floor and for them to finish it by the end of the week. As the work is erm still incomplete, please come into the kitchen with me, so we can have a chat.”
“Very well, Mr Reide.” Viridian followed Raymond into the kitchen. A laptop computer was already set up on the table, and a stack of brown envelopes was beside it.
“Please, take an erm seat.” Raymond pointed to the chair opposite where he was sitting. “This won’t take long.”
Viridian sat, and began to say “Mr Reide, I know why…” when Raymond held up his hand and bluntly said, “I’m speaking.” Viridian looked at Raymond who was staring blankly and without emotion back at him. “As the new controller of the Elite Force of Britain, you are aware, I’m sure, that I have to erm make changes to make the team more efficient. I feel that in order to make the team great, we need to be less reliant upon erm… outsiders such as yourself. So, effective immediately, you are no longer a member of the Elite Force of erm Britain.”
“I…” Viridian was stopped once again.
“Speaking. You have an hour to clear your room here at the headquarters and then leave. The access codes will be changed once you are outside of the building. Our code of practice forbids you to speak of this conversation. Could you send erm Sia Klath in to see me?” He shuffled papers for a couple of seconds, and then looked up at Viridian, who was yet to move. Raymond gestured with his thumb over his right shoulder, and upon looking back at the papers said, “The door to the kitchen is there.”
“Please sit down, Sia Klath.” Raymond nodded at the seat where Viridian had been sat a few minutes earlier. “We need to make a few changes to the team, Sia. One of those changes is to bring trust back into the team, and there are erm quite a lot of people out there who simply do not trust aliens.” He slung a piece of paper across the table to Sia who just managed to catch it before it flew passed her. She looked at it, and saw it was a printout in her own language. She recognised it as a transcript of her conversation with her brother a few months ago.
“We can’t have secret communications going on with visitors from other worlds on EFB time, Sia. It is so untrustworthy, and, erm, in my opinion underhand and despicable. In order to make the team great, those untrustworthy individuals have to erm go. So, you have one of our Earth hours to gather your belongings and vacate the premises. Make sure you take all of your alien gadgetry with you. Oh, and send Icewind in before you leave.”
“Icewind. Take a seat.” Raymond didn’t even look up at his latest visitor to the kitchen. “You have erm one hour to gather your items and get out of the headquarters. Your services with the EFB are no longer required.”
“But I’m…” Icewind couldn’t finish her sentence.
“Speaking! Do not take it personally, I’m just clearing out some of the undesirable elements to vastly improve the team. You understand.”
“Crimson Songbird,” Raymond half smiled as he typed into his computer. “Thank you for attending the erm last minute meeting the other day. As you know, I said I need to make changes to the team.”
“I…” Crimson Songbird couldn’t say what she wanted.
“I. Am. Speaking.” Raymond said. “Your ‘powers’ aren’t really adequate for a team such as the EFB, so you are no longer part of the team. Perhaps you could try out for the erm X Factor or something.”
“Stealth Gentleman, please, sit.” Raymond slurped from a mug of coffee and nodded to the chair opposite him at the table. “We can’t have two superheroes with a ‘dark image’ on the team, so I had to make a choice between keeping you or the erm Cloud. In the end, I opted for the one with the better hair, which I discovered was the Cloud after I made him remove that ridiculous head mask.”
“But I’m b…” Stealth Gentleman received the same interruption as the others.
“I am speaking. Gather your belongings and be gone within the hour.”
“Parrot Girl. Take a seat.” Once again, Raymond did not look up to acknowledge his latest guest into the kitchen. “As you may or may not know, I am making changes to the team. Some people, I feel, are less suited to the team, so I have decided to let them go. Release them from the team, so we can become great once and for all. You, erm, are one of those I must ask to leave.”
“But I’m not…” Parrot Girl allowed her voice to trail off as Raymond held up both hands, palms facing her.
“I’m speaking. Do not discuss this conversation with any of your colleagues and make sure that you and all of your belongings are out of the building within the hour.” Raymond typed away at his computer again, and didn’t look up as Parrot Girl walked passed him and out of the kitchen.
Once the door had closed behind her, Raymond stretched in his chair, clasped his fingers together, and stretched them so that they all clicked in turn. “Six down for starters.” He said out loud looking at the list of names he had typed into his laptop. He decided to have words with the seventh person on the list later.