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Res Publica Pro Tempore [IC]

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Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States
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Democratic Socialists

Res Publica Pro Tempore [IC]

Postby Great Confederacy of Commonwealth States » Sat Aug 03, 2019 6:17 am

Res Publica Pro Tempore

OOC


Melinda Delcastillo
1925 hours
15th September 2067
Air Force One
United States Airspace
Above Spartanburg, South Carolina


Image


“I understand, Nathan. You served the people well, I could not have asked for a better regimental commander for my Marines. I’ll speak with governor Pierce, see what we can for you in Oklahoma”

The Colonel had been very frank in telling her about his retirement plans. Living out his final years on an Oklahoman farm with Grace… It was a prospect she could understand his longing for. It was never something she could herself, she knew. Given a rustic farm on the edge of civilisation, she would turn it into a listed for-profit corporation within three years. It was never in her nature to calm down and enjoy what she created. There was always another stone to turn, another field to plough, another cow to milk…

She looked down at her hands, and clasped them together. When she was 17, she had used them to knock a guy out in some Phoenix club she used to visit. The… what was it called again… the ‘Santa Ana’ or something like that. She chuckled lightly, her eyes lighting up as she did. Back then, dudes were all over her, salivating over the prospect of a dance with her. Too quick with their hands, too. Far too touchy. But once she laid into that guy… A punch like that would break all the bones in her now withered hands. She played with the golden ring that still adorned her ring finger. Only her granddaughter – Will’s daughter – knew that story. She had turned pale after hearing that, and then they had laughed together for 15 minutes straight. To her, it was hilarious that her old, frail grandma could lay out a dude with a single punch. Nowadays, she would have a Marine do it.

She often wondered what had become of that guy. He was probably sitting down to have an early dinner with his own grandchildren in Phoenix by now, having lived a full and plentiful life. Telling stories about how the First Citizen once kicked his ass in a bar in Phoenix. Or keeping that story to himself in fear that it would get him into trouble still, as if the FBI would be knocking on his door with an indictment for ‘slapping the ass of the First Citizen’. The Tribunal would have a field day with that.

Alternatively, he could have been killed during the Drive to Los Angeles, when Phoenix was almost levelled by the Air Force laying into the retreating forces moving through. She’d signed off on it, full well knowing what the consequences were going to be. That was the day that solidified her position: the woman who would burn down her home town for the Union. That day, she became the United States.

Nathan was the second person that had come to talk to her about retirement. Dick, too, was planning to give up his position, in the way that admiral Nelson was giving up his ship. Huntington’s Disease was a scourge. With the top medical care available, he would probably only last another five years. She would give it to him, of course. She would probably have a few more shouting matches with him before the end. Hamilton would probably give up on himself before she did. She would have the last laugh, speaking at his funeral. The funeral of an old friend. She never thought she would outlive that rough-and-tumble 34 year-old she made director when she was already in her 50s. Filling a hole that Will had left behind. But Dick had never been able to quite fill the void. Somehow, he expected him to speak at her funeral one day, helping Laurence through the transition.

But perhaps it was better this way. Nathan retiring, Dick giving up the ghost (he would never have left any other way), Mandelbaum was getting old too… The future belonged to people like Ripley and Wright and Laurence. Perhaps it was for the better. The whole blood-stained mess of the Crisis needed to go, and they were the last remnants of it. Perhaps it was better that Hamilton would not outlast her. Unbeknownst to the world, the United States had been at war with itself for over forty years, and all that needed to end.

“I’m sorry, Nathan, I gotta go. Call of nature” she said, laying her old hand on the shoulder of her body guard. She did not like endings. Walking through the aisle of Air Force One, she could see the sun setting to the West, beyond the horizon. There was Arizona. The colours were beautiful and captivating, and she could hardly look away. The sky turned pink and orange, the clouds turned golden. As she made her way down the aisle, she passed Laurence and his husband. She began to play with her ring again. Peter would have loved such a sunset… And so would Will. Of all the things she had broken over the course of her life… her family, the skulls of thousands, the nose of that guy back in Phoenix… She wished she could mend one thing. One thing had not been worth the sacrifice.

Suddenly, she stood still. Even though she looked away from the windows, she could still see the sunset imprinted on her retina. The vibrant colours, getting ever more vibrant by the second. Then came the spots, taking away parts of her vision, and looking like the snow on an old television set. She closed her eyes, but the sun was still there. It got brighter and brighter, and it began to pain her. It felt like a migraine, like her head was about to burst. She clasped her head with both hands, and gritted her teeth, but the pain did not subside. It became nauseating. Her breath became erratic, and she drew the attention of nearby attendants. Laurence got up, spotting her distress.

“Are you okay, Mama?” He asked, putting a hand on her shoulder.

“FFFFFFFFFF....” It was the sound of air escaping between her pursed lips and gritted teeth.

“FFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUCK” she managed to get out, before the pain overwhelmed her. Suddenly, her vision turned black, and all sensations disappeared. Right there, she collapsed, her head striking a nearby coffee table before she hit the floor.

Laurence Delcastillo
2004 hours
15th September 2067
Air Force One
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Atlanta, Georgia


Image


As soon as the hypersonic plane of the President touched down, the airfield was flooded with flashing lights from ambulances and police cars. The hulking figure of the plane looked like a National Mall monument, lit up like a New York skyscraper. As soon as it had come to a halt, the cargo door in the belly came open. The Marines did not wait for it to open entirely, instead pushing the stretcher down the descending ramp as it came down. Just before they reached the edge it touched the tarmac, allowing them to swiftly run up to the runway. It was a strange sight, these Marines in their formal dress uniforms, their white caps and gloves, running beside a stretcher holding an old woman. At that moment, the First Citizen looked like any other 80 year-old being rushed to a hospital. An IV bag hung from a steel mount, and her face was half-covered by a breathing apparatus. Following the stretcher came another platoon of Marines, who immediately requisitioned an ambulance and whatever police cars were present. Without much fanfare, the Atlanta city police was tossed out, and seconds later the convoy took off.

As the Marines sped off, the presidential limousine was lowered from the belly of Air Force One. Laurence was impatiently tapping on the seat of his driver.

“Come on, come on…” he said, gritting his teeth. The last hour had been a blur, and it had lasted a seeming year. From the moment his mother went down, the her being resuscitated, to the IV being injected into her arm. The doctors were unable to tell him anything. The response had been nothing short of chaotic. The Presidential Emergency protocol had not been implemented in years, and many were out of practice. Main cabinet members received immediate phone calls from present staff, just with the information that the First Citizen had fallen ill. No instructions were given. Some people were on more lists than one. The Solicitor General got two phone calls, both for Delcastillo has President and her as Supreme Court Justice. The Joyce Wu was informed both as third in the line of presidential succession and as the House counterpart to the President Pro Tempore. Laurence even got three calls, as President of the Senate, VP, and her son, despite being present.

Now, the convoy was careening down the I-85. The late Tuesday traffic had just seconds to get out of the way. Marines drove even more violently than normal ambulance personnel, having no trouble weaving in and out of traffic. More than once, one of the police cars connected to another car, but luckily control over the vehicles was maintained. Once the convoy came to the Atlanta Medical Centre, the doors of the ambulance burst open. A few Marines had drawn their firearms and were making a path for the stretcher. Those who did not move out of the way in time were unceremoniously pushed aside, no matter their affliction. An old was violently shoved to the floor, losing his glasses along the way.

“EMERGENCY… MOVE”

Seconds later, the limousine came to a halt. Laurence got out first, followed by the presidential secretary, Anne Corinth. Anne was feverishly working on her phone, trying to reach all the people lower down the line that had lower priority than cabinet-level personnel. She was trying to reach the agency executive of the Bureau of Reclamation.

“What should I tell the Press Secretary?” she asked. Laurence did not respond at first, not realising the question was aimed at him. Anne’s questions were always answered by the voice of his mother. After a moment, Laurence looked in her direction, suddenly spotting her questioning look.

“Oh, ehm…” he thought. “Tell her the full story, I think?” he said, rushing to catch up with the stretcher.

“Yeah, but… what should she tell the press?”

Laurence realised, all of the sudden, that he was now in charge of strategy. He had never been good at strategy. His mother had always been a star in that, always knowing exactly what information could go to the public. She kept a pulse on the situation, and managed to give a consistent view of the White House in any situation. What would she have said?

“Just… just tell them she is in good hands, but that she’s not out of the woods yet”

“So, we should publish that she fell ill?”

Laurence had not thought about keeping it all under wraps. He could just keep it all under the rug, and wait until his mother came by. She would know what to do. Could he do that? Would that be smart?

“Just do what I said, Anne. We’ll figure out the details later”

At that moment, the stretcher crashed through the doors of the operating theatre, Laurence and Anne in hot pursuit. However, a Marine stood in their way, blocking the way in.

“I’m sorry, Vice President, ma’am. We cannot allow you in, the doctors need to do their work” she said.

“But…” Laurence tried, but he knew she was right. She was in good hands now, the doctors needed to do their work.

“Alright… Just give a word when you know anything”

“I will, sir”

The presidential security detail had cleared out a room as a command and control centre. Phone reception was not great, so aids were constantly running in and out of the room. After half an hour, the coffee machine had been emptied out, so nurses came in to supply those present with anything they needed. It was not long before the room was made to smell like a mix of coffee and sweat, combined with hospital meals that were provided by hospital staff running voluntary overtime. No-one knew exactly what was going on, but the presence of Marines and the VP was enough to clue them in to the broad strokes of what was happening. No-one dared make eye contact with Laurence.

Laurence was going through the contacts of his phone, seeing who he still needed to call. All cabinet members had been informed, as had most important governors. High profile senators, the intelligence community, the DC mayor… At the bottom of the list came the name Laurence was most hesitant about.

William (Will) Delcastillo.

Laurence hesitated for a moment, but then pressed dial. It took a moment before he heard a sound on the other end of the phone.

“Hey Will… It…”

On the other end was the voice of his niece.

“Oh, hey… Could you pass me on to your dad?”

A moment of silence.

“Will? It’s Laurence… I’ll send someone to pick you up, you need to come to Atlanta. Right now. Please.”
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Lunas Legion
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Lunas Legion » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:43 am

Georgia Hamilton
Washington D.C
20:09
Thursday 15th September 2067


"I see. Thank you, Tom." Georgia's voice was cold and calm as she set her mobile down on her desk with a long, weary sigh. Of course it something major had happened just as she was about to call it a day and head back to the Old Naval Hospital, the official mayoral residence ever since the mayor during the crisis had turned it into something of a headquarters for protecting Washington D.C with police, national guard and state defence force units, the only units that were trustworthy enough to be present in and around Washington itself during the crisis.

She'd considered something like this would happen, in the hidden depths of her mind; they all had, most likely. It was a simple fact that the First Citizen was old, she would, like all men and women no matter how great or powerful, die someday. But that did not mean she had any idea of what she would do now that it had happened.

She let out a second long breath, leaning back in her chair which creaked as she shifted her weight around, turning away from her desk and looking back towards the framed copy of the Constitution that she'd had hung on her wall ever since university. It was an old thing, framed now, but it was something that had followed her through her life. She couldn't read it, not in the cursive righting, but she didn't need to. She could recite the entire document verbatim, and she knew the relevant parts here, as meaningless as the document had become under the First Citizen.

First Citizen was a title, not a constitutionally established position. No amendment had been added stating it as such. The Vice-President, Laurence Delcastillo, was now President. The office of Vice-President was empty, but would have to be appointed under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment and confirmed by Congress. President pro tempore was empty too, to be confirmed by the Senate, and likewise the Supreme Court was now empty, also awaiting appointment by the new President and confirmation by the Senate.

In theory, at least, all the powers held by Melinda Delcastillo were open for the taking by the new President.

In theory.

Georgia was not about to let such a perversion of the US Constitution happen for a second time. The United States was a republic, not a hereditary monarchy. And by the Constitution, at least, next year was election year. Not that anyone had willingly run against Melinda. Now, now she just had to figure out what the hell she could do about it. She was the Mayor of D.C, and this... This was her city. She had a decade to dig her roots, entwine them through every nook and seam and crag in the asphalt. If there was nothing she could do about this, then there was nothing anyone at all could do.

Georgia let out a groan, and turned back towards her desk, spinning her chair slightly too fast and wincing as she bashed her leg against the desk, arm darting out to grab her smart phone. She wasn't entirely sure how people would react to the news, so orders would have to be given. To the Chief of Police, to the Brigadier-General of the District of Columbia State Guard, to the Major General of the District Columbia National Guard, even if he was not under her authority, purely to advise him of the situation and what she was doing.

She did not know how people would react to the situation, and so preparations had to be taken. She would have troops and police out on the streets tomorrow, just in case there were riots to preserve order. There was still the possibility that Melinda would awaken, after all. Comatose was not dead, so she would need to be careful, and patient, but not overly cautious. She would have to strike a precarious balance, but the fate of the country was at stake. If not her, then who?
Last edited by William Slim Wed Dec 14 1970 10:35 pm, edited 35 times in total.

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Nytavuthar
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Nytavuthar » Sat Aug 03, 2019 9:47 am

James "Jem" Ripley
20:09 P.M.
September 15th, 2067
James' Country Home North of Bethesda, MD

Image

James peered out the window of his study. His wife, Clara, had stayed later than usual at the university, something about in her words "A major event for social advancement." Like being married to one of the highest ranking lawyers in the nation doesn't bring her to the top of the ladder that is social advancement. James understood Clara's motives though, she was ambitious in everything she did. She is the Dean of Education at Johns Hopkins University, a greatly coveted position that she worked her ass off for.

Just as he was about to turn back to his case notes, a relatively small case about a dissenter, his personal phone started ringing. James expected it to be his wife, calling to tell him she was coming home finally. But the call was coming from the Office of the Chief Justice. This was unusual as the Chief Justice's office had closed hours ago. James answered the phone.

"Thank you. If you can have somebody review the docket for upcoming cases, and postpone all but the most important to the national security of the nation...I understand that order has to come from the Chief Justice, but it seems that the Chief Justice is indisposed, and we do not know when she will be able to return to her duties...Thank you."

James had been pacing throughout the call. He couldn't believe it. Such a monolithic woman to be done in by a mortal weakness such as disease. James had to sit down. Then the second call came. A direct line from the Oval Office. James could imagine that the White House was in complete disarray at the news. He braced for another run down of the situation from another paper pusher.

"Thank you ma'am. As far as I know the Justice Department will maintain the Status Quo while the First Citizen is indisposed...I would assume that the Attorney General would know about the machinations of the Tribunal than I do...Please send my best wishes to Laurence and the family, I'm sure they are having a rough time. Thank you."

In the time after receiving the two most nerve wracking calls in his life, James had his eyes glued to the television. CNN was already reporting of a major shift in the First Citizens schedule, landing in Atlanta in a haste instead of going to her destination.

The Press is going to be all over this. Even at the hint of a possibility of a major succession, they were reporting as if the First Citizen had died.

After thirty minutes James had learned nothing new, and he forced himself to look away. In the past thirty minutes he had received calls from colleagues, friends, and his wife, who said she was stuck in traffic on I-95 and was going to be late. James broke the news and quickly ended the call after that. After placing two quick calls to the Attorney General and his Principal Deputy to communicate what happens going forward, and what could happen.

After those calls James was tired.

He slumped in his office chair and looked towards his bookshelves, filled with various legal codes, from state to federal. He pulled out his personal copy of the Constitution and looked at the twenty fifth amendment. For all intents and purposes Laurence Delcastillo was now the President of the United States, but the office of Chief Justice and President Pro Temp remained empty. James knew that the next two weeks were going to be hell for those at the top.

He turned back to the television, "A continuing cycle of addiction," he thought to himself. He stayed glued there for the meantime hoping something positive would come to light.
Last edited by Nytavuthar on Sun Aug 04, 2019 10:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Thermodolia
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Thermodolia » Sat Aug 03, 2019 5:21 pm

James Lawrence
Washington D.C
20:09
Thursday 15th September 2067


“Well is she ok? I see. Understood.” The old admiral’s voice was strong and steady but a hint of sadness lingered. Just my luck, he thought to himself, that this would happen just days after they had a conversation regarding such an event. He drew himself out of his chair and began pacing around the room; his office was a large one but simple. Inexpensive wood paneling lined the walls, an average looking couch and set chairs sat in the center of the room with a big oak desk at the back, outside of a few paintings and two fake plants the office was barren. If you took a quick glance you’d have thought it was the office of a mid-level bureaucrat and not that of the Secretary of Defense.

He stopped his pacing. Even if she doesn’t die the nation needs to be protected from harm, even though she herself refused to let martial law be enforced. If James enacted it there would be no going back, he was at a personal crossroads. Would he take the safe but unassuming route he had always taken, the one that protected him and allowed him to get to his current position, or would he finally throw off the mantel of disguise and show the world what he was truly capable of?

What ever decision he made he needed to make it fast lest the Old Cyclops and his bastards took control of the situation. He was reminded of the oath he took when he first became an officer in the Navy; “I will support and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic”, those words used to mean things. Now they are no more than an absent minded prayer to a god that was long forgotten. No. They should mean something and James Lawrence, Secretary of Defense and Admiral of the Fleet was in the best position to make them mean something.

Immediately he called the Joint Chiefs of Staff and ordered them to high readiness and to make sure that troops in DC and Atlanta ready for anything. He then called the acting President, he first gave his condolences however this call wasn’t about condolences he asked the now acting president to put jet fighters above Atlanta for the protection of the First Citizen. Hamilton was going to have a field day, but he couldn’t be bothered with what Hamilton thought.

Lawrence wasn’t done yet. He knew of one person he could confide in, Georgia Hamilton, the Cyclops’s daughter. He didn’t dare share his true thoughts over the phone instead he ask her if she need help from the military regarding law and order and if they could talk about such pressing matters in private.
Last edited by Thermodolia on Sun Aug 04, 2019 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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The Archipelago Territory
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Ex-Nation

Postby The Archipelago Territory » Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:06 pm

Connor Wright
2010 hours
15th September 2067
Chief of Staff’s Office
The White House
Washington, D.C.


After arriving at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport the First Citizen was transported to the Atlanta Medical Center for immediate treatment. The White House press secretary has so far not responded to any questions.

He turned on the TV in his office on, but instead of the usual sitcom, CNN was on. When he heard that the First Citizen was hospitalized, he immediately ran to the Situation Room. He ran past me the secret service agents at the door and into the chaotic room, where dozens of angry officials were currently arguing. They were yelling about who was in charge, each arguing their position had higher authority, until the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff got a call. The room was now silent, and everyone wanted to hear what was happening.

When the chairman hung up, everyone in the room started yelling again, but Wright didn’t do anything. He needed to make two calls, one to the President, and one to the Secretary of Defense. Although not paying much attention to the multiple arguments happening inside the room, he could definitely make out one thing: The Secretary of Defense had just issued an order to close the nation without the approval of the president (who was available), something far beyond his authority.

He yelled at the generals to try to restore order, but it was to no avail. He slammed the table, but the officials seemed to care less. Wright only drew a few looks from the angry crowd of officials and advisors, most of whom were generals. Wright still had no idea what had happened, other than what had been shown on the media. From what he’d gathered, though, the First Citizen was most likely didn’t have much time left. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to speak to Delcastillo, especially since he couldn’t travel to Atlanta.

No, three calls to make, he thought, remembering that the Cyclops would probably try to take advantage of this situation and ramp up surveillance.

Wright took his office phone and called the acting President. He remembered how excited he was when he was first elected to the Florida Senate, and when he’d became governor. Now he wished he hadn’t chosen to work in the White House. It was definitely going to be a long night. Being Chief of Staff was the hardest job in the White House, second only to being the president. But now Laurence Delcastillo was the President, and he knew he had to secure a job in the new president’s administration.
Last edited by The Archipelago Territory on Mon Aug 05, 2019 5:43 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Vienna Eliot
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Founded: Feb 16, 2018
Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby Vienna Eliot » Sun Aug 04, 2019 5:37 pm

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Joyce Wu
Speaker
of the House

September 15, 2067


Acting President Laurence Delcastillo
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Acting President,

It brings me deep sadness to hear that the First Citizen has fallen ill, and as the mother of children myself, I wish you the deepest condolences in this difficult moment. In the hands of our nation's finest physicians, I am certain she will persist as she has always done and make a full recovery.

There is no telling, however, how long her recovery will take, and she is sure to need time to rest. But the work of the nation cannot come to a halt. The Supreme Court's October caseload must be heard in a mere two weeks, and the Congressional Budget Act of 2034 requires that both houses pass all appropriations — and that the President sign them into law — by October 3rd this year.

It is critical, then, that you, as not only Acting President but as President of the Senate as Vice President, expediently see to the election of a new, temporary President pro Tempore to oversee the Congressional budgetary process until the First Citizen is well again. Furthermore, I implore you to exercise your authority under the Judicial Appointments Act of 2021 to appoint interim Justices of the Supreme Court to hear cases while the First Citizen is incapacitated.

Much of this is without precedent. When, God willing, the First Citizen recovers, she will resume her duties in the Senate and relieve the interim justices of their duties. But I simply cannot express confidence that any other person can lead the nation alone at such a tumultuous time. I will see to it that the House does its part, if only you take the steps outlined here. The life of our republic demands it.

Best regards,
Joyce Wu
Speaker of the House


Joyce Wu
Capitol Hill - Washington, DC
20:31
September 15th, 2067


Joyce Wu signed off on the final text of the letter. She told her aide not to leak it, not yet. She changed her clothes and washed her face. She rehearsed some lines in the mirror. Then she left for the press conference. And as she walked out the door of her home toward the U.S. Capitol — monument to democracy — she smiled and hoped the President of the United States would die a violent, painful death.

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Pasong Tirad
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Left-wing Utopia

Postby Pasong Tirad » Sun Aug 04, 2019 7:30 pm

William Delcastillo
2032 hours
15 September, 2067
Delcastillo Estate
West Gateway Drive
Worthington, Minnesota




Will Delcastillo was in his "study" playing video games on his computer. He's old now, so he doesn't have the same dexterity he once had to be able to play early 21st century shooter games, but he still found a lot of entertainment value in playing simulation games - now, he's developing a city from the ground up. This was how he spent the rest of his days now. He wasn't too excited about not working, but if not working meant that he could spend all of his time with his family and play as many video games as he wanted, that doesn't seem like a very bad prospect. After all, he's been doing this for just over ten years now. Nine, if he's counting that one time he tried to run for mayor of Worthington - which he doesn't.

He was having fun on his computer when his daughter Teresa (known as Tess by her family) knocked on his door and opened it. "Dad, it's Uncle Laurence."

His heart stopped for a second. Laurence never called him. Tess handed her his phone and he put it to his ear. "Larry?" he said, speaking to his brother for the first time in years.

“Will? It’s Laurence… I’ll send someone to pick you up, you need to come to Atlanta. Right now. Please.”

And then Laurence hung up the phone. Will used to be the guy who held his younger brother's hand while he learned how to ride the bike, and now he couldn't even speak twenty words to him.

"Something wrong, Dad?" Tess asked. Will figures that she must have been watching the whole conversation - if you could call it a conversation.

"A plane's coming for me," he told his daughter. "He said I had to go to Atlanta.

"Did he say why?"

Will shook his head. Laurence didn't say why, but he had an idea of what might be happening. "I think something's happened. With. With Mamá." He looked Tess straight in the eyes, and she understood him immediately.

"Mamá!" she started calling for Will's dear wife, Emilia. "Mamá! Can you get Max on the phone?! It's important!"

"I need to go to the airport," Will said, getting up and leaving his computer the way it is - somebody else can get to it.

"What's going on?" said Emilia as Will burst from his study. She was holding her phone in her hand, dialing up her younger child, who was working at a company in Minneapolis. The whole family moved to Minnesota, but "there just weren't a lot of opportunities for me here, Dad," Maximiliano had said to him nearly a decade ago. "I don't know of I'll like living in Worthington, but maybe St. Paul or Minneapolis might be a good place to start a career." - And indeed it was. With some capital that he "borrowed" from Will and Emilia, Max was able to start a nice, respectable business in the heart of Minnesota, the only problem being that he's a three to four hour drive away from Worthington.

"Uncle Laurence called," Tess said, filling in her mamá as they followed Will out into the family room. "Dad thinks it's about abuelita."

"Abuel- Will, no," Emilia said, passing the phone to her daughter, who immediately went to a corner of the room to bring her brother up to speed on the situation - "Max? It's me, we've got a situation."

"Will," Emilia said, looking her husband in the eyes as she stopped him from taking another step - out into the garage, where a car driven by their driver could easily take them to the Municipal Airport within fifteen minutes. "You know you don't have to go, right? If... If she's... If something has happened, you are under no obligation to see her, absolutely none. Let Laurence take care of all of this. He wanted that life, didn't he? Let him deal with this."

Let Laurence deal with running a nation? Yeah, right. Will thought he would be participating in politics himself more than twenty years ago - he even got promoted to Secretary of State for a few months before he and the newly-"crowned" First Citizen had a falling out precisely over her new title. He could stomach the overarching executive powers, as well as the extension of her term in office - they just went through a civil war, he knew dabbling in authoritarianism had to be done to keep the country from falling apart into 52 different warring states. But literally crowning herself as First Citizen much in the same way Augustus did in Rome? That was a step over the line, and he couldn't take it anymore. It shattered the illusion he had been more than willing to believe about her mother - she wasn't just a president, she was a dictator, and she wanted to turn herself into a monarch, with Will as her presumptive heir. It flew smack in the face of everything William stood for, and he wanted out - but she wouldn't let him. She kept him there, close enough that she could keep her eyes on him, in D.C., for nearly twenty years before she finally relented and let him go to Worthington.

"You don't have to go," Emilia said, seeing the lack of a response from her husband of over thirty years. "Will, you can stay here. It's Thursday night. We can just... we can just watch a movie? Or... or play some table tennis in VR?"

"I know I don't have to go," Will said, unable to look his wife in the eye. "But-"

"But you're going anyway," Emilia said, finishing his sentence for him. "Alright-"

"Em, it's-"

"No, Will, don't worry. It's alright. I just... I guess I just need to pack a few clothes, maybe a toothbrush and some deodorant. Oh, do you want me to bring your medication?"

"What?" Will said, genuinely confused at the sudden shift in the conversation.

"Just spoke to Max," Tess said, coming back into the conversation and giving back her mom's phone, "he'll try and catch a flight out as soon as he can. He'll meet us in the morning in the latest. We need to give him directions as soon as we know where we're going." She paused, looking at the startled look on her father's face. "What?"

"You... you guys aren't coming," Will said - or rather, tried to say.

"Yes we are," Emilia and Tess said at the same time. "And don't even think about trying to keep us away," his wife said with a flourish as she headed to the door.

"Jason!" she called as she opened the door to the front yard. Jason was the family's driver and William's personal bodyguard. He's been working with the Delcastillos since they moved to Worthington ten years ago, and they've seen the young man grow up. They've paid him well and have given him a lot of vacation times, which has paid off in the loyal man of thirty-three that would drive the family to Alaska if they asked it.

"Yes, ma'am?" Jason answered, his voice filtering in through the door.

"My husband is going to tell you to take him to the Municipal Airport. If Teresa and I aren't in that car with him when you leave your boy's going to need new godparents, is that understood?"

"Yes, ma'am," Jason said with a chuckle. He was loyal more to the family than to just William, and it showed.

"Now then," Emilia said, closing the door and making her way up the stairs to their room, "I need to pack a few things!"

"I need to call the school, tell them I'll be out tomorrow," Tess said, whipping out her phone and making her way to the front yard at the same time. "Jason, we're going to have to stop by my place before we head to the airport, will that be alright?"

"Not a problem!"

William just stood there helplessly. Anger and frustration both etched onto his face. "Dad," Tess said, seeing her father's expression, "you've been facing down abuelita all by yourself your whole life. How's that worked out? Remember the last time she called? How about bringing some backup this time?


    09/15/67
    21:06
    William Delcastillo

    On the way to airport now.

He texted Laurence while they were on the way to the airport. Jason brought one of the family's other housekeepers in order to bring the car back to the estate, as the family's personal bodyguard he would have to come with them to Atlanta. Emilia brought a backpack filled with one extra pair of clothes for everyone, toothbrushes, deodorant, and their medicine. Tess called in sick at work - she was the vice-principal of the high school in Worthington. They did stop by at her home in order to inform her family that she will be gone for a while, explaining the whole situation as clearly as she can to her husband without telling him everything - he needed some convincing, which took time, and Will's personal intervention in the matter.

As they were taking a right into North Humiston Avenue, they could already hear the small private jet landing in the municipal airport, one of many in the First Citizen's fleet of around 50 or so airplanes ready to takeoff at a moment's notice in any part of the United States.

After ten years of relative peace, he had to be dragged back into the life he used to really want but now would do anything to get away from - and all because his mother was finally on her deathbed. Will shuddered at the thought, and was glad that he would have some company in what will probably be his last battle with Melinda Delcastillo.


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