www.whyville.net Oct 1, 2020 Weekly Issue

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The Siege of Quepaqane

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November 24, 2018, The Quepaqane Press: "Rivadivura Wins Cubesta's Presidency in a Landslide Election." As the evening sun cast its final rays of rosy light across the country, the results flashed across the billboard screens in the gleaming city of Quepaqane, proclaiming Santos Rivadivura the resounding victor. An ensuing wave of unbridled ecstasy engulfed the towering skyscrapers, the majestic cathedrals, the thriving suburbs. Twelve hours later, with vestigial excitement still palpable in the bracing morning air, an ebullient Rivadivura donned the presidential sash under the fervent eyes of his nascent nation as the sun creeped over the jagged, snow-capped crags of the Eastern Mountains, saluting the new administration with its ruby hues.

Santos Rivadivura awoke in his sumptuous four-poster bed, swaddled by the caressing embrace of pearl-white goose-feather blankets. He strutted over to the other side of his quarters, gazing contently through the six-inch glass to his sprawling, meticulously manicured palace grounds and the country he predominated over. Behind him, the lush oriental carpet and imposing furniture effused boundless power. As he turned and strode to his mahogany executive desk, Rivadivura sighed and forced his gaze onto the daily brief encased in a black leather folder. He ran his rough, callused fingers across the soft leather, admiring the smooth gloss before reluctantly opening it. As he inspected the brief, his nostrils flared with frustration. Despite his unabating efforts to curtail treasonous insurgencies, his police force had failed to detain Rub?n Andrade. On the second page, a clipping from The Republic made his stomach drop: "United States Censures Rivadivura's Socialist Regime, Endorses Andrade as Interim President." With a feral growl, Rivadivura brought his fist down on the brief, leaving an indelible dent in The Republic. Suddenly, his aide burst through the door, panting heavily as he gazed timidly up to look at Rivadivura. "Sir, I have ne--"

"Tell Jos? ?guila to deploy every officer to capture Andrade! I want him lying prostrate before me begging for mercy by dinner!" Rivadivura roared. "How can I govern my country if recalcitrant, subversive, imbecilic lowlifes sow chaos and foment dissidence within my people? And tell Jorge Bot?n to shut down The Republic. I don't want to see another one of their sensationalist, disingenuous stories," added Rivadivura, amused by the kowtowing aid.

"Of course. But I have news from the Economic Bureau," responded the aid.

"Oh come on. What is it now? Those macroeconomists can't even predict the weather." The aide swayed nervously from side to side, avoiding Rivadivura's penetrating gaze. "Sir," he murmured. "The stock market has crashed."

December 6, 2020, Cubesta Today: "Pandemonium Engulfs Cubesta as Stock Exchange Hits Fifty Year Low." Rub?n Andrade smiled deviously as he skimmed through the newspaper. This was it: the fortunate cataclysm that would catalyze change. But this time, at the forefront would stand Andrade--a gallant knight, a bastion of neoliberalism ushering in a new epoch of social and economic freedom. As the first rays of golden sunshine creeped in through the grimy window, Andrade walked over to the other side of his austere apartment. No longer would the venal elite feign sympathy towards the poor while pandering to multinationals. Andrade threw open the flimsy window, releasing a billowing cloud of dust. He gazed out towards the decrepit city; flies buzzed around piles of putrid trash and rats scampered through the dank alleys with Rivadivura's lofty palace scintillating in the distance. And no longer would Andrade wither away in squalid safehouses. Already, Andrade had been driven out of four safehouses, but he was hopeful that this one would be the last. Throngs of protestors had begun to convene in the streets, radiating visceral hatred as they demanded that Rivadivura surrender the Presidency to Andrade. Soon, he would reside in that palace.

"Out," directed Rivadivura. The aide offered a stiff salute before scampering out of the room, eager to avoid another one of Rivadivura's vitriolic harangues. But instead, Santos crumpled to his knees and began to sob in anguish. "All my life I dreamt of becoming President, restoring peace, and inaugurating prosperity," lamented Santos. "And now my tenure is over." Santos knew his history; in Cubesta, economic downturn invariably presaged a coup d'etat. With a plaintive moan, Santos pushed himself to his feet and glanced at his desk, the rich mahogany exuding an ominous, shadowy glow. Within the confines of the desk, a minute, spherical vial containing a pale blue liquid beckoned. "No," he murmured, wrenching his eyes away. "No!" he bellowed. "I shall not let Andrade supplant democracy with autocracy and destroy my country. The people appointed me. I shall not relent; I shall force the subversives into submission," proclaimed Rivadivura, his brow furrowing with grim determination.

"Where is Andrade?" inquired Rivadivura, taking a menacing step towards Jos? ?guila.

"We have pinpointed his safehouse," replied ?guila, "in the outskirts of the city."

"Well what are you waiting for?" shouted Rivadivura, throwing his arms in the air. "Deploy the Special Forces and bring him to me now! Dead or alive. I don't care."

Does Rivadivura succeed in capturing Andrade? Join us for the dramatic conclusion to The Siege of Quepaqane in the next issue of the Times!


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