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Ldquo;the gentle conspir.., p.1
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       “The Gentle Conspiracy”, p.1

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“The Gentle Conspiracy”

  Evan Temple was elected President of the United States several months earlier. He has a lot on his plate—the economy, a war with Iran, keeping social cohesion.

  But one of the last things President Temple expected was an ultimatum that a secret society had warned him about before he became president...before they made him president!

  He felt his heart skip a beat as the ancient door squeaked and shut with a thud behind him in the blackened hallway.

  “You ok, sir,” the young aide inquired in the dark; her voice just feet ahead of him. He could tell she had stopped in her steps, so he remained still.

  “ all this cloak and dagger really necessary, Kay,” he asked as they both resumed their slow walk down the hall.

  “It's one of the oldest tunnels connecting the White House and the US Capitol, Mr. President. And one of the least used...there are bound to be some neglected areas.”

  “I suppose that's a good thing, huh?”

  Because of the few light bulbs on the ceiling in the tunnel, he could see that she looked back pensively toward him, “Yes, Mr. President.”

  “So, which leads me to ask this, Kay: why are we using the network now? Reason stands that something has come up.”

  For the longest, the staffer said nothing. Only her high-heels clopped for a while and his muffled dress-shoes.

  “We're almost there, Sir.”

  “Ms. Bermann,” he said with impatience as he stopped dead in the musty hallway, “I've got a meeting with the premier of China and the president of Russia to figure out how to get out of this war with Iran we've seemed to stumbled into; attend another state burial for several more fallen soldiers; a meeting with Herald on the possibility of another 9/11 attack...whatever this is you're taking me to better be important!”

  Again, her silent gaze puzzled him! She continued to walk and he followed until they finally reached another door. This one was, without a doubt, recently upgraded with security access portals and reinforced steel.

  “I can only take you this far, Mr. President,” Kay said with a hint of regret.

  His head whipped around to look at her. “You have Alpha access, Kay! I've given--”

  “The Rules don't permit it.”

  He glared at her. “What Rules?”

  “The instructions to open the door is mostly biometric, Mr. President. I'll be heading back to the surface...good day, Mr. President,” she said with a slight smile. If he didn't know any better she was saying good bye to him!

  He returned his attention to the door and followed the touch-screen instructions and opened it...

  On the other side stood several men, about twenty of them; all in various business attire, their ages ranging from twenty-something to senior status. The room was more like an old-fashioned study—bookshelves filled with books, a couple of globes, studded chairs, statuettes of nude figures and European paintings...Across the Chamber, dominating an open wall was a relief-sculpture of an owl perched atop an opened book with a stylized wreath ringing them. There was an inscription on the exposed pages of that book, but the wall was too far of a distance for the president to read it.

  Instead of a fireplace, as one might expect to see in such old-world style, there was a wall-sized monitor, with several televised news broadcasting stations from all around the world. Various people in suit and tie or a blouse and suit-pants spoke, chuckled, ranted, sat quietly as others talked...then Evan Temple realized that what he was looking at was not news broadcasts. Rather, it was some big meeting being carried live and whoever these people were, they were positioned in all the major cities and capitols of the world. Temple recognized most of the landmarks in the background behind the talking heads. What was more, the president also noticed that the volume to the mega-monitor was set to low, and he could barely hear a flood of conversations.

  “, it's true,” the president finally said after gawking around the room. “You really do exist! I thought those were just old legends passed on to each generation occupying the White House. To say nothing of popular culture!”

  “Then you should know why we sent for you,” one of the elders of the group said stoically.

  The president froze for several seconds. He had to think about one of those obscure procedures that was outlined for him by his staff; Kay, the young lady who lead him down in the subterranean labyrinth, being one of them. “You've got to be kidding me...gentlemen, this is reality, not some episode from the X-Files!”

  “President Temple,” one of the younger men, a European, from the standing group put to him, sternly, “you knew this was a possibility upon your election! When we saw which way the votes were going on election night, you should've gotten that secured text message from us.”

  “Yeah, key words, Upon Your Election, pal! Not only did I win the popular vote, but I cleaned Whitmore's clock in the Electoral votes, too! I don't answer to you guys...” Unconsciously, he glanced at the wall of talking heads, remembering that most of them were from other nations. “And I don't answer to whoever these goons are, either!”

  Dissatisfied looks were exchanged between the group of men. Some, as if straight out of the Victorian era, had three-piece suits with top hats or Derbies and a Hansom pipe! A few others had an even older era of costume; perhaps around the Middle Ages or so? Temple wasn't versed in culture enough to know for sure. Others seemed more out of the mid-twentieth century with a kind of FBI-look about them—short and styled hair with a part off to the side and black, thick-rimmed glasses. Only a few of the “Gentlemen” actually had the contemporary look of early twenty-first century bureaucrats; simple suit and tie, the slacks tapering at the ankles, head shaved bald or very near-bald, and a little stubble on the chin and jaws.

  “You didn't actually think I'd go through with that, did you,” Temple put to the crowd upon seeing their smoldering looks. “I'm not joking, gentlemen. We live in a democracy and the people have spoken. This is not Medieval Europe where all of you can toy around with other people's lives on your personal fiefdoms!”

  “Based on the US Constitution,” one of the '50s-like men said from the thick of the group; this one, American, “presidents are elected based on the electoral votes, not the popular!”

  Temple chuckled as he looked around at the others. “Yeah, I addressed that already, Joe Friday.”

  The same man began to lose his patience and started to take a step toward President Temple, but a couple of the other Gentlemen held him back as he spoke. “And do you really think the Electoral College would vote for some former jock, who only got into politics in the first place because some Congressmen back in his home state thought it would be cool to have a washed-out football player in the White House?”

  That last comment wiped Temple's cocky countenance from his face.

  “Temple,” the same Gentleman continued, by now his fellows having released him, confident that he would not go toward the president, “you have that Oval Office because we put you there! It wasn't that long ago that the world was in the Great Recession; we needed some kind of balance in the US to help keep the global markets going...that Theo Whitmore was too polarizing! I don't care how much of a scholar he is. He would've made the Bush-Gore debacle look like a Christmas pageant for elementary kids!”

  “And remember, Mr. President,” another Gentleman came in; one of the Victorian-types; English, of course, “the Parties control the Electors. Now, I don't expect you to know this, but it was upheld by your Supreme Court—“

bsp; “Yeah, I know; it's called the Faithless Electors,” Temple said, regaining some of his confidence. “Supreme Court said there are no Federal laws to stop the Democrats or the Republicans from punishing the Electors from the College if they don't vote the way each Party wants them to!” He smirked upon seeing their surprised faces. “It's alright, gentlemen, I'm used to people underestimating me. Not so different from sports, really.”

  Despite themselves, some of the men in the old-world room nodded with tacit approval.

  “This changes nothing,” one of the modern-looking chaps came in. Perhaps Australian, or South African? “He still has to do it...the Rules require it!”

  Remembering what Kay said earlier about some Rules not allowing her to go into the Chamber, President Temple quickly said, irritatedly, “What in the world are these Rules that everyone keeps talking about? I don't remember reading or hearing anything about some cryptic Rules after being elected!”

  “But you know what you're supposed to do upon your election,” stated another younger, modern-day dressed Gentlemen; American. “You don't have to know the Organization's full-range of operations to do your duties, President Temple.”

  Evan shook his head, saying nothing this time. Then a thought occurred to him. Everyone else in the room watched with interest. “So...what would happen if I refuse to do it?”

  “Mr. Temple—“

  “That's President Temple,” Evan broke in, over that same older man that had first talked to him upon entering the Chamber.

  The older, American man frowned to himself, and thought better. “President Temple, Sir, you really don't want to go down that rabbit hole!”

  “Oh, really...” Temple straightened his posture as he walked within a couple of feet in front of the Gentleman; the closest he had been to the group since arriving there. “Sounds like you're kind of threatening me there, Pops.”

  The old man held his stern gaze on Temple as the others looked on; most with nonchalant faces. “Send for one of the aides to escort President Temple back to the surface!” The two men yet locked daring eyes at each other.

  “I don't think Kay got too far away,” volunteered one of the middle-aged, European Gentlemen from the back of the group. “I'll see if she can come back for him.”

  “Mr. President...this way, please,” one of the other mid-twentieth century-styled Gentleman requested with one of his arms graciously extended toward the same door Temple had just came from. His gestures were as if there were a state dinner function going on and none of the contentious encounter even happened!

  For once, President Temple actually did what he was requested and, without anymore words, exited the Chamber and stood in the darkened tunnel-way as the door closed with a thud behind him. He didn't need any escorting. He knew that was just diplomatese-talk for getting him out of the room. But to President Temple, he stood up to a “special interest” group that had more sway in American politics than it should have, and he felt a sense of pride in standing up to the enigmatic organization...and now he wondered, at what price?


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