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The Traitor, the Bad and the Puppet


San Castellino

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The Traitor, the Bad and the Puppet - Part 1

1.1

“People shouldn’t be afraid of their government.
Governments should be afraid of their people”,
Alan Moore, V for Vendetta


Since the fall of Francisquèz last Monday and the establishment of the new Republic, Montemadians were euphoric. Life suddenly seemed so light that people forgot about hunger, thirst, poverty, and all the other problems the country had been experiencing long before 1992. They had worn beautiful, colorful costumes, brought out trumpets, and danced all day to the rhythm of pinched double basses.
Later, when the euphoria had subsided, the provisional government (made up of a dozen politicians and demonstrators) organized elections. The numerous candidates organized themselves into a multitude of new parties. In order to make sure that everyone could listen to them, each one was broadcast on the radio, which created unusual scenes with about fifty people gathered around a single radio. Among the candidates, two stood out to the Montemadians. Antonio Dom Gavalèce, the first of them, was the president of the Montemadian Socialist Party and advocated an alignment with New Lyria. The second, named Pedro Riveira, was the president of the National Party, the spokesman of the conservative right and above all the figurehead of the movement that wanted total neutrality towards New Lyria and San Castellino. The more time passed, the more the two opponents found themselves neck and neck. The elections were going to be very close until, two days before the elections, a journalist brought to light many corruption cases in which Dom Gavalèce was involved. Then the Montemadians, deeply scandalized, almost all rallied to the side of Pedro Riveira who appeared from then on as a symbol of virtue and honesty. Dom Gavalèce has no more chance to win.

 

1.2

“The end may justify the means
as long as there is something that justifies the end”,
Leon Trotsky,
Their morals and ours: the class foundations of moral practices

The office of the Agency for the Defense of Neo-lyrian Interests (ADNI), i.e. the headquarters of the Neo-lyrian secret services, was located at the Quai Boiville, an art-deco building built on the ruins of the old Boiville train station after the Second Neo-lyrian War of Independence. First used as the headquarters of the Communal Council of Health and Solidarities, the Quai Boiville has been used as offices for the Neo-lyrian secret services since 1960. The office of Jean-Patrick Esther, director of the ADNI, was located on the 1st floor. As Esther had just been appointed, he had not yet had time to put personal effects in his office, which made it very empty, the only decorative elements being the neo-lyrian flag and a portrait of Esther.
Esther is walking in circles in her office. His serious air and his small glasses contrast with a strong carrure and a tall height. He is waiting impatiently for Gregory Livenot, the head of the Mesothalassa department, to discuss what to do, or if he should simply do something. Esther, on the other hand, already had an idea in mind. He wanted to strike a blow, a big blow, to impress the representatives of the Neo-Lyrian Communal Council and prove to them that he knows what he is doing. Indeed, his candidacy had been more than discussed because of his short stint at the Ministry of Defense which had ended in disaster. Someone knocks on the door.
- '' Come in. ''
Livenot opens the door, enters timidly and closes it. His brown velvet pants and worn jacket made it look like a university professor rather than a secret service big shot.
- '' Livenot, you see, my opinion is that we need a strong but discreet reaction. ''
- '' Precisely, if I may p- ''
- '' Have you heard about the pro New-Lyrian candidate? Gavalace or some sh#t like that. ''
- '' Yes, Gavaléce. He's accused of corruption and his popularity keeps dropping. ''
- '' Yeah but we don't care because he's pro Neo-Lyrian. That's why we have to rig the elections. ''
- '' What?! But the Montemadians will notice it!''
- '' Thank you Livenot for your advice, I count on you to implement the plan because, as you know, I am your hierarchical superior. Goodbye. ''
Concluded he by chasing Livenot of his office, satisfied of himself.

 

1.3

“Make money my son, honestly if you can, but make money”,
Edgar Poe

Being Foreign Minister in San Castellino is particularly boring for Ismael de la Plata, since most of the time he just has to sign documents, often diplomatic letters, written in advance by his uncle the Supreme Leader. While he is deep in an exciting (not at all) game of Tuffy Crush Saga®, the phone rings, which startles him and nearly knocks him off his chair. Suddenly, the phone rings, which surprises him and almost knocks him out of his chair.
- ''Ismael de la Plata, I'm listening. Good morning Mr. Madrera. Any news from the Mesothalassa? Yes. Calm down, I'm listening. ''
He grabs the cup of tea on his desk and starts to take a sip when, surprised by the news, he spits out his sip and splashes his desk.
- '' What?! Are you sure? Good God... Find out more about the situation over there and prepare his welcome. No, especially not in Asmavie. Montedoux instead. With great pomp, of course. I'll tell El Presidente. See you later and keep me updated.''
He hangs up the phone and takes a handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe the desk.
- '' Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go. ''
He gets up, locks his desk, and heads to the Supreme Leader's desk. Ismael makes a sign of the cross and opens the door.
- '' Presidente? ''
Di Foxycionni, standing with a cigar in his mouth, turns around and frowns.
- '' When you call me like this it means there's a big problem, Ismael. ''
- '' That is to say... the Montemadians have revolted against Francisquèz and... ''
- '' And what? It was suppressed in blood? That's all?''- '' No. The Montemadians succeeded and Francisquèz had to flee. He will arrive in a few hours in Montedoux. ''
The President, shocked by the surprise, nearly chokes on the smoke from his cigar. He coughs, a hand on his lungs.
- '' Are you sure?! ''
- '' Yes, Madrera just warned me. ''
- '' F#ck, f#ck!! ''
With fury, he takes the first object that falls on his hand and throws it on the ground. It breaks in thousand pieces. Ismael is startled and protests:
- But! It was the vase of Mom- ''
- '' I don't f#cking care! I needed to calm myself. ''
The general takes a great puff of his cigar and resumes. ''
- '' We need to impose an ultimatum on the new Montemadian government, something well-written that they will never accept. ''
- '' You want to declare war on them?! The diplomatic fallout will be catastrophic! ''
- '' Because you really think you can argue with my orders? Yes, we'll declare war on them, occupy them and put the puppet back on his throne. And to the beard of the neo-Lyrians, and all the other fags. Anyway, keep me posted, I'm going to Montedoux to welcome Francisquèz, and then in passing remind him of everything he owes us. See you later. ''
- '' Yes uncle, answers Ismael lowering his eyes, before leaving the office. ''
Di Foxycionni ruffles his nephew's hair with a paternal smile, grabs his jacket, closes the office and heads quickly to the first floor. Ismael, with his hands in his pockets and a pensive look, mutters to himself:
- ''We are not in the crap...''

Edited by San Castellino
Typo errors (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

The Traitor, the Bad and the Puppet
- Part 2

2.1

"Instead of politicians, let the monkeys govern the countries;
at least they will steal only the bananas!”,
Mehmet Murat Ildan

The Montemadians are breathless. For two hours, and to everyone's surprise, Riveira and Dom Gavalèce are neck and neck. As soon as Riveira seems to take a lead, new votes for Dom Gavalèce are opened. Suddenly, from 7.48 pm, the socialist candidate, in a magnificent spontaneous impulse, surpasses widely his opponent. From now on, everybody knows that the fate of Montemadia is sealed. Dom Gavalèce savors his victory almost as much as the glass of wine that he carries to his lips; an excellent Neo-Lyrian wine offered by his new ally.

- Are you sure you have taken all the necessary precautions, Mr. Esther?
- Absolutely! They will never be able to prove that the vote was rigged.

Replies the director of the Neo-Lyrian secret service, pouring himself a glass of wine, slumped in a velvet armchair.

- Good. Good.

Concludes the new president of the Cooperative Republic of Montemadia, looking at the city through the bay window of his loft, the top floor of a luxury residence: one of the many gated communities, islands of wealth and egoism, which have been flourishing for the last ten years in the Montemadian capital. In the streets, the anthill is buzzing; the little ants are already asking for a recount of the votes. Looking at them with disdain, Dom Gavalèce speaks to himself in a low voice. Esther does not hear him, too busy emptying his bottle of wine.

- The pigeons. We'll just call them reactionary extremists and public opinion will be against them. By the way, I'll have to deal with the journalist who uncovered my stories of bribes, a certain Sintàs I believe. A few bills slipped into the pockets of the right people and that would be it.

Finally, his opportunism was about to be rewarded. For more than ten years, he had been waiting for his time; now that he was in power, Dom Gavalèce intended to take advantage of it. He turned and raised his glass.

- Let's drink again to our collaboration.

Esther stands up staggering, almost stumbles on the coffee table and brutally hits the bottle, now empty, with the glass of his new ally.

- Long live... *hic !* our collabora- *hic !* tion, Dom Gavèlare !

 

2.2

"Long live the Popular Front!
Long live the union of all the antifascists!
Long live the Republic of the People!
The fascists will not pass! They will not pass!
¡No pasaran!",
Dolores Ibarruri

At the same time, in Saint-Alphonse de la Victoire, capital of New Lyria.

- This is inadmissible! Unacceptable, Mr. Esther. We are very disappointed in you. To take such initiatives, with such consequences, without consulting the Council! You are a constant disappointment for the Commune, Mr. Esther.

For several hours, Esther has been severely sermonized by the deputies of the neo-Lyrian Communal Council. Now it's Pierre Bovard's turn, a syndicalist deputy.

- You have violated all our ethics with this action. Rigging the elections of a foreign country! But what did you think, Esther? The external role of the Commune is to spread freedom and revolution throughout the wurld; not to impose impostors vaguely in our favor on foreign proletarians! The Council will decide the fate of your career, but don't fool yourself: your future in politics is already dead and buried.

Only half an hour later, the Council has already voted and the results are in. Almost unanimously, the deputies voted "yes" to the dismissal of the current director of the Neo-Lyrian secret service. Esther has a bitter taste in his mouth, a strong feeling of betrayal in his heart and his hands are trembling. Trembling with the irrepressible urge to strangle this bunch of well-thinking and spineless bureaucrats. But he doesn't have the courage. He grabs his coat and quietly exits the amphitheater. Esther will remember this.

 

2.3

“How horrible, fantastic, incredible it is that we should be digging trenches and trying on gas-masks here because of a quarrel in a far away country between people of whom we know nothing. It seems still more impossible that a quarrel which has already settled in principle should be the subject of war.”,
Neville Chamberlain

In the amphitheater of the New Lyrian Foreign Affairs Commission, 13 of the 50 deputies are present. For a Monday morning at eight o'clock it is rare to see so many. One deputy is sleeping, two are discussing the weather, three are reading a newspaper and four are looking at their cell phones. Only three deputy are doing their jobs: Ms. Haie and Mr. Bernard in the front row, and Mr. Pontiffe, the Chairman of the Commission. Mr. Pontiffe does not bother to speak to the rest of the assembly, and just looks at the two members in the front row.
- Did you see it?
- See what?
- Saw what?
- The agenda.
- About the ultimatum?
- Yes.
- I didn't get the time.
- Let me explain. Di Foxycion-
- Who?
- General Di Foxycionni, the dictator of San Castellino. You know, the rough guy with a cigarette in his mouth.
- Oh yes, I see.
- Well, he's calling for the dismissal of the new president of Montemadia.
- Where is this?
- I don't know, another poor country, kind of lost. In the southwest, I think.
- Yes, and what?
- Well, he's asking for the president of the country to be removed from office.
- Oh dear! So what does this have to do with New Lyria?
- True, why bring us here just for that?
- Well, the guy, the president, is asking for our help and Mrs. Dahin is already thinking of going to talk to the president and the general herself.
- The President of the Council? Herself? She's really working hard for nothing.
- Yes, but you know that everything that concerns San Castellino, concerns New Lyria.
- Yes, that's true.
- True.
- So we have to vote on whether or not to approve the travel. It will take place at Montedoux, in San Castellino.
- Will she be accompanied by a diplomat?
- Yes, and several bodyguards.
- That's good.
- Personally, I have no problem with it.
- So do I.
- Let's proceed to the vote, then.
Pontiffe climbs to the podium, taps the microphone and clears his throat.
- For the diplomatic trip of Mrs. Dahin, President of the Council, to Montedoux, San Castellino, who votes "no"?
No one raises their hand.
- Who abstains?
No one, again.
- I therefore assume that everyone is in favor. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your attendance. This concludes the meeting.

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  • 2 months later...

The Traitor, the Bad and the Puppet
- Part 3

At San Castellino, ostentatious luxury has an undisputed champion: Montedoux. It has one of the highest average salaries in the country. Its pleasure port radiates throughout the region. Resort tourism is its second largest source of income. Only its second? Indeed, gold here is not the tourists, as in Asmavie. Nor is the gold black, as in the capital or in the great northern desert. Here, gold is green, and it has always been the source of even more wealth and even more pain. Here, "green gold" is tobacco: Montedoux was built on tobacco and slaves. Even today, after the abolition of the slavery of the Salams, when night falls, the fiestas die down and the wind comes in from the land, you can smell the pungent smell of dried tobacco leaves and hear the workers' song of despair in the distance. But Montedoux is rich. So Montedoux struts its stuff. Montedoux indulges. Montedoux takes. Montedoux doesn't give back. And Montedoux laughs in your face. In short, Montedoux reeks of the pompous and lazy disdain of the Stillians. This is Montedoux, the real one, the only one.

3.1

"Only 21 pesetas? Sh#t. Normally beggars have more. That's really the crisis.",
a policeman from Gazallenoa

- "Peace, Ronvaux. Peace above all. The wurld situation is already tense enough, we must avoid a war that could escalate at all costs. The trauma of the Fourth Neo-Lyrian War of Independence is still fresh.
- "Yes Madam President of the Council."
Pierre Ronvaux, accredited interpreter, replied sagely, taking careful note of Victoire Dahin's words. He had a flat nose, very flat, but also very spread out, as if a triangle had been nailed to his face. His greasy, oily hair was gleaming, and a few strands clumped together by unusually heavy sweating hung over a broad forehead.
- "But, Madam, peace really at all costs? Even if it means making concessions?"
- "Within reason, of course. But yes, even if it means making concessions."
- "Very well."
Through the streets of Montedoux, the limousine of the President of the Council attracts all eyes. It is a recent model and it is rare in San Castellino to see a car that is older than the 1950s.
- What do you think of this... um... What is it called again? You know, Ronvaux, the 'president' of the Montemadia."
- "Dom Gavalèce?
- "Yes, that's right."
- "To tell the truth, I think he's just an opportunist. According to our secret services, he has long tried to have a prominent place in the Montemadian political sphere. Under the Francisquèz dictatorship, he managed to get himself appointed Minister of Finance last February thanks to stories of bribes and suspicious deaths. Except that, six months before the revolution, when the people started to rumble, he deliberately left his post and joined the ranks of the revolutionaries. So he was considered a saint, until his political intrigues were revealed. And you know the rest with Esther and the rigging of the elections."
- "I see. That's what I had in mind."
- "If you don't mind my asking, Madame, what do you think of General Di Foxycionni?"
- "Him? Oh, well... He clearly doesn't have the drive and ambition of his youth. Especially with his cirrhosis of the liver weakening him. I think I can trust him, or at least handle him easily."
Victoire turns her gaze towards the street. For more than half an hour now, the limousine had been stuck in a terrible traffic jam. Victoire opened the window and took a deep breath of air. She immediately regretted it as she felt the gases from the cars burning her lungs and then closed her window. Outside, the President notices a Salam child - recognisable by his even darker skin - begging in front of a small tin bowl containing about twenty pesetas. Two gendarmes approach him and show him a sign formally indicating that begging is prohibited. One of the gendarmes grabbed the child by the collar, the other took the money and gave half to his colleague. The child protested and was hit in the face with a truncheon, piercing his right eye. With a bloody face, little Salam runs away through the streets. Around him, passers-by act as if nothing had happened. After all, it's not their problem. Victoire, outraged, is about to get out of the car but Ronvaux stops her.
- "I'm sorry, Madam, but with all the respect I owe you, it would be better to avoid getting into trouble. Let's remember that this is not our home."
- " Right. "
Victoire replied, suddenly curt, looking away from the window, both angry at the injustice and frustrated that she couldn't do anything about it.

 

3.2

"Peace at any price is no longer peace.",
Eve Curie

- "The situation is complex."
General Di Foxycionni comments with a frown.
- "Indeed. Very complicated."
Ismael replies, looking just as concentrated.
- "I have the impression that there is no solution."
- "I know!"
exclaims Ismael. With a sure hand, he grabs his rook, moves it five squares forward and yells:
- "BOOM! Checkmate!"
- "Sh#t!"
Di Foxycionni slams his fist into the table, knocking most of the game pieces to the floor. He takes a deep breath
- "Well done boy. You got me good. Now put the game away: Dahin will be here soon."
- "Right, Unc' Sulli."
Ishmael picks up the game pieces and carefully puts them inside the box before putting the box in the cupboard. The general points to a chair for his nephew before grabbing another to face him.
- "Ismael?"
- "Yes?"
- You know that I have chosen you as my successor, don't you?
- "Yes."
Ismael's face darkened. He doesn't like this kind of talk. Every time, it's the same thing.
- "And you know that my days are numbered, between my cirrhosis of the liver, which is progressively getting worse, and the Party, that filthy bunch of oligarchs, who only want to see me die so they can take power again."
- "Yes..."
Ismael looks down. His uncle comes up to him and lifts his head, forcing him to look him in the face.
- "Ismael, look at me. I am very serious. I brought you to the conference not only to assist me, but to teach you a lesson. In foreign policy, you have to be able to play several games at the same time. Be cordial with some, firm with others. Remember: 'the Republic folds but does not break'."
The general presses his index finger on his nephew's chest, as if to inscribe these words in his heart and mind. Ismael nods with a great worried sigh. Worried about his uncle's upcoming death. Worried about his own future. Worried about the future power struggles that will plague the country when the Supreme Leader will die, as always. Someone knocks on the door, the guard opens it. Mrs. Dahin appeared in her blue dress, followed by Ronvaux who, with a curious air, admired the interior of the room. The room, in the magnificent baroque style typical of the great Stillian villas, was mostly occupied by a round table in the centre, around which were five chairs. As the only two windows were not on the sunny side, the room would probably have been plunged into darkness if a huge electrified candlestick, much too imposing for the room, had not brought its cold light. On the right, a large marble pedestal table on which an equally large mirror stands. On the left, a lacquered mahogany cupboard next to a coat rack whose simplicity clashes with the sophistication of the other furniture. All in all, the room is splendid, and would have been even more so if only the rainy season had not left the ceiling and walls sparse with damp stains. There is a general unhealthy dampness in the room, made worse by the lack of a ventilation system and making the atmosphere even heavier. The four politicians shake hands successively.
- "Take your seats, please."
Di Foxycionni with an air of forced politeness towards the guests, while showing them the five chairs. Now the Neo-Lyrian President is in the wolf's den, and she will have to assert herself if she is not to be devoured by the demands of the Supreme Leader.

 

3.3

"Ah les cons ! S'ils savaient",
Édouard Daladier

The private jet door opens, letting out, among others, Ronvaux and especially Victoire Dahin. The latter descends the stairs, greeting the crowd with all the humility in the wurld. People clap their hands, applauding Victoire with enthusiasm and joy. Mr Pontiffe, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, comes to shake the hand of the President of the Council, slipping her a few words in the process:
- "Madam the President, the journalists would like a speech before the official report. A sort of preview."
- "Very well."
Victoire advances towards the crowd, even more enthusiastic, and above all even more hungry for news.
- Communards, communardes, I wish to announce to you that the settlement of the Montemadian problem, which has just been resolved, is, in my opinion, only the prelude to a larger settlement in which the long Castellino-Neolyrian rivalry can finally come to an end. This morning I had another discussion with Castellinos President, Señor Di Foxycionni, and here is the paper that bears his name and mine on it."
Victoire held up the paper, braving the hot, heavy wind of the arid regions, to the applause of the crowd.
- "Some of you may have already heard what it says, but I would simply like to read it to you: 'We, the Castellinos President and the Neolyrian President, have had a further meeting today and agree that the issue of Castellino-Neolyrian relations is of the utmost importance for both countries and for Mesothalassa. We see the agreement signed last night and the new Castellino-Neolyrian trade agreement as a symbol of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war again. We are determined that the method of consultation shall be the method adopted for dealing with any other matter that may concern our two countries, and we are determined to continue our efforts to eliminate possible sources of divergence and thus help to secure peace in Mesothalasia.'"
The crowd's applause resumed, even louder, more intense, more enthusiastic. Victoire has brought peace, she is convinced of it, and the Neolyrians even more so. Swollen with optimism, she waves to the crowd one last time before getting into the presidential car to the "Hurrah!".

Edited by San Castellino (see edit history)
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