Here they were again. All the current members of ‘The Keepers’ together in one room for the third time in the last four months. Each member’s recruit was with them as well, though they stood in the background, ceding the spot at the table one last time to their mentor. Notably missing however was Sebastian, Shin and Marie, though no one here was surprised at all. The last meeting was held without The Conductor, which was a first. He was in fact the person who scheduled all the meetings, including this one today.
But another first is what was causing so much anxiety in the room. For the first time since these current members were inducted into the group, The Conductor himself was supposed to join them in person. They each met with him when they were asked to join, but now only communicated with him over the phone. In fact, several of the members were still skeptical that he was actually going to show up for this meeting. As they all sat and waited, they began to hear footsteps coming towards the door. Since they were all accounted for in the room and no one else knew about this place, the footsteps could only belong to one person.
The door slowly came open and in walked a man that they had not seen in person in over thirty years. They were all so shocked that he was actually there in person that it took a while to realize the impossible.
While the men and women sitting at the table had each aged to various degrees, the man making his way into the room looked as though he stepped out of a time machine. Aside from the style of clothing, there was no sign that he was a day older than when they met him three decades earlier.
As the increasingly stunned audience looked on, The Conductor was setting up what looked like any typical office presentation, complete with a projector, screen and remote. He scanned the group as he set up the projector, actually enjoying the confused stares he was getting from the room. He understood the confusion. These people all had personal trainers and dieticians and nobody in the room smoked. Most of them drank occasionally, but none to excess. So he anticipated these looks and even noticed some anger among the more vain members. It wasn’t fair that they had aged as much as they did and he looked exactly the same as he did thirty years ago.
If they only knew the real truth, he thought to himself.
“Thank you all for being here. I won’t waste time with pleasantries as I know you all are anxious to get down to business. So let’s get started.”
One of the recruits in the back dimmed the lights at the request of The Conductor and the projector lit up the white screen in the front as The Conductor narrated. On the screen was a running slide show of various inventions and innovations throughout history. As each came across the screen, a brief description and it’s relevance to ‘The Keepers’ appeared at the bottom. Everyone in the room was familiar with all of this. In fact, a lot of the mentors used this same footage when initially training their recruits. After a few minutes of this, James finally spoke up.
“Sir, no offense, but we’ve all seen this. Even the recruits have more than likely seen some version. I thought you had something new to share with us?”
The Conductor paused the presentation. He had no intention of letting the entire slide show play until the end, but it served as a good introduction to the topic he wanted to discuss.
“James, you’re right. We’ve all seen this. As remarkable as our achievements have been throughout history, we’ve seen it all. Nothing surprises us anymore. In fact, nothing surprises anyone anymore. Including the general public. With all the advancements in technology, specifically in the last two decades, there isn’t much that we can reveal to the world that is going to shock anybody. And increasingly, some of the advancements are coming from individuals outside of this group. Those instances were all but non-existent when this current group began its work. But with the release of the internet, and the sharing of information around the world, those instances are more and more common. Modern humans are making strides in innovation in leaps and bounds now. Not only with the help of this group, but from individuals outside, equipped only with a laptop and wifi access. And that’s what brings us here today.”
He knew he had their attention, so he paused for added effect.
“For the past few years, I’ve wrestled with this thought. I get constant updates from the people in this room and a few people outside this room that I trust. These updates usually involve current business and political events that dictate what our course of action will be from day to day. There are always surprises, but for the most part, I have a plan of action. But as I said earlier, over the past two decades, a lot of the updates that I get involve new technology that comes from outside of our group. At first, my instinct was to stop these in their tracks. As you all know, we have enough contacts throughout the world that we are able to intervene in situations before it gets too far along. But the more times that these things popped up, my thoughts began to change. I started to remember what our groups purpose really was. When I started this group, or should I say, when this group was started, the goal was simple.”
He glanced around the room to see if anyone caught his slip of the tongue. They were all too concerned with what he was going to say next to notice, so he continued.
“The human race was at a turning point. If not for the actions of those early group members, civilization as we know it might not exist. There were outside factions with far less noble motives that were gaining power. Of course, because of the planning of our groups founders, they never really stood a chance. And our purpose was righteous and justified. Groups were breaking off and spreading throughout the world. Civilization in these groups were still fragile and could have been lost at any time. There were several close calls along the way, but in the end, the good guys came out on top. And yes, we are the good guys. I know that to be true.”
The men and women in the room nodded their head in agreement, though some may have had doubts about it.
“But something happened along the way. We always provided the information and the technology needed to keep the world moving in the right direction and to keep power out of the hands of evil men. It sounds old fashioned, I know, but it’s true.”
“As societies grew and businesses developed, so did the priorities of people. Power in the world was no longer in the hands of politicians but in the boardrooms of corporations and the floor of stock exchanges. Money ruled over all. Unfortunately we were no different.”
The group in the room couldn’t act surprised or even angry about this statement. On their watch, capitalism had blossomed around the world. There were billions of dollars of net worth in this room, something that the original ‘Keepers’ would have never imagined.
“Don’t worry, I’m not judging. We adapted to the times. We didn’t create them. That was one of our chief principles in forming this group. We didn’t want to dictate the actions of society, only nudge them in the right direction. We did what we had to do to maintain relevance in the world. And we succeeded. To each and every one of you in this room, never question the things you’ve accomplished or the means by which you accomplished them. It was all necessary for the greater good and the goals of our group. So on behalf of the original ‘Keepers’ and the members that followed them, I say thank you. The world is a better place because of your actions.”
This attempt at flattery did nothing to lower the tension in the room. Seeing this, The Conductor figured he may as well get to the point.
“Having said all of that, I come to the reason for this meeting. Like I said, I am constantly monitoring world events and advancements in technology. There are so many bright, young energetic people out there capable of unimaginable things. My anger and frustration when I first started hearing about new inventions that we didn’t create has been replaced by awe. Instead of trying to squash these ideas before they get too far, I eagerly wait for what they come up with next. Some aren’t as advanced as ours, but equally impressive. After years of this, I finally came to this conclusion.”
Again, pausing for his captive audience, he was interrupted by an impatient Jean Durand.
“For God’s sake, what is this conclusion? Enough already!”
Smiling peacefully he simply announced, “They don’t need us. As of today, ‘The Keepers’ are no more