10:10 local time,
The West Wing, The White House,
Buffalo, Roman New York
“With one stroke of the pen,” said North American Union President Tom Kirkman as he signed a document, flicking the pen upwards for dramatic effect, “Haylie Modine, you are officially pardoned.”
As the crowd of Presidential staffers and family members clapped behind him, Kirkman got up to greet Modine. He offered his hand to shake but Modine extended her arms for an embrace, which she wrapped the President around in after an awkward moment where the President had no idea what was going on. Kirkman was all smiles as he and Modine hugged, though the smile got strained the longer Modine held on and squeezed even tighter. After several long seconds Modine finally let go, but the joy in her demeanour never once abated.
It had been quite the journey to this point. A year ago, Modine was the President until she was arrested for treason by the Roman authorities who were tasked with protecting the NAU Constitution. The Romans- and much of the American public- felt she had become too dictatorial in her approach, jailing hundreds of her political opponents on frivolous charges, but Modine's supporters as well as Rome's enemies, the Virtue Federation, felt that jailing Modine subverted the very democratic process she had rightly won. A small war ensued with the Romans ending up victorious, but the contentiousness of the issue remained.
As the months passed, the NAU continued to be divided on the issue, which became a thorn on the side of Kirkman, who won the Presidency by running within the political centre. The Unionist Party, the main arm of the left wing of American politics, rallied behind Modine, putting pressure on Kirkman to deal with the issue. Eventually he decided- against the wishes of the Federalists, the main arm of the American right- that pardoning Modine was the best move, since- as Kirkman saw it- the issue was only serving to divide Americans even further, threatening another collapse the NAU had just escaped out of.
Now, with Modine pardoned, came Kirkman's next step: appointing Modine as Vice-President, which he announced to further applause with the usual theatrics in his voice. Kirkman figured it was the least he could do, since the Unionists controlled the House of Lieutenants while their rival the Federalists controlled the House of Representatives. Modine was the perfect countermeasure to Speaker of the House Kimble Hookstraten, occupying the other ideological extreme that Kirkman hoped would give him enough of a balance on the issues in order to make the right decisions.
After all, Kirkman gained his popularity by being "The Balancer", the one with the knack for being able to come up with satisfactory solutions that overcame the political divides, with the President seemingly having a gift of providing an answer that could placate just about anyone.
Forgiving Modine just seemed like the right move. Besides, the Americans were tired of war and instability.
However, there were those close to the President who thought he was making a bad mistake, as Modine- at only 30 years old- still had her ambitions and was young enough that she had the energy to realize them. Kirkman already had his problems with Hookstraten, so many of his staffers thought he would do better to appoint someone more loyal as his VP.
Still, as Kirkman often replied, “keep your friends closer...”
“I know there are a lot of people out there who still hate me,” said Modine, giving her speech following her appointment, “and I know I won't be able to convince all of you to change your opinion of me. That's OK...I'm fine with that. It's a big step for me to admit that, because two years ago I could never fathom the thought of someone disliking me. It led me to be reckless, as I made everything I did within my power just for me and not for the country. I promise, now that I have a second chance, that I won't make it all about me and that I will listen to you, because I serve you, my fellow Americans.”