by Max Barry

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by The Khaganate of Thialrer. . 6 reads.

The 3rd Thialren Civil War: Chapter I: Arthur Thompson

Artemis Knight, the First Family, and the Presidential Guard drive back to the hotel they are staying at, and prepare to eat dinner.

In Praetoriius...
Tiberius Varro exits out of Craftmine. He opens the ENN website.

His phone rings.

He answers it.

Tiberius Varro says, "Hello, this is Tiberius Varro. Who is this?"

"I am a representative of the Black Cell. We have a sniper aimed at you from across the street. Obey our wishes or you die."

Varro is visibly sweating. He says, "W-what do you want?"

"We want you to deliver a message to Artemis Knight."

"W-what is it?"

Back in Mantesa, in the First Family limo...
Artemis Knight notices his phone ringing. "Tiberius Varro. I wonder what news he has."

"Hey, Varro, how are the negotiations going?"

Tiberius says, "I just got a call from the Black Cell. They want you to disband the Liberal Party, and they want you to resign and give them control of Thialrer."

"Oh, really? Do they honestly think I will do that?"

"Sir, they have our Thialren Nuclear Codes. They want this within a week."

"Oh, good Lord, help me."

Artemis Knight hangs up. He tells the chauffeur to go directly to the airstrip and to Presidential One, the private jet of the President of Thialrer. He gets on board and flies straight back to Thialrer.

On the Television...
THIS IS ENN: President Artemis Knight has declared a State of Emergency in Thialrer this preevening, as the Black Cell has gained access to Nuclear Launch Codes. Artemis Knight has declared martial law, invoking the Insurrection Act. Thialrer is now in a state of civil war.

Back in Mantesa...
Artemis Knight is stressing on his flight back to Thialrer. What will he do? It must not become another Mantesa. Thialrer must remain civilized. It must remain orderly.

Back on the Television...
THIS IS ENN: The Black Cell has crowded in the Military District city of Fortress G98, nearby the embassy. The city has declared an uprising, saying that they will not stop until the "communist government returns to capitalism." The Thialren Federal Government has made no comment.

In Praetoriius, the following day...
Tiberius Varro has just finished lunch. He is old, in his late 50s, but that never stopped him from leading. From leading the organization in Thialrer least threatened by red tape. Delta 3. They had the red tape, but they cut it. Every time. In every way imaginable. Delta 3 used all means necessary, however illegal, to finish the mission. Nobody knew Varro was their leader. Nobody knew how they accomplished their goals.

Varro opened up his laptop. He opened the satellite network. The call from the Black Cell the night before came from within the temporary government building itself. All Thialren phones are made with a unique trace code. You can detect it, using another phone. It prevented people from making calls convincing people the number calling was something like 1-666-666-6666, or anything else stupid or ridiculous. The call was made by a cell phone.

The cell phone belonged to the Acting Vice President of Thialrer.

In Thialrer...
Arthur Thompson, Vice President of Thialrer, was sitting in his office. He was an abnormally short man, standing 5' 2", in sharp contrast to the President, Artemis Knight, at 6'. His birth certificate stated he was born in Thialrer, but his criminal record says otherwise. Thompson was born in Brancaland, under the name James Murdoc. He acted very strangely, and when his parents took him to see a psychologist, he was diagnosed with psychopathy. That psychologist died after he was poisoned by McMac the following day, though McMac was never convicted. He is now wanted for armed robbery, a mass shooting, and all degrees of murder. When he was finally convicted, he broke out, got plastic surgery, and moved to Thialrer, forging all of the documents. All of his political opponents mysteriously die of apparently natural causes, and it can't be proven it was him.

He was Amias Ligget's deputy in the Black Cell. He now leads the Black Cell. And he was about to go to a summit arranged by Thialrer between Maxtopia and North Bigtopia.

Praetoriius wrote:In the Eternal Palace of Praetoriius, attendants come to all of the diplomats rooms. They beckon for you to follow them. They take all of the diplomats to the Arch-Plutarch, who is waiting outside in the gardens.

"I hope that you have had a good time here thus far. The feast will begin tonight at 6:00, until then you have free reign throughout the Palace, with the exception of the Tower of Eternity. I advise that you visit the House of Blissful Pleasure, it... holds up to its name." He points over to a pier of marble stone jutting out from the Palace over the sea. At the end of the pier is an octagonal shaped building with a dome painted like the sky.

Tiberius Varro, the Ambassador from Thialrer, as well as 1st Epitome United's Secretary of Internal Affairs, walks around the Palace, looking at various rooms and architecture. He thinks inside his head, A beautiful palace. Almost as good as the Presidential Mansion in Thialrer. He continues mulling things over regarding the Vice President of Thialrer.

He pulls out his cell phone, opens speed dial, and calls President Artemis Knight.

Artemis Knight says, "Hello, Tiberius. How's it going in Praetoriius?"

"It's going good. Listen, I traced the call from the Black Cell."

"Good! Where to?"

"That's the problem, sir. The call was made from inside the temporary government building itself. By Arthur Thompson."

"My Vice President? No, that can't be true. He's a member of the Liberal Party, the Black Cell hate the Liberals."

"I don't know, sir, but he made the call."

"Hang on, ENN is on with Breaking News..."

Earlier that day, in Maxtopia…
Arthur Thompson, Vice President of Thialrer, was worming his way through the crowd of delegates. To everyone here, it seemed it was going to be a historic day. But to Thompson, it was different. To him, it would plunge Maxtopia, North Bigtopia, and Thialrer into a three-way war. And all he had to do was give the signal. And the rifles would fire. A Bigtopian round in the Maxtopian ambassador, a Maxtopian round in the Bigtopian ambassador, and a Bigtopian round in a Thialren delegate. A three-way war would spark, and the nations of Bigtopia, Maxtopia, and Thialrer would be at war with each other…

Arthur Thompson raised his hand, and once it was in the air, closed it into a fist. He released his index finger and pointed forward, to the stage. The signal was given. And three shots rang out. Three terrorists fell out of their viewports, onto the floor, as agents of Delta 3 lowered their weapons and approached Thompson.

The Khaganate of Thialrer