NATION

PASSWORD

Reformation

A staging-point for declarations of war and other major diplomatic events. [In character]
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Farmina
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Reformation

Postby Farmina » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:09 am

Good morning,” said President Joseph Cohen. In his soft and gentle tone, he continued, “How are we all this lovely morning?

Many in the press pack responded in agreement. It was a truly perfect morning in the Presidential Palace gardens. The only disturbance was the occasional builder’s truck passing by. As the new President’s power encroached deeper and deeper into the workings of DRF’s government, the Palace was extended proportionally.

I’d like to thank you all for coming. I thought we’d have this press conference outside, since it’s such a great day. And it gets us away from the auto-cue and the clichéd props. Anyway, you are probably wondering why I called you here.

There were a lot of nods to that. Cohen spoke with a calm and smooth voice, “Today, I announce that I will be taking direct control of the Farminan Catholic Church.

This may seem radical,” said Cohen, in his mild and measured manner, “But in our beloved Church, corruption is rife. Greed has replaced godliness. Despite taking a vow of poverty, the clergy amass a great wealth while there are people who starve on the streets.

I have been forced to act. As the head of the Farminan Catholic Church, I will institute a glorious Reformation.

Cathedrals and churches will return to being places of worship, rather than houses of decadence and wealth and beauty, adorned with false idols.

The Church will no longer shelter paedophiles and other villains. I will root out the criminals, the corrupt, the monsters and the atheists. Only true and tested believers should wear the cloth.

The large estates of the Church will no longer be treated as the private property of men of the cloth. Instead they will be used for the betterment of the Church and the faithful.

The Church will again be God’s Church. It will be an institution of God-fearing men. And its buildings will be places of God and not of wealthy priests. And it will teach the word of the Lord, and not the word of degenerate clergy who think they know better than our Lord.

The Reformation will be the greatest modernisation of Farminan Catholicism since the Break from Rome, when we turned our back on papist heresy.


For a moment there was a stunned silence. Cohen turned to leave, but a journalist managed to ask a question, “Is this retaliation for Cardinal Gardiner’s recent criticism of your planned drug law reforms?

Cohen didn’t like taking questions at press conferences. Even a details-freak like Cohen couldn’t anticipate every possible question. Unexpected questions threatened Cohen's control. And Cohen needed control.

I’m not taking questions today,” said Cohen, “But I will say this. I assure you, this is no petty act of vengeance against a man for speaking freely. I am not that small-minded.

With that Cohen and his entourage walked off. The Farminan Reformation was about to begin.

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Postby Farmina » Thu Jun 14, 2012 4:52 am

Cardinal Gardiner and Bishop Parsins, in crimson and purple cassocks respectively, stood waiting in the Cathedral of Verica. There was a rap on the wooden doors of Farmina’s greatest and oldest Cathedral. Thomas Parsins, Bishop of Verica, called to the Crimson Guard on the door, “Let them in.

The doors creaked open. Through the doors stepped a man in a black cassock, with a crimson fascia. The man in black was followed by two lines of Crimson Guard. Their uniforms were of a military style, coloured in a pale creamy tan and a striking crimson. Unlike the Guards protecting the Cathedral, they wore black armbands that marked them as soldiers of the Reformation.

Lord Inquisitor,” said Bishop Parsins, bowing his head, “Welcome to the Cathedral of Verica.

Your Excellency, I most humbly accept your welcome,” said Inquisitor Barnes, bowing his head to the Bishop, and then to the Cardinal, “Your Eminence.

He returned his focus to the Bishop of Verica, “Your Excellency, could you send your draft sermon for this weekend to my office?

Do you question my teachings?” asked Bishop Thomas Parsins, politely.

Your Excellency, we are all members of the one true Faith. We are all allies here,” said Inquisitor Barnes, though his tone suggested otherwise, “I’m just checking that you have correctly understand President Cohen’s new Articles of Faith. Nothing sinister I assure you.

There was an uncomfortable silence, finally broken when Cardinal Gardiner asked, “Is that all, Lord Inquisitor?

No,” responded Inquisitor Barnes. He clicked his fingers. His Crimson Guard fanned out.

The Inquisitor removed a document from his pocket and read from it aloud, “In the name of our Lord, Almighty God; by order of Joseph Cohen, the Defender of the Faith; I command that this unholy place be stripped of false idols and decadent things.

There was a beautiful oak Cross, trimmed with gold, that had stood proudly at the very heart of the Cathedral for decades. The Guard took it. Tapestries and murals were torn from the walls. Cardinal Gardiner watched in horror.

Bishop Parsins raced over and grabbed the silver communion cup, snatching it out of the hands of the Inquisitor’s men. “Hand over the idol,” ordered Inquisitor Barnes, “Our saviour, Jesus Christ was a carpenter. He did not drink from silver goblets.

Parsins reluctantly let his grasp of the ornate cup fail. It left him with a sense of grief.

The Inquisitor’s men pulled the gold and silver rings from the fingers of the priests. They took the ivory collection plate and the silver candleholders and the elaborate light fittings. The cathedral’s organ was a thing of great beauty. Naturally, after some disassembly, they took that too.

The Inquisitor looked for things that had been missed. “The windows. Stained glass is decadent. Remove the windows. And the pews – they are the very finest jarrah! Seize these profligate pews.

What could you possibly do with church pews?” asked Cardinal Gardiner, as though the Inquisitor was taking the pews because he had a use for them.

Sell them on the internet,” retorted Barnes.

By the time Inquisitor Barnes had finished, the Cathedral had been stripped bare. Once a beautiful building full of beautiful things, it was now a beautiful building that lay barren.

Parsins looked ready to burst into tears. Gardiner was in shock. Barnes nodded approvingly – God’s work had been done here.

Once the Inquisitor and his men had left, Bishop Parsins sadly said, “Your Eminence, I beg of you, apologise for your claim that the President’s drugs policy is Satan’s work. The President nearly lost his son to the drug scourge. You insulted his not only policy, but his family – and now you have put us all in his vindictive sights.

Gardiner listened carefully before responding, “I have been a Cardinal since the Empire of Justinian. And I have been a man of the cloth since before President Cohen was born. I know the Farminan people, and I know the Lord, better than that liberal ever will.

I will make no apology. I shall rally the people to our banner. Then I will launch a crusade against the heretic president.

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Postby Farmina » Fri Jun 15, 2012 4:43 pm

Inquisitor Barnes walked through the Verica markets, listening to the street preachers as he went. These preachers, minor clergy, were reading straight from the Bible. Barnes nodded approvingly. No interpretation. No alterations or additions. For the Inquisitor, this was what the Reformation was about.

HERETIC!” The bellow distracted Barnes. One of the market-goers pointed straight at Barnes.

More joined in the pointing and yelling. “HERETIC!

Guards!” called Barnes, getting slightly concerned. His six Crimson Guards moved closer, and placed their hands on their sub-machine guns.

He pillaged our Cathedral!” said yet another man, “I saw him.

I was doing God’s work,” yelled Barnes to the growing mob, “The Lord does not want you to pray to idols. The Lord wants you to pray to Him, and to his Son, who gave our life for our sins.

LIAR!” “HERETIC!” “THIEF!

We’ve got to get out of here,” said Barnes, trying not to panic. Barnes and his entourage moved to the closest exit, but another angry mob had already formed there. The Inquisitor thought of going for another exit, but he knew better. “Its a trap,” muttered the Inquisitor.

The Inquisitor decided to take the mob head on, “Our Lord Christ sacrificed himself for us in the agonising way. And it is this great sacrifice that must be in your mind when you pray. Not reproductions of the Cross, or burning candles, or any other foul idol. These are mere tokens compared to the Passion of our Lord Christ. Now join me in prayer. Holy Father who is in...

A rock smashed squarely into the Inquisitor’s face. "HERETIC." More and more rocks pelted down. "HERETIC."

The Crimson Guard raised their weapons.

Suddenly, a shot rang out. Barnes wasn’t sure who fired the shot. But it only took a moment for all hell to break loose.

The Inquisitor fell to the ground and closed his eyes. Deafening gunfire rang in his ears. The smell of hot lead and blood filled his nostrils. He only opened them when there was silence. He stood up and surveyed the carnage. Two Crimson Guard and around eight civilians lay dead or dying on the ground...

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Postby Farmina » Sun Jun 17, 2012 12:56 am

The final count is twelve dead,” said the computer that spoke for Director-General Malcolm Prince, “And that’s before you included the wounded. ” Malcolm Prince was head of the Farminan civil service and the lynch-pin of President Cohen’s administrative machine.

Is Inquisitor Barnes still prepared to continue his holy work?” asked the President, quickly scanning the report, before placing it on his desk.

The Inquisitor is eager to continue with his work,” said Malcolm Prince, realigning his wheelchair, “His enthusiasm for the Reformation is most impressive.

My wife found him,” said President Cohen, checking his emails as he spoke, “He works with one of the same charities as her.

That was very like Cohen, personally involving himself in matters like appointments. Acting on his wife’s advice was also so very typical.

Prince passed over another report, “The revenues from the stripping of the Cathedral of Verica. It proved far more profitable than we expected. And, as per your instructions, the funds have been invested with any dividends going to the Church’s charities.

Excellent,” said Cohen, reading the report with amazing speed, “When you first suggested taking over the Church, I was sceptical. But you have done well Malcolm.

But we have only just begun. Stripping church furniture is one thing. But there is land as well. Land is where the Church is really squandering our people’s wealth.


As you command,” said Prince, although he feared what he had started was spiralling out of control.

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Postby Farmina » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:57 am

Cardinal Gardiner looked out across the hills of his vast Eldbry estate, sitting atop a most handsome black mare. This part of Farmina was a beautiful green in the early spring.

Cardinal Gardiner was about to ride off, when a group of three horsemen approached. It took a moment for Gardiner to recognise the lead horseman. When he did, he let out an annoyed grunt.

The encroaching horsemen came to a halt within metres of Gardiner. “Your Eminence,” said the lead horseman.

Lord Inquisitor,” responded the elderly Cardinal, dressed in his weekend riding clothes, “I welcome you to Eldbry. What brings you this way?

The Inquisitor was still dressed in a black cassock, “God’s work.

Cardinal Gardiner licked his dry lips, “I was sorry you to hear you were attacked.

Thank you,” said the Inquisitor, “So you know nothing about who was involved?

If I knew anything, I would of course report it,” responded the Cardinal, “Now if that is what you came to ask, I would like you to leave my estate.

The Inquisitor grinned menacingly, “Your estate? I thought this was the Church’s land.

Cardinal Gardiner knew where this was going, “The Church grants me leave to use this land as I see fit.

The Inquisitor pulled out an electronic blackberry, loaded an email and read from it, “President Joseph Cohen, Defender of the Faith, hereby revokes your leave to use this land. For the financial betterment of the Church, the estate will be turned into productive farmland. You are to collect your things and leave immediately.

Gardiner wanted to snarl at the Inquisitor, but resisted, “Very well, Lord Inquisitor.

Gardiner rode off. “HALT!” ordered the Inquisitor. After only travelling ten or so metres, Gardiner came to a stop.

The Inquisitor rode up to Gardiner, “Your Eminence, is that your horse? Or is that the Church’s horse?

Cardinal Gardiner found that it was a long walk back to the manor house.

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Postby Farmina » Wed Jun 20, 2012 1:55 pm

Twelve dead, your Excellency.” Those words shattered the uneasy quiet in the Cathedral of Verica. The Inquisitor, stepped slowly, moving around the Bishop like shark circling its prey. Folding his arms across his cassock he continued, “Twelve dead. And you know nothing?

Bishop Thomas Parsins frowned, “As I said, I have nothing to do with this traditionalist violence.

You call them traditionalists rather than heretics,” observed Inquisitor Barnes, “Are you sympathetic to their cause?

Parsins gestured for the Inquisitor to take in the surroundings, “As you can see Lord Inquisitor, I have furnished the Cathedral to your specifications. Very minimalist – there are not even cushions on the pews. There are no candles, or crosses, or any other so-called idols. I have followed the Articles of Faith to the letter.

To the letter,” agreed Barnes, with a cynical tone suited to his work, “However, this cathedral is still decadently beautiful, even when spartanly furnished.” His eyes were locked on the Cathedral’s intricate stone work.

I’m not sure I agree,” said Bishop Parsins looking at the boarded-up windows that once held elaborate stained glass. Its absence still hurt the Bishop.

Thankfully,” said Barnes, removing an electronic tablet from his satchel, “I have found a more suitable location for the Cathedral of Verica.

The Inquisitor loaded up a picture and passed it to the Bishop. Thomas Parsins gave a horrified look, “Its little more than a large stable.

And our Lord Christ was born in a stable and he slept in a manger,” observed the pious Inquisitor, “I think you’ll agree, it’s a very appropriate site for the Cathedral.

This is our oldest and greatest Cathedral,” said Parsins, looking at the ancient stone work with loving eyes, “What will become of it?

The building will be rented out to fund religious and charitable activities. We’ve already found some people interested in the building,” said the Inquisitor offhandedly, before giving Parsins a vicious smile, “They plan to turn this faded eyesore into a pub.

OOC: I will be away and won't post for a few days.

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Postby Farmina » Mon Jun 25, 2012 1:14 am

It was a small room. Only the most trusted men of the cloth were in attendance. These were dangerous times. The wrong invitee could ruin the crusaders.

Cardinal Gardiner, at the front of the room, stood up, “We are here, united with one purpose. The President is intent on destroying Catholicism in Farmina. He does not bring reform – he brings the end of our Faith. And we must stand against him.

Bishop Parsins sat in the audience. His eyes were locked on the Cardinal, the most senior man in the room.

Cardinal Gardner moved his gaze over to Parsins. “As Bishop Parsins can attest to, our most beautiful Cathedral has stripped bare by the so-called Inquisitor. And now we hear that the President is not content and will turn the Cathedral of Verica into a public drinking house.

He paused for a moment before continuing, “More than twelve churches and cathedrals have been stripped. Six monasteries have been dissolved. And President Cohen will not stop until there is nothing left. He will burn our great Church to the ground.

It falls to us. You should have all been finding where the loyalties in your flocks lie. Already we have struck at the heretic Inquisitor, although we failed to eliminate him.

The President gets bolder and bolder. But I say no more. It is time for us to begin unleashing our blessed fire on our enemies! Let our crusade begin.


Bishop Parsins joined in the applause. It was clear that the Cardinal and the President weren’t going to make peace. That meant he had to pick a side. His natural choice was the side of holiness and goodness and right. The desecration of the Cathedral – it was more than any true man of God could tolerate. And if proved himself worthy in this holy crusade, he might yet make Cardinal himself.

Cardinal Gardiner gestured for quiet, “The President must be convinced that the people are turning against him. The Inquisitor must be destroyed. And the heretics in our Church, and in flocks, must be made fear God’s righteous fury.

But we must be careful and strategic. Our hands must be clean in this.

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Postby Farmina » Thu Jun 28, 2012 12:52 am

You may talk about the bonds of Gideon;
You may brag about your men of Saul;
But you never saw nothing like Joshua;
At the Battle of Jericho.


The young man sang as the band hammered out the tune. Some people walked by and some stopped to listen, as they made their way into what was scheduled to be the last service at historic Cathedral of Verica.

The sun stopped shining and in the middle of the day;
The sky began to storm;
The ram horns, the sheep horns, began to blow;
When the walls came tumbling down.


A range of instruments filled the air. Brass and percussion and string and keyboard. Some people turned their nose up at the modern, bluesy music outside the Cathedral. Others found the change refreshing.

Well I know you’ve heard about Joshua;
He was the son of Nun;
He never stopped his work;
Until his work was done.


Bishop Parsins stormed out his Cathedral, his purple cassock catching against the air, “Stop this infernal racket! This is a Holy day.

The band obeyed the preacher, forcing the young man to stop his singing. The young man locked his gaze on the Bishop, “Your Excellency, the Battle of Jericho is a holy tale, most suited to this holy day.

I agree, it is a holy tale,” said Parsins, “But your music is most unholy. God wishes to hear Georgian hymns from the voices of his greatest creation, Man. He does not wish to hear tales told to crass noises made by drums and brass.

Where the band had attracted a small crowd, most the exchange between the priest and the singer attracted a far more substantial audience.

And where does the Bible say that Georgian hymns are the only way to praise the Lord?” retorted the young singer.

I never said they were. Prayer, Bible readings and the poetry of the Psalms are all ways to praise the Lord.

The young man was too clever for that answer. “Neither God, nor his Son, asked for hymns. The Bible makes no prohibition on modern musical styles. This is what the Reformation is about – freedom to praise God as we see fit.

Parsins was turning red, “You should praise the Lord as He sees fit! Not as you see fit! And these crass sounds are not fit for our Lord. They are an affront to him! This talk of freedom to praise the Lord in ways not favoured by Him, it is heresy.

I am no heretic,” responded the young man, but his response was weak in the presence of the priest’s great passion.

Parsins continued, ignoring the young man, shifting his focus to the gathering crowd, “Let me tell you what this so-called Reformation is about. It is not about freedom or love, or another misplaced notion of goodness. This Reformation is about money and power and ugliness. This President steals from our great Church. He takes things of beauty and destroys them. Whether it is our cathedrals and churches, or our teachings, or our songs of praise – he takes the pure and the beautiful, and leaves them bare, crass and ugly. And he does it for profit.

Parsins looked around him. He had the crowd. This was his chance to save his Cathedral and the Farminan Catholic Church, “The President is a heretic and he must stopped.

Where Cardinal Gardiner called for caution in the crusade, Bishop Parsins showed none. He was doing God’s work. Parsins pointed at the band, “All heresy must stamped out, to save this Church from Satan’s unholy plans.

And it was done. Much of crowd raced forward, towards the band. Others in the crowd, turned on each other – reformers against traditionalists. Many were not normally violent, but it is easy to be caught up in the madness of the moment. And others slinked away, either uncommitted, horrified at the violence, or not having the courage of their convictions.

Parsins would only realise the full horror of the bloodbath he unleashed when it was too late.

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Postby Farmina » Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:07 pm

Joseph Cohen felt like throwing up. He’d seen enough bodies in the war, so he managed to hold his breakfast, if only just. Still that was war – this was murder.

The President tried not to look at the battered and broken bodies. The smell of blood and other bodily fluids lingered in the air. Angrily he said, “Bishop Parsins will pay for this.” He had good reason to be angry. Nearly fifty lay dead and even more were wounded. And he’d seen the smart-phone footage of Parsins inciting the mob. The evidence was damning.

Are you still committed to the Reformation?” asked Inquisitor Barnes.

My view that Church is corrupt has only strengthened by this atrocity,” said the President, “However, I need you to find out how deep this goes – who ordered it? Cardinal Gardiner? The entire College of Cardinals?

As you wish,” said the Inquisitor, glancing over at the deceased singer who still had his microphone cord tightly bound around his neck.

Nonetheless, the committed Inquisitor sensed a wavering in the President’s resolve. Inquisitor Barnes knew that the path to the light was bathed in blood – he was prepared for it. The President? Barnes studied the Cohen’s face – too hard to judge. Cohen was known as a man of peace and now his nation was fracturing under the pressure of religious turmoil.

Cohen had never been as committed as the Inquisitor. The President kept transubstantiation and the prohibition of clergy entering the holy union of marriage in the Articles of Faith. To the pious Inquisitor, these were not Articles of Faith, but superstition with no basis in the Good Book. But the Inquisitor followed the Cohen anyway – the President at least promised some reform.

The Inquisitor uttered a silent oath to himself, to follow the Reformation to the bloody end, “I would not turn. And if the President did turn, and all his people, I would fight in this field in mine own person, with my sword in my hand against him and all others.

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Postby Farmina » Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:25 am

President Cohen, having been fully briefed and having seen the devastation for himself, walked over to the barricade that held the media pack away from the Cathedral Massacre.

Two police officers made a small opening, which the President, his entourage, and the Inquisitor passed through. President Cohen strode towards the media pack and went face-to-face with the cameras. Journalists asked question after question, one blurring into next. Cohen raised his hands and he had silence.

Reporters waited on the President’s statement. A wrong step here could destroy the Presidency and they knew it. Cohen knew it too.

President Joseph “Joe” Cohen, scanned his eyes slowly over the media scrum, “This is a sombre day for Farmina and our Catholic Church. We are still counting the dead – but the number will be close to fifty. Fathers, sons, mothers and daughters. No one escaped the carnage. This will bitter night for many Farminan families – and it should be a night of reflection for all Farminans.

His soft tone had a hint of sadness, “I say to everyone, traditionalists and reformers alike, lay down your arms. We, we Farminans, must be better than this.

Religious divisions becomes turmoil becomes violence becomes civil war. I will not allow this. Any perpetrator of violence will be brought to account by my government. This nation will not plunge into anarchy and darkness. Not on my watch.

He spoke of justice and peace, addressing traditionalists and reformers equally. These were the words of a peacekeeper or a mediator, not a commander or a lord. Yet the words carried a bitter irony, as Joseph Cohen and the entire might of the Farminan Government were clearly allied to the reformers.

Today is not a day for reprisals, revenge, or even pointing the finger of blame. Today, we must pick up the pieces. Today, we must love our neighbours, despite their trespasses.

Tomorrow, we will bring together the perpetrators to justice. And yet we shall be forgiving and merciful, despite these atrocities. And this mercy, it will ring out across our nation, and I pray that it will cause all Catholics to stand together and end this bloodshed.

We must not define ourselves narrowly as ‘reformers’ or ‘traditionalists’ – instead we should remember we are all Farminans and we are Catholics. And these things should not divide us. They should unite us!


Cohen didn’t take questions. No one held that against him. It was a hard day.

And everyone knew that it would take more than words to heal the growing rift in the Farminan Catholic Church.

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Postby Farmina » Tue Jul 03, 2012 1:37 am

You were not difficult to find,” said Inquisitor Barnes, taking a seat at the interview table, “Considering you were – briefly – Farmina’s most wanted man.

Bishop Parsin said nothing, his head resting gently in his hands. His grey hair, normally neatly combed, was entirely unkempt. His breath had the slight hint of the communion wine.

Do you think you will get mercy?” said Barnes, his tone sharp and harsh, “Do you think the President is weak and forgiving? Do you believe he will pardon any sentence passed against you?

Parsins remained silent – near catatonic.

He won’t,” said Barnes, “He speaks about healing and forgiveness. But sporadic religious violence continues on our street. He knows he has to stamp it out. And that means he needs to kill this resistance at the source.

Parsins moved slightly – his eyes met Barnes’. But he still said nothing.

Give me the College of Cardinals,” said the Inquisitor, “I know they are behind this. Just point the finger at the College and the President will look favourably on any pardon.

Finally Parsins responded, there was a glimmer in his eye, “You are transparent, Inquisitor. You want to destroy the College, so your President can rule the Church unopposed. And you – a Cardinal perhaps?

Parsins straightened in his chair, “You come with one mission, to burn churches and destroy priests. I will not help you do this. I acted alone – not on the instructions of the College. With, God as my witness – this was my doing.

You will pay with your life!” said the Inquisitor, standing up, “Just give me the College.

No,” vowed Parsins, “I will not tell falsehoods to save my mortal flesh.

Then just give me Cardinal Gardiner,” snarled Barnes, “I can smell his belief in the old superstitions driving this.

Bishop Parsin shook his head, “Never. You will get no help from me, heretic. But you will get what’s coming to you. You will burn like a heretic should.

Inquisitor Barnes licked his dry lips, “So be it, Bishop.

Barnes proceeded towards the door, then stopped and turned around, “You said that I come to destroy priests.

You aren't wrong.

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Postby Farmina » Thu Jul 05, 2012 1:35 am

...How do you plead?

Guilty,” said the young man.

One by one, those involved in the Verica massacre pleaded guilty.

An old man was next, “Guilty.

Finally, Bishop Thomas Parsins was called to stand. He glanced around the courtroom. The Inquisitor was watching from the public gallery.

The Judge’s clerk looked down the charge sheet, “Bishop Thomas Angus Parsins, you are charged with inciting violence, resulting in death. How do you plead?

Guilty,” said Parsins. There was no point denying it. He could only hope for the court’s mercy. Perhaps Justice Eddlestein was a traditionalist...

Parsins took a seat, and the parade of plead guilty pleas continued.

Parsins looked over at the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor looked back. Eye contact was only broken when Justice Edelstein spoke.

The elderly judge spoke indifferently, “Since no one is contesting the charges, I will hear sentencing submissions tomorrow. Court is adjourned.

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Postby Farmina » Sat Jul 07, 2012 1:36 am

And that is latest information on the current state of the Budget,” said Director-General Malcolm Prince, running President Cohen through his weekly strategic briefing, “The next item is your drugs...

Excuse me,” said Cohen, as he turned up the radio.

Justice Edelstein’s voice permeated the room, “...the depravity of strangling the young singer, with his own microphone requires a severe penalty. If you had not pleaded guilty, I would have sentenced you to hang by the neck until dead. However, your plea calls for a lesser sentence.

Archer White, please stand. I hereby sentence you to death by firing squad.

Bishop Gardiner, you are ultimately responsible for what happened. Forty-nine deaths are on your hands. Again, your guilty plea does not reduce the seriousness of your crime. I have placed serious consideration to the recording of a conversation between yourself and Inquisitor Barnes. In particular, I note your unrepentant statement on that recording “
You will burn like a heretic should.” It is clear to me, that you and your will your kin will not see the error of your ways. A message must be sent. An example must be made.

Bishop Parsins, please stand. I hereby sentence you to be burnt at the stake.


President Cohen turned the radio down, “Burning...

Shall I get the Attorney-General to arrange the papers for it to be commuted?” asked Prince.

It was traditional for the President to commute a burning to a lesser sentence (mainly hanging) as an act of compassion. There have been twenty people sentence to burning since the DRF was founded, all had been commuted.

Cohen thought for a moment, “Yes – prepare the papers.

And the other accused?” asked Prince.

Traditionalists are rioting on the streets. Armed police patrol the streets but struggle to keep the peace,” said Cohen, “On the day of the massacre, I spoke of forgiving and healing. I must walk the talk – all the other perpetrators will be pardoned.” Cohen’s predecessors would not have rested until every perpetrator of the massacre was dead. Cohen was a very different Farminan leader.

As you wish,” said Malcolm Prince, having anticipated Cohen’s decision and already set the wheels in motion.

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Postby Farmina » Sun Jul 08, 2012 2:52 am

I was going to enjoy listening to you burn,” said Inquisitor Barnes, his smile revealing an excellent set of teeth, “But, our President offers his mercy.

And?” asked Bishop Parsins, hands gripping the rusted iron bars of his cell. Since Barnes was smiling, Parsins suspected the President’s mercy was poisoned.

We just want Cardinal Gardiner,” said the Inquisitor, “Just one Cardinal and you get to live.

No,” said Parsins, although he hesitated for more than a moment before answering “I will not sacrifice another life to save my own.

Then you will burn,” said the Inquisitor, adjusting his cassock slightly, “You will scream and scream. You will long for death by the end. Gardiner started all this when he denounced the President’s drugs policy - removing Gardiner will bring piece to the Church.

The President won't let me burn,” said Parsins, “Joseph Cohen doesn’t want to be remembered as the President who burnt his citizens at the stake. And even if he would burn me, I still wouldn't help you.

So be it,” said Barnes, “I will still get the pleasure of listening to you burn!

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:36 am

Joseph Cohen stared out of his office window at the huge extensions builders were making to the east wing of the Palace. The Palace would be twice its original size when the work finished. If it ever finished.

But Cohen’s mind was on other things. The forms to save Bishop Parsins from a fiery death sat unsigned on Cohen’s desk. All he had to do was make a brief squiggle.

But Parsins wouldn’t give anything in return.

Was Parsins sure of his convictions? Brave in the face of an agonising death? Or did Parsins simply not believe that Cohen would let him burn?

Cohen wasn’t sure that he would let Parsins burn either. The international outrage would be palpable.

But backing down would be a bitter pill. The College of Cardinals, or at least some members of the College, were backing a campaign of violence in the streets of Farmina. If Cohen spared Parsins the Cardinals would take that as a sign of weakness and only intensify their bloody campaign.

Cohen clasped his hands in prayer, “Lord, guide me. I am faced with an impossible choice. Do I spare a monster and let the forces of destruction rampage across your sacred Earth? Or do I step back, allow a man to die and then become the monster? Guide me Lord.

Emperor Justinian, would have had no qualms about burning civilians – but even the Boy-Emperor would have taken pause at burning a clergyman. The Church was above the law. Even the Emperor had respected that.

But it wasn’t above the law. Cohen had vowed to bring the Church under the laws of Man. It was a key tenant of his Reformation. The vow would look utterly hollow if he spared Parsins from the flame.

And then Cohen saw his answer, “Thank you Lord.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:18 pm

Cardinal Gardiner stood in Verica Square with Cardinal Walter Bridges standing next to him. Cardinal Bridges was nearly as old as Gardiner. Unlike Gardiner, he was a politician, diplomat and tactician – he was more these things than a theologian. And he used those traits to dominate the College of Cardinals.

The two Cardinals, dressed in everyday attire, were not alone, but hidden in a large crowd gathered around a stage with a stake at its very centre.

They won’t go through with it,” said Gardiner, his voice straining a little with the pressures of the recent months, “There will be an outcry if they burn someone. They’ll back down at the last moment. I know for a fact that President prepared the papers for the sentence to be commuted.

So you keep saying,” said Bridges, although it wasn’t scepticism on his voice, “But you are right. Gardiner is a priest. The President won’t let an Earthly court punish a man of the clothe – we can only be tried by God.

A van pulled up, and Bishop Parsins was lead through the crowd to the stake. He was clearly distraught. Inquisitor Barnes followed Parsins to the stake. Barnes leaned over and muttered something. One last chance to shift the blame.

He will not betray us,” Gardiner said confidently.

I hope you are right Cardinal,” said Bridges.

An official read the charges and the sentence as firewood and ignition fluid was placed around the stake. The Bishop was tied to the stake and a Deacon said a brief prayer for Bishop Gardiner’s soul. Gardiner was given no chance to address the crowd.

The Inquisitor stood at the side of the stage as the executioner carried a flaming torch over to the stake.

Any moment now they’ll call it off,” said Gardiner, but his hope was failing. Bridges prayed for the Lord’s intervention. This could not be happening. How dare the President do this to the Church?

The executioner moved his torch towards the firewood. Then he hesitated for a long time. Was he waiting for a sign? Was it nerves? Just giving the Bishop a few more moments to name names? Or was the execution always just a ploy?

Finally, the executioner touched the torch to the firewood. Flames burst up in a blazing light. Bishop Parsins screamed and screamed. It was a most blood curdling sound. He struggled against his bonds as they tore into his flesh. He withered and screamed and stopped. It was over in a minute. But those sixty seconds – it seemed like it would never end. But even after he died, the flames continued to singe and char and blacken his mortal flesh.

Dear Lord,” said Cardinal Bridges, going quickly pale, “A priest dead by the executioner’s flame.” It was the end of an era. Priests had once been able to get away with murder – literally – but that was at truly at an end.

We must the avenge the Bishop,” said Gardiner. There was anger, but just a touch. The dominant emotion was sadness, tinged with guilt. Tears streamed down Gardiner’s cheeks. Parsins was a colleague, an ally and a friend. He died badly, and Cardinal Gardiner was partly responsible.

Bridges looked up at the Inquisitor. Gardiner also looked up, not realising what Bridges was looking at, until his eyes met the Inquisitor’s. An evil grin spread across the Inquisitor’s face and he mouthed two words directly at them, “You’re next.” The Inquisitor then walked off.

We’ll hit them twice as hard,” said Gardiner, “I'll have that that bastard Inquisitor killed.

Bridges put his hand in a stop gesture, “No. Violent resistance hasn’t worked. Its time to make peace.

This execution is wrong,” said Gardiner, “The Inquisitor is a mad dog. And the Reformation is heresy. You can’t be seriously considering...

The College must survive,” said Cardinal Bridges with a firmness, as finally took direct control of the situation fracturing his Church, “We outlasted the Emperor Justinian and the Moralists. With good sense and caution, we will outlast this liberal President and we will outlast democracy itself.

And when our chance comes, we will take our rightful place as stewards of this land – and set this world to rights.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:35 am

May I offer you a seat Your Eminence?” said President Cohen in his soft and gentle tone.

Thank you,” said Cardinal Bridges, taking at chair at the foot of Cohen’s desk.

Richard Taylor, the President’s chief of staff, sat behind Cohen. Inquisitor Barnes was conspicuous in his absence.

Tea?” asked the President, picking up a dainty pot.

Please.

Cohen poured several cups of tea, one of which he passed over to the Cardinal, “How may I help you your Eminence?

I come on behalf of the College,” said Bridges, “The violence gripping our streets must end. And we must do all in our power to stop it.

I’m glad to hear that,” said President Cohen. He was diplomatic enough not to raise the question of why the College wasn’t already doing all that was in its power to stop the violence.

You are the head of our Church, and we in the College must be clearly behind you,” continued Cardinal Bridges, taking a brief sip of the tea.

President Cohen maintained his calm disposition, although inside he was gleeful – the Church was finally coming to heel, “So the Church and its preachers will no longer use their posts to damn my policies?

Cardinal Gardiner’s attack on your drugs policy was most unfounded,” said Cardinal Bridges, “He will be defrocked for his baseless actions. Your policy will save lives – and there is nothing more godly than that.

Cohen looked back at his chief of staff and a few words passed back and forward. Cohen turned back towards the Cardinal, “There is no need to dismiss the Cardinal for one mistake.

Bridges gave the President a suspicious look. The President had to know that Gardiner had been deeply involved in the religious violence that had been gripping Farmina over the last few months. “As you wish my President.

Cohen wasn’t finished, “The College will publicly support my drug policy. Cardinal Gardiner will make the announcement and disavow his previous position.

As you wish,” said Bridges, now understanding. Cardinal Gardiner’s original statement had hurt the President and only Gardiner, as a full Cardinal, could undo the damage.

And you will be able to end the violence your Eminence?” asked Cohen.

I believe so,” said Bridges, “However, a few small tokens of good faith will help calm the traditionalists.

Demands thought Cohen. You are in no position to make demands.

Bridges obviously knew what Cohen was thinking, as he said, “I think we agree that it’s important that the violence on Farmina’s streets end quickly and completely.

Of course,” said Cohen – how could he disagree with that?

Bridges continued, “First, I request that Church reoccupy the Cathedral of Verica. And that we be able to modestly furnish it – not decadent, but not minimalist either.

Agreed,” said Cohen, who did have something of a soft spot for the historic Cathedral.

And there will be no further stripping of churches, except in case of extreme decadence,” added Barnes, “There will be no further changes to the Articles of Faith without the input of the College. Further, everyone involved in the recent violence will be pardoned...

I have already pardoned nearly all those who have been charged,” said Cohen.

And those that haven’t been charged?

So be it – I agree. In the name of reconciliation,” said Cohen, “But I have terms of my own. The clergy will be subject to the Law of Man. I am master of the Church and the enforcer of the Law, and I expect the clergy to obey me in both roles. Lands held by the Church will continue to be converted to productive use and the remaining monasteries will be dissolved.

That is acceptable,” said Bridges, although he looked as though he had swallowed a very bitter pill, “But I still had one last term. Inquisitor Barnes must be dismissed. The man will not stop until all that is pure and beautiful about Farminan Catholicism is destroyed.

No,” said Cohen, “I plan to place Barnes in the Church hierarchy. The Inquisitor will have the rank of Cardinal and will be a member of the College.

Bridges turned white. It was end of Catholicism in Farmina. A heretic - a Lutheran heretic – in the College! Cohen’s apparent willingness to make peace had been a lie.

I must object,” said Cardinal Bridges.

Object all you want,” said Cohen, standing up, “The Inquisitor, and his great works, have my full backing. Those are my terms. Now I must bid you good day your Eminence, as I have a bridge to open.

With that, the President left, leaving the Cardinal with Richard Taylor. Now they were in private, the chief-of-staff finally spoke, “If the Inquisitor becomes part of the Church hierarchy, he can be tried by an ecclesiastical court.

After finishing that one sentence, Taylor went to lead the Cardinal out of the President’s office. But the Cardinal’s thoughts were elsewhere. A few moments earlier he had thought Catholicism faced destruction. But now colour returned to his face as he realised that it was the Inquisitor who was finished.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:52 am

Cardinal James Barnes, Inquisitor of the Farminan Catholic Church, placed more logs on the pile. He enjoyed it out on his country estate. He enjoyed nature – it made him feel closer to God. Understandable, as nature was God’s work.

A car pulled up outside the house. Barnes wandered over to see who it was. A deacon. “How may I assist you Deacon?

Your Eminence,” said the deacon bowing slightly, “I deliver a message from the College.

The deacon handed over the letter and then slipped quickly back to his car.

Barnes opened the letter and read out the words, as the deacon made his escape, “...the College of Cardinals hereby establishes an Ecclesiastical Court to investigate and try Cardinal James Barnes, otherwise known as the Inquisitor. Cardinal Barnes is suspected of heresy. The Inquisitor’s suspected heresies include: a failure to accept transubstantiation, as set out in the Articles of Faith...

Barnes dropped the letter, reading no further. Barnes would be struck out of the Church he loved. It didn’t cross his mind that the reason he would be struck out was that he was actually guilty. He didn’t believe in superstitions like transubstantiation. He believed communion bread was communion bread, and communion wine was communion wine – and were not the body and blood of the Christ. If left in the open air they would go stale and foul - but that decompose like flesh.

Barnes pulled out and dialled Malcolm Prince. Prince didn’t answer. Barnes tried the President’s Office. No one of any influence would take Barnes call. The realisation of what was happening quickly dawned on the Inquisitor. He should have worked it out earlier - the College wouldn't have moved against him if they thought the President would intervene.

James Barnes walked over to the log pile and kicked it over in anger. Now he understood. He was part of the peace deal between the traditionalists and the President. The President was going to sell him out in the name of peace. No it was more than. The President saw Barnes as a weapon – and when the President was at war the Church he needed Barnes. Now the President wanted peace, the President was disarming, and that meant disposing of a weapon like the Inquisitor.

I will not be named a heretic!” said Barnes, walking over to his shed. He wrote a small note and left it on the workbench in his shed, President Cohen. You did this. This is all your doing.

He grabbed a jerry can and a box of matches from the shed then returned to the scattered woodpile. He poured fuel over the wood. He struck a match and lit the fuel.

Inquisitor James Barnes closed his eyes and stepped into the purifying flame. Heretic or reformer? It was up to God to judge him now.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:30 pm

Cardinal Barnes hung up his mobile, “The rumour is true. The Inquisitor is no more.

The College was gathered in the Cathedral of Verica – reclaimed by the Church – for Cardinal Gardiner’s announcement that the College would be supporting the President’s drug policy. Where there was once stained glass – the windows were still boarded up. But there was again candles and crosses (albeit wood and not gold) adorning the ancient stone beauty of a building. Idols for a few – but signs of hope for many more.

The President lived up to his word,” said one Cardinal.

We are safe from the mad dog Barnes – we can strike at the reformers without fear,” said another.

No,” said Barnes, “We abide by the deal. We have our greatest Cathedral back. And we have peace. That is enough for now.” He looked at Cardinal Gardiner, “The President has kept his word – so must we. Cardinal Gardiner will still announce our support for Cohen’s drug policy.

Cardinal Gardiner, held his speech in one hand. A part of him – a big part – didn’t want to make that speech. But he didn’t show it, “I’m ready.

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Omegaopterix
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Founded: Jul 16, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Omegaopterix » Sat Jul 21, 2012 10:57 pm

OOC: Is this open to contributors?
"They are everything and nothing, the many-angled ones, unknowable, timeless, eternal. They inhabit the Abyss, the gulf between what's said and what's understood, the place from whence stems all human suffering. Mankind can only trace their jagged silhouette around the shadow they cast across the world, They are famine, conflict, genocide, they are now and forever amen... and they're coming your way."

-Creed of The Corrupted

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:18 am

Omegaopterix wrote:OOC: Is this open to contributors?


Yes this is open.

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Omegaopterix
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Posts: 543
Founded: Jul 16, 2012
Ex-Nation

Postby Omegaopterix » Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:17 pm

Farmina wrote:
Omegaopterix wrote:OOC: Is this open to contributors?


Yes this is open.


OOC: Thanks, I'll post something tomorrow.
"They are everything and nothing, the many-angled ones, unknowable, timeless, eternal. They inhabit the Abyss, the gulf between what's said and what's understood, the place from whence stems all human suffering. Mankind can only trace their jagged silhouette around the shadow they cast across the world, They are famine, conflict, genocide, they are now and forever amen... and they're coming your way."

-Creed of The Corrupted

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:43 am

...when I called Cohen’s drug policy Satan’s work, I was wrong. I did not inform myself properly about the issues. The College has comprehensively debated the policy, and it is now clear to me – clear to us that...

Joe Cohen turned down the radio. He didn’t need to listen to a self-righteous hypocrite like Gardiner. Gardiner, unlike Cohen, had no idea what drugs could to do to a family – how they could tear it apart. And Gardiner’s ignorance had set this all in motion.

For a moment, Cohen’s thoughts turned to his estranged son. The President pushed those thoughts away, as he picked up the bottle of wine that sat next to the radio. He topped up his glass. And then he poured his wife, Liz, another glass too. She took a sip. “The streets are quite again.

Peace in our Church,” said Cohen, putting the bottle back on the table, “We took it for granted. And we were lucky to get it back.

Cohen looked down. Guilt? Sadness? Self-doubt? His wife spoke softly, “You did the right thing. Change was long overdue. Look at what you’ve accomplished. Clergy submitting to the Law of Man...

I know,” said Cohen, cutting off his wife (a potentially dangerous act), “And people on both sides paid with their lives. I wanted to be the President who brought an end to war and suffering. But one foolish Cardinal hurt my pride...What sort of man does it make me? When did I become that man?

Liz put down her wine, pulled her husband close, and kissed him gently on the lips, “It makes you a man who is prepared to stand up for what’s right, even if there is a terrible cost. And where others would have waged their wars till the bitter end – you made peace when you didn’t have to. That’s what makes you the man I love - the man I have always loved.

Cohen thought about all the deaths. And the particularly horrible deaths of Bishop Parsin and Inquisitor Barnes – the martyrs of traditionalism and reformation respectively. His wife’s words gave the President no comfort.

But the President would move on. He had seen horror at war. And he coped.

His family, a family that had meant everything to him, had nearly fallen apart. And he coped.

Now his reformation had brought death and suffering, fracturing the nation Cohen loved. And he would cope.

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Farmina
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Founded: Oct 02, 2004
Moralistic Democracy

Postby Farmina » Fri Jul 27, 2012 1:07 am

Epilogue

Weeks later

Three conspirators sat in a dimly room. Ian Stemper Junior, the head of the conspiracy ran a hand through his scraggly brown beard, as he studied his two agents. “Gentlemen,” he said, his voice deep, yet somehow gentle, “You have done well. You have done very well. My Father will be pleased.

The first agent, an overweight elderly man, locked eyes with Stemper, “You didn’t say that good men would die. The martyrdom of Bishop Parsins...

...was unforseen Cardinal Gardiner,” said the far taller Stemper, “And we always knew there would be casualties. Your work provoking Cohen will not be forgotten.

As you say milord,” said Cardinal Gardiner, bowing before his lord and master.

Stemper looked at his second agent – perhaps his favourite operative. “And you gave the President the idea of taking control of the Church – the idea that will be his demise. My Father will reward you handsomely.

The second guest bowed his head slightly. Despite being so slight, the bow was uneven and jerky.

When we strike, they will never see us coming,” said Stemper, his piercing blue eyes catching what little light there was in the room, “They will never expect the final blow to come from the very heart of the government.

As you say milord,” said the computer that spoke for the second guest; Director-General Malcolm Prince – the head of the entire Farminan civil service.

-END-


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