On a refitted C-130, high above Cuban airspace...
Mack Bane faces a group of earnest men and women. His voice booms, his authority charging the air with purpose, his breathing mask amplifying the tension that surrounds his imposing presence.
"My recruiting trip has proven fruitful. Cuban communism is ended. Castro my new Cavalier King Charles Spaniel."
His voice resonated clearly. No trace of the Tennessee hills remains, and there's a faint suggestion of Oxbridge and a New England boarding school, making him sound like that Transatlantic asshole Madonna.
"And I shall open a very tasteful Sandals resort there."
"Commence status reports..."
"Your planted story on the forced resignation was successful, Mack Bane."
"Excellent. The rubes are dancing in celebration even now. Swilling Dr Pepper and babbling about their weekend's entertainments. And I shall finally be freed of my glad-handing cover - one I barely nourished over the last four years as the world's complexity has grown and I could devote only a slice of my psychic energies to its perpetuation."
Mack Bane spins in his chair, assessing a large world map pinned on the bulkhead.
"What news of Syria?"
"Assad still holding on, though tenuously. Your SAM delivery was most welcomed by the rebels outside of Aleppo."
Mack Bane shrugged.
"Invite the most radical jihadists to take their share of the SAMs, isolate them, and then smother them with silk pillows. Douse them with sarin like cheap cologne. Inform the credulous New York Times and offer them this information. Then send Assad's forces Google maps to the jihadist camps while informing the jihadists of their route. Even deserts abhor a vacuum. And I shall fill it."
Mack Bane shooed the praise away like a fly.
"Divert another ninety million from my Cayman account to the Abu Dhabi Initiative. The ghosts of Sykes-Picot may yet be exorcised; the desert pit I emerged from remade into a Dave N Busters, a lasting peace imposed under my tyranny. All who refuse shall be bent to my inexorable will."
"As you bent mine, sir?"
"Indeed, Kate Upton."
He traced her cheek with a single finger.
"Miami reminds me: Bad tattoos have now reached a societal tipping point - move my Latin American churro stand bets to laser tattoo removal technology and Hepatitis B treatments. Do so from our Geneva office. Discreetly."
A man walks up with a piece of paper, a message scrawled across in it a Pashtun regional dialect. It reads: Sally with the Chinese premier on Line 2.
"Patch them through."
Mack Bane speaks at length in fluent Mandarin. He ends the call with a clever Confucian parable which offers just the right amount of ambiguity as to his intentions.
"Our third satellite is on line to launch from Chengdu."
He studies the map again. Frowning at the 38th parallel.
"And what of my united New Korea?"
"Mere weeks away, Mack Bane. The subtle pressures you've exerted on Pyongyang in the commodities markets are bearing fruit. They teeter on the correct balance between insecurity and desperation."
Mack Bane opened his hand slowly. It revealed a white queen.
He says it disinterestedly, unchallenged; Gary Kasparov slumps in his chair, defeated again.
"The sun probes are ready."
"Lower the earth's temperature a half degree. The polar bears have learned their lesson. Have Hrrrgorak meet me in Gnome and we shall finally end this war with the bears. For his disloyalty, he shall be my steed for one year. That should make the necessary impression at the UN General Assembly."
"An AP Reporter, asking if you've resigned at Texas, sir."
The information came via console at Brown's leather-gloved finger tips, above them, a falcon sits menacingly on his upper shoulder, its talons digging into his leather bandolier, a single line of blood running down his corded deltoids and bare chest.
"Amuse him with a warm homily and remember the names and birthdays of his children. Use FolksyMack Program, setting 5: Avuncular & Garrulous."
"Operative VY reporting sir."
"Ah, Agent 10." Mack Bane speaks at length in fluent Spanish. He even uses vosotros correctly.
His eyes settle on Venezuela.
"Ever since I had Chavez perish in that zip-lining accident, I have been displeased with his replacement Manny Diaz. Put in his place Maria Conchita-Alonso. She is my new Latin American catspaw."
"That is all. Prepare my Mack Brown prosthetics for my meeting with Texas. I've a reckoning with all of those who believe they hold power over me. And if Putin calls.....tell him to keep his shirt on."
The room laughed in genuine appreciation.
"Sleep only if you must, brothers and sisters. I've a world to remake."
With that, the C-130 broke through the clouds, heading West, into an early evening sky still tinged in Burnt Orange.