"Ok, gentleman, if you would just take a seat around the table we can all get started." The tall, young man spoke with an earned authority not commonly heard in the same room with the people he had come to address. "Now, before I start let's get one thing straight. I'm here because your investors, whom I represent, are becoming unhappy with the increasing overhead this facility has been requiring over the last six months. You are a relatively new operation with no solid reputation among the circles in which we move in, so this makes your failures that much more pronounced. I have made a full tour of your facilities and staff and have drafted a report of items that we are about to touch on now. In front of all of you is my official report with all of my bullet points highlighted for quick reference. Now, if there are no objections then let us begin. Dim the lights please, guard."
The armored soldier shot an uneasy glance at his commander and reached over to dim the lights after his superior gave him a slight nod. All the lights in the large conference room went dark. Only light from the projector screen at the head of the table remained.
"Thank you. Now, right to business! I'm going to lay these points out for you in no particular order. Don't read into the format of my presentation as some kind of prioritized checklist for you to run down. All of these suggestions are vitally important in their own way and all should be addressed with equal tenacity. Please turn to page one of your handouts." Everyone fumbled with their papers. Hard Rock had particular trouble as one of his hands was made of solid granite. Psiphen helped with one of her robotic tentacles. "Action Item #1: Prohibit the storage of all flammable liquids and their containers on or around the premises. This is the first on our docket and it's a biggie. Yesterday alone I counted 23 separate barrels marked "˜flammable' around your building. One was actually next to the Med Tent."
"That's our gas." The room turned to look at Colonel McGraff. The man looked over his shoulder, annoyed at the interruption. "That's . . . that's all of our gasoline."
"Yes, I know that's all of your gasoline Colonel, but, why store it all over the base?" The young man leaned the palms of his hands on the table. "In fact, why store it at all? In my fact finding mission that revealed all of this gasoline I found all of two gas powered vehicles on the entirety of your property. I understand the need to stock pile in your line of work, but, this overabundance is costing you resources." The young man stood back up to full attention and snapped his shoulders forward to straighten the sleeves of his suit jacket. "Last month, alone, you lost 600 gallons of gas and 10 men in explosions during attacks to your base. Three attacks to be more specific. These things are death traps and they have got to go." A few around the table shot grins at McGraff. He turned beet red.
A sigh escaped the lips of the young man and he bled it into his continuing speech. "Item 2 concerns all the lattice work and skylights. For God's sake people, you've installed ladders connected to trapdoors all over your base."
"But they are so pretty." This time is it was Hard Rock that made the objection.
"I want you all to look at something." The presenter tapped a square on the monitor and a fuzzy movie started to play. "We put this together from the four security cameras you have in the main hall of the officer's barracks.
McGraff leaned forward in his seat and squinted. "What is that? An agent disguised as a hobo?"
"Close!" The man beamed. "No, this is an actual homeless man. He can be seen here walking into the main cluster of officer's quarters and emerging with, what our analysts have decided, is a bundle of Psiphen's under things." The room now turned its attention to the pretty Psiphen. The young man paid no attention turning his attention back to the monitor in small reverence of the figure before him on the surveillance video. "He came back three times that night. Pretty impressive, actually. The temerity, I mean, not so much the overcoming of your defenses."
Hard Rock leaned over to Psiphen warily. "Didn't you notice all your underwear was gone?"
"I thought it was The Prophet, again." Psiphen shot back.
The Prophet knocked his chair back as he stood and pointed. "Blaspheming whore!"
"Alright!" A fist on the table got the meeting back on track and the man continued. "We have more to go through, so, sit back down. Thank you. Ok, so the lattice and the skylights are out. This will make your rooftops up to 50% more secure."
It was McGraff that interrupted. "We have guards. On the roof. Roof Guards."
"My next point, thank you, Colonel. Your "˜roof guards'," the man made a mocking quote gesture with his hands, "have the highest fatality rate of any job currently available in this country. Some of the operatives we have observed take them out with long range sniper fire and then don't even infiltrate the base. It's just target practice at this point!"
"Out! They are out, Colonel! No more roof guards." The man glared down at McGraff and then turned back to the monitor. "Medical supplies are Item #3 on our list." He waited for the shuffle of papers to subside before speaking again. "Colonel, what is the injury rate of your staff here at the base?"
The Colonel shrugged his medal covered shoulders, "I don't know. Maybe three or four injuries every couple of months."
"And does your medical tent ever have any trouble caring for or keeping track of your injured?" asked the young man.
The suited man smiled, "So maybe you can explain to me why there is a first aid kit in every bathroom and janitor's closet on every floor of your facility."
"Well. . ."
The man snapped a finger at McGraff. "Have these collected and turned in to the med tent! Didn't you ever wonder why you had to keep restocking them when half your soldiers don't even know where they hell they are? You know what? Forget it. Next item."
Colonel McGraff shifted in his seat and joined the rest around the table in flipping his photocopied handout to the next page. The Prophet made a note on the margin of his handout and slipped it over to Psiphen. She rolled her eyes and turned her chair to face the front.
"Ok," the man started squeezing the bridge of his nose with this thumb and forefinger, "this one confuses me. The tank. You, actually, have a tank on the premises that guards, Jesus, the other tanks on your premises."
Hard Rock got up a little with a nervous smile and raised his hand, "that's mine!"
"Sit down!" Psiphen said as she tried to pull him back down into his seat.
"You use a tank to guard the base?" The man asked. "You have a hand made of solid granite."
"I'm ashamed of my handicap. No one dare laugh at stone hand when tank is in their faces!" Hard Rock started to tear up, his lip quivering.
"Ok, whatever, you can keep your idiotic tank but whose idea was it to put a failsafe in the vehicle that unlocks the doors to the reactor room if the tank is ever destroyed?"
McGraff sheepishly raised his hand. The tall suit looked over and pointed with a hop as he opened his mouth. "Surprise! It's the Colonel! Good job boss!" The point turned into a thumbs up.
"Alaska Base had a tank." McGraff mumbled.
"Yeah," said the man, "and Jurassic Park had a fence. Lights on!" The room became bright again. Blinking eyes and creaking chairs came with the light and the man bent down to reach under the table for a moment before returning upright to address the room.
"Look, we've covered a lot of territory today and I think we are on the right track to getting this base up to par for the next quarter. Don't everyone get up just yet, there is one other thing I want to go over before we break for lunch." The man raised his hand and everyone sank back down into their chairs. "I've told you about you weaknesses, your oversights, your bad decisions, and your possible improvements for the future, but, I did leave out the most important suggestion anyone running a major evil operation can adhere to. Everyone listening?" The chairs in the room squeaked as they all leaned in to listen.
"Never, ever, hire an outside consultant to present to your entire commanding staff at once."
With that, the man ripped his suit to tatters revealing a black nylon jumpsuit and back pack. He lurched forward and jumped onto the long conference table, pumping his legs to build up speed. The thump of his boots became louder and quicker until there was silence. His jump from the end of the platform took him the rest of the distance of the room until he went crashing through the floor to ceiling window. Everyone jumped up and fought to lean out of the window to watch the man fall. Just before striking the ground a parachute opened from his back pack and he went sailing over the perimeter fence, with all of the guards staring up bewildered.
There was a long silence as everyone one in the room watch the black figure disappear behind a trailer. They were all panting, almost in unison, and staring still bug eyed down at the guards that were staring just as bug eyed back up to the conference room.
"Man!" Prophet exalted. "What a showman! With the running and the window! Damn, we did good hiring that guy!"
"I take full responsibility for the decision," McGraff puffed. "I'm no fool when it comes to the safety of my people. Only the best, everybody." A rapid beeping screeched into life, its pace quickening, from just under the front of the table. "Someone answer that, it's probably division."
A fireball blew out the rest of the conference room window as a series of eruptions rocked the installation. The explosions could be heard for miles and the tremors almost sent the man that used to be in a suit off his dirt bike. He raised his hand to his mouth and shouted over the motor and the roar of destruction. "This is Agent Jones! Mission Accomplished! I'm coming home!" He revved his bike's engine and took the next turn into the woods.