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General Flores fully expects to start his unanticipated term as Michael Vittori’s ‘advisor’ with having to all but order a mass incarceration and maybe even supervise the odd execution of the Ribera administration’s relics. It’s not how he would prefer to establish Vittori’s power – moral high ground, once lost, is nearly impossible to recover – but despite the wonders of the internet the way things used to work is pretty ingrained. He imagines he is hardly the only citizen to think along such lines. (Within a month, Sgt. Antares’ squad has had to shoot a trio of conspirators about to assassinate the president.)

However: At the very dawn of his victory Vittori made out Ribera’s private guards as the new San Lorenzo’s heroes. It helps. Ribera accepted his defeat and moved out of the presidential palace at the tail end of an uplifting and conciliatory speech. He hasn’t said a word against Vittori’s cabinet since. Assets seized from criminal elements so regrettably introduced into the former government presently boost a budget that grants the children of mercenaries and would-be putschists a higher quality education. It helps. (The new minister of justice puts forward the idea to grant corrupt officials clemency if a sizeable percentage of bribes received is laundered into the country’s health care and infrastructure.)

Ribera’s increasing dependence on Moreau meant that the man had alienated quite a few ‘friends’ who otherwise might have fought to other people’s deaths to keep him in power. Outside this atrophied inner circle, there is not a major family that has remained untouched by Moreau’s henchmen. Though Flores’ people only rarely succeed in doing so, they finally stand a chance to find what is left of all those who disappeared and were never seen again. There can be public mourning.

It helps.

Not every guilty party can be tried without upsetting the new balance. Nonetheless, there are trials. Vittori publicly forgives and ultimately pardons two men found guilty of the lovely Rebecca Ibanez’ murder. He – Vittori – encourages his ministers to invite outspoken reactionaries of all ages as well as radicals for televised discussions. Flores’ public relations experts watch the buzz on twitter and the wider blogosphere with trepidation and are impressed by how much just making the effort seems to improve the political climate. (What happens to the former minister of education is regrettable.)

For the first time in decades, San Lorenzo is no longer derided by its powerful neighboring countries. The Dutch, who withdrew all their diplomats in 2009, recommend that Portugal, Estonia and Liechtenstein open up their first ever San Lorenzian embassies. The president is invited to Brussels and essentially called an ally of the European Union. General Flores fully expects that when he and Vittori settle their debate over sending out consuls or representatives to the world’s disputed states, it will mean something.

(Two of Flores’ brightest corporals flee the country to escape a public image that is forever in tatters. A black citroën picks them up an hour’s walk from the border. Newly veterans from two unrelated wars, they start working their way up secret ranks under the watchful eyes of the Italian.)

 

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