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Archive for February 22nd, 2014

7

The SUV came to a stop in front of a large building across the street from the House of Commons.  As Cooper stepped out of the SUV and looked up at it, pausing for a moment.  Lise stopped next to him and said “It’s a little imposing.”

Cooper, without taking his eyes off the black wrought iron fence in front said “I never thought so.”

She turned to look at him and said “I forgot.  You’ve been here before, when it was under the previous management.”  He turned to her and smiled.  “Not really.  There was no Ambassador-In-Residence at the time.  Mostly, it just seems weird without seeing Marines in front.”

After going in, they were ushered in to a large room.  They had been waiting less than a minute when a door opened at the far end, and an older gentleman in a plain naval uniform said “His Royal Highness will see you now.”

Cooper and Jake stepped forward, when Lise said “Colonel, this audience is for you too.”  Cooper turned, “You aren’t coming, Major?”  Lise smiled.  “I’ve met His Royal Highness before, Cooper.  And if he needed to speak to me, I would have been told.  Now please, don’t keep him waiting.”

Once inside, Cooper noticed the room was paneled in wood, much like the offices of the Prime Minister, across the street, where one of the most famous portraits of Winston Churchill was taken.  The King, wearing a British Admiral’s uniform, sat behind an enormous desk.  He looked up as Cooper, Jake, and Rick advanced another step. Almost imperceptibly, he appraised the trio, and his eyes lit up.  “Cooper Wilson!  I’m sorry for the way we made contact with you, but under the circumstances, we weren’t of a mind that you would come willingly.”  Cooper pursed his lips, then said “I guess you were right, your Highness.”

The King turned to look at Jake, and said “You must be Jake.  I hope you are enjoying our hospitality.”  Jake stole a glance at Cooper, who gave the barest nod.  Jake turned back and said “Yes sir, I mean, Your Highness.”  The King turned to the other side and said “And Colonel Gearhart!  Your exploits make exhilarating reading!  It is an honor to meet you!”

The King motioned to three chairs that were set before the mammoth desk.  “Gentlemen, please.  Sit.”  The trio sat.  “Jake, I hear you like to read.  The Major will be in shortly with a few books from our library here in the palace that I think you will enjoy.”  As if she heard, Lise came in with a handful of books, and kneeled next to Jake, whispering softly to him.

Looking at Rick, the King said “Colonel, I have some orders from your superiors.”  He handed some pages across the desk to Rick’s waiting hands.  “I’ll give you some time to read them, while I talk with Cooper.”  He stood and said ” Cooper, let’s take a short walk.”

The two walked, side-by-side, through an ornate hallway.  After what seemed like an eternity to Cooper, the King said “I am sorry.  Although we’ve known for some time that you were here in the Dominion, we had hoped to leave you alone.  Events caused us to bring you in.”

Cooper said nothing as they walked.  “I trust you know that the war is not going well, and that our truce with your country is tenuous at best.”

Cooper, nodded, and said “I’m sorry to have to correct you, Your Highness, but it isn’t MY country, and it hasn’t been for a very long time.”

Both men fell silent with the realization that neither one was home at this moment.

They walked a few more steps when the King said “I’m told that your property has been returned to you.”

Cooper smiled as his hand instinctively went to his pocket, where the battered compact Bible rested.  “Yes, Your Highness.  I’ll be…discreet.”

The King smiled.  “That isn’t why I brought it up, Cooper.”  He stopped and turned.  “I’m bringing it back.”

Cooper’s eyebrow rose.  “Bringing what back, Your Highness?”

The King paused.  “Christianity.”  Cooper’s eyes went wide.

The King smiled.  “Come now, Cooper.  You and I both know it never went away, it just went underground.  People like you have kept that flame burning over these long years.”

Cooper considered the words carefully.  “Why are you telling me this?”  “Because we will have a chaplaincy in our military again.  I want you to lead it.”

Cooper stopped, stunned by the words.  “I don’t have any military experience.”

“I didn’t either, at one time.  You have courage.  You proved that when we brought you in.  I don’t need you to fight like a soldier.  I need you to fight like a Shepard.  It won’t be force of arms alone that wins this war.  I think you know that.”

The two walked on in silence for a few minutes.  “Cooper.  I want you to understand, this decision was not one we arrived at lightly.  But we have arrived.  There are a lot of people, both civilians and military are ready for this.  And we didn’t just hold on to that Bible of yours.  We have printed thousands.  You are being offered a commission as a Commander in the British Royal Navy, although we will probably promote you before long.  And although he will probably protest, I have asked the Republic of Texas to second Colonel Gearhart to our service, to work with you, and to keep you safe, since I doubt you’ll stay away from danger.  They have agreed.  I think they believe that our plan will be objectionable to the US Government.  The Major will also be part of your detail, although her primary duty will be working with Jake.”

Cooper considered the offer for a few minutes.  “There have to be others who are much better qualified than me.”

“We don’t think so.  But while you think about it, I would appreciate it if you can do me a favor.”

Cooper asked “What’s that?”

“Pray with me, Commander.  Things are going to start moving very quickly, and like your Dr. Franklin at the Constitutional Convention, I would like to seek the guidance and protection of the providence that we once sought.”

Cooper nodded, and got on his knees.  The King joined him, and Cooper prayed a sincere prayer for help and guidance.  As they rose and walked back to the King’s office, the King said “Whether you accept the offer or not, I would ask you, as a personal favor to me, to keep praying like that.  I suspect we’ll need them.”

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