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Hail to the Chief, long may he reign

Pelasgia

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Theodoros gazed outside the windows of the Palace of Selymbria in horror. The TV, radio, and just about any other electronic device that had turned itself on in the middle on the night was shouting in the background. "This is an emergency message by the Government of the Pelasgian Union. Please hold..." Louder than the TV, louder than Natalja's ceaseless wailing, louder than his own thoughts, was the incessant sound of helicopters circling overhead. The recently repatriated pretender to the Throne of Propontis covered his eyes; bright searchlights lit up the Palace's facade, coming straight into the tall, windowed hall were he was standing. Behind and, occasionally, in front of the headlights, Theodoros could see dark figures, clad in armour and carrying weapons, running around, shifting between armoured vehicles.

"What do they want? What are we going to do?" Natalja would not stop whining.

"Just let me think," Theodoros barked at her. No sooner had he finished his sentence than he felt his phone ringing. The number was unknown; he picked it up anyway. "Yes?"

"Theodoros, my good boy," he heard a male voice say, mockingly. He knew that voice.

"Gen- Marshal Vatatzides? What is this?"

"Isn't it obvious?" the Marshal asked. "You're being evicted from my secondary palace."

"Yours?" Theodoros asked, outraged. "Need I remind you that I am the Heir to the Purple! The Despot of-"

"Yes, mine," the other responded. "As President, CEO, King, Grand Shaman, Perpetual Dictator and whatever else you want to call the ruler of our beloved land. Of our most-holy, most-perfect Union."

"That would be President Notaras," Theodoros replied, trying to conceal his stress under a veneer of confident irony. "You said so yourself, remember?"

"I did. While he was alive. Dead men can't hold office. I'd ask Prime Minister Angelopoulos to instruct you on that, but, you see... He's too busy having lunch with the good President. Assuming they're at the same place, that is."

"You son of a bitch! You murderous son of a traitorous whore!" Theodoros would have thrown his phone down, had it not been the only thing keeping him and Natalja alive. He heard footsteps in the rooms surrounding the one where he was. "You actually went ahead and-"

"I would advise Your pretended Highness to kindly shut up, before you say something that could be considered treasonous. There is no room for traitors in the New Pelasgia. There is only room for winners; and you're no winner, Thodorakis*."
*a diminutive, condescending form of Theodoros, typically only used for children

Theodoros heard the sound of a door being kicked open in the next room. Natalja screamed; his heart froze.

"Here I was," Marshal, now President, Vatatzidis continued, "thinking that at least your wife had some balls - someone needs to, in any marriage. Alas, maybe the child's the boydguard's. The former President, Prime Minister, and several members of the Council of Ministers have suffered tragic fates at the hand of terroristic assassins. My administration will reign in the centrifugal forces that you and yours have allowed to fester in Pelasgia for far too long. Rest assured that we will bring President Notaras' killers to justice." The Marshal paused; Theodoros heard him muttering some order to the man beside him. "Now get out of my house, and fuck off back to that frozen shithole that you came from. I won't ask again; and next time you come down here, I won't be as nice."

The door burst open. Natalja screamed; Theodoros dropped the phone, and soon followed to the floor as a squad of unmarked special forces men with guns tackled him and arrested him. He felt a black hood go over his head. It all went black. That was his last memory of Pelasgia.

----------

OOC: This is a sequel to my previous RP,
.
 
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Pelasgia

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Aristides Metaxas was a big man and he knew it. On a physical level he stood a full head above the average Pelasgian, and he was a rather corpulent individual, a fact that was apparent for all to see no matter how many fine Aslanis suits he covered himself in. But, more than that, he was "big" on a fundamental level; he drove the biggest, most expensive vehicles money could buy; he constantly flashed his wealth with immense spending and fancy watches and gadgets; he even cruised around with attractive young women (for a fee, evidently), in a society that was otherwise staunchly conservative and family-oriented. Metaxas was seen as an embarrassment both to his family of Pelasgian oligarchs and to his entire social class, who regarded him as a base rube. And, being a big man, he could not care less what they thought of him.
Climbing out of his crimson , which he blatantly parked right in the middle of Homereias (or "Himyar") Avenue, Metaxas threw his keys and a 5000 Stater banknote to the valet, before triumphantly barging into the neoclassical skyscraper housing the headquarters of Metaxas Group, his family's agglomeration of businesses and one of the largest business conglomerates dominating Pelasgian economic (and, to a lesser extent, socio-political) life. This monument to Pelasgian and Himyari entrepreneurship bore the name Petros Metaxas Tower, after the founder of the business dynasty (himself descended from a regional noble family in western Pelasgia). Metaxas made his way to the reception desk to unceremoniously flirt with some receptionist or another (and perhaps even get slightly physical), but he paused - the reception desk was vacant.
He turned to the security guard: "Where are those bimbos? What am I paying them for?"
The security guard nervously gulped. "Mr. Metaxas, they've been sent away by the owner."
"The owner?!" big man Metaxas barked at him. "I'm the owner, you imbecile; and I didn't send them away."
Metaxas felt someone touching his shoulder. "Mr. Aristides Metaxas?"
"Yes, get your hands off me. Who the heck are you, black suit boy?"
The man pulled out a badge from inside his coat. "Major Antonis Kyriakou, Internal Security Directorate of the Pelasgian Union. You're going to have to follow me, Mr. Metaxas."
Metaxas spat on the ground. "Like hell I will. Where's your warrant? If you don't have one, then get the hell out of my building."
"This building now belongs to the Pelasgian Union, Mr. Metaxas," the man explained. "Along with the entirety of the Metaxas Group of Companies, including all subsidiaries and properties." Another man wearing a suit emerged from behind Major Kyriakou, and presented Metaxas with a document.
"Nationalization? National Security Act?" Metaxas asked. "What the hell is this supposed to mean?"
"The Pelasgian Union does not forgive treason, Mr. Metaxas." Major Kyriakou motioned at a group of armed police officers, who seized Metaxas and put him in handcuffs.
"Treason? What the hell are you on about? I had nothing to do with any of this." Metaxas kept shouting all the way into the back of the police car. Not that it made any difference. The Presidency had decided on his guilt even before the so-called coup of April 21, as it had with respect to the heads of other business conglomerates who rivaled the State for power in Pelasgia. It merely sought an excuse to bring him in.
 

Pelasgia

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[TV news brodcast]: Following a review of its personnel and activity, the Presidency of the Pelasgian Union has decided to permanently suppress the International Himyari University of Makri, whose functions and properties are to be taken over by the National University of Propontis pending an ongoing review of its staff ...

Aristarchos Akolouthos shut the door behind him and sighed deeply as he started undoing his shoes. Jovial cries of "Daddy, daddy!" were heard from the living room; Giorgos, Giannis, and Christina rushed to the door to greet him. "Alright, alright," he said as they hugged him, showering him with questions about his day. Not being in school had made them much more lively, though, truth be told that was a function of Orthodox Holy Week and not the coup. His youngest daughter, Maria, stood by the kitchen hallway, looking at him from afar. "And you my dear? Won't you give daddy a kiss?" Maria shook her head.

Wearing an apron stained with sauce and flip flops worthy of a grandmother, his wife, Sophia Papatheodorou, walked up beside her. "You didn't make with her," she pointed out, crossing her arms.

"Indeed, I'm sorry my dear," Akolouthos pointed out. "But I did get some grape must cookies." Maria smiled as he pulled out a bag from the baker's from behind his back. She looked up at Sophia who nodded approvingly and then ran up to her father to kiss him. "I've forgotten how to make lazarakia. Will you show me later tonight?" he asked. Maria nodded. "Of course, daddy!" He kissed her and then sent her back to her mom.

"Alright kids," Sophia Papatheodorou announced. "Leave daddy alone, Dolphin City is starting up on the TV." The kids rushed out of the room as quickly as they had entered. Hugging his wife, Aristarchos laughed. "How do they watch that thing?"

"Maybe your new boss will ban it, along with half the TV channels," his wife pointed out.

Aristarchos sighed. He kissed his wife and then took her hand. "We need to talk."

"Come," she responded. "I'll get you something to eat. We can talk then." She took his coat and briefcase and showed him to the kitchen. Aristarchos sank into the wooden chair by the kitchen table; he was far too hungry to wait to eat at the dining room - anyway, the kids were there, and that would make any conversations impossible, drowned under the sound of Officer Grey Dolphin arresting Hammerhead the Robber Shark. Sophia placed a bowl of lentil soup before him (it was Holy Week, so anything remotely tasteful was off the menu) and sat by his side. "So, what did you want to tell me?"

"Things are bad," Aristarchos started. "We've got control of the country, but that's just the beginning of it. We're purging everything and everyone; academics, oligarchs, stars, publishers, news anchors, politicians. The President's reorganized the Post Office for Heaven's sake!"

"Were they involved with the coup?" Sophia asked, clasping her hands nervously.

Aristarchos looked around him, as if there was anyone else in the house. The kids' TV set grew louder. Good, he thought. He leaned in closely and whispered: "There was no coup. We're the ones who took over the country by force."

"But why?" he wife asked, glaring at him with scared eyes.

"Because there would have been a civil war if we hadn't. And all the people we're purging now would have either enabled it, or done nothing to stop it. A few would have directly brought it along."

Sophia touched her forehead nervously; she was sweating. "What of us?"

"I'm Prime Minister now," Aristarchos started, before lowering his voice. "But... there's a chance I could go even higher."

"Meaning-"

"Meaning that Marshal Vatatzidis is the best man to climb on top of a tiger; but not an ideal man to stay on top. He's far too brutal, far too blatant. That's good for shocking our enemies into submission, but you can't run a country like that, not in the long term."

"People are scared," Sophia pointed out. "They want stability. I'm scared."

"Exactly. This isn't my idea, to be frank with you. It's... my boss'. Not the Marshal's, the DEP one. DEP still runs the show."

"As always," Sophia said bitterly. "So why're you telling me this then?"

"Isn't it obvious? I want your opinion. If I become President, our lives will change forever; I might be Prime Minister, but I'm just another bureacrat. A President, a Pelasgian President... why, he's practically a king. An Emperor in all but name. Especially with the coming Constitutional Amendment. You're a history teacher; you know how Emperors fare in this land."

"It's sure to pass?" Sophia asked, desperately.

"Anyone who'd vote against it is no longer in Parliament," Aristarchos noted. "Or in this world, in some cases."

Sophia leaned on her hand and closed her eyes. "I... the children? Will they be safe?"

"Yes. They will be as safe as can be. Their lives will change forever though. So will ours."

Sophia paused for a few minutes. "What of us? You can't have a schoolteacher as 'Empress Consort' of Pelasgia, I imagine. The last one was a Duchess who'd set up hospitals across half of Himyar. Has your... boss shortlisted any candidates?"

Aristarchos shook his head. "No. I was clear about this, to him, and to you. You're my wife. I'm not going to do this, if I don't get to keep my family."

"Do you want to, though? Can you?" Sophia looked up at him.

"Of course. I love you, you know this. Besides, you're the ideal first lady for Pelasgia."

Sophia frowned. "How come? Am I a Duchess?"

"President Notaras and President Vatazidis need duchesses because they're presidents pretending to be emperors. I will be an Emperor pretending to be a President. I need a wife that appeals to the working man and woman, to the middle class; they all need to think of me as someone that they would vote into office, as one of them. That way, I will be able to govern without actually needing their support to stay in office."

"Smart," Sophia pointed out shaking her head. She had always liked the Lieutenant Colonel's brain more than anything else about him - except, perhaps, his shoulders. "But why am I the ideal woman for the ruler of Pelasgia? There's plenty of... sexier schoolteachers. Or nurses."

"Because you're a normal Pelasgian woman. You're the image of the average Pelasgian woman. Attractive, but not threatening; smart, but not a genius; caring, and family-oriented, while also working a people-oriented, feminine job. In short, the woman every normal Pelasgian would want by his side; the woman he likes to think he has by his side." Aristarchos paused to rub his wife's cheek. "And because you're my wife. You can't fake loving people, and I love you. That'll make the whole thing much easier."

Sophia kissed him for a moment, though it felt like an eternity. It was not to last, however; Maria ran into the room, apron around her waist, determined to show her father how to make lazarakia. Sophia covered her mouth to avoid exposing her chuckle. Aristarchos sighed deeply; he picked up their youngest daughter with both hands, and then headed for the kitchen counter. Lazarakia time, it was. Even the soon-to-be strongest man in Pelasgia could not refuse his daughter that.
 
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Pelasgia

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Andronikos crawled through the rocky mountainside, taking a position just beside the edge of the mountain. The summery heat of Pelasgia was already upon Tyrasia Province, the country's southernmost Region, and Andronikos could feel it as the rocks burned his skin. Still, he remained immobile until he saw Tyverios waving at him from across the hill. They're ready, he thought. He cocked his rifle and took aim at the pair of soldiers standing outside the National Guard's makeshift roadblock--a small, portable room surrounded by sandbags and a bar, along with a small tower. Another man, a marksman, sat inside the tower, dutifully watching the road ahead. The roadblock controlled traffic through a mountainside forest road; on either side, a small group of Tyrasian quietly guerillas took position along the elevations.
Andronikos took a deep breath and muffled a prayer under his breath. Then, he pulled the trigger; a hail of bullets came out of the barrel of his surplus AT-47 rifle, striking the two men. The marksman stood up but a shot from one of Tyverios's men blew his head open like a watermelon. Andronikos took cover as the second man returned fire, only to be filled with bullet holes from Tyverios's own AT-47. As Andronikos chambered a round from his new magazine, a small fireteam of National Guard troops started to exit the portable room; Tivrios and Andronikos's men sprayed the room's door, painting the ground outside it red with the exiting troopers' blood.
A moment later, Andronikos listened closely. Other than his heavy panting and the echo of the gunfight, nothing could be heard. He stood up and raised his rifle in the air, cheering. He rushed down to the roadblock, to meet Tyverios's group, followed by his own men. One of Andronikos men took out a flag--a yellow cloth with a black eagle, with a cross in lieu of the old Laskarid crown on the former Pelasgian flag--and rushed up to the tower to plant it.
"They weren't expecting us!" Tyverios shouted as he embraced Andronikos and traded cheek kisses. "The fools!"
"The leadership was right to make us wait for a couple of weeks before taking action," the other answered. "First they think that they've got the region locked down, then bam! Just as they turn their focus abroad."
"This was way too easy," one of Tyverios's men, Karolos pointed out. He was an incorrigible pessimist.
Andronikos opened his mouth to scold him but he was interrupted by the sound of the guard post tower exploding into a thousand pieces, along with the men who had gone to plant a flag there.
"Shit!" Tyverios shouted. "They've got a drone!"
The men dashed for the forest in a frenzy, with the drone's shots ripping through the forest. Soon, another threat emerged: an attack helicopter flew up the slope where the guard post was, using its thermal sights to rain death on the poorly armed rebels. As he ran through the forest to save his life, Andronikos realized that the fight he had picked would be far more difficult than anticipated. The youthful Tyrasians, ever eager to fight to restore the Laskarid Dynasty and the old Constitution, had forgotten just how brutal the original regime change had been--the authorities were determined to remind them, even if it cost them some of their own men. The one thing that Pelasgia had never lacked was excitable young men to throw into the meat grinder.
 

Pelasgia

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The censor took another letter out of the pile. Written letters seemed to be an outdated curiosity in any other aspect of Pelasgian life, given the advent of email and the internet, but the military was another tale. Written mail was easier to monitor and censor--and it also justified certain national security sinecures and funding that could be used in other ways during wartime. He took a look at the document and figured that it resembled a lyceum exam booklet more than it resembled a letter: blue pen, tired half-cursive writing, slightly crumpled edges. The content had better be more interesting than the previous one.
Dearest sister,
I hope that you have been well. How are things at home? I have written to you many times but have received no responses. I wonder whether my letter are making it through. In any case, how is mother? How are you?
Dearest sister, no matter what, do not tell mom that I am in Tyrasia. Father’s passing is already hard on her and I fear that the stress of my being in danger will be the death of her. Tell her that I am anywhere else in the world! Other than Pannonia, of course.
I do not know what they say back home—if they say anything at all—about the situation here, but things are bad. The rebels were quite strong in the towns of the foothills, until the National Guard came in and started to pacify them forcefully. Then, they retreated to the mountains and the Government brought us in. We are winning, supposedly, but how can one win in a guerilla war? Every day, we conduct some airstrike, or they come down and attack some roadblock, and dozens die on either side. It is all madness! Nikos, the friend I wrote to you about from Thermi, died two days ago in an ambush. His wife was with child, and I fear that they will be in bad shape. Please, if you can, send them something to help them. I have written their address on a small piece of paper inside the folder containing this letter.
Other than that, I try to think of home to escape this all. With June coming around, I imagine that it must be beach season again. Wildfires, too, must be starting every now and then. Father used to work double shifts at such times. Last night, I dreamt that I was beside him in his place, putting out fires. Ironically, here all I do is start them. Of course, this must concern you very little. Being in your first year of lycaeum, all that would be on your mind would passing the summer well. When I was your age, I did much the same, as was natural. However, I urge you to be careful; you know how men are at this age.
Take care of yourself and please pray for me from time to time. And please, no matter what, do not tell our mother that I am in Tyrasia!
Your dear brother,
Alexandros
The censor put the message inside a new folder; he emptied out the previous one also took out the small note with Nikos’s address. Then, he sealed the new folder and placed a sticker with the address of the soldier’s family printed on it. He picked it up and started to put it on the "delayed delivery" pile but hesitated; he looked up Alexandros on the database.
Pvt. (Inf.) Alexandros Pedinos
Pelasgian Land Forces
Third Army, Second Corps
XVII Inf. Div., 44 Mech. Inf. Bde., 501 Mech. Inf. Bn.
Status: KIA (23/05/2021)
Specialization: ΠΖ (Infantryman)
Decorations: Medal of Military Merit, 4th class (Post-mortem, granted to entire unit); Presidential Medal for the Defence of National Unity, 4th class (Post-mortem, campaign medal)
The censor sighed. Knowing that the man’s mail would be delivered to him at some point anyway, along with news of his death, he saw no point in delaying a dead man’s last words to his sister. He clicked "Approved" beside the mail case number on his console and then placed the letter it in the approved mail pile.
 

Pelasgia

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Nikos Papanikolis' tavern, I Triaina, meaning "The Trident", was far from the place where one would expect to find Pelasgian government officials. A "psarotaverna" or fish-tavern, it served seafood caught by fishermen just a few minutes before in the nearby port of Pyrgos, one of Propontis' three major ports, alongside Hagios Simeon and Daphni, which lied further to the outskirts of the Pelasgian metropolis. That was precisely why Pelasgia's head of government, Prime Minister Aristarchos Akolouthos, had chosen to meet with his colleagues there.
"Anything else, mister Prime Minister?" Papanikolis himself asked as he passed by the isolated table at the far corner of the tavern's top floor, just beside the balcony.
"No, thank you Nikos," Akolouthos answered. "Please, call me Aristarchos."
"I can't, sir," Papanikolis explained. "'Chief' is the best I can do."
Akolouthos nodded in understanding and turned to the men seated around the table. Just beside him was the Vice Prime-Minister andMinister of Justice, Spyridon "Spyros" Armenopoulos, the General Director of the Central State Security Service, Panagiotis "Panos" Gotthos, and the heads of the two major opposition parties-- Zacharias Platanias of the United Democratic and Liberal Left (IDIFA), and Vasileios "Vasilis" Anthimopoulos of the United Nationalist Front (INEM).
"As I was saying," Akolouthos said, "The Boss wants us to enter the war in Pannonia. We already have anti-air systems there and--do not tell this to anyone--we've sent a submarine squadron off the coast. But I've heard talk of more..."
Vice-Premier Armenopoulos downed what wine remained in his glass and shook his head. "This is insane. None of this would have ever happened under the old regime."
"The old regime brought us here," Director Gotthos answered. "But you're right about one thing: we can't go on like this."
"What do you propose?" Zacharias Platanias asked, rubbing his chin.
"What do you think?" Akolouthos answered. "We need Vatatzidis out and a return to a nice, stable system of permanent bureaucratic government with rotating political parties. The Engells gave us that system in the '50s for a reason: it never starts war, civil or international. Unlike the knock-off monarchy that we have now."
"This is all the fault of the late President Notaras," Platanias said. "That fool and his refusal to see reason..."
"No, Zacharias," Vasilis Anthimos cut him off. "It's our fault. All of our fault. We let it get to this point with our endless bickering; now, we need to end it. I presume that a new party system would emerge in the new regime?"
Akolouthos nodded. "Just like before. Spyros here, being a long-time politician, can take over the centre-right. You can take over the hard right; and Zacharias can keep the left. The division of powers will be such that we'll all hold some power in some branch of government and in some regions at all times. As it is in any liberal democracy, really."
"Pelasgia has a long way to go before it becomes liberal," Zacharias said. "But we can start with a democracy. What about the President? Who will oversee this?"
"The Director here and Spyros both think that it's best that I take the role--and I agree," Akolouthos answered. "The new presidency will be less powerful than the previous one, which means that you need not fear about my mimicking the current Boss' enthronement-in-all-but-name. But, more importantly, we need someone who can comfortably transition the regime into the new system without aggravating the interests that put it there in the first place. No offence, but neither one of you can manage the national security apparatus; I, on the other hand, am of that apparatus."
The two party leaders sighed and traded looks. "Very well," Platanias said. "We'll continue our protests and we'll join you in a parliamentary realignment when the time comes. But are you prepared to move through on your end?"
Akolouthos nodded. "I am. Spyros and I will isolate the President and present him with an ultimatum."
"And what if he refuses?" Anthimopoulos asked.
Gotthos leaned forward. "The State Security Service controls military forces guarding the palace--and the Propontis military garrison is headed by officers loyal to us. I wish to avoid another military coup in the span of a few months, but if the President does not wish to leave, we'll drag him out of the palace kicking and screaming."
Anthimopoulos shrugged. "Why not just shoot him?"
"No!" Akolouthos slammed his fist on the table. "Nobody else dies, not if we can help it. Pelasgia has been governed by the bayonet for far too long. If we're too change this country, we must start by setting an example. Pelasgia will finally be a normal country, free from civil strife; we cannot found such a society through bloodshed."
"If you say so," Anthimopoulos conceded. "We have a deal. Now let's drink--if we fail or are found out, this will be the last drink we ever enjoy."
 

Pelasgia

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Prime Minister Aristarchos Akolouthos examined at the mosaic with great care. Like a golden halo crowning the whole world, the sun rose behind a beautiful rendition of the Hagia Pronoia, the Imperial and Patriarchal Cathedral of Divine Providence in Propontis. Before it stood Emperor Valentius the Great, the founder of Southern Tibur, and Ecumenical Patriarcha Dionysius II, along with a small army of generals and advisors. Above the dome, in the midst of a veritable host of cherubs and seraphim, the divine form of Jesus Christ stood, holding a great book of laws in one hand--the New Testament, evidently. The allegory was not particularly subtle: Pelasgia owed its foundation to Tiburan Imperialdom and the Christian Faith--to the Union of the Purple Robes and the Black Vestments. It was that Union that would perhaps save the modern Pelasgian Union... or so Akolouthos hoped.

"My child," started an elderly man dressed in long black robes and holding a gilded staff. Above the man's long, grey beard and behind large spectacles, Akolouthos found the face of Ecumenical Patriarch Dionysius VIII. How long had he been staring at the mosaic? Probably for the better part of an hour.

"My child," the Patriarch continued. "Are you sure about this?"

Akolouthos sighed. "I have never been more sure of anything in my life, Your All-Holiness. He must go."

"But is it your place to be here?" the Patriarch asked. "I could do this by myself."

"No, your All-Holiness," Akolouthos replied. "I must be here. I put him in that Throne, and I must remove him from it too."

Akolouthos heard shuffling behind the door and turned around. This all started in a palace, he thought; it is only fitting that it should end in one.

The gilded door opened and tall, slim servant emerged. "His Excellency will see you now."

Akolouthos nodded and fixed his tie. The servant held the door open, and he motioned the two men in; the Patriarch entered first, and the Prime Minister followed. Complete silence reigned as they approached the President's office. Akolouthos could only hear the sound of his own feet treading softly upon the marble floor of the Great Palace... along with the ever louder beating of his heart.

"There you are," President Vatatzidis said. He leaned back in his chair for a few moments, before finally forcing himself up to greet the Patriarch. "Your All-Holiness. I see that they have brought you here to expedite my funeral."

"Nobody is dying today," Akolouthos interjected annoyedly.

"Are you sure?" President Vatatzidis answered. "Because you'll need to kill me if you want to get me out of here."

"Not necessarily," Akolouthos said, crossing his arms. "The Constitution provides for impeachment."

President Vatatzidis stood up and pointed his finger at Akolouthos. "Bullshit! The Senate is mine I appointed them all."

Akolouthos shook his head. "We have the votes, Your Excellency. It's over."

President Vatatzidis paused. He expression turned into one of pure wrath, but he remained silent. For a few moments, which felt like an eternity to Akolouthos, he stared at the portrait of the late President Notaras, and then at the Icon of Christ the Lawgiver above it. He sighed and murmured something under his breath, before turning around to Akolouthos. "Then why is the Patriarch here?"

"I administered to you an oath to protect the Pelasgian Nation," the elderly cleric explained. "I am here to see that you keep it."

The President frowned. "How?"

"By resigning," the Patriarch responded. "It's the only thing you can do, if you want to spare Pelasgia from a civil war."

Akolouthos took out a piece of paper from his briefcase and handed it to the President. "Your resignation, Excellency."

"You know," President Vatatzidis said, as he sat down to sign it. "I always knew it would be you who'd do me in. I'd tell you to stay clear of Director Gotthos, but I think you already have him handled." He stood up and handed the paper back. "Here. You're now Acting President of Pelasgia. Hail to the Chief!"
 
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