As the clock turned zero hour, and the date turned to 12 September, Francis Stewart, clad in his favorite gold cotton robe, plopped his burly frame onto his other throne: a dark brown-framed solid kiln armchair with a black cloud-like cushioned seat, and golden cross spires atop the corners of the brown memory-foam cushioned backrest. This chair was one of many opulent pieces of furniture within the elegant confines of the Marvelous Room, the official chambers of the Ultimate Minister in the North Tower’s 150th floor.
Stewart cathartically sighed as he sipped a glass of a rare world treat: whiskey aged over fifty years containing filtrated waters from an Antarctic glacier. He took a moment to admire the architecture of his chambers, including a French cut-glass, gold-candled chandelier hanging from the blackened ceiling adorned with thirty-two lit candles, walls designed as a near-replica of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and the white floor carved from a rare gemstone deep in the heart of the African jungles. Absent from The Marvelous Room are windows, which was one specification Stewart demanded in the Room’s design not only for privacy, but to remind him the Marvelous Room was his personal cathedral. To validate this, Stewart purchased the gold electric lights that adorned the brick fireplace which sits next to another exorbitant purchase: a rich mahogany altar once used at the Vatican which served as his desk.
As Stewart leaned back in his “throne” to reflect upon his Remembrance Day speech, he heard his ultraphone buzz. Post-zero hour calls typically disturbed and angered the Ultimate Minister, but he saw the blue-font pixilated name and number float above his alter. Feeling delighted, he answered it with a smug grin on his face.
“Good morning, Mr. President!” Stewart snickered as he feasted his eyes on the image of George Fetisov, clad in a gray turtleneck sweater with khakis, his frizzed parted salt-and-pepper hair revealing the brightness of his green eyes beneath his thin glasses.
“Good morning, your magnificence!” Fetisov snarled with blatant sarcasm in his pseudo-Russian accent.
“How are we this fine evening, George?” Stewart drawled as he held his whiskey glass high to taunt Fetisov.
“Don’t start, you… you… odia!”
“Oh, for Joshua’s sake, George. Odia? Why use pryvie slang? Odious is the proper term!”
“I’m sure you comprehend the magnitude behind what you addressed your subordinates about tonight!”
“And I’ll spare you the embarrassment of divulging my opinion about you denouncing me in public on your most beloved holiday!”
“Whatever; can’t believe that still offends you. Then again, everything does these days.”
“Get to the point, George!”
“What are you so afraid of, Francis? Missing out on the profits of Project Miracle?”
“George, you’re a year younger than me, but you still don’t get it, do you?”
“Did Joshua Evans come to you in a dream again?”
“My boy. He’s telling me how evil you are!”
“Hilarious. Did he also tell you to go to unethical lengths to make up for your past failures?!”
Stewart’s mood suddenly turned from haughty to exasperated. “Okay, George, you know that’s out of bounds!”
“Well, you know I know the truth!” Fetisov growled.
“And what truth is that, Georgie boy?”
“You may be good at selling normalcy, peace, and prosperity to your blissfully ignorant populace but I know what your aim is hiding under that silly facade of God fearing and Joshua worshipping! And I will tell you this, old friend: your mouth will cause you more trouble than you realize!”
“Look at you,” Stewart snickered after sipping his whiskey, “trying to portray the image of the stable and moral leader. You have all this power, but you still don’t know how to wield it!”
“Oh, and you do?!” Fetisov squawked. “Like a fascist?!”
Stewart obnoxiously chuckled. “Romans 13:1, George,” he scoffed, like a comic book villain confronting its hero. “Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.”
“You’re seriously quoting a bible verse to validate your demagoguery desires?!” Fetisov cried. “More powerful than Pei and Kovalka combined?! They’d wipe out the DRF quicker than they wiped out the USA if given the chance! The DRF may be the ‘last beacon of home for freedom in the world,’, but New Alaska is the world’s last hope for democracy! If you think Freedomers want to see another war, you’re out of your mind!”
“You sure about that?” Stewart replied, winking.
“Don’t forget, the Freemasons, Opus Dei, and the Illuminati disbanded during the Conflict, so you couldn’t get their help! And now, the Shanghai Sovereignty won’t save you from yourself! Keep that in mind, Francis, or it’s your funeral!”
“Good night, George,” Stewart scoffed. “Give my best to Victoria.” Stewart disconnected the call, then immediately clicked at the speed-dial menu options. Seconds later, a black-and-white image of Agent O’s stick figure appeared.
“Yes, your Magnificence,” Agent O’s robotic voice inquired.
“Agent O,” Stewart droned, “I trust you more than anyone in the Covenant. You’ve proven yourself time and time again with your expertise and resourcefulness. I have a very important job for you, one that other anons with a conscience cannot possibly fulfill, and I need your full commitment.” Stewart deliberately paused and concernedly looked at O. “Can you do that for me?”
Without hesitation, O replied, “thy bidding will be done, your Magnificence.”