Conquest Club



Most people thought that being rich was the height of it all; that if you can afford almost whatever you wanted, then you should rest on your laurels. But I’ve found out that such a belief breeds mediocrity—something I despised with passion. Mediocrity didn’t bring me to where I was now, no, it was the idea that I still had many more things to accomplish. Such an idea had pushed me from a penniless graduate to the most respected man in Africa, well, not quite true. But that was by next target.

It had taken me ten years to rise from the shackles of penury and hopelessness into the light of wealth; I’d spent every waking moment of those years in constant battle against the forces of poverty. And I have won. Today, I’m the richest man in Africa. Yes, me, Alfred Chike Duru. But such a positon, while having its perks, was also tenuous, and the table could topple any instant. That was why I needed something more. Power. It was the perfect icing to the wealth I’ve amassed; the golden capstone of the magnificent pyramid of riches I commanded; power was a touchstone, used in confirming the status of a rich man. I didn’t have it, and I craved it.

As I looked out the window of my bedroom nestled atop the most beautiful penthouse in Nigeria, I thought of ways to acquire such power. Was it being a politician? I wasn’t sure but something told me that those politicians weren’t as powerful as I made them to be; they were mere pawns in the great game of power. So what was the solution then?

I switched on the evening broadcast and got a huge shock—the World Bank President, Ibrahim Danladi was dead! He had died of food poisoning alongside two of his daughters. Ibrahim was a close associate of mine, so his death came as a personal shock.

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The large hall was filled to the brim with people from all walks of life. There were bankers, politicians, business moguls, and various world leaders; they all congregated to pay their respects to the dead man. After commiserating with the family of the deceased, I weaved my way through the throng of people into the foyer of the house, wanting to collect my thoughts together.

“A truly regrettable thing isn’t it?” a deep, gruff, male voice said behind me. I swiveled and faced the most powerful man in all of Europe, the Italian Prime Minister, Fernando Berrici. He was a bosom friend of mine. He had helped me with the expansion of my business operations across Europe.

“I’m sorry?” I said, a tad confused about his tone.

“I meant his death,” he said, “it was indeed a regrettable thing. Don’t you agree?”

“Well, I suppose you could say that. It is still a shock to me, and probably to the rest of the people inside there.” I pointed towards the hall.

“Of course. But this could be an opportunity for you to rise if you can capitalize on it.”

“I don’t follow.”

In response, he brought out a golden card and slotted it into the breast pocket of my Armani suit. And turning on his heels, he went back inside. I brought out the card and examined it. It was the size of a regular complimentary card; it was gold-plated with a red hue along the four edges. It had the words ‘Conquest Club’ emblazoned on it. I flipped it and there were these words at the back: ‘Power comes with being in the right place with the right people and at the right time.’ There was a cell phone number after the words. I put the card back inside my pocket and went inside, making a mental note to dial the number once I was back home.

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Inside my house, I dialed the number. It was answered at the first ring.

“I have been expecting your call.” It was Berrici.

“Why did you give me the card?” I asked, still confused about the whole thing.

“Because it is what you have craved all this while. You want to have power, no?”

How did he know about that? I had told no one about it—not even my wife. But what I asked was: “And who says I don’t have it?”

“If you had it, why are you on this call?”

I had no answer to that. In the end, he had told me that the Conquest Club was a secret organization with a complicated network of operations all around the world. Their aim was simple—global domination. And as he said, it was entirely within their grasp; all they needed was me, I was the last piece in the chess game.

“How do you mean?” I queried.

“Just come to my place tomorrow and you shall see for yourself.”

The next day, I went to his house. He then took me to an underground bunker where he promised, I would witness power. We came to a massive metallic door, which he opened my inputting the access codes. Then I stepped in after him.

The room was dark, but airy; it didn’t possess the stale odour of an underground location. It had a single overhead light which shone on the round table at the centre of the room. The table had eight chairs surrounding it, all of which were occupied as Berrici sat, with the exception of one—the one directly opposite me.

“Welcome, Alfred,” a man greeted. I looked at him and drew in a breath. It was Cardinal Biscop, the most powerful man in the Vatican. I glanced around and saw the others—the Russian president, Katya Nabokov, the United States Secretary Of State, Jimmy Archer, the Saudi Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Mahmood Yaffer, Ben Masters, the richest man in the world, Carlos Jug√≥, who controlled more than half of the world’s drug market, and finally the Japanese President, Shingi Nagatomo. They were all seated around the table.

They all beckoned on me to seat with them, on the last and empty seat. Ibrahim Danladi, I realized, had sat on the same seat, amongst the very movers and shakers of this planet. I looked at each of them in the eye; they all met my eye, all of them echoing one thing—acceptance.

Then Katya stood up to her full six fee; she wore a red cashmere sweater with a blue denim trouser. As she spoke, I had the impression that she was the leader of the group, which was affirmed by her next words.

“Good evening, gentlemen. For the purpose of Alfred who, by the virtue of the demise of Ibrahim, has become the eight member of this circle—the eight member of the Octagon, I would like to reiterate the purpose of this meeting.

“We all have been selected our predecessors to maintain a world order, to dominate the world in our various spheres of activities. This calls for actions such as hiking oil prices, the funding of terrorist and fundamentalist operations, increase in drug trade, and of course, nuclear wars. By these activities, we make sure that the rest of the world remains subjugated and malleable to our whims. And definitely, we will line our various pockets,” she said with a mischievous grin.

The members of the table all nodded in assent. She continued, “Alfred, we all are members of a chess game. You have youth and wealth, so you shall replace Ibrahim as a knight, while Carlos will serve the same role with you; Ben and Shingi are both rooks; naturally, Biscop and Mahmood are the bishops, while Jimmy and I are the king and queen respectively. The pawns are the rest of the world populace, totally and utterly expendable.”

As she went on, it dawned on me that with the resources available here, world domination was something that was totally feasible. Each of us were given a specific task to accomplish, and we dispersed to reconvene in a fortnight.

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It was the Ayatollah who opened the proceedings for that day. After his opening speech, we all made a progress report. Then Fernando Berrici stood up to address us.

“As we all know, we currently have a total of three hundred billion dollars in our collective coffers. Therefore, it’s with deepest regret that I say this.” He then brandished a small revolver, and promptly shot Jimmy Archer. We all looked about in horror as the turned clockwise and shot the men in front of him one after the other. Finally, it remained Katya and I.

“Why Fernando?” she asked, her eyes a mirror of cold, burning rage.

“What do you think?” Fernando smirked. “It has always been about money.” She made a move towards him, but he was quicker. The bullet caught her full square in the chest and she fell backwards in her chair.

Fear of death kept me rooted to the spot as he faced me. “Alfred, my dear, I do not have anything against you. You’re free to go. The pass code of the door is 5679.”

I couldn’t believe my luck. I scrambled up and ran to the door. I opened the panel and was about to input the code when the bullet hit me in the knee. I yelped in pain and turned in terror. He grinned and said, “Sorry, I lied.” And the next bullet hit me in the stomach. The pain was sharp and intense and my innards spilled out into my hands.

Then he laughed and was enjoying his moment of triumph. Then in a flash, a knife flew from Katya and went into Fernando’s skull. She had been alive but with that final move, she gave up the ghost. Fernando died with his eyes wide in shock and his mouth opened in a wordless shout. He fell face first onto the table and the knife further went in into his head as his brain spilled out.

I stared at myself; I saw darkness rushing towards me. I thought about my wife and my only son, who would I wouldn’t live to see him grow up. I had wanted power, but not this, not this pain. As it turned out, everything revolved around money; money was power. It took my death for me to realize this fact.

As I gave myself to the darkness, my only thought was what Nelson Mandela had said:

‘Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

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