While Sebastian had sensed that there was more to this random invitation from a total stranger, hearing Alex and Stephen’s names still took him by surprise. His face must have given that away as James approached him with his hands in front of him and laughed, trying to put Sebastian at ease.
“I know, I know. You probably didn’t expect that. Or maybe you did. Either way, I didn’t invite you here to start trouble. Although I can imagine what those two have told you about my friends and I.”
“So it’s true? The Keeper’s exist?”
This brought a smile to James. “Ah yes, ‘The Keepers’. I forgot that’s what some people call us. Honestly we don’t really have a name. ‘The Keepers’ is just a name that some conspiracy theorist came up with years ago. I have to admit though, it does have a nice ring to it.”
Sebastian didn’t know what to say. Alex and Stephen seemed to know what they were talking about, but still in the back of his mind he had a hard time believing that this group was real.
“Look, I know you’ve heard and probably seen a ton of outrageous things these past few weeks. By the way, those two weren’t the only ones that have been watching you.”
Stephen couldn’t say he was surprised at that. Although he hadn’t seen anyone following him, he had a feeling ‘The Keepers’ could easily keep tabs on him without his knowledge.
“I have heard a lot. And if it’s all true, then I don’t know if should be talking to you”, answered Sebastian.
“I’m sure you have. And I’m also sure that they painted us out to be the bad guys right? This evil group that controls world events for our own gain. Using our knowledge and power to manipulate governments and businesses to do our bidding. Does that sound about right?”
“So you deny all of that?”, Sebastian asked.
“Not all of it. It’s true that we have access to certain technology and information that the rest of the world doesn’t. But I promise you, we have always had mankind’s best interest at heart. If you only knew what disasters and wars were averted because of our actions. The men who founded our group saved humanity from certain extinction. I won’t go into details here, but suffice it to say, without the group you call ‘The Keepers’, the world as you know it would not exist.”
Sebastian took all of this in without saying a word. He started this conversation with a definite opinion about ‘The Keepers’, but now he wasn’t so sure. Maybe James was right. Even Alex and Stephen admitted that the group had probably started out with good intentions, but had morphed into an international conglomerate in the last decade, more interested in profits than in making the world a better place. But he tried to put himself in their shoes. A group as important as they were might have to cut some corners along the way. Maybe even do some things that weren’t legal or moral. But did the ends justify the means? Sebastian wasn’t so sure anymore.
“Like I said, this is a lot to take in”, James added. “And I can’t go into specifics here and now. But we believe you would be a great addition to our group. We’ve had our eye on you for quite a while now. Yours wasn’t just a name we drew from a hat. There were very specific criteria we were looking for, and you met them all. So please, take a couple of days to think it over. And if you’re interested in hearing more, be at this address at 7 PM Wednesday night. If not, then forget we ever had this discussion. If you tell anyone what we discussed, I’ll just deny it all and no one will believe you. Trust me.”
He then handed a business card with an address written on the back to Sebastian, who was still at a loss for words. James asked him to think it over for a couple of days, but there was no amount of time that he could have given Sebastian for him to wrap his head around all of this. He took the card and put it in his pocket anyway. James then started walking back towards the party, leaving Sebastian no choice but to follow along. He spotted a visibly aggravated Anna, who was looking around for him before finally seeing he and James emerge from their hidden conversation. James grabbed him firmly by the elbow before rejoining the party.
“It goes without saying, but you’re not to speak a word about any of this to anyone. But I really hope you make the right decision Sebastian. It might sound like a cliché, but the future of the world depends on it.”
For the first time tonight, Sebastian was in total agreement with him. He really hoped he was making the right decision as well.