Constitutional Crisis?



Scene Title Constitutional Crisis?
Synopsis Shocking news prompts speculation about the title.
Date January 14, 2009

Cat's Penthouse in the Village Renaissance Building

Arriving by any of four elevators, visitors will find they open into three foot corridors facing wide double doors made from sturdy southern pine which swing outward and have the strongest locks available. The stairs lead to single doors, also outward opening, at the end of three foot corridors. Entry requires both a key and a keycard; other security measures are a video camera and voice communication terminal at all doors. The 4th Street side has floor to ceiling windows interrupted only by the access points. Cream colored curtains are normally kept closed.

This level has enough space for sixteen apartments. There is an office space with reception area, conference room, and executive office; a room for archery practice and other forms of physical exercise; a very well appointed kitchen and dining area; a music zone with an array of instruments, electronics, and amplifiers; an entertainment area with an HD set covering an entire stretch of wall from floor to ceiling; a locked room where security footage for the building is recorded and can be monitored; a laundry room; a staircase for roof access; central air and heating; the main bedroom and a few smaller guest rooms; plush deep wine carpet everywhere except the kitchen, laundry room and bathrooms; and track lighting everywhere overhead. The light levels can be lowered or raised in the entire place, or selectively by segments. The overall decor suggests the occupant is a woman.

She woke early in the morning as has become her custom since the abduction and the loss of her lover, partly due to inability to sleep for stretches as long as she might like. It was 6:30 a. m. on this particular day, and she was in a new bed, at a new place of residence which had recently been found and made ready.

Cat sits up and takes a slow look around, then lifts her eyes to the ceiling and speaks softly. "I'm trying to honor your wishes, Dani. Here I am, living well. Finding someone else, that's going to take longer. How long is long enough? How soon is too soon? How long is too long? Do I even take the risk of it happening again, given what I do and face?"

She can picture the slain woman's face, hear her voice, smell her scent in the mind's perceptions as if Dani were standing right in front of her, the memories are that sharp. But they're just that, and the answers to her questions aren't among them.

"I guess the answer is to live well, and address finding someone else when potential arises."

She gets out of bed a few minutes later and heads for the kitchen. Breakfast is made, steak and eggs, then she spends some time playing guitar after eating. At ten minutes after eight, she turns on the television to check the news. Six days and some hours before Inauguaration Day, she notes.

But what she sees makes her jaw drop open in shock.


In a shocking and utterly unexpected statement delivered at 8am this morning to the Senate, President-elect Allen Rickham has resigned from his position. He expressed considerable regrets over having concealed an unspecified crime from the American populace, and that his guilt for having done so has grown into something he can no longer deny. To quote, "The American people put their trust in me, and I cannot in good conscience endure having failed that trust, presenting them with only a lie in exchange."

Mr. Rickham refused all attempts by the press to take a statement or ask questions after the delivery of his speech, but retreated behind a veil of Secret Service agents. There is no precedent for a President-elect having been nominated by the American people to voluntarily surrender his office, and certainly not to do so a mere six days before the January 20th inauguration. From what we've seen here, Congress also seems to have been stunned into silence, and it remains to be told what response will follow or how the void Rickham has left behind will be filled.

Conspiracy theorists are already filling the forums and blogs with suspicion that this is related to the events of December 19th, which they continue to paint as a failed assassination attempt rather than an accident. There is also the question of whether this apparently sudden decision is in any way related to Rickham's pro-Evolved platform and the policies he has been working to implement.

We will keep you updated with anything we learn here on Capitol Hill.

Her favorite guitar, the red Fender Stratocaster, falls from Cat's suddenly slack grip and hits the carpet with a muted squeal of protest.

Several minutes pass, during which memories flood into her mind and play out.

Kneeling down next to Officer Trask's bloodied and bullet-riddled body is a living steel statue of a man, and slung over his shoulder in a fireman's carry is another man, also bleeding, rivulets of blood running down his living steel form. A shredded black jacket and white undershirt barely conceal the chiseled raw iron of his body, but the face of the ice-crusted iron figure is none other than President-Elect Allen Rickham. A few deep slices through his metal form have split open his chest, revealing that he is a solid piece of iron through and through.

Rickham's steely countenance shifts to regard Conrad for a moment, hematite-dark eyes peering at the man before giving a subtle and humble nod to his introduction. He turns to regard Helena again, iron fingers brushing over the two inch deep cuts in his chest. "Then, Miss Dean," His head tilts to one side, thin iron fibers of hair rattling together with the motion, "I owe you my life, and perhaps my office. I promise you, Matt Parkman and the Department of Homeland Security will do nothing to you as long as I retain the authority to command them. But You've said twice now, something about a threat, and you mentioned the name Kazimir Volken." He slowly settles his hands on his knees, and with a creaking grin of metal on metal rises from his seated position, his shredded suit jacket still limply hanging off of his solid metal torso. "I want to hear what you have to say."

Finally, and slugishly, Rickham rises up from the bench he had been seated on with the grinding of steel on steel. His dark hematite-shaded eyes focus on Helena as he lets out a tinny and hollow sighing sound with no breath to possibly supply it. How he even speaks without lungs or a larynx is a mystery. "We're wasting time." He says in his most presidential tone, despite the situation and his desveveled manner of dress, not to mention his rather ferrous exterior. "Show me everything you've gathered on this Kazimir Volken, while your friend tends to Matt." A dark stare is leveled in the direction of Edward, brows lowering with a faint scraping sound of grinding steel, as if trying to discern exactly who the man is.

Cat just stares at the screen as the memories play out, and anger grows within her breast. More than anger. Bitter contempt. "Hope himself is a coward. Who would ever think a man made from metal would have no spine?" she mutters. "God damn you to hell for this! Leaving the whole country to hang!"

But it is what it is, she realizes; unless the news reports are false, the statement made by someone impersonating Allen Rickham, he will not take the oath in that small number of days. Panmnesia remains in play, and the silence on how the void will be filled sparks another memory. She calls up the Constitution, and in it the 25th Amendment.

Section 1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or resignation, the Vice President shall become President.

Section 2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.

Section 3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.

Section 4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

As she emerges from the recollection, her jaw sets. Soon she's at a computer terminal, typing out her legal assessment of the matter.

The Twenty-fifth amendment to our Constitution covers Presidential vacancies by dictating the Vice President becomes President if the vacancy is permanent, and acts as President if the vacancy is temporary. However, the direct language mentions only death, resignation, and removal as causes of permanent vacancy.

Allen Rickham has not resigned the Presidency, he is simply declining to enter it. Logic would say this is a simple matter, and that the Vice President-elect should take the oath for that office on the 20th, then immediately take it again and become President.

The fact that this specific situation isn't dealt with directly in the Constitution, sadly, means some parties will probably try to take advantage and move along a different path, or even suggest the office remain unfilled. It's a potential nightmare of the sort Doctor Ray described as enabling Kazimir Volken to gain power in tandem with his genocidal actions.

We have to hope, if the news of him stepping aside proves true, he will rise above that display of personal cowardice and prevent a Constitution crisis by preparing a letter of resignation and putting it in his pocket until just after he takes the oath. At that point, the Constitution is clear. The new VP would immediately become President.

We have to hope Allen Rickham will realize not taking the oath means he is directly helping to further Kazimir Volken's plans. I recommend we contact Agent Parkman immediately and ask him to explain it for Mr. Rickham in exactly those terms. If we could rely on Mr. Rickham to do the right thing, this situation would not exist. Spelling it out seems sadly needed.


Once the legal opinion is finished, she showers, dresses, and heads out to post it in the Catabase for the members of Phoenix to read.

January 14th: Apologies, Anger, and Audacity
January 14th: She Remembers Flowers
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