In the enormous domed gathering hall the leaders of the seven great factions sat around an oversized circular table of black glass. Above the table's center a hovering lighting and video apparatus illuminated each leader with micro-spotlights while tiny cameras recorded their images and projected them onto a series of seven large screens. The gallery surrounding the table extended into the darkness beyond and was filled with dozens of leaders from the lesser factions. These leaders were relegated to impotence, granted nothing more than permission to watch the proceedings and occasionally shout down disagreement or encouragement before being called to silence.
Raylene had selected an unadorned black uniform of a vague naval officer's style to wear for the meeting. She had eschewed the officer's cap handed to her by one of her assistants, choosing instead to wear her hair up in a bun. Unlike many secret societies the Sisters of Enoch had no official uniform or occult trappings beyond a plain golden pendant that represented the leaf and knife motif. Raylene had pinned the small icon above her left breast.
She had arranged the seating herself, placing the leaders of the most dangerous or unpredictable factions immediately to her left and right.
At Raylene's right hand sat Karl Haushofer, the leader of the Thule Society. The decrepit Nazi was not as old as her, but looked nearly 300, his body kept alive by arcane machinery rather than rejuvenation treatments and microsurgery. Haushofer was emaciated and hunched low in a large wheelchair that was rumored to be controlled by his mind. This was the man who had once seized power in the Thule Society and infiltrated a pathetic Austrain-born corporal into a formative German political party, filling the poor wretch's head with bold new ideas and delusions of grandeur. That man, and Haushofer by extension, had set Europe and nearly the entire world ablaze with war. Since then Haushofer had retreated to South America, where he continued to train and recruit new generations of fascists while dabbling in grotesque eugenic, mind-control, and mechanical experiments.
To Raylene's left hand sat Amir Al Insahar Bayani, the so-called God-King of the Abyad Hashishim. Bayani was a total enigma to Raylene. He rarely spoke at meetings and was seen less frequently in attendance than any other faction leader. What was commonly known about the Abyad Hashishim was that they pulled the strings on more than a hundred major and minor Muslim terrorist organizations. What Raylene had discovered through her agents and the great price they paid in blood was that Bayani was the sixty third God-King of the Abyad Hashishim. Each God-King married once, sired one son and no daughters, and the son inherited the title of God-King when the father died. There was more to the faction; secrets held within the pages of an over 3,000 year old book supposedly entitled "The Book of Interminable Ideals". But, no matter how many agents Raylene expended, she could get no idea of what the book contained.
Donald Christy of the Trilateral Commission sat next to Bayadi, comically unnerved by the tall and silent Arab. Former US President Jimmy Carter was technically still the head of the Trilateral Commission, but he had declared Christy the acting chief more than a decade ago. The man was easy to underestimate - small, fidgety, and with large red-rimmed eyeglasses - but everyone at the table knew that he controlled more money and more industrial power than everyone else combined. He was an utter market capitalist at heart, and as near as Raylene could tell this was the only agenda he ever actively pushed, but Christy was not afraid to get chest-deep in the shadiest dealings the NWO had to offer.
Sitting to Christy's left was the smiling and always-friendly Sir Quirin Hunziker. The disparate and secretive Knights Templar had selected Hunziker as their leader after he ritually decapitated three other contenders for the title in the most brutal internal bloodletting the faction had seen in centuries. Hunziker looked like what people picture when they hear the word "Viking". He was dressed in a simple and somewhat cheap-looking business suit that seemed roughly fifty sizes too small for his gigantic muscular body. Raylene knew that many considered Hunziker to be an oafish warrior king of the Knights Templar, which was exactly the impression Hunziker had worked hard to construct. Her own research pointed to an absolutely brilliant strategist as well as, amazingly, an almost good human being. Naturally he had murdered several dozen people, but most of his policy decisions within the Knights Templar involved words like "charity" and "stability". He was also almost good-looking enough to make Raylene overcome her revulsion of chauvinism long enough to properly straddle him.
Chairman Hirotsugu Ariwara of Tetrahedron Amalgamated was next. Ariwara was the odd man out at the table. He had bought his way into the innermost circle of the New World Order, somewhat unintentionally. Tetrahedron Amalgamated was founded in 1892 as a secret society of the world's greatest business leaders bent on world domination. Tetrahedron's members were gradually made aware of the New World Order and by 1920 they had amassed enough power to deserve a seat in the inner circle. Ariwara was never a part of this, having been born through no fault of his own in a country completely shut out from Tetrahedron's membership. However, Ariwara, as the CEO and founder of electronics mega-corporation Ronin, found himself owning a controlling interest in the majority of Tetrahedron's member corporations. In this way Tetrahedron inducted its first non-white member in 1989 and on the same day was forced to name him the Chairman of the faction.
The location of the meeting had granted the Illuminati the right to chair the proceedings and Raylene was quickly regretting her decision. Sitting nearly directly across from her at the table was the representative of the Illuminati. Valentino DeVrees was a fat, pompous Italian with a ridiculously oiled black mustache and goatee. He spoke English with a thick effeminate accent and wore an obscure Illuminati costume that made him look like a cross between a 16th century French aristocrat and a grand wizard of the Klu Klux Klan. In his chubby fingers he daintily grasped the wooden gavel and then swung it down to pound on the table once again.
"Silence! The meeting will be called to order!" He cried imperiously. "There will be no more delays from the gallery."
The shouts and catcalls from the shadows beyond the table quieted to an annoyed murmur.
"We will begin by receiving a situation report from the honorable madam Raylene Conchita LeVeaux the Ninth of the Sisters of Enoch." DeVrees waited to be sure that the screaming would not immediately begin again. When it did not he gestured for Raylene to take the floor.
Raylene smoothed her black uniform down and stood up from the table to make the speech of her life.
It is standard procedure for the White House to have a synthetic. But it sometimes malfunctions...
This VR game has become sentient and is killing us one by one. But is it art?
If you think Hitler was good, you've got another thing coming.
Featured articles and columns that don't fit anywhere else on Something Awful.