The young lady that the German businessman had mistaken for the librarian was actually a student at the local university. She had only been working there a few days, so it was understandable that she didn’t notice the man ask for directions to a part of the library and then walked right past it. It was also no surprise that she hadn’t noticed the other men, all roughly the same age that walked into the library today, do the exact same thing. What she didn’t know was that there was a room in the back of the library that was marked ‘Human Resources’, which always had the door closed and locked.
The actual librarian was Rose McCallister, a quiet lady in her mid-sixties who, to the patrons and staff seemed liked she had been there forever. She was the only full-time employee there, with the library depending on students mostly for part time help. So no one really paid much attention to the ‘Human Resources’ room, or to the fact that it was rarely ever used.
That’s because it was reserved for special meetings that even Rose was unaware of. All she knew was that her supervisor instructed her to never enter the room and that a VIP donor had requested to always have access. She didn’t even have a key. She would notice from time to time a group of gentleman, each very polite and well dressed, would enter the library and after chatting with the front desk receptionist, would head straight for the room. These meetings were always preceded by other less amiable visitors. Always one, sometimes two men, dressed in black would come in and not bother with courtesies like the other gentlemen. They walked straight to the back and entered the room, sometimes hours before the other men arrived. They would also be the last ones to leave. Again leaving without a word. Not that Rose or the receptionist minded. Their piercing eyes were the only visible parts poking out above the black veils. Couple that with the matching spider web tattoos on their hands and they didn’t care if they ever spoke to them.
Wilhelm smiled as he walked past Rose and entered the room. He made no effort to hide where he was going from her as he had been told that she was not a problem. As usual, he was the last one to enter and he walked in and found eleven other men and women that he had known for years now, sitting and waiting on his arrival.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope you haven’t been waiting long. I would have been a little earlier, but it seems the young lady at the front desk has a little crush on me. I had to let her down easy.”
Enzo Marino, an Italian shipping executive, had been around Wilhelm long enough to know that wasn’t true, but played along anyway.
“Careful Wilhelm, you don’t want wife number, what are you up to now? Eight or nine?”
“Six, but who’s counting. She would be my first American though. It’s about time I branched out from Europe and Asia.”
Wilhelm and Enzo made up part of the European and Asian contingency. The others were much more reserved. Hideki Suzuki and Jean Durand, Japanese and French respectively, just looked on from the table and smiled politely as always. Their counterparts from Russia, England, Brazil, Egypt were all in attendance as well.
This was only the eighth time in the last twenty years that all of these men and women were in the same room. They each had their own hectic schedules, but always seemed to enjoy each other’s company when they did have to come together. They were each summoned as always by the one member of their group who wasn’t there.
The Conductor. The man they’d each only met once, but trusted completely. He was somehow omnipresent while never actually being in their presence. He was there from the beginning, when each of the men and women were recruited themselves over two decades earlier. It was hard to imagine the group continuing without him, but that day would soon be here.
James Ellison, Marcus Matthews, Lynn Peterson and William O’Brien were also there. The Americans, as they were always referred to, by not only the international members, but by The Conductor as well. A lot of the groups business was conducted in America, which was clearly the center of the business and industrial world. When the group did get together, it was James who always acted as the defacto leader, and as always, was the first to start talking.
“Gentlemen, as much as I would love to sit here and catch up on each other’s lives, there will be time for that later. We all know why we are here.”
Wilhelm replied, “Yeah, we’re being fired.”
“Not quite”, answered James. “Let’s call it a transition. And the sooner the better if you ask me.”
All of the men and women in the group agreed apparently, each nodding knowingly.
“Each of you will find in front of you a sheet of paper”, James continued. “On each sheet is a coded message, with the names and information of each of the recruits. The code is the same as always with a slight variation that you will be able to figure out easily once you look at it. Take it back to your rooms, study it to memory, then destroy it. The Conductor expects us to spend at least two weeks doing surveillance on the subjects before making your approach. You’ve been preparing for this day for years now, so just follow the script. Remember how you felt when you were recruited. It’s a lot to take in at first, and they may even hesitate to commit. But according to The Conductor, no one has ever refused after being approached.”
“Power, money and all that goes with it”, said Enzo. “You’re right, it is a lot to take in, but nobody is turning that down.”
“I agree. Now, let’s go out and make sure that they don’t.”