It was exactly 2200 hours. The petite man standing at the head of the long, glass-topped golden table raised his arms in supplication. The Magen David pendant on the silver chain he wore over his royal blue cassock sparkled as it caught the light of the low-hanging chandelier. “And the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of all nations under heaven, have been given unto you, Holy Father Yeshua,” he intoned.
His identically clad fellows, eleven along each side of the table and one at its foot, responded with accustomed rhythm: “Even so do we now reign under you. For you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and have made us unto our God kings and priests.”
The twenty-four members of the Weshland Provincial Council of Bishops made the Sign of the Star, bowed their heads and sat down to the night’s proceedings in the Conclave Room of the Bishop’s Mansion. At the top of their agenda was the third century phase of the province’s rebuilding program.
It was cold and windy when the bishops emerged from the mansion three hours later. The night air carried the fragrance of the designer flora that flourished in the expansive Bishop’s Court, the heart of the Zion Mission Reservation, the most spectacular and most revered piece of real estate in New Caernarfon, archdistrict of the Province of Weshland. Brilliantly white in the daytime, the mansion glistened gold in its heavy bath of powerful yellow lights, which also gave extra shimmer and elegance to the twelve, identical black limousines parked against an arcade running along the western side of the mansion.
Eleven pairs of the bishops, each comprising a bishop and his auxiliary, boarded eleven of the limousines and departed for their respective districts. The Banner of Zion pennants on the powerful cars fluttered as they gathered momentum down the 150-meter arrow-straight driveway. The heavy ornate gates at the end of the driveway recognised the lead car of the approaching convoy and silently slid apart. They slid back into lock as the tail car glided past.
The twenty-third guest, the Auxiliary Bishop of the archdistrict, lingered awhile with his superior, the host Bishop. Standing side by side in the portico of the mansion, hands clasped behind them, cassocks fluttering in the wind, they gazed into the night, down the driveway, past the ornate gates, and all the way down the brilliantly illuminated Bishop’s Bulverde. The striking scene that stretched out before them terminated at the lighted fountain of the Bishop’s Intersection about 300 meters away.
“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shined,” the Bishop muttered.
“But we still have some work to do before that perfect beauty of our beloved Zion is replicated the world over,” the Bishop said.
“You’d do well to get your wheels rolling then.” The Bishop turned to embrace his auxiliary, who then boarded the twelfth limousine for his court within the reservation. He watched the 6-metre stretch of the car make its own unhampered trip down the driveway and past the ornate gates before returning into the mansion.
0900 hours that morning met Ariel Obafemi in the office of the Personal Assistant to the Projects Director, Department of Physical Planning and Development at the Welshland Zion Mission Secretariat. Sitting on a cream leather couch, his smiling black face contrasting sharply with the white wall behind him, he cut a trendy sight in his chequered yellow long-sleeved shirt on dark blue trousers and jet black boots.
“Imagine me hopping around on a leg and a crutch, the cased leg thirty centimetres shorter,” the vivacious female assistant he hadn’t seen in three years was saying. It was for the pleasure of sharing this time with her that Ariel had arrived an hour ahead of his appointment with the Director.
“Changing the case two months later, it was only fifteen centimetres shorter,” she continued. “Another two months and it was perfectly whole! That was certainly a miracle the Mission Hospital medics had performed!”
Ariel nodded knowingly.
“I had read about the new therapy in Medicine Today some three months before the accident,” she carried on with rapture. “They called it selective cloning. But, Rebbe Ariel, how could I have known that I’d be the first Welsh it would be used for!”
“The first Welsh you certainly were, Glenda. But you obviously aren’t seeing it yet,” Ariel said, boyishly cocking his head, his smile broadening. “But you would after the dinner tomorrow. I’ll show you a new movie that should open it up to you.”
“Is it The Creation?” she asked, her eyes widening with mounting excitement and expectation.
She suddenly sobered, apparently remembering something that pained her. “I thought The Assassination of a President revealed a great betrayal…until I saw The End of a Princess. Goodness! I’m sure no one thought of that at the time it happened.”
“And who would the betrayer be?” Ariel asked.
“That’s a question I’ve actually asked myself. The whole affair’s really tricky. I think it’s a question of where your sympathies are.”
“Really?” Ariel cocked his head again, the other way this time.
It was time for him to meet the Director.
“Shalom, comrade!” the Hispanic Director exulted, coming around his table to embrace his visitor. “Welcome back to another Week in the Land of the Welsh!”
“Shalom, comrade Director,” Ariel answered, warmly receiving his fellow missionary. They were both civil engineers of the same class and rank.
“And how was your Week in Kurdland?”
“Glorious! You must visit that place. To think that spot was once considered 2,000 kilometres offshore, 700 metres under. Those folks are certainly one of the most grateful for the cataclysms of the Lord’s Day and the Zion Revolution. You must hear them sing The Desire of All Nations – “A land of our own, He gave to us” rings just so high! They are still awed by how their ultimate aspiration has been realised.”
“‘In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan’.”
“That’s true, Director.”
They were soon absorbed in official matters across the Director’s stately table. “The bishops have ratified the project plan for the third century phase of the province’s rebuilding program, which you’ve been brought back to oversee,” the Director said. “The Native Governing Council and the people have also been mobilised. And now that you are here, we hope you’d fix a date to meet with your deputies and get your wheels rolling.”
“Sure,” Ariel said.
About an hour later, by which time they had electronically accessed and studied a variety of work drawings, schedules and other documents, and undertaken a virtual tour of a series of locations in the province affected by the new phase of the rebuilding project, they were back to small talk, recalling some memorable events during Ariel’s last deployment in Weshland.
“Word’s out that your next appointment’s going to be a really big one,” the Director said with elation.
“I hope so. You’d think it’s time I stepped out of the sludge,” Ariel said.
“And how would you be spending your Sabbatical this time around,” the Director asked.
“Blessed Zion!” Ariel exclaimed with mock horror. “I’m just starting a new Week, my lord, and you’re talking about how I’d be spending the rest year!” Leaning forward on the table and cocking his head, he continued conspiratorially, “Tell me, do you have a stake in it?”
They burst into laughter.
“Really,” Ariel said at last, “I don’t think I’ll be gallivanting o’er Earth this time around. My plan’s to spend the year with my people in Yoruland, doing some volunteer teaching at the Zion University there while putting finishing touches to the manuscript of my Marini Memoir.”
“Good ol’ days – that first Week we spent at Marini Engineering,” the Director said with nostalgia. “Great happenings worth telling.”
Cruising down Central Boulevard about an hour latter, Ariel could see the mist that had formed on the chilled hood of the powerful, water-fuelled engine of the beautifully crafted white jeep, the brand new official car he had just received at the Mission Secretariat. Also on the hood, emblazoned in royal blue, was the Banner of Zion, comprising the Magen David, two lines bordering it – one above and the other below – and “ZM” in its centre. He marvelled at how the emblem had dislodged the formerly ubiquitous “GU” of the Global Union, which had also dislodged the “UN” of the United Nations that preceded it. The six points of the Magen David, or Star of David, signified the six regions and 6,000 provinces, or language nations, into which the Zion Mission had demarcated the world, and the two bordering lines represented the two major streams of people, Jews and Gentiles, that the Mission unified in one commonwealth. With its 144,000 bishops operating in councils of twenty-four dispersed through the 6,000 provinces, overseeing an amazing configuration of ranked, multiethnic and professionally specialised missionaries working in a plethora of political, religious, social, academic and corporate institutions and organizations, the Zion Mission was the instrument of the global dominion of His Holy Majesty, Ab Dawid Yeshua V from Mount Zion, Jerusalem. It was an awe-inspiring institution that controlled over sixty-five percent of the world’s wealth and dominated every facet of its society. “This is another day, another world order,” he soliloquised as his thoughts switched to events of the previous day.
He had arrived Welshland Provincial Airport aboard a Zion Airways aircraft. Bypassing immigration, he raised his right hand, palm outwards, as he approached a reserved exit above which a digital timer read, “0927/2400:06/30:01/12:0201/1000.” The four denominators in the time convention, instituted with the investiture of Ab Dawid Yeshua I, were ever constant. The double doors of the exit acknowledged him and slid apart. They slid back into lock as he went past.
The first in a row of identical plain white saloons came to life as he stepped out of the terminal building. It pulled out of the parking lot and came to a clinical halt in front of him.
“Shalom,” he greeted the young uniformed driver as he got into the back seat.
“Shalom, Rebbe,” the driver responded courteously. “Welcome to the Land of the Welsh.”
“Thanks,” Ariel answered as the car glided away from the terminal building. “Excellence Mission Guesthouse, please.”
After a silent few minutes along the trunk road leading into the city, Ariel engaged the driver. “Are you a professional driver?” he asked.
“No, Rebbe. I’m a Zion University student on mid-programme community service,” the driver answered.
“I thought so,” Ariel said. “What would you say to a bypass on this trunk, a flyover ringing the airport grounds on the east, feeding the southern districts?”
“Rebbe,” the driver answered, “I’ve been on this job for only three months, but I can confidently say that motorists would unanimously nominate whoever is behind that for Person of the Decade!”
“Then you can tell it that you ferried him into town on his arrival on the mission to do just that – and much more!”
The driver craned is neck to peek at his passenger in his rear-view mirror.
“Ever thought of what it would be like to have a ferryway running from the New Haven Resort, meandering through those breathtaking rolls of the Seven Sisters, on through that dazzling stretch of the Floral Plains, down to Lake Majestic?”
“My! You are talking about big things, Rebbe! That would introduce a whole new dimension to our tourism industry! Yes, there have been these radio jingles from City Planning about great developments coming to the province. But they’ve been such puzzling teasers. It’s been hard figuring just what they have coming. I think I see it now. I’m sure that’s what you are talking about.”
“True,” Ariel said, “but I must warn you that that’s just what folks of former times would call the tip of the iceberg.”
“Yes, icebergs! I’m reading Banking and Finance, but I did geography in high school.”
“That was when the world had seas and oceans,” Ariel went on, “when huge continental blocks were bounded by water. Of course, the fervent heat and geological upheavals of the Lord’s Day did away with that geography. Now it’s the other way round. These huge bodies of water like the Majestic, no matter how big they come or are interconnected, they are ultimately bounded by land. And all together they take up only about a fifth of the earth’s surface area. This ensured that every one of the 6,000 language nations admitted into the present global order have a land of their own. There are no more oceans, ‘no more seas’,” Ariel said as they entered the grounds of the Excellence Mission Guesthouse.
“And I can see that you city planners and builders are putting finishing touches to that new geography,” the driver said as he came to a clinical halt in the porch of the main building.
“Good of you,” Ariel said approvingly as he disembarked. “His peace go with you,” he added as he handed the driver a gold-coloured complimentary card through the front offside window.
There was a rousing musical performance by a missionary band on tour in the garden of the large guesthouse, later that evening. The band was in recess when he left his table to greet some of the other guests, mostly missionaries in diverse works – clerics, medics, scientists, engineers, media men and women, educators, artists and entertainers, bankers, business administrators, security and law enforcement agents – just about anything one could expect to find in such a high profile gathering of missionaries, typical of Mission guesthouses all over the world, especially at such a time of the year.
He was just beginning to feel alone on returning to his table when a soft voice said, “Shalom, brother.” He looked up. It was a female missionary he hadn’t noticed.
“Shalom, sister,” he answered, his eyes brightening as he stood up to take both her hands and peck her ready cheek. She was white, dark-haired and attractively built, some six centimetres shy of his 1.7 meters.
He knew exactly who she was. “This is portion of my portion and calling of my calling,” he said, looking affectionately into her eyes, “the companion meet for me at my present station.”
She attempted, seemingly shyly, to match his wit. “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as paired angels on assignment.”
They hugged, laughing at their repartee. Sitting down, Ariel soon learnt that Batyah Hammond was a geophysicist also recently deployed in Welshland in connection with the new phase of the province’s rebuilding program. Later that night, they both stood up for Ariel to put a companionship ring on her left middle finger.
“For so long,” he said.
“For so long,” she responded. Then, as if possessed by a higher power, she raised her left hand and spoke aloud, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Zion, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not, nor distract my companion, until our season be past!”
The applause reverberated through the discerning gathering as the newly partnered hugged again and the band, right on cue, struck the hugely popular and high-sounding Celebrate the King, their last rendition of the night.
The gathering went up in ecstasy.
“This is Heddwyn,” Glenda introduced the tall, handsome and likeable young man with her.
“He looks like it,” Ariel said as he and Batyah welcomed the only guests to their companionship dinner in his new official residence, a beautiful lakefront duplex outside the Mission Reservation.
The two pairs were immediately distinguishable. Ariel and Batyah, like all other Zion missionaries, had what looked like a soft glow to their appearance – a glow that was greatly intensified when the members of a class that arrived together were lifted back to the regions beyond after a Jubilee service, to be rejuvenated to thirty-year olds in preparation for their return for another fifty-year service.
“This is Glenda,” Ariel said, turning to Batyah and putting his left arm across Glenda’s shoulders. “My companion during my last stay here was the rebbitsin of her high school Sunrise Sisters Society, which she was the leader of. She and Heddwyn are confirmed faithfuls. They met at the Zion University here and were both recruited by the Mission after their graduation. They will be getting married this year.
“Glenda is actually a starlet at the Mission Secretariat, a status that her early prodigious streak always made me know she was headed for. And Heddwyn, another genius I understand, is at the provincial head office of the Bank of Zion.”
A short while later, all four were chatting like old friends over the dinner, after which they reassembled in front of the 120-centimetre television in the living room. Ariel voice-activated the set and entered a code into a remote console, accessing a restricted channel of a satellite video server. He gave another verbal instruction and a roaring sound soon filled the room as turbulent waters took over the screen and the words “The Creation” tumbled out in Gothic letters. The roar gave way to a worship melody, which soon dropped for a sonorous voice that said, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
So began a recent production of the Zion Broadcasting Corporation, a three-hour narrated movie of the actual events of the Creation, captured by the cameras of “watchers” that roamed the heavens as Unidentified Flying Objects in former times.
Glenda heaved a sigh when it was through. “I see it Rebbe Ariel,” she said. “If God could create a whole person, genetically and anatomically engineered to specification, from a little human substance, as He did Eve, surely He has the knowledge of how to regrow a lost limb, or regenerate any malfunctioning part of the body.”
“There you are, my girl. I promised you would,” Ariel said with satisfaction. “That’s the essence of medicine today. But that knowledge is just a little aspect of His all-embracing know-how that we the Zion missionaries, the Royal Priesthood, are mediating by demonstration and instruction. This know-how in its specialised forms is what we were caught away to be variously equipped with just before the Great War. And as the prophet predicted, we must fill the earth with its fruits as the waters cover the sea!
“All these productions of the ZBC showing the actual events of all those great biblical episodes, and unravelling mysterious events of former times – I recall you mentioned seeing “The Assassination of a President” and “The End of a Princess” yesterday – they are also part of filling the earth with the divine knowledge. As the Ab said during His first earthly sojourn, ‘There is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed. Whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops.’
“Haven’t we been doing just that – viewing all these hidden things in the light of the television? Together with the spoken words, they are picked up by the television’s receiver on the housetop!”
“Blessed be the throne. May His kingdom and its glories know no end,” Glenda said with emotion, her eyes filling. She was as quick to tears as she was to laughter.
“And if I’m right,” Heddwyn interjected, “this rebuilding project you are involved in is more or less a repeat, at least of part, of the Creation we’ve just seen.”
“Good of you!” Ariel said approvingly. “Through a different, and you might say, much more sophisticated means – and much more far-reaching! It is the making of the New Earth! Call it a resumption of the Eden project disrupted by the Fall, if you choose.
“That’s why the Lord’s Day and the Great War that was spearheaded by the Ab to establish the present world order have been described as the razing and burning of an ancient and idolatrous city in preparation for the building of another that is infinitely better. We are talking of a thousand-year, phased, multifaceted and globally harmonised building project; an Earth-transformation project simultaneously advancing in all the 6,000 provinces of His Holy Majesty’s realm.
“When we are through building this global city, which we often allegorise as the New Jerusalem coming down from Heaven, the world would have its true eighth and eternal wonder! That’s when the words of the prophet will be fully fulfilled: ‘Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined.’ We are speaking of a global replication of that famed beauty of our beloved Zion.”
“Amen,” Glenda and Heddwyn said in unison.
“The realization of that perfect New Earth of perfect beauty, devoid of everything that defiles and corrupts,” Batyah added, “is the ultimate mission of the Zion Mission.”