In 2012, on this day President George Weaver issues a cryptic order, in Latin: "Rex Mundi delenda est" - "The King of the World must be destroyed".
The King of the World must be destroyed by Eric LippsFollowing the order, a U.S. fighter-bomber armed with nuclear missiles is launched, flying across several U.S. states before heading out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Several hours later, horrifying reports come in that Rome has been destroyed by a nuclear explosion. Hundreds of thousands are feared dead, among them Pope Benedict XVI and many members of the College of Cardinals, which had been meeting to discuss improving relations with Egypt's Coptic Christian church.
Weaver had assumed the presidency following the death in July of 2009 of President John McCain from a heart attack. Weaver's ascendancy had come as a shock to many: an obscure member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Idaho, he had seemed an unlikely choice as McCain's running-mate in the 2008 election. Peculiar rumors had swirled around him, claiming he was associated with a shadowy survivalist group known as the Remnant of the Pure, which conspiracy theorists link to the medieval Cathar schismatics who had been nearly destroyed by Catholic crusaders. Nothing had been proven, however, and McCain and Weaver had gone on to win that November. In the wake of the Rome disaster, it will be charged that Weaver plotted the destruction of the Vatican in service to a modern-day Cathar movement dedicated to destroying the Catholic Church.