James Ellison and his colleagues were each in their fourth decade of service in ‘The Keepers’. They talked to each other frequently and to The Conductor whenever necessary. They had even met with the entire group occasionally. But he could count on one hand the amount of times that they all got together in the same room.
That is until this transition phase started. Now these meetings were becoming commonplace. He enjoyed being around the international group, but it was more about the reasons behind these meetings. Things were not okay. Everyone could sense it too. Whatever The Conductor was up to, he wasn’t talking to the men and women in this room about it.
Normally he wouldn’t think anything of The Conductor acting suspicious. That was him. That’s what he did. He and the rest of the group always just assumed that if he wasn’t telling them something, that they didn’t need to know about it. But this was different, and they all knew it. Even with all of the knowledge, expertise and experience in this room, he was still The Conductor. He ran everything and had access to more information than the rest of the group combined. Not to mention his own private security force that no one else had access to.
So even though they outnumbered him twelve to one, none of them had any misconception about who had the upper hand. But that didn’t mean they would sit by and do nothing. Hence the reason yet another meeting was called for members only.
“Good evening ladies and gentlemen”, James began as always. “I want to thank you for coming all the way here. Again. Hopefully for the last time. But as we all know, there is business to discuss and we need to act quickly and together. I know I’m not the only one who is concerned about what exactly The Conductor is planning. I brought us all here today to clear the air and lay all of our cards on the table. For various reasons, we all have our secrets here, even from each other. But I think that it’s imperative that we all come together and share what we know about what’s going on right now.”
James paused to give anyone time to speak up. As he predicted though, no one did. So he continued.
“That’s fine. I understand your hesitancy. But I promise you, we’re alone here. I swept the room personally and there are no listening devices of any kind in or near this room. But to put your minds at ease, I’ll start.”
Lynn, Will and Marcus held their breath and wondered how forthcoming their partner was going to be with the group.
“First”, James began, “let me start with this. I’m sure you all remember my recruit Sebastian. Well, I began his training a few months ago and I could tell right away that he was special. He was like a sponge, soaking everything up that I gave him. Everything was going fine until I was almost done with the initial training sessions.”
James glanced at Lynn and Marcus, who both nodded in his direction, before continuing.
“Then The Conductor called a meeting between Lynn, Will, Marcus and me. We didn’t think anything of it since we are all constantly being called into meetings with him, right? But this meeting was different. He didn’t mention Lynn, Will or Marcus’ recruits at all. But he talked plenty about Sebastian.” Now James glanced at his French and Japanese counterparts. “Jean and Hideki, first I want to apologize to you both. As I’m sure you both remember, a couple of weeks ago I had separate conversations with each of you. Jean, you told me about an odd situation with your recruit. I hope you don’t mind me putting you on the spot, but can you tell the group what you told me?”
Looking both surprised and annoyed, Jean cleared his throat and stood. “Well, James, I told you that Marie, who is my recruit was excelling much the same way you describe Sebastian. And that The Conductor must have taken notice because he contacted me and the rest of the European group and told us to take turns training her and show her each of our operations.”
This obviously got Hideki and the rest of the Asian and African group’s attention. He spoke up before Jean had the chance to continue.
“Wait. So she is training underneath all of you? I thought Shin was the only one getting that kind of treatment.”
“Shin? You mean he is being trained by all of you as well?” It was Jean’s turn to be surprised. Hideki nodded curtly in response.
James held up his hand at the front of the room. “Yes, Shin and Marie were both being groomed by multiple group members. As was Sebastian.”
The group fell silent, although nothing was surprising them anymore. After a few seemingly endless seconds of silence, James’ cell phone rang. Somehow everyone in the room knew who it was calling. James answered but didn’t have to say much to whoever was on the other end. He ended the call and addressed the room one last time.
“I don’t have to tell you who that was. He’s calling a meeting. Tomorrow night.” James had a concerned look on his face that must have been obvious to everyone there. Marcus noticed and asked, “Okay, he wants to have a conference call. We were expecting that. What’s the big deal?”
“He didn’t schedule a conference call. He called a meeting”, James replied. “He’s going to be there.”