Saving the Cult (if not the World), Chapter Twenty-Nine

Saving the Cult (If not the World) "It's time." Manfield Lee knew he was good at sounding authoritative even when he didn't know what he was talking about - he'd turned a fortune into a megafortune doing just that, after all, not to mention running the Organization - but right now, he DID know what he was talking about. After all, it was just a date, wasn't it? And if the date turned out to be wrong, well, then he knew exactly what to blame it on, and that blame would fall on the scholars and the psychics, not on him. The other thing Manfield Lee knew how to do was to place the blame in very specific ways that were not him.

Mrs. Thompson cleared her throat.  “Now, mind control aside, I’m beginning to wonder a number of things about the leaders of our organization – not offense, young men, considering who your families are -” She nodded at Dylan and Ethan. 

“None taken,” Dylan muttered.  “You’re probably right.”

“Besides,” Ethan put in cheerfully, “Lina here saved our asses.  Lives.  Sorry.  Twice, maybe three times already.  So loyalty…”  He shrugged eloquently. 

“Loyalty is, uh, with the person – people – who value us,” Dylan filled in very softly.  “I think I hear my dad ahead, though, so maybe we talk about loyalty some time when it won’t get me disowned?” 

Lina mostly stifled a snort.  “Okay, Jackson, this… thing? The not-Yoda thing.”

“Okay.”  He cleared his throat.  “Think about it this way.  If you’re a queen, you have your subjects, and then you have your, ah, your advisors, your…. knights!  That would be, ah, I’m your knight, I guess.”  His smile was crooked and a little amused.  “So that’s me, and that would be what Mrs. Thompson here would be.  A knight, or a Chancellor.”

“Not a chancellor!”  Ethan shook his head.  “Not a viceroy, either.  Those are evil.”

“Or whatever Jafar was… what was Jafar?” Dylan put in. “Vizier!  None of those.”

Jackson shook his head.  “Okay.  None of those, but you get the idea.  We’re in a different capacity.”

“I get the idea,” Mrs. Thompson chuckled.  “All right.  That’s something I can agree to, easier than … other things.  No offense, Catalina.”

“None taken, ma’am.”  She fell silent; she, too, could hear Dylan’s father ahead.  They rounded the bend to see him lambasting several people, many of them older folks – still not elderly, but definitely older than Mr. Lee. 

“-and if I am going to ask you to do something, I assure you that I will ask you to do it.  Now, I’m sorry that the Misses Martin decided to take matters into their own hands, but the problem is that they’re not working with full information, not by a long shot, and that means that they’re going to cause problems.  Now, I’m sure you all remember why we’re here, yes?”

One of the older people muttered something about “…not an idiot…”

“No, Jonah, certainly nobody’s suggesting that.  There’s a storm coming.  And my son, Ethan Martin, Jackson Doherty, and Catalina Bosch are going to be instrumental in the Organization’s efforts to protect us.  So what I’m going to ask is that you give the four of them all of your support.”

“But they said-”  

There’s a reason some people join a cult, Lina thought uncharitably, and it’s because they like taking orders. Lucky for them — at the moment, at least, it was lucky for them, Mr. Lee was good at working with that. 

“I know, and I’m sorry for the confusion.  I’ll handle that with them later.  Right now, these four here are definitely exempt from any day school here at camp.  Please, give them  – and me – your support.”

Lina glanced at Dylan and then at Jackson.  Jackson’s jaw was set, but when he saw her looking, he loosened up and made himself smile. 

She forced herself to do the same – not a big smile, because they were on their way to do something serious – but not the glower at Mr. Lee that she wanted to be doing.  Instrumental in the Organization’s efforts.  Yeah.  

Well, he wasn’t getting in their way, and he was supporting them, in his dishonest, self-aggrandizing way.  She wasn’t going to argue with that. 

He paused in his explanations to the slowly-dispersing group and looked at Dylan.  The two held eye contact for just long enough that Lina was about to step forward and intervene. Then Mr. Lee nodded, slowly but with some purpose clear in the motion. 

“Son.”  He cleared his throat.  “Dylan.”

Dylan hesitated, but only very briefly.  “Dad.”  He stepped forward and held out a hand.  “I’m pretty sure – 99% sure – that Lina will get us through this.  But it’s, ah.  It’s a prophesied end of everything and it’s a power plant doing something power plants shouldn’t.  So if I don’t make it…”

That seemed to take Mr. Lee aback, but he was quick on his feet.  He took the hand and shook it.  “You’ll make it back.”  His voice was thick.  He shook the hand and then pulled his son into a brief but very tight hug.

He looked over Dylan at the rest of them and met Lina’s eyes.  “You’ll make it back safe.”

She nodded slowly, solemnly. “We’re going to make it back safe.  We’re going to do this.”

He nodded crisply at her.  She reached out and squeezed Dylan’s hand, and took Ethan’s as well.  At the moment, she thought they probably needed her more than anyone else here. “It’s clear for us to go down now?”

“It is.  People who you’ve – there are people waiting for you, but I believe they’re on your side.”

A little tension left her.  She hadn’t been all that sure they’d come, and she thought – she thought she might need their power to do this.  “Thank you.”

“Save the world, Miss Bosch.  Then we can talk about thanks.”

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