When the two foreign visitors arrived at the agreed upon location where Alex, Stephen, Sebastian and Pete were waiting, Anna Cooper drove away after a brief look in Sebastian’s direction. He was still confused with her involvement in all of this and was very interested in hearing her side of the story when all of this was over. But for now they had more important business.
Pete, as always, took control of the meeting right away.
“First of all, I guess introductions are needed. Alex and Stephen, this young lady is Marie. As you can guess, she is visiting us from France. The young man with her is Shin. He is the prize recruit of one of our Japanese members. Shin and Marie, I’d like you to meet Alex and Stephen. Under normal circumstances, these men would be considered the enemy. But for now, given our present situation, they are now our allies. Now with that out of the way, let’s get started.”
The six of them all took their place at the table. Five of them had a general idea of what was going on, but they were all waiting on the sixth one to speak.
“Let me start by saying thank you to Sebastian, Marie and Shin. You’ve been through a lot these last few months and I really do appreciate your hard work and most of all your trust in me. Believe me, this decision was not an easy one and not one that I made on a whim. I’ve had this on my mind for years now. But when this recruiting cycle came around, I knew it was time to strike. I read all the background information and notes on all the recruits, but you three jumped off the page. And you have not disappointed. So let me say, thank you.”
As Pete raised his glass in a toast, everyone else raised theirs in return. Alex and Stephen were having the same thought, but Pete beat them to it.
“As for you two”, Pete continued, now addressing Alex and Stephen. “You were the final missing piece. I needed these three to implement the plan, but I also needed a way to convey all of this to the general public. Your work in the past, trying to dig up dirt on our group, has not gone unnoticed. You’ve gotten extremely close to the truth several times. With a lot of help from your missing friend.”
At the mention of Anthony, Alex and Stephen both must have noticeably tensed up. Noticing this, Pete laughed before continuing.
“Relax, of course we knew about Anthony. He was right to be nervous. Factions within our group found out what he was up to and began to follow him. But when I decided to go through with this plan, I called off the dogs. Trust me, he’s safe right now.”
Alex, Stephen and even Sebastian were relieved to hear this, although how much they could trust him remained to be seen. For now they were anxious to believe that Anthony was okay somewhere.
“We could have given this story to anyone in the media and it would have reached the public. But with some of the questionable agendas of most media outlets today, the truth might have been twisted in ways that might do more harm than good. Remember, there are a lot of very powerful people that have profited from the way things have always been. Make no mistake, this is going to shock the world. Markets may collapse, there will be protests in the streets, things could get very ugly. That’s where you come in.”
“Okay, but how are we supposed to soften the blow?” Stephen asked. “When this news gets out, there is no way to anticipate or manage the public response. I mean, thanks for the vote of confidence, but I’m not that good of a writer.”
“Don’t sell yourself short Stephen. I’ve read everything you and Alex have ever worked on regarding this topic. No one has even come close to the credibility you have. Which is why it must be you two. There have been hundreds of writers and reporters over the years who think they have figured out the truth. But they have been so far off base, that we never took them seriously. But when you two came along, believe me, we took notice. You did your homework for sure. The turning point was definitely when you joined forces with Anthony. I still can’t explain it, but that man got his hands on some information that I never would have thought possible. But he did. His inside information combined with your research and hard work was a breakthrough that I had to take advantage of.”
Alex was still not satisfied. “That still doesn’t explain why it has to be us. Anyone can write this story if you are giving them all of the inside information.”
“A story is only as credible as the person who writes it. Your work in this field is unparalleled. Most importantly, you know the truth. You’ve seen behind the curtain. I trust you two to tell this story in a responsible way. A respectful way. A way in which people will understand why our group was necessary and hopefully why we had to continue to exist. And finally why it’s time for us to fade away. And I fully intend to do just that, fade away. There will be questions from all over. That’s where you come in. I’m asking a lot of you, but you’ve come this far. It’s time to finish it.”
The seriousness of the situation weighed on the room. As everyone contemplated their next move Pete rose from the table.
“Now, if you will excuse me, I need to make a phone call.”