Ariwara leapt to his feet, startling DeVrees and making Christy reach suspiciously into his briefcase. He launched into a long and colorful tirade in Japanese, continuing for more than a minute before the translator interjected in Raylene's earpiece with something bordering on embarrassment.
"Never," the woman's voice said.
"It took all those words to say 'never'?" Raylene asked out loud, looking in the direction of the concealed translator's booth.
"That was the gist. Chairman Ariwara included a number of colorful anecdotes on how you might, uh, gratify yourself sexually."
"Fuuuuuck yoooooouuuu!" Ariwara enunciated loudly and slowly, wagging a finger at Raylene across the table.
"Very well, Chairman." Ariwara continued cursing in Japanese, but lowered his voice to a mutter and returned to his seat at the table.
"God and King of the Hashishim, honorable lord Bayani, it seems I am left with little hope of aid from this most unfriendly gathering. Perhaps your resolve is greater than that of the others?"
"The singly enlightened agents of Allah gather to defend the Holy Land from these foreign crusaders. They will fight jihad as they have for many thousands of years. The doubly enlightened agents of the Hashishim will disappear as low reeds in the high water of the Nile and scatter across the globe to sow death and despair among the enemy. Allah shines upon your actions as well, matriarch, and into your service I will send three of my most beloved."
Raylene was slightly surprised. She had believed Bayani in control of hundreds or even thousands of secret assassins and had expected him to offer most of them in a double-edged show of support.
"Only three, lord Bayani?"
"It takes but one of the doubly enlightened to dethrone a king or engulf the whole world in the flames of war. The offer of three has never been made for any price or any cause."
"Then I thank you for your support and your kind words," Raylene replied and then bowed graciously to Bayani. "And what of your Herr Haushofer? The Thule Society surely has amassed a powerful force over the last 60 years?"
"First!" Haushofer shouted and his voice was mechanically modulated and choppy, his eyes still vacant. "The eternal Society of Thule has a request for you!"
"I'm listening." Raylene said with poorly concealed amusement.
"We require…six hours of absolute broadcast control across North America! Our agents! Are many and! They are unaware! Television! Radio! Satellite! Give us the control and we will awaken an! ARMY! In the midst! Of our most hated enemy!"
A respirator creaked somewhere inside Haushofer's baroque chair. Then, as if delayed by the slow flow of his blood, Haushofer's frail arm raised from the table. He made a fist and then slammed it down with surprising speed, cracking the surface of the table almost to the center.
"Very well, we will make the arrangements. We can offer you approximately 85% of North America's broadcasts, you will have to negotiate with Mr. Christy and Chairman Ariwara for the remainder."
"Excellent!" Haushofer exulted. "The 1st and 2nd Panzerkommando! Regiments will also move to eliminate the threat on Mexico City! AT! YOUR! LEISURE!"
This was much more than Raylene had expected from Haushofer. His request for the airwaves might amount to nothing more than a ploy for some bizarre hypnotic propaganda, but the fact that he had just given her control of the majority of his armed forces was stunning. It was a bold move, and Raylene planned to keep a careful eye on her sudden ally.
"Very generous Herr Haushofer, I will notify Primus Von Luck to coordinate the deployment with you as soon as the meeting concludes. Before we do so, I feel I do have an apology to make to all in attendance."
Shouts of agreement rained down from the gallery.
"Most of you know that as the ruling matriarch of the New World Order it has been my duty to liaise and negotiate with Trade Commission of the xenos species. In my last negot-"
Alarms began to sound. A garbled transmission exploded in Raylene's ear at painful volume. It steadied and she heard the voice of Primus Von Luck.
"Ma'am, they have arrived. Two of their assault craft just unloaded some sort of airborne infantry in mid-air and they have begun strafing the-"
The comms cut out momentarily and Raylene could feel a slight vibration beneath her feet. Cries of fear began to come from the gallery and there was a brief rush of feet as the lesser leaders tried to stampede out of the meeting chamber.
"I suggest you initiate the evacuation plans." Primus Von Luck shouted as the comms returned. Gunfire and explosions reverberated in the background. "Princeps Watanabe will assist you, the rest of us will hold them here for as long as it takes."
"Not a moment longer Primus," Raylene whispered. "Don't waste lives fighting on their terms. Even if we're lost, disperse and attempt to carry on the fight elsewhere."
"Yes ma'am, long live the Sisterhood."
"Praise to Enoch" Raylene replied.
War had at last come to her doorstep. Despite her fear of failure and her deep misgivings about her allies, Raylene felt a surge of excitement. Others in the NWO had gotten theirs, but she had waited her entire life for her war. And it looked like she was getting the best one yet.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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