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Robert Ballentine's hostile takeover of America in 2036 goes remarkably well until the so-called king decides to choose a teen queen. A king may beat a queen in poker, but Ballentine's top choice is wildly dangerous. She bluffs like a poker player, but she's actually playing chess. View table of contents...


Chapters:

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Submitted:May 16, 2012    Reads: 76    Comments: 3    Likes: 1   


Prologue

Date: September 14, 1992

Place: Melbourne, Australia

Robby Ballentine squirmed in his chair with zealous anticipation as Miss Norman finished questioning the third-grade students in the row to his left and came back to the top of his row. A young sandy-haired woman with a petite figure dressed in a navy blue blazer and matching skirt and heels, Miss Norman tapped her red pen on the beige desk of Suzy White, a little blonde girl sitting directly in front of Robby.

"Good day Suzy," Miss Norman said with an Australian accent, adjusting the glasses on her nose and gazing with soft blue eyes at the shy girl in the yellow dress.

"Good day, Miss Norman," Suzy replied, barely above a whisper.

"Tell the class what you'd like to be when you grow up and what it will require to achieve it," Miss Norman prodded the girl. "And please speak loudly so the whole class can hear."

"I'd like to be teacher," the girl said, raising her voice only slightly.

"A teacher," Miss Norman repeated so the rest of the class could hear and smiled at the answer. "And how will you achieve this goal, Suzy? Did you do your research?"

"Yes, Miss Norman," Suzy replied. "I will need lots of schooling, a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and an internship."

"Very good, but you will also have to learn to speak loudly and project your voice so all of your pupils can hear you," Miss Norman said, smiling at Suzy and then turning her attention to Robby.

A stocky boy with a thick mop of black hair, attractive blue eyes, a booming voice and an extraordinarily extroverted personality for an 8-year-old, Robby wore a black polo shirt, gray slacks and black shoes.

"Good day, Robert," Miss Norman said as she stood to the left of his desk.

"Good day, Miss Norman," Robby replied at five times the volume of Suzy.

Miss Norman smirked her cute, dimple-cheeked face slightly as if she knew her question would open a Pandora's box.

"What would you like to be, Robert, when you grow up and how will you achieve it?" she asked as 27 other students tuned their ears to Robby's bold frequency. They, too, sensed he would have an entertaining answer. After all, he was the kid who always demanded that he be general whenever they played war games during recess.

Then he said, "One day, Miss Norman, I will be king," Robby thundered.

Miss Norman gasped and the rest of the class laughed uproariously.

"Quiet down class," Miss Norman said, waving both hands in a downward motion amid the tumult. Eventually, the students calmed down.

"King of what, Robert, our country of Australia?" Miss Norman proceeded with an annoyed expression.

"No, no," Robby said, beaming with pride. "King of the world."

Miss Norman closed her pretty eyes, shook her head and the class erupted again in laughter and shouts. This time she just waited for it to die down -- a full 30 seconds.

"This was a serious assignment, Robert, not a joke," Miss Norman finally said with the sternest look she could muster.

"And I gave you my serious answer, Miss Norman," Robby replied firmly.

"Very well, Robert," she said. "How on Earth do you plan to achieve this extremely ambitious goal of yours?"

"First, I must become king of the most powerful nation on the planet -- the United States of America!" Robby declared, pounding the underside of his clenched right fist on his desk and then raising that fist as high as it would go.

 

44 years later …

 

Broadcast date: January 8, 2036

Filming location: Aboard the 191-foot yacht "Machiavelli" 35 miles north of San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean Sea

Video details: 52-year-old Australian oil, shipping and media magnate Robert Ballentine, the self-proclaimed king of the new United Kingdom of America, interviews his hostage, 69-year-old Margeaux Quigley, the first female president of the United States of America, who was overthrown in a hostile coup backed by China, North Korean mercenaries and U.S. turncoats beginning just after midnight on New Year's Day, 2036.

Web/TV Source: Ballentine's new UKA network

 

Robert Ballentine, dressed in a black power suit with a crimson tie and his long, salt-and-pepper hair pulled back in a pony tail, edged forward in his chair and probed the weary face of his captive subject with wildly amused blue eyes. Deposed President Margeaux Quigley, wheelchair-bound since suffering a gunshot wound to the leg during the coup, had shoulder-length gray hair, wore a solid turquoise dress and stared back with defiant blue eyes of her own.

"When did it hit you that your country had become so vulnerable to a hostile takeover -- before, during or after the coup?" Ballentine asked with plenty of condescending swagger in his brash, baritone voice.

"Our country has been in decline for a long time -- sticking our nose in places we didn't belong, wasting money fighting useless wars, policing the world and neglecting our core. We lost touch with our heart, soul and brains somewhere along the way," Quigley said, pointing to her chest and head.

"It's just too bad we didn't wake up and do something about it before someone evil like you came along and orchestrated the murder of so many good people," she added with disgust in her voice and hatred visible on her wrinkled, once-attractive face for the corporate pirate sitting across from her.

Ballentine, with his bulldog face, pug nose and crooked-toothed smile, beamed with delight as the camera switched back to him. He savored the silence for several seconds.

"But I have to ask you, how good could those people truly have been if they were the leaders of a country going in the totally wrong direction?" he asked with a cocky smirk.

The deposed president bristled at the question and fought back tears. She still grieved deeply for First Gentleman Bradley Cyr, her second husband, who died taking several bullets in his torso while trying to shield her from a dizzying number of ninja-garbed assassins who mysteriously gained access to the presidential New Year's Eve ball at a Sheraton Hotel in Arlington, Va.

"So they deserved to be rounded up and shot in cold blood during holiday parties by a bunch of cowards in black?" Quigley asked with venomous eyes and tone. "I deserved to be shot in the leg? My brave husband deserved to be killed because you're going to fix America -- is that where you're heading with this insane interview, you madman?"

Again, Ballentine seemed aroused by his prisoner's will to fight on live TV. No doubt the multi-multi-billionaire was tallying the ratings and advertising profits from the exclusive interview -- an event only he, out of everyone in the world, could have made happen, according to his University of Texas-educated brain. Nobody else on the planet would have had the balls to pay world No. 1 superpower China a $500 billion advance and help orchestrate a hostile takeover of debt-ridden No. 2 America. Fittingly, "Balls" was Ballentine's nickname since college, and it didn't just stem from the first four letters of his last name. At age 22, he streaked across the field naked during the fourth quarter of the Texas-Texas A&M football game in Austin. Yes, the Australian native, son of a financial executive father and journalist mother, was thoroughly enjoying the spoils of his most ballsy conquest to date.

"I'm not sure deserve is the right term," Ballentine countered, "but surely something needed to change at the top. Sometimes a good purge can go a long way."

The deposed president, with dark puffy bags under her eyes, glared at her captor for a few silent moments as the camera fixed on her.

"Who cares what you think?" she said angrily. "You're a pirate and a murderer many times over. You're a coward who jumps from ship to ship and doesn't even have the balls to set foot on your so-called conquered territory. You paid China billions to do all your dirty work and they let you play with your crown. You're their puppet -- a puppet, not a pirate, understood?"

This time Ballentine seemed less amused with her response, but he shifted in his chair and regrouped with a smug expression on his face.

"Oh, I'll be taking up residence in the kingdom soon enough -- the Black Death is still paving the way for the transition of power," he said of the thousands of black-hooded assassin squads roaming the country with little resistance. Ballentine had warned the U.S. military and public that any significant counterattacks would lead him to execute President Quigley on live TV. "I won't come ashore until I select a queen from one of your former 50 states. I plan to invite young women to compete for the crown and I will air the show right here on the UKA network in March. I will choose a queen your former people will love, and in time, they will learn to love me as well."

"Hah!" Quigley scoffed. "That'll be …

Ballentine cut her off this time with his booming voice.

"Yes, I will be king, not a puppet, and you will go down as the lamest president in the history of your former country -- the one who let the democracy, Constitution and nation be ripped away on her watch," he said. "You will be exiled to some barren rock -- if I let you live -- and I will right America's sinking ship far better than you or any of your useless former legislators ever could. King Robert Ballentine will go down in history as the savior of that long-neglected land."

President Quigley digested his harangue for a moment and let the bile coarse through her. Then a random thought zipped toward her like the perfect crossing pass.

"I was a pretty damn good soccer player for Stanford University in my younger days," she said with a slight grin. "And I hope I'm still alive to see the day when your balls get kicked, Mr. Ballentine."

Balls laughed in her face.

"Don't bet on it, former President Quigley," he said. "Smart mates always bet on black."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





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