February 12, 2029, Rome, Italy
Janet calls the White House while her Uber driver navigates the traffic to her hotel. The President’s Assistant, Ava, takes her call and relays the President is in a crisis meeting, but promises a returned call as soon as he is available. Janet moves on to call Benjamin. His call goes to voicemail. She leaves a message and heads to her room to pack her suitcase. As she checks out at the front desk, she asks to pick up the suitcase they are holding for Benjamin as well. She explains there’s been a national emergency and her assistant is being diverted to the airport with no time to come back for the bag. A supervisor allows Janet to carry out Benjamin’s luggage.
Neither of Janet’s calls are returned by the time she boards her jet. She decides to get on early and do research on the politics of world religions and on the prophecy book of Revelation. She wants to understand why the Thirteen Mandates for a United World, the One World Bank, and the Religion Roundtable’s efforts to unite the world perfectly align with prophecy for the End Times. She’s not admitting to herself she believes any of this, but she is open-minded enough to do the research. She is still deep in thought when her cell phone rings. It’s Benjamin. She only gets out the word “hello” before he interrupts.
“Janet, what happened?”
Finding her assistant’s emotion to be extreme given she hasn’t told him the story yet, she tries to calm him. “I can tell you all about it when you arrive. I have your suitcase, so tell your driver to bring you directly to the airport. I’m already boarded. How far away are you?”
“I’m about an hour out. Janet, I’m not asking about the Roundtable. What happened to you personally?”
“Ok, Benjamin, I’m not following you. Can you get to the point?”
Benjamin takes a deep breath before answering. He slows his pace. “Have you seen the Press in the last two hours?”
“No, I’ve been on the plane doing research. Why?”
“The Worldwide Press is reporting you committed treason today. They say you released eight national and international secrets, including classified military weapon strategy of Israel and the United States. The position they’re taking is that you are acting out in jealousy of the President’s daughter. Anna is cooperating with the Press and giving interviews on the encounters between the two of you at the World Economic Summit—as well as in the hallway outside the Pope’s office.”
“What? I only congratulated her on her appointment at the Economic Summit and didn’t even speak to her outside the Pope’s office. You were there both times.”
“Janet, focus! I’m not challenging you—she is, and they are. Either way, the Press is sending eight pieces of classified information all around the world. Our top-secret drone developments and Israel’s biological developments are under high scrutiny. Something must have been said in that meeting. There’s an edited video circulating that has fuzzy soundbites, but they might be enough to incriminate you. And, just to prepare you for how bad this is, the opposition party is calling for your termination as Ambassador and demanding criminal charges. Why did you leave the Religion Roundtable to board a plane? It doesn’t look good.”
“I can see that now. I’ll tell you all about it when you arrive. A cell phone line isn’t the right channel for this type of conversation. I’ll see you in an hour. Benjamin, think good things about me on your ride here. I’m being misrepresented. I need to have you in my corner.”
“I’m always in your corner. I’ll get there as fast as the roads allow. I’ll tip the driver to navigate like an Italian. This one has an Audi, so maybe we can trim fifteen. See you soon.”
Minutes later, Janet jumps when the phone she has been resting her chin upon begins to vibrate. It’s the secure line from the White House. “Hold for the President.” Ava says quickly. She exits the call before there is time to reply.
“Hello, Janet. Are you in a secure location?”
“Yes, Mr. President. I’m on my jet. Why do you ask?”
“According to the CIA, there have been some confirmed threats made on your life.”
“My life is being threatened? I don’t understand.”
“Ambassador, I know you don’t come from a political background, but the things that happened in the closed session of the Religion Roundtable are not acceptable. Israel has been exposed on many levels. They went from being not liked in the world to being hated. Once more, they are seen as elitists with a mentality of superiority. Many of their own citizens are marching in the streets calling for your resignation. Even after the political storm subsides, we will be left with a worldwide panic because of the asteroid and the magnetic pole reversal. What were you thinking?”
“Mr. President, I know this looks bad, especially in light of the video soundbites, but I did not expose these things—Anna did. I only confirmed her information was correct. I added a statement that we are working with other world leaders to address all of these things.”
“As trivial as this seems right now, Ambassador, I am going to reprimand you and order you to never confirm classified information without the express consent of our government—meaning me. We have U.S. servicemen and women who are being tortured on any given day to confirm information like this. They’re living with pain and the threat of death in dark prison cells just to protect our nation’s interests. They aren’t confirming. And yet, you confirmed at an international religious conference in Italy—while safe and wearing a designer suit. Are you following me, Ambassador?”
“Yes, I am following you. I apologize, Mr. President. I didn’t think through my actions to this possible outcome.”
“Well, be that as it may, it’s time to move to damage control. I don’t want you back in the U.S. until this thing blows over. I’m sending you to Israel on special assignment. The Prime Minister has agreed to meet you when your plane arrives. He’s also agreed to conduct a joint press conference with you in the morning. A demonstration of solidarity will push the wolves back a bit. Let him lead the show. He’s an expert at spinning. He wants to use this press conference to dismantle the mobs in the streets of Jerusalem. Israel is in critical times with the opening of the new Temple. He doesn’t want citizens questioning his leadership right now.
“Ava has already contacted your flight team and Rome’s air traffic control to file a new flight plan. Clear your thinking and prepare your responses for the Prime Minister. I’ll be in touch soon.”
An awkward silence follows. Janet isn’t sure of the response the President is seeking from her. He seems to sense her worry and moves to console her. “Janet, Pastor Peters is the son of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Peters told me what really happened at the Roundtable. I know Anna is the source of the information that was released. I also know she set you up. You can rest knowing the truth always comes out it in the end. You will be vindicated, and I will protect you as much as I can.
“However, should you be questioned on this issue, you must not involve me or mention this discussion. It will worsen things for you. I must leave you now. Ava just handed me a piece of paper confirming your departure time in fifteen minutes. Be aware and stay safe.”
“Mr. President, Benjamin is still about forty minutes away.”
“Leave him. I’ll see that he is contacted. Ava will arrange a ride for him back to New York. It’s best we also keep him out of this story. Do you have any other questions?”
“Just one: Is my position as Ambassador in jeopardy?”
“Probably.” With that, the President is gone.
Janet pauses for a minute to let the President’s reply sink in. After two deep breaths, her fighter spirit returns. “Vince, I’m prepared for wheels up.”
“We are on our way, Ambassador.”