Ockham’s razor, also true in war. What started in the East found its inevitable settling point in the lawless western border region of Amadi. Then a DOA democracy all but guaranteed the perpetuity of battle for the next half decade. But while conflict is constant, other things aren’t.

For example, Amane Karume died at Athena five years ago, then he showed up alive in Amadi. Now only one side has proof of being led by a resurrected being.

The inverse happened to Mugabo, the country’s fifteen-minute president. Of course, Mugabo never died. Not literally. He just limped away like a wounded dog.

Three factions found themselves fighting over a piece of land the world forgot for a cause that grew more abstract with time.

Then over disassembled nuclear components.

Then over assembled ones.

And suddenly–amidst all the apocalyptic frenzy–everyone ran out of money.


drug-fail-460Russia was the first to back out. The oil pinch left many of their proxy pets without a puppetmaster, one of which was the 5th Column. But the 5th never placed too much trust in their distant benefactor, which is why they had a plan B: Dust.

Dust looks like cocaine, costs half as much and is ten times more potent. As you may imagine, it’s all the rage stateside. That’s a double bonus for the 5th Column, especially with all the operational scaling they’ve done in the last two years. The squeeze on Vladimir’s wallet could prove beneficial when the red ink dries. Well not all beneficial: financial neglect for certain (very demanding) protectionist officials just landed Karume back in jail–and not the kind of jail that a hand grenade and a few bullets can fix. Apparently “immortal” doesn’t also mean “untouchable”.

Replacing a leader is never easy. Replacing someone as venerated as Amane Karume is almost impossible. So they didn’t. Instead, the rebels split into three even factions, each claiming allegiance to the 5th Column but also maintaining semi-independence as separate entities. They became known as “the franchises”.

The CIA, of course, was very aware of the new overseas player in the Dust market. So they enlisted some Coalition help. A few complications soon emerged: 1. congress wouldn’t fund their efforts, however salacious the headlines and 2. there’s a mole. #2 is becoming a problem.

Black River Group–in all their opulence and unending resources–was poorly conditioned for poverty. Might have to sell that stolen nuke they’ve been sitting on…