A small, elite group of men are seated around a round table in the underground wine cellar of a luxurious home outside of London. Upon entrance to the home, guests were greeted at a door sculpted in oak and gilded in gold leaf featuring the Sun King on horseback that was inspired by the war room at Versailles.
“We can report our takeover of the port in Tartus. This will cripple the Russian naval force’s reaction time,” one of the elite states.
“Your plan is failing,” another elite replies with a traitorous sound to his voice.
“Our plan is not failing,” a deep voice booms. Although all the elites sit at a round table, indicating their equality, this man is clearly in charge. “We are on track.”
“We lost the president of the United States. How will we invoke martial law when the time is right?” yet another elite questions in a deep accent, English clearly not his native tongue.
All the men in the room want their say. That is what happens when you gather a group together like this. They all think because they have earned or inherited more money than the per capita of many countries that they are somehow more knowledgeable on the workings of the plan—the brilliant plan Ares Von Allister set in motion and this group strives to finish.
“We were behind the change in leadership,” the leader says, stunning the room into silence.
Shock is murmured in multiple languages.
The leader hopes this revelation will cause the men to understand that could be their fate as well if they don’t complete their assigned tasks. He glances to his right at his old spot when he was the right hand and heir apparent to former President John F. Hillford Senior. He gestures toward the empty seat. “I’d like us to share a moment of silence for our former leader. May he rest in peace.” He waits a few beats for effect and then adds, “It brought him great sorrow to have to order the assassination of his own son, but his son refused to comply.”
“We put him into power, and it went to his head,” his second-in-command states. “Literally.”
The group nervously looks around.
“But now, we have an unknown leader in power,” one of the elite says. “What do we have on him and, more importantly, can we control him?”
“He’s annoyingly clean, especially for a politician,” the leader says. While he was shocked to learn of the old man’s hunting accident, he is thrilled to finally take control of the group. “From what we can tell, he can’t be bought.”
“So, what will we do? How will we get him to act when the time is right?” another elite counters.
“Simple. We make sure his family is affected. His son is a well-known Olympic athlete.”
“And since it starts in Montrovia … ” the second-in-command says.
“He will have no choice,” the leader states.
The rest of the men nod in understanding.
“What about the Montrovian situation?” an elite questions. This man has been quite outspoken about the plan and has attempted to manipulate it to his liking.
“We are going to call off the third hit. I’m sure you have all seen the tabloids. It seems the king of Montrovia is dating Ares Von Allister’s daughter.”
“And you don’t think that’s a bit odd?” another questions.
“Just the opposite. Imagine Huntley Von Allister as queen and Aristotle Von Allister taking his father’s place at our table. It’s better than Ares himself could have imagined—his children in their rightful places in the New World Order.”
The leader signals the end of the meeting as usual—by raising his cut-crystal glass filled with the rarest of all scotches. “To Arcadia.”
Ari is freaking out. He and Terrance were pulling into the drive of Lorenzo’s London residence when the car in front of them exploded, blasting out the windows of their car, spraying them with safety glass, and showering them with fiery bits of burning wreckage and God knows what else that had been launched through the air upon detonation.
All he knows is, he has to get to his sister. He turns to yell at Terrance to get out of the car, but Terrance’s head is slumped forward against the air bag. He grabs a knife from a sheath at his leg, gaining composure as his training kicks in, and quickly pops their air bags.
Terrance shakes his head, coming to. Ari can see Terrance’s mouth moving but can’t understand him, and he doesn’t have time to explain. He jumps out and races toward the burning car in front of him. The car’s doors and windows have been blown open, allowing Ari to witness what’s left of the driver burning in his seat. He screws his eyes shut in horror, his mind quickly realizing no one in the car can be saved.
He has failed.
Failed to protect the King of Montrovia.
Failed his mission.
And, failed to protect his sister—the missing piece he’d felt his whole life but never understood why.
He opens his eyes just as a heavy breeze parts the black smoke, and Lorenzo’s limo, which is directly behind the lead security car, comes into view. The tires are flat, the door panels have been torn off, and the hood is dented and askew.
The Priest opens his eyes. Black smoke billows from the driveway below. It’s his worst nightmare.
He knows that he deserves this. After all the people he has killed throughout his lifetime as the best assassin in the world, he ends up inadvertently killing his own son. It was bad enough that his profession caused his beloved wife and the mother of his child to be killed, but in a strange twist of fate, he alone has caused the death of the one thing they cherished most. Their son.
He considers taking his own life. It would be easy enough to die on this rooftop.
But he can’t bring himself to do it. He has to go see for himself that his son is dead.
What he’s thinking is unreasonable. It’s completely unthinkable that he would step foot at the scene of the crime.
But he has to do it.
After all, he has nothing left to live for.