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Resolution of the Game


iKrolm
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OOC: This thread is a continuation and resolution of the internal thread [url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=79762"]Of Politics[/url].

[b]Selenarctos Command Bunker[/b], [i]Under the Manila Bay[/i]
[i]GASP Control Room[/i]

"Madame," the lieutenant looked up from the computer terminal, fatigue showing in his eyes, "he would like to speak to you in person."

"Very well," Pacita Arellano answered, "Put him on the screen." Twelve hours, they'd been in contact with the 2nd Mechanized Division in Davao City. Twelve hours in which neither side trusted the other completely, nor even enough to reveal who they were talking with. Now, the lieutenant was talking to a man who claimed to be General Sotero Farias of the 2nd Mechanized Division. The same man pulled from the Borneo protectorate zone in the middle of the night to rouse his troops, fly to Preh (before the name returned to Davao City), and restore order in the name of the Central Government. Before the Ferrerist Coalition had murdered nigh-all of Central Government, sent Pacita Arellano (formerly First Director of the Popular Division and only surviving member of the Central Government Councils) into hiding, and seized control to create the short-lived People's Republic of Selenarctos.

The man who appeared on the screen before her appeared to have aged far too much since they'd last seen each other. Pacita didn't imagine the years had spared her either. "General Farias," she began.

"Ma'am," the man stood slowly to a disbelieving salute, a decade of tension streaming out through his eyes in tears. "Madame Arellano, we though-- I thought-- we all assumed you were dead with the others."

Behind him, an handful of exhausted soldiers stared up at Pacita's image. One or two crossed themselves, and one of Farias' comm officers fell to his knees in prayer.

The General choked on his words, pausing to wipe his eyes and then jerking sharply back into a salute. "I am a Filipino," he began.

"I pledge my allegiance," the General's soldiers joined in, rising to salute Pacita.
"To the flag of the Phillipines
And to the country it represents
With honor, justice and freedom
Put in motion by one Nation
For God
for the People,
for Nature and
for the Country.
For Selenarctos."

"Madame Leader, we stand ready at your command."

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[b]Davao City[/b]
[i]Island of Mindanao, Southern Philippine Islands[/i]

The Ferrerist Coalition chose a Friday to protest the Central Government in order to secure the weekend news slots. The Ferrerist Coalition was organized and intelligent: lead by a small group of men who knew to take the country, a precise application of violence was required and administered it like a surgeon with a scalpel.

The Ferrerist remnant group in Davao City chose Friday because it was the anniversary of the first protests. The remnants, driven from Manila after the fall of interim government were numerous, they were not organized, and they were pissed. Too much time in exile, as they saw it: while Manila's economy grew, their's fell into the gutter. The Ferrerist remnants wanted violence because they believed the world owed them, and they would not hesitate to administer it.

The Second Friday Riot as the protests came to be known truthfully began on a Thursday: five men and one women stood outside of the Mayor's office building with signs and pamphlets of the Dammi Island Prison Facility. The Mayor's Office gave no comment, dismissing the protestors as rabble-rousers and the Office of the President ignored the action as it did all others emerging from Davao City.

The people of Davao City did not ignore it, however. Rumors of the prison facility had been circulating for at least a week. Though they differed in the details, all of the rumors agreed: those arrested and taken from their homes in the middle of the night before the First Friday Protest had been sent to Dammi Island, and no one returned from Dammi island.

Even so, the protestors might have been ignored had the Davao City Tribune, a local news paper, not picked up and published the story. (All news outlets in Davao City were legally bound to distribute new only in Davao City, yet another measure causing tension between the Davao City citizens and the Presidency.) The Davao City Tribune legitimized the Dammi Island Prison Facility with a front page article on Friday morning, earning the story an official condemnation from the Office of the Mayor and a visit by a Special Investigator to the President (formerly of Security Division Intelligence & Analysis, though fewer than a dozen people all of Selenarctos knew that). The damage was already done by then, with a growing crowd of over two thousand angry protestors in front Mayor's office by ten in the morning on Friday.

The first protestors were closest to the arrests: the family and friends of the arrested. Many present had ties to the Ferrerist Coalition at it's height, but almost as many were innocent bystanders before their loved one disappeared in the middle of the night. As the day drew on and the crowd grew past the First Friday's size, they were joined by protestors of the economy and those who despised the growing Manila-Davao City divide. Fifteen thousand stood in the streets by five, when the militant Ferrerist remnant members finally mobilized.



[b]Manila, President's Office[/b]
[i]8:00PM[/i]

"Mr. President, are you certain this is your decision?" General Sotero Farias asked.

President Melchoro Diokno pressed the phone to his head and stared down at the report before him. Secretary of Security Ireneo Juárez and a pair of aids stood before him in the working office room of the President. At 5:30 local time, protests in Davao City had escalated into a riot, disturbingly similar to the riot that toppled the Central Government in the not-so-distant past. Dark, digitally enhanced satellite photos of the night sky showed smoke rising from the Financial District, where armed looters had adopted slash-and-burn tactics. Local law enforcement officers reported that while the mob's targets may have started with symbols of the national government, the rioters had moved onto anything they could break and the police was powerless to stop it.

"Yes," Melchoro answered as Presidentially as possible, "As of 7:45PM, martial law is in effect on the island of Mindanao. The 3rd Mechanized Division in Davao City is already mobilizing, and I am ordering the 2nd Mechanized Division forces under you plus Air Force units at your headquarters to assist. Use all force necessary, I want these riots ended."

"The 2nd Mechanized hears and understands. Thank you Mr. President, Farias out."

Melchoro hung up the phone, turning to his Secretary of Security. "You know what's at stake, Ireneo. So far the media barrier in place since the First Friday riots is holding but I want everything down: shut down the fibers into and out of Mindanao, take microwave transmitters offline, do whatever you have to do but I don't want any news coming out of Davao City until I say so. Clear?"

"Yes. Mr. President, I'll make sure personally."



[b]Davao City, Davao City Primary Air Force Base[/b]
[i]Home of the 2nd Mechanized Division since the First Friday riots.[/i]

"You heard the President," General Sotero Farias hung up the command room's conference phone, ending the call. Around him stood his four senior officers, plus the Air Force base's General and two Air Force senior officers.

The Air Force General turned to one of his officers and began to give orders, "Take the base HIGH ALERT. Launch the alert fighters, and prepare to…" But General Farias interrupted the Air Force General by drawing his pistol and touching the cold barrel lightly to the side of the man's head.

"General, with the authority instilled in me by the Central Government of Selenarctos"--the Air Force General blinked in surprise at this; he, unlike everyone else in the room, was a new-model-officer promoted and assigned to the base since President Diokno's ascension to power--"I hereby relieve you of your command and place you under arrest for obeying and attempted execution of an order issued by an illegal dictatorship. Officers, disarm the General." So surprised was the Air Force General that he scarcely managed a protest as his own senior officers disarmed him and placed him in handcuffs.

"Now then," General Farias continued, "On my order: place the base on HIGH ALERT. Launch the alert fighters, contact the Davao City International Airport that all air traffic is to remain grounded until further notice. Enforce clear skies but do not, under any circumstances, engage civilians on the ground in Davao City. And," he finished to the junior officer manning the phone, "Connect us to the Madame Director."




[b]Davao City, Mayor's Office[/b]
[i]Rooftop Helipad, 10:30PM[/i]

"We are incredibly glad to see you," the Mayor shouted over the roaring Blackhawk helicopter on the pad from where three armed 2nd Mechanized Privates and a Major--an unusual rank to lead a fire team. Two more helicopters circled the Mayor's Office building from above, spotlights off in another unusual detail for a crowd-control mission that escaped the non-military-minded and noticeably panicked Mayor's notice. "We were really worried there, when protestors breached the lower levels of the building. The riot police have stopped them in the stairwells so far, but no one's sure how much longer they could hold. We heard the 3rd Mechanized was on their way by ground, but the streets are a mess and we're so glad your hear…"

"Mr. Mayor?" The Major asked, ignoring the man's blubbering, "Are these your staff?"

"Oh yes, this is my secretary Ms…"

"The introductions can wait until later. Mr. Mayor, you're under arrest." The privates raised their pulse rifles at the pair of riot police behind the Mayor's entourage, the riot police in turn raising their hands into the air. "Please come with us: four plus myself into the first helicopter, the privates will remain here with your staff until the second helicopter lands, and so forth. Now if you please," the Major prodded the Mayor of Davao City towards the helicopter at gunpoint.




[b]Selenarctos Command Bunker[/b], [i]Under the Manila Bay[/i]
[i]GASP Control Room[/i]


Ms. Pacita Arellano, former Popular Director in the Central Government, faced General Sotero Farias on the large wall screen.

"…We have the Mayor and most of his staff as well, but the 3rd Mechanized beat us into the streets." General Farias continued apologetically, and Pacita soon learned why. "We're an airborne division; we always have been, like the 1st Mechanized's 1st Regiment: tactical insertions and such, but this isn't our home territory and the 3rd deployed onto the ground faster. I don't know how many units the 3rd Mechanized has in Davao, but they have armor and infantry in the Financial District and they're using lethal force in an attempt to pacify protestors."

"I see. How soon can you begin to counter the 3rd Mechanized?

"How soon can we go head to head with another division of the Selenarctos Army? Saturday afternoon at the earliest, Madame Director, though two or three days to prepare would be even better. I've been reading my division internally for months, but I never expected a second outbreak of rioting. Hell--pardon me, Madame--but I thought the bloodshed the first time would have been enough to prevent something like this from happening again."

"There was nothing you could have done to prevent it, General, but now it's up to you to stop it. Take the fight back to the 3rd Mechanized tomorrow. Do you have to do, but remember you're stopping a massacre, not continuing one. Do you have the Air Force's support?"

"Yes, ma'am. The General's locked up and Davao City Primary now fully reports to me. I've launched the alert fighter and grounded all civilian air traffic in the area, but I'm not setup to strike against the 3rd Mechanized in the dark. Intelligence is severely restricted and all civilian channels to outside Mindanao have been cut off."

"You still have military channels though, right?"

"Of course: this call is through a military fiber."

"Then I have an additional task for you, General: break the news. Get the story out and make sure people outside of Davao City know what's happening there. Make sure people know why, and make sure they know who is behind it."

"It shall be done Madame. Farias out."

Edited by iKrolm
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[b]Davao City, Davao City Primary Air Force Base[/b]
[i]Home of the 2nd Mechanized Division since the First Friday riots.[/i]

The riot reached the walls of the Davao City Primary AFB midmorning on Saturday. The 3rd Mechanized rebuilt its armory and primary base in downtown Davao City, over the rubble of the armory destroyed during the First Friday riots. The closest to the downtown of Davao City, the 3rd Mechanized deployed faster and, following the President's order, kept the nearby streets of protestors.

The 2nd Mechanized, on high alert but preparing for an aerial insertion against the 3rd Mechanized at the time, was caught by surprise when armed insurgents attempted to breach the compound's main gate. Few in number, the two dozen unfortunate souls were quickly driven off or killed in an unrestricted display of force by the 2nd Mechanized. An hour later when protestors (likely armed, though not immediately hostile) began to arrive en mass, organized defense teams had setup a perimeter and kept the protestors back with tear gas and the threat of lethal fire if they approached.

Just before noon, the 2nd Mechanized began aerial insertions onto rooftops in the Davao City financial district. Shortly after the first troops touched down, a second wave of Blackhawk helicopters launched along a heading away from Davao City, and a full squadron of F22s, to rally with F22s launched out of the Davao City Secondary AFB, not under General Farias' command. As the both bases' F22s regrouped over Davao City, the General Farias' alert F35s fired guided missiles against Secondary AFB runways and comm arrays, and 3rd Division comm arrays too. Within seconds of each other, both the Secondary AFB and 3rd Division were cut off from one another and SelCom, and the Secondary AFB's launch capabilities were destroyed. Minutes later (though planned for closer: Farias expected his F22s to rally with the Secondary's F22s, but the Secondary's F22s rallied half way instead and pushed the time table forward), the 2nd Mechanized's Blackhawks touched down and caught the Secondary AFB's commander on his way to the base's bunker. Just like that, the Secondary AFB belonged General Farias.



[b]Davao City, Financial District[/b]
[i]Midafternoon[/i]

Smoke hovered thickly over the city, blotting out the sun but failing to keep the humidity at bay. Private III Aldino Nebrón stood on the rooftop of a twenty-three story office building--tall for Davao City but barely a quarter of a modest new building in Manila, or so Aldino heard--and his squad commanded an overlook of the nearby streets and boulevards. Or should have, at any rate, if the smoke wasn't so thick the Sergeant had everyone wearing [url="http://forums.cybernations.net/index.php?showtopic=65408&st=140#entry3018602"]CAS masks[/url]. Not full gas masks in the heat, thank God, but enough to keep the particulates at bay while they held onto the high ground for who-knows-what-purpose.

Despite the limited visibility, they had a pretty good idea of the situation twenty-three stories below them. Predator drones, even with their fancy sensor packages, were having trouble breaking through the smoke but troops on the radio were reporting heavy fighting. If the reports were accurate, and the cavalcade of gunshots echoing throughout the financial district said the probably were, then every soul with a gun was out on the streets. The original protestors-come-rioters had spread out and taken torches to everything that burned, and stones to most of what didn't. The Ferrerist remnant group (the 2nd Mechanized's name: the individuals still referred to themselves as members of the Ferrerist Coalition, though their organization would have disgraced the Ferrerist Coalition's original leadership and was not even close to a coalition) had followed up by launching attacks on the Mayor's office and any other targets they thought linked to the national government.

The 3rd Mechanized's assault followed, using lethal force in an attempt to put down the Ferrerist remnant group and anyone who stood in their way as quickly as possible. Then the 2nd Mechanized shot down the 3rd Mechanized's comm array, cutting the chain of command and administering a milder dose of the confusion that doomed the 2nd Division in the First Friday riots. Following up upon the 3rd Mechanized's perceived weakness, every local gang and organized crime syndicates who laid low since the President appointed the latest (and now missing) Mayor jumped on the opportunity to seize new territory and settle old grievances. Finally, into this mess came 2nd Mechanized elite troops dropping into the maelstrom from helicopters in an attempt to, originally, prevent a massacre by stopping the 3rd Mechanized and now to stop everyone else. It would take a miracle.

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[b]Public News:[/b] [i]As shown in Calbayog, Cebu, Bacolod and Laoag[/i]
[i]Government control prevented airing in the greater Manila area.[/i]

"The following broadcast contains graphic images that may not be suitable for young audiences…"

"We interrupt the regular news hour for a special report from Davao City. As most of our local viewers know, communications between Mindanao and the rest of Selenarctos were unexpectedly severed and have not been restored. The national government and telecommunication providers declined to comment on the cause, only saying that they were working on it.

"Today, we have received images and video form the 2nd Mechanized Division of the Selenarctos Army deployed inside Davao City. Although we are unable to independently confirm the validity of the information, the sheer quantity of evidence leads our experts to conclude it is valid and indeed supplied by the 2nd Mechanized."

The screen shifts away from the news desk and begins to show select clips. "Yesterday, protestors rallied outside of government offices in Davao City demanding answers about the 'Dammi Island Prison Facility.' We have no knowledge of a prison ever existing on Dammi Island and the national government has not responded to our request for more information. We do know that as the day progressed, more protestors joined the rallies and by nightfall the developed into full scale riots throughout Davao City.

"President Melchoro Diokno directly ordered the 2nd and 3rd Mechanized Divisions to use lethal force against civilian targets to halt the demonstrations, prompting immediate concerns of a repeat of bloodshot seen in the Friday Riots."

"Dr. Marushi as more information about the developing story…"

News stations in Calbayog, Cebu, Bacolod and Laoag were the first and only to broadcast the story officially: farther away from Manila, they endured less interference from President Melchoro Diokno's government. It was enough, however: the story spread through unofficial channels and soon reached Manila and the rest of Selenarctos.




[b]Davao City, Davao City Primary Air Force Base[/b]
[i]Home of the 2nd Mechanized Division since the First Friday riots.[/i]

General Sotero Farias listened as the two other men exchanged greetings and settled down to the matter at hand. Armentario Heredia, Mayor of Calbayog, and Matthew Galvez, Mayor of Laoag, were two of the most influential politicians outside of President Diokno's national government.

"Mayor Galvez and Mayor Heredia, thank you once again for agreeing to this phone call," Farias began. "I am sure you are both aware of the situation in Davao City now, but I must convey the immediate need for definitive action. As we speak, the 8th and 9th Reserve Mechanized Divisions are being called to duty. The 1st Mechanized is already on HIGH ALERT, and half a squadron of F35s are escorting with an AWAC jet towards Davao City. Quite simply, my forces--though by no means meager--cannot hope to hold out against the combined forces available to President Diokno."

Armentario Heredia spoke first. "General, if definitive action is what you require then definitive action we shall provide. We cannot match the President in a ground fight, however. While true that my home city of Calbayog officially hosts the 5th Mechanized Division, the President has been exercising his peacetime authority to disperse the divisions or, in this case, concentrate his strength on Luzon."

"Indeed General," Matthew Galvez interjected, "the President has dedicated nearly all of his resources and attention to south central Luzon: Manila, specifically, and Davao City is not alone in recognizing and resenting the fact. Laoag--the people of Laoag--have had enough. We are to take action."

Armentario Heredia continued: "We are all ready. I speak on behalf of the Naga City, Cebu, and Bacolod as well as my own Calbayog, General Farias, when I move to secede from Manila."

Farias' breath caught in his throat at the words. Though in hindsight he should have expected the outcome, it still surprised him.

"We stand with you, General."

"Laoag stands with you as well, General."

Farias was slow to respond. "Mr. Mayor… Mayors, I swore an oath to Selenarctos. I swore an oath to a country with honor, justice, and freedom but when I look towards Manila, I see none of these. If you'll excuse me, I have a phone call with the President."

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[b]Davao City, Davao City Primary Air Force Base[/b]
[i]Home of the 2nd Mechanized Division since the First Friday riots.[/i]

From the Primary AFB's command room, General Sotero Farias watched radar imagery--enlarged and projected on a wall--of the six approaching F35s and the AWAC jet they escorted. "Sir, he's ready for you," a major in grey urban fatigues named Reséndez handed Farias a headset as the projected image changed to reveal President Melchoro Diokno seated at his desk in the President's working office.

"Good afternoon Mr. President, thank you for receiving my call." Normally Farias would allow the President to say his own greetings, but urgency forbade courtesy today. "Mr. President, the following is a list of demands made on behalf of Davao City and the island of Mindanao, Laoag, Naga City and the island of Letye, Calbayog, Cebu, and Bacolod and the island of Panay, conveyed to you by myself."

President Diokno's face adopted a grave complexion, allowing no emotion to escape as Farias continued.

"We demand that the 3rd Mechanized Division in Davao be ordered to stand down at once. We demand that the Air Force planes encroaching upon Mindanao airspace turn around at once and that no further aircraft, nor Army units, nor naval vessels or military forces of any kind enter the aforementioned areas with out the expressed permission of myself or the ranking officer of the 2nd Mechanized Division." The President looked as if he was about to say something, but Farias continued.

"Furthermore, the aforementioned territories demand autonomy in governance and laws from Manila and the surrounding core territories. We demand sovereignty over our own land, and the right to train and maintain our own defense forces. We demand complete independence and freedom from the politics of Manila and we are prepared to fight to the last man to obtain it."

President Diokno leaned back slowly as Farias finished, conjuring the air of one pondering what he was about to say though he knew the inevitable outcome. "Very well, General Farias, I hear your demands. I hear, and I reject them. Let it be known at this time that you, General, are stripped of your command and title and thrown our of the Selenarctos Army. I hereby declare you an outlaw and a fugitive from justice. I am ordering the 3rd Mechanized to place you and any who follow you under arrest. These are my demands, and you have one hour to comply." The President terminated the call from his end.

Farias slowly removed the headset and handed it back to Major Reséndez. "You did well, General." The screen, black for a few seconds switched back to the radar display. A squadron of F22s were vectoring towards the F35s who were unaware of the latest transpirings between Manila and Davao City.

"Thank you Major. I had hoped... I didn't expect it, but I had just the slightest hope that I might be able to convey my conviction to him... That he might have listened, and that this might have been avoided..."

"General, you did all you could but now we await your orders."

"Do it."

High above the green island of Mindanao, fighters bearing the blue, black and red flag of Selenarctos opened fire upon each other, sending flaming debris into jungles below.




[b]Manila[/b]
[i]Capital Building[/i]

"I've placed every Army divisions on High Alert. The 1st Mechanized is preparing to drop in and take out the leadership in the rebel territories, but I don't believe that will be enough. This sort of foolishness, this sort of disobedience and treason can't brood on the top. No, this goes all the way to the core and I'll cut it all out if I have to. As for Davao City, I have a special surprise in mind."

The President was unlike Secretary of the Economy Dallas Valdés had ever seen him. He was furious, pacing back and forth at the front of the conference, growling orders to those present, but half the time he didn't even seem to be talking to them at all. All four Secretaries were present, as well as the military commanders: Air Force, Army, Navy, and even Ferdinando Valenzuela of the Selenarctos Peacekeeping Force. And they seemed to be in agreement with the President!

"There can be no compromise," Melchoro began again, "There can be no surrender, no retreat, against these sorts of attacks. The nerve! The audacity, the insolence to stand up to me, ME, and say 'We Demand!' This cannot stand. I won't let it stand. I want Farias gone. I want the 2nd Mechanzed gone, all of it!"

"Gary!" Melchoro glared directly at the Air Force Commander. "I've ordered the 2037U armed and launched. You know the '37U, of course." Gary Reynoso looked startled by the sudden outburst in his direction. "The '37U, the unmanned prototype 2037 strategic bomber. The secret deterrent. Its airborne as we speak, with beta and gamma onboard."

Dallas could see wheels turning in the the Air Force Commander's head, but couldn't remember the reference himself.

"The nuclear deterrent," Gary Reynoso said slowly. "You armed the 2037U with nuclear warheads and launched it."

Oh !@#$. [i]That[/i] Beta and Gamma.

"Exactly. They mean business? Well so do we! Rotten to the core, rotten through and through, hell: there's no bloody body left to save!" Melchoro started off again, pacing and ranting. Dallas felt ill. He felt the room closing in, and President's words seemed so loud they were echoing in his ears.

"Yes Mr. President, the 2nd Mechanized will have no choice to surrender with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over their heads," Gary was saying.

"I gotta piss," Dallas whispered to Ireneo Juárez to his right, pulling himself up out of his seat stumbling his way out of the conference room when the President's back was turned.

Outside in the hallway, the walls stopped spinning but he still needed to sit down. Unsteadily working his way towards his office, Dallas passed a pair of soldiers wearing full old style combat armor carrying Pulse Rifles. He starred at them and the soldiers starred back at him as they passed on another. Armed soldiers were a rarity in the Capital Building.

Dallas was just turning back towards his office when out of the corner of his eye, he saw the soldiers glance at each other, then turn around back towards him. $%&@. Could the President have sent them? Had Melchoro noticed his absence and taken it for defiance? Could he think Dallas a traitor, perhaps in league with the phantoms and ghosts haunting from the 2nd Mechanized Division?

He took the next right, then a left and ducked into a Men's room. Leaning heavily on the counter, Dallas took a few breaths to calm himself. No, there was no way the President could have sent anyone after him that fast. Ireneo would have said something if Melchoro noticed Dallas' absence, and-- the Men's room door opened before Dallas could complete the thought and the pair of soldiers he'd seen earlier entered, handguns drawn and scanning the room as if they expected the room to be full of terrorists.

It wasn't. Only Dallas, the Secretary of the Economy of Selenarctos leaning on a false marble counter and behind him an empty stall and a pair of urinals. "We've found the Econ Sec, Madame," one of the soldiers radioed.

Madame? Secretary of Humanaties Sora Armijo? Dallas wondered. Who was Madame on the radio? He was just about to as the radioman--Captain Raul, Dallas read from the man's uniform--when the bathroom door opened a second time to admit two additional soldiers and between them, a short Filipino woman who died a decade ago.

"Madame Director," Dallas faltered. What? How? Despite the time, there was no other person this could be. In her right hand Pacita Arellano held a 9mm. Time slowed as she raised the gun to his chest. Damn, she's short passed through Dallas' head--she stood a good thirty centimeters below Dallas and he was not a tall man--and he almost laughed at the absurdity of the thought, but lost it as she began to speak.

Calm, measured words spoken with unmatched self-confidence. "Mr. Dallas Valdés." It was a statement, not a question. "I require your assistance with a matter of governance. After you have rendered service, you shall be free to go but until such time you are mine and you are in my hands."

Pacita Arellano she may be, but the calm, well-mannered, personable Popular Director she was not. The gun disappeared from his chest and from her hands. Still dazed by the dead woman in front of him, Dallas followed her out into the hallway where a half dozen more soldiers waited, bringing the party including Pacita and him to twelve. They retraced Dallas' steps back to the conference room and rifles slung, pistols drawn the soldiers flowed single file into the room.

The President was seated when they entered, and a pair of Pacita's soldiers reached him before he had risen half way, forcing him back into his seat. The remaining soldiers arranged themselves one behind each Secretary and Commander. The last prodded Dallas to the front of the room and Pacita followed. For once, Melchoro was at a loss for words.

Finally Melchoro spoke. "You," he said accusingly, glaring at Pacita. He looked about to continue but a gun barrel jab to the cheek ensured silence. Pacita for her part ignored the President, moving calmly to a podium in the corner that hid the room's AV equipment and pressed a few buttons to turn the room's projector. She also withdrew a phone, lifted the handset and spoke a few inaudible words without dialing.

Returning to the group, Pacita handed Dallas the handset but kept the base, one finger on the mute button. Dallas' guard adjusted the rooms web camera to show only Dallas and seconds later the phone and screen connected.

"Capitol Building, this is General Agbada at Air Force Command. Oh, good afternoon Secretary Valdés," the General said as the screen came on, "We've called in all reserves and are standing on High Alert per the President's orders. What can I do for you?"

Dallas glanced sideways at Pacita, who gestured sharply back towards the camera. "Ask for confirmation of the 2037U launch," she told him.

How had she known about that? Dallas wondered, but did as he was asked when Pacita released the mute button.

"Yes, Mr. Secretary. Per the President's orders the 2037U prototype strategic bomber is on course for Mindanao with Beta and Gamma on board." When Dallas didn't say anything, the General continued. "Mr. Secretary, are you under duress?"

"No," Dallas answered unprompted. "General, under the President's authority you are ordered to issue recall codes to the 2037U bomber."

"Mr. Secretary, my orders were issued by the President directly and I'll need to hear from the President to countermand them."

"The President is... indisposed at the moment, General."

"Indisposed or not, I need to hear from the President or using the President's codes before I can issue the recall code."

Dallas glanced sideways to where the President sat, then back at the camera. "Please remain on the line, General." Dallas' guard switched off the camera while the President's soldiers spun Melchoro's chair around.

Dallas hardly recognized the man facing Pacita and him. Where minutes ago Melchoro had been spitting mad and a terror to behold, the man he saw seated now looked broken and tired. He looked like a man beaten at his own game, though Dallas lacked the point of view to guess what game might be. Before as now however, Melchoro Diokno was not a man who fought to the death. He gave up the codes when asked and Dallas repeated them to the General.

"The codes match, Mr. Secretary, I'll issue the recall order myself." General Agbada appeared slightly confused.

"No, General, thank you," Dallas answered and Pacita ended the call.

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[b]Davao City[/b]
[i]One Month Later[/i]


Dallas Valdés straightened his suit and tie nervously. "When you are ready," Captain Francisco Raul told him and Dallas followed the Captain out of the private waiting room towards the central meeting room where the day's deliberations were to take place. They walked together, no longer as captor and prisoner, but as equals: they both worked for Madame Arellano.

Following Pacita's confrontation with Melchoro in the Capital Building and the recall of the deterrent bombs, Pacita had locked up Melchoro's Commanders and Secretaries in the Command Bunker's cells. Dallas had been the exception: though able to leave only when needed for appearances in Government responsibilities, he had been granted freedom of movement within the Command Bunker. There he learned much of Pacita and Melchoro's history, from meddling in the Ferrerist Movement and the First Friday Riots, to the gas attack that ended the Central Government to Melchoro's rise to power and Pacita's escape to the Command Bunker, use of the GASP super computer and finally her assault on Melchoro's presidency.

As soon as Melchoro was no longer necessary, he'd been euthanized and his body interned in the Manila Bay--on Pacita's order Dallas suspected, though no one would confirm this. Dallas has stepped into the role of Acting President after news of the President's death had released (an unexpected stroke), and under Pacita's directive Dallas established elections would take place next year.

President Diokno's government had been overhauled: his top-heavy leadership done away with, and more moderate--and more self-reliant--choices appointed until the new President was elected.

The 3rd Mechanized had pulled out of Davao City and the 2nd Mechanized had restored order once again. The media blockade between Mindanao had been torn down and Manila citizens had been pissed. First Dallas for allowing the riots to occur, then at the Outer Philippines (as the separatist territories called themselves) for attempting to break away before public opinion finally agreed that there really was nothing to be done to stop them from breaking away if they wanted to.

And so Dallas Valdés arrived in Davao City to negotiate with the assembled Mayors of the Outlying Philippines to negotiate an arrangement. General Farias of the 2nd Mechanized would also be present--another affiliate of Madame Pacita's, Dallas now knew, but also an independent actor with the preservation of his command motivating him. As for himself, Dallas had just a few more months before the elections and then he hoped to retire.



[b]News:[/b]

Negotiations in Davao City concluded today, after beginning only four days ago. Both parties stated they would have liked more, but that terms were reasonable. The Diokno Resolution, named in honor of the late President Diokno, grants semi-autonomous status to Davao City and the island of Mindanao, Laoag, Naga City and the island of Letye, Calbayog, Cebu, Bacolod and the island of Panay, and many smaller islands.

Much as expected, the agreement grants these regions--the Outer Philippines--self-governance and legal independence from Manila. Although Manila may still impose taxes and tariffs on citizens and businesses in the Outer Philippines, all revenues must be spent in the Outer Philippines. The national government in Manila remains responsible for national air and naval security, but the outlying territories recruit, train, and supply their own armed forces on the ground and national government Army forces may only enter the Outer Philippines with express permission. Finally, Manila and the Outer Philippines are granted separate immigration control and have the right to deny entry or restrict exit of any persons between each other and other nations.

This has been the Manila Times, reporting from Davao City.

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