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President Knope vs. The Superhero Group

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"So, the tentacles . . . " WonderTroy begins, gesturing hesitantly at the diagram propped up on the easel.

"Okay, but don't worry about the tentacles, the tentacles aren't the main problem," President Knope interrupts, seizing a magic marker and drawing large emphatic X's over the tentacles in the picture. "Whenever I let Tom do a diagram he always over-emphasises the tentacles. Tom!" This last shouted towards the doors of the Oval Office.

Chief of Staff Haverford sticks his head in. "Whazzap!"

"Tom, do you realise that your tendency to over-emphasise tentacles is causing problems on a global scale? That you might right now be causing worldwide destruction because you . . . have a certain, uh, fondness for a particular genre of Japanese erotica?"

Haverford shrugs. "Hey man, I shape the message around here, and I say the message is tentacles."

"Okay, fine, that's it," President Knope says, "just go. Go, Tom. Go, we'll save the planet without you, go."

Tom shrugs and leaves.

The President sighs. "I'm sorry about him. But yeah, the tentacles are minimal. What we really have to worry about - " she starts drawing large magic marker circles on the diagram - "are the eyeball monsters." She steps back and smiles at her handiwork.

"The ones that are heading for Detroit," Zenith asks. "Doesn't our superhero colleague The Kickpuncher defend that area?" Without even looking, Zenith and WonderTroy exchange a wordless special handshake at the mention of Kickpuncher.

President Knope frowns. "The Kickpuncher is not going to cut it, folks. Perhaps I didn't point out that the eyeball monsters are in fact to scale?" She taps the eyeball monsters on the picture - each one with its own little speech bubble saying 'arrrrgh' or 'eyeballllls!' or 'I eat your babies!' and such - and looks pointedly at them.

Hawkchilde looks confused. "But - they're like half the size of the planet. Each."

The President looks at the diagram again. "Well, okay, yes, well, not to scale, to scale, but sort of . . . to scale, ish." Faced with a series of blank looks, she adds, "Okay, they're really big, though. Really really big. Like, at least the size of a Buick. Or a large . . . cat."

"A jungle cat, or a housecat?" Bad Mother inquires politely.

"Or a meerkat!" WonderTroy puts in, pointing at Bad Mother excitedly.

"Oh, they're nice," Bad Mother agrees. "They're solar powered. Very good for the environment."

"Ugh," Jeff Winger says, reaching behind him to pull a trowel from his quiver and beginning to sharpen it. "I can't believe you two. Have you ever smelled the meerkats at the zoo? They stink! I hope these eyeball monsters don't stink."

Zenith, WonderTroy, Hawkchilde and Bad Mother all begin talking simultaneously.

". . . still, Jeff, we have a duty to . . ."

". . . bad smell could be a problem, this is a new cape . . . "

" . . . can't kill a meerkat, even if they do smell, I just don't believe in animal harm . . . "

". . . is it new? It's a nice shade of blue on you . . . "

". . . eyeball monsters . . . "

President Knope slaps the desk with both palms. "Okay, that is IT!" she yells. Then, a second later, she slaps the desk again. "That's IT. No more!" She hesitates, then goes for the third slap. "I brought you all here to help me solve a problem that is currently endangering our nation, America, and indeed the entire planet from which America sprang. Previous administrations tried to ignore you guys, but no, I thought, why not make use of this unique and powerful resources that our great country has to offer?"

"I have been called powerful; it's nice of you to notice," Jeff Winger puts in, smiling lasciviously.

"But no, you all have to come in here and argue, and harangue, and bicker like some kind of Senate, and refuse to pay attention, and focus on the tentacles that - not now, Jerry! - aren't even part of the problem, and I. Won't. Have it."

The aide who'd stuck his head in the door in the middle of the President's tirade had disappeared almost immediately at the sound of yelling; the superhero group looked like they wished they could do the same.

"Look, Mrs. - uh, Madam President," Hawkchilde said placatingly. "We'll do a good job saving the world, you'll see. We'll just, uh, go to Detroit and beat up some eyeball monsters and it'll all be good, okay?" She smiles a big, toothy, terrified smile. "Please."

The President crosses her arms and holds out for a moment.

"Pretty please," WonderTroy adds.

"Oh, all right," President Knope says. She shakes her finger at each of them in turn. "But you'd better not let us get taken over by eyeball monsters! I'm counting on you! And, uh, it's really pissing those Army guys off that I called you in first, so you'd better win."

"Yes ma'am," Zenith nods, seriously. "All right, group, to the GroupMobile!"

"We have got to find a better name for that," WonderTroy grouses as they shuffle out of the Oval Office. Zenith and Jeff Winger nod in sad agreement. WonderTroy highfives with the Secret Service Agent who brought them in, and they're all escorted out quickly.

"Does anyone know how to get to Detroit?" Hawkchilde asks, as they get into the GroupMobile.

"Or how to fight a meerkat eyeball monster?" Bad Mother puts in.

There's a little crackle of static in their earpieces. "I've got it under control," comes The Planner's tinny, far-away voice, and they all heave a sigh of relief. "Our flight plan is registered with the FAA, the GroupCopter is fueled up, and we're all ready to go. I'm making some weaponized aerosols for you to spray into the eyeball monsters' . . . eyeballs."

"Thanks, Planner," Zenith says with gusto. "What is it, some kind of compound designed to melt alien tissue?"

There's a pause over the radio. "It's, uh, it's basically mace," The Planner replies. "But it'll totally work."

"Okay, now we're in business!" Jeff Winger says.

"Any chance of getting Thorn-in-Your-Side in on this one, Planner?" Hawkchilde asks.

"Direct confrontation with evil is really not his scene," The Planner responds. "But I think we can count on him to stay back and let us do our work, at least."

"Good enough for me," Hawkchilde says. "GroupMobile, away!"

"Hang on, hang on, hold your horses," Bad Mother grumbles from behind the wheel. "Let me put my purse down." At Zenith's quelling look, she rolls her eyes and says, "I mean, my Super Bag of Tricks." Zenith nods and gives her double thumb-shooters.

Hawkchilde paws through the glove compartment and comes up empty. "Are there snacks on the GroupCopter?"

WonderTroy squirms in his seat. "I have to go to the bathroom."

"Hold it until we've vanquished evil for the day," Jeff Winger says.

The engine roars to life.

"Seatbelts!" Bad Mother cries cheerfully, and then the GroupMobile is off, off to save the day.