The World’s Most Dangerous Woman: The Manifest Destiny
“Gracious, what a tintinnabulation,” said the comely red-haired woman as she took a sip of Irish Breakfast tea from her Clarice Cliff cup. “Divulging state secrets is a dangerous game when you overestimate your cunning and the moral fortitude of the people you proclaim to be arming with knowledge, Mr. Quicksilver.” She primly adjusted the collar of her black turtleneck sweater.
“I thought if people knew how they are being controlled and manipulated that they would rise up and demand change, Miss Lyme.” The lanky young American man sitting in the chair seemed agitated and upset, completely taken aback by the predicament he found himself now. He had barely escape arrest and came across the border that evening to make his way to Niagara-on-the-Lake to the farmhouse he now found himself seeking asylum of sorts. The cozy office where the conversation was now taking place hardly seemed like the hub of international intrigue. The consultant he was now speaking with was known to the most powerful players as the world’s most dangerous woman, yet Miss Magnus Lyme seemed dainty and whimsical; her gracious, calming demeanour gave no hint of her secret role in world affairs.
“It took them hundreds of years to set things up just the way they like them, why would they want to rock the boat now?”
“Are you serious?”
“But they are being oppressed, degraded, stalked – enslaved!”
“Yes, but they have cultivated an identifiable group of people they can blame for their personal failures, and thus do not have to make the effort to create true progress and can settle for the status quo. It is a dreadful way to live one’s life, but obtaining paradise is a terrifying idea to most. As long as everything seems functional and they have their trinkets, amusements, and elixirs, people will forgive almost any sort of abuse. Some will even go so far as to justify it and declare it to be the best way to live one’s life and do everything in their power to enforce it on future generations.”
“I find that hard to believe. You wrote two exposés when you were a journalist.”
“I do sympathize with you, but you still have not grasped what has happened. You gave it your absolute best and most clever effort to expose corruption to the corrupt and they turned on you from both sides of the equation. They will not thank you for exposing their deficiencies to the world and pointing out that people are allowed to wear worthless paper crowns by rigging the game and not because they are special and superior.”
“Did they turn on you?”
“Of course, they are impossible people, but it did not stop me from doing things from a more sensible angle. You are up against two of the world’s most powerful organizations – the Circle in the Sky and their sworn enemies La Nuit du bas, both that have been in existence since the late eighteen hundreds and have weathered numerous whistle-blowers before you and survived. They become more powerful no matter if they are naked emperors strutting proudly down the street. You managed to inoculate them from further harm by getting the populace to become adjusted to the tyranny.”
“I’m a wanted man, Miss Lyme. I can spend the rest of my life in prison, or worse, they could kill me. I need you to help me.”
“Then tell me how you fell into this quagmire in the first place.”
The man fell back in his chair and sighed. “I was hired at Hildebrandt International Security Corporation right out of university. It was a lowly, contract position.”
“They are a front for the Circle.”
“I did not know that at the time. They had a government contract to overhaul their security systems so that hackers wouldn’t steal classified information.”
“But you somehow did just that.”
“Not at first. I was let go shortly after I was hired because I wouldn’t join the ranks. I landed on my feet, getting a job at the Intelligence Agency.”
“I am listening.”
“I was hired on my expertise in securing their systems.” The man paused.
“It didn’t take long for me to see what was going on. The Agency was encouraging young naïve kids to ‘live out loud’ on social media sites so they could not only start gathering information about every move these kids made, but also began a program to encourage them to do certain risky things so they could shame them or keep them in check later on. They were controlling their behaviour as they were following their every move, turning average kids into raging narcissists who had no idea they were being built up to be humbled, willing to do anything to stay alive when their delusions all came crashing down on them.”
“When did you get the idea to gather information on the information-gatherers?”
“You know the underground anarchist group the Manifest Destiny?”
“I do. They proclaim to be a subversive group who gather classified information from various governments and disseminate it publicly on various sites with high traffic.”
“Right. I gathered what I could and put out feelers. Their leader Harrison Jones contacted me personally and encouraged me to give them what I had.”
“Mr. Jones’ family has deep ties to La Nuit and they are the second most prominent members of African-American descent in the organization, and were, in fact, the first black American members to join. The Destiny is a front that is neither underground nor anarchist. You were fooled to infiltrate the Circle’s operations.”
The man’s eyes widened in fear as his hands trembled. “I had no clue.”
“The organization is a sham and a front for La Nuit to remove the Circle members so that they can replace them with their own men. Did you keep any proof of your dealings with them?”
“I did. I have a memory stick of everything right here.” The man reached into his plaid shirt pocket and gave the stick to Miss Lyme.
“I will have a look at this later. Are you absolutely certain that the idea of leaking documents was your idea and not Mr. Jones'?”
“Now that you mention it, one of my colleagues, Hayley Barnes is the one who nudged me to do the right thing.”
“Did you do so to impress her?”
“She is a pretty good-looking woman who told me how much she finds rebels attractive.”
“She is one of Mr. Jones’ operatives. She knew of your affiliation with Hildebrandt and assumed you were a Circle minion. I know the rest of your story.”
“I was assured complete anonymity by Harrison. I thought my name was leaked by accident, but I guess it was all part of the plan once I outlived my usefulness. I don’t know what to do. The government will throw me in jail and the Destiny will vilify me and torment me with their anonymous terrorist campaigns.”
“The latter’s campaign hinges on you caring about their mud-slinging, which can be turned around and be used to your advantage. As for the former, you will stay here tonight and tomorrow we face the problem directly. I must play with my dog Helmut and my mule Orson or they will become sulky and throw a tantrum. I will make enquiries and proceed from there. Good night, Mr. Quicksilver.”
The following morning, Miss Lyme wore her white silk shirt and matching skirt and flew on her private plane to Washington, DC where her client was once an employee. Her enquiries were most telling, and it would not take long for her to resolve the matter efficiently.
When she arrived, she took a cab to Mr. Quicksilver’s former place of work and headed for his superior’s office, walking past the secretary and knocked on the door.
“Red Queen!” spluttered the man as he jumped up from his office chair.
“There is no need to call me that, Mr. Harlow. Miss Lyme will do.” The woman sat down in a chair and opened her briefcase as the man sat back in his chair, looking more relieved, but still uncertain. “I will be brief and to the point: I am here because Mr. Davies Quicksilver is my client…”
“You know where he is?”
“I have come to ask you not to have him arrested or killed.”
“He has to pay for what he has done, Miss Lyme.”
“He has inside information on the Manifest Destiny, Mr. Harlow.”
The man looked up intensely. “What are you offering?”
“Did you know Mr. Harrison Jones funds the Destiny with his father’s wealth?”
“La Nuit has been trying to gain a foothold here for the last year and expand their espionage division.”
“They already have a mole here by the name of Hayley Barnes. She was the one who hatched the scheme in the first place.”
“In other words, we have someone less sympathetic who can fall for this leak publicly?”
“Precisely. What say you?”
“Deal. We’ll handle the optics. We can say she tried to frame Davies Quicksilver for treason.”
Miss Lyme handed over a memory stick. “All the information you need is right here. You can take a look…”
“No, no, I trust you. You never lie.” The man frowned in disgust. “That little trollop slept her way to the top here.”
“Only to find the top floor of the tower was a prison. Good day, Mr. Harlow.”
As Miss Lyme walked out of Mr. Harlow’s office, the man gave a faint smile in spite of the trouble and the visitor who thankfully did not wear her red dress. That smug little Barnes woman was about to get her comeuppance albeit temporarily and for that, he relished what he was about to do. Though he could never tell his superiors openly, he owed the Red Queen a big favour.
After leaving the Agency’s office, Miss Lyme made a quick stop to the Jones’ sprawling mansion where one of her maids had been an employee as were dozens of others who secretly gave her information on the world’s most elite players. She knocked on the back door, where a pretty and voluptuous maid with a Russian accent appeared.
“Maggie! How nice to see you. They are not home, come inside. I will make you some tea.”
“No need, Katerina. This visit shall be a short one. I need to know how are the Jones’ finances. Their son Harrison tricked a client of mine to reveal some rather sensitive information without considering how he would manage to go up against the Circle and La Nuit.”
“Yes, you are referring to the Quicksilver man. The finances of the Jones’ are not as plentiful right now and they cannot keep up with the charade for long.”
“What has happened? I thought they were on solid footing.”
“Wife made a foolish choice in lovers and he demanded millions to keep quiet because she told him too much about their illegal activities to stay rich. They hired private investigator to find his weak spot, but she could not find anything anywhere.”
“Is he still giving them trouble?”
“Yes, he is back demanding more. He is a careful man. They have tried to assassinate him four times, but he is like ghost.”
“Their son Harrison has his phony group called the Manifest Destiny…”
“Yes, his father has been insistent he use it to full capacity now.”
“That is telling.”
“He said to him to stop an enemy, you must take away what makes them powerful and then take over them.”
“Yes, I see what he means. I would suggest you resign from this post immediately as they will have more financial burdens by the end of the day.”
“Excellent. I must get back to Moscow soon. I have a study I am about to conduct on the effects of teaching children how to think for themselves and what happens when parents do it for them. This assignment has given me much insight.”
“Thank you for all of your help, Dr. Chekov. Don’t forget to come over to my house before you leave for home.”
After bidding her friend good-bye, Miss Lyme returned to her plane, changed her outfit to a vibrant yellow knee-length sleeveless dress and after making a few enquiries, headed for the maximum security prison where Miss Hayley Barnes was now being kept. Miss Lyme was known to those inside the penitentiary as a consultant, and they had agreed to let her see Miss Barnes in an interrogation room within minutes. Miss Lyme sat down across from the surly young woman and looked at her serenely.
“Miss Barnes, you are now in serious trouble.”
“Thanks to you!”
“I did not tell you to goad a smitten and suggestible idealist to divulge state secrets on behest of La Nuit. That you managed to do all on your own without any prodding.”
“Harrison promised me a promotion in La Nuit! I have been toiling there ever since I was a frosh. They paid for my education so I didn’t have to work as a stripper anymore.”
“At a very steep price since what you were expected to do is far more degrading. I am here to negotiate with you.”
“What can you do for me? I’m up the creek!”
“The way Mr. Quicksilver was up the creek and he is now a free man, yet he is still in great danger. The Circle may have decided to look the other way, but La Nuit is still a threat to him.”
“What are you offering?”
“You are but a mere expendable foot soldier, but the Jones’ have more to lose. Tell me what Mr. Jones told you to do.”
“What’s in it for me?”
“At the very least, La Nuit will not kill you. I have called my lawyer Athena Tallman to represent you on the condition you cooperate with me and very few people terrify La Nuit and the Circle more than she. If you have something of value, both she and I can spare you.”
The woman considered before she spoke. “Harrison’s family made some mistake. I don’t know what, though. His father's business rival Joseph Hildebrandt was wiping the floor with whatever mistake they made. Harrison needed to do something to pull the company out from ruin.”
“Just what I expected. Thank you.” Miss Lyme got up from the chair. “Ms. Tallman should be here within the hour. Good day.”
That evening, Miss Lyme put on her long red gown and made her way to the posh night club where Mr. Harrison Jones was known to frequent. She made her way inside and walked up to the table where Mr. Harrison looked up, trying to hide his surprise and rage. It was known to the elites of the world that when the Red Queen wore her iconic dress, the game was over.
He remembered what his father told him about striking at an enemy before they had a chance to strike at you. “Do you think you can stop me? My followers will hound you at every waking moment, calling you, posting every piece of information about you until you break,” he sneered.
The Red Queen was not rattled. “Your army of empty shadows can do so much to keep your father’s company alive after your mother had her foolish affair with your father’s sworn enemy. Every second they obsess over me is a second they hand to me on a silver platter, Mr. Jones. They become consumed with me as I go about my life. I am used to dealing with angry hordes. I have calmed them and I have incited them in my life.”
“That’s what you say now!”
“Your father tried to destroy Hildebrandt by proxy. The Destiny would have hacked into the computers of his company and planted evidence that Mr. Hildebrandt was the mastermind of the leak, destroying his company and the threat to your father. The government and Mr. Hildebrandt have been informed of the plot and Miss Barnes has revealed as much. It is over.”
“I can still strike at you with the Destiny.”
“Anger from impossible people means nothing to a sensible woman like me. I have my garden and animals and I have inoculated myself from the taunts of the powerful bullies in suits who could not destroy me despite their best resources and cunning. A mob needs direction from a leader who assures them they can remove any threat to their flawed ideology, and they pick on easy prey such as emotionally weak and naive little girls with no protectors. When the target has no respect for their games, they become fearful that their fantasies of owning and controlling the thoughts of others have no effect. I go on, but they will waste their lives searching for my every word and fact, never realizing it all adds up to them ignoring the real problems in their own lives that destroy them with nothing to show for their misplaced rage, while I enjoy my paradise to the fullest without giving them a second thought because I know who they are without ever having to know their names or faces and they will never know me with the vast data at their disposal.”
“I will get you for this, Lyme.”
“I told your superiors at La Nuit of your games.”
“They’ll cut off my funding!”
“La Nuit no longer has use for you, and the Manifest Destiny is out of business. Let them bravely go after the government as they go after them and you for treason. Good evening, Mr. Jones.”
With her client safe from harm, Miss Lyme left the building so she could return to her animals and garden to enjoy all the blessings of her quiet, peaceful life.