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Thread: Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World?

  1. #421
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized
    Little Status report:

    Alright so I said i'd have an update in by 10-12 hours . Unfortunately , I ended up having an all nighter philo-economic-sophical discussion with a friend and I only got the first page done on the update so far !

    Well that and I had the best game of DotA ever (I had 8 kills in a row out of a total of 14 , highest in the match !) and playing some online Diplomacy . Ach ! Don't worry , I've been updating 3-4 times a week and I haven't failed you yet , dear audience so expect one later tonight and the other two will come as per usual 2 day schedule !
    No worries canonized, that little thing called a real life can be rather distracting from time to time. ^_^ Look forward to another excellent update ... assuming you don't lose me from confusion along the way ... :P

  2. #422
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    Whew, this actually works for me. Maybe I will get caught up eventually.
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  3. #423
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    Heh, now I at least could read this update alone and not have my impressions blurred by another.

    I'd say Antonio sure manages to keep hopping into danger and bad things whereever he goes.

    And I, really, assume the Panzerkardinal will have no problems with the Scarlets, which is why they are abandoning their post.
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  4. #424
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Turin the Mad: You know what would help me with writing though ? A new kitty ! Seems like you're the person to see about megalomaniacal pets ! Thanks for your support !

    grayghost: Hooray ! Glad one man's drunk-on-life-enness is another man's boon ! Seriously though , can't wait for you to catch up , I miss your comments !

    Avernite: Antonio's in a dangerous profession ! And the Panzerkardinal isn't called Panzerkardinal for no reason , but he's about to meet an adversary who might give him some pause .
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  5. #425
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    I've finally read through the whole thing, in one sitting. I hate long things, usually, and catching up, so that's a biggie for me.

    It's probably the most accomplished AAR plot I've ever come across, and I've been lurking for years. Solidly-written, intricately planned, with a tinge of the philosophical and a deep sense of the aesthetic.

    As well as positively plagued by references clever and corny.

    You put so much care into every update. It's amazing. It's a very involving AAR. It made me chuckle, it made me feel sympathy for the humanity of the characters, it made me agree with the underlying messages - and disagree also, to the point of anger; it made me root for some of the characters despite all odds and wishing some of the other ones would get what was really coming to them.

    I've put it off for a long time but I'm on the road to Damascus now.
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  6. #426
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB
    I've finally read through the whole thing, in one sitting. I hate long things, usually, and catching up, so that's a biggie for me.

    It's probably the most accomplished AAR plot I've ever come across, and I've been lurking for years. Solidly-written, intricately planned, with a tinge of the philosophical and a deep sense of the aesthetic.

    As well as positively plagued by references clever and corny.

    You put so much care into every update. It's amazing. It's a very involving AAR. It made me chuckle, it made me feel sympathy for the humanity of the characters, it made me agree with the underlying messages - and disagree also, to the point of anger; it made me root for some of the characters despite all odds and wishing some of the other ones would get what was really coming to them.

    I've put it off for a long time but I'm on the road to Damascus now.
    Thank you so much ! That's quite the excellent praise and I'm very flattered ! I'm so glad to have you on board and you've quite humbled me ! I wanted to thank you again and I wanted to say that it's readership and comments like this that help spur , motivate , and inspire me . Thank you again and hope you'll enjoy what's coming up !

    p.s. update coming ... NOW !
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  7. #427
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    Chapter XXXIII: Beijing


    October 7 1582

    Antonio was drowsy when he opened his eyes, but it was the kind of drowsy one would have thought accompanied lead weights attached to one’s body. His head could not rotate at all as it lay there bouncing to and fro from the jittery horse lancing through the countryside. In between bouts of consciousness he could sense the glittering colours of a golden landscape. Autumn had arrived.

    His pale body sensed little feeling but the pain in his side would sometimes seer into a lightning bolt of agony. Calling out wouldn’t work; he had no strength to push air through his throat. He had felt this agony before during his infirmary on the ferry. Like one who took for granted their good health until another sickness came about, half of Antonio’s pain was the return to such a helpless state. If his eyes could cringe in those half lucid moments he might have managed to squeeze out a tear.

    The wind would catch his hair and animate those strands into a frustrated frenzy. They danced furiously against the rushing air and sliced against Antonio’s forehead torturing him into a waking nightmare. His arms chafed against strapping obviously intended to keep him in place lest he might fall from the moving animal. In between gasping breaths through his nose, however, he could sense the other presence on whose back he was tied to.

    Nia’s essence found its way into Antonio’s nostrils and made him hallucinate of the scented breeze of a lake-side holiday where the water lilies were. Her tanned skin—where it was exposed in her leather armour—strangely caressed against Antonio’s cheek and coerced his paralyzed lips into a thousand small kisses along her shoulder as she jostled on the quick horse.

    “It’s nice to finally meet you,” were the words that floated like an echo into Antonio’s ears.

    There was no response; just the pallid expression of a man on the brink of unconsciousness hidden behind the erratic horizon of Nia’s riding shoulder. Antonio attempted to move his fingertips but only found that they traced along Nia’s tight, exposed abdomen. He felt the woman’s grasp carefully hold onto the top of his hand and stopping his digits’ attempt at moving. There was a strange reluctance to the corrective gesture and the woman’s slender fingers seemed to coax Antonio’s into movement again.

    “I’ve heard so much about you,” Nia said in another whispery exchange with the serpentine innuendo more apparent.

    Antonio guessed that there must have been more to this one sided conversation, but his mind was shattered by whatever it was that the tip of Nia’s dagger had been dipped into. Only the sound of hooves against dirt filled the gaps in between the sound of his heartbeat. Antonio hovered on that edge of sleep defied by agony and worry while his arms continued to wrap helplessly around the lithe middle of his captor and tied along the wrists on the other side of that uncovered abdomen.

    In this state, the young nobleman could have barely guessed that they had already switched horses five times and were now nearing the very outskirts of the center of the Eastern world. The walls and towers of Beijing greeted the incapacitated Antonio with a blinding red brick radiance that, in his blurred foggy vision, came upon the Chinese landscape like the reversal of a setting sun.

    This scarlet emanation dominated the horizon and the mere look of the grand city bristling with Dragon-scale like tiles and square spires leaped into Antonio’s imagination like a salient serpent coiling around his vision until nothing but Imperial Grandeur amplified his pain. So far from the home bases in Shanghai or Guangzhou these tall walls imposed a hopeless incarceration studded with gold and jade.

    “Welcome to Beijing,” Nia Obidos announced.

    ---


    The half scarred Mori Ranmaru brought his chin to his chest in the presence of the gleaming figure in front of him. Although the official ambassador was busy somewhere else presenting gifts of gold and good will to the Son of Heaven, Mori was fulfilling his “diplomatic” obligations through more unseen channels. In a room where the arches in between compartments writhed with gold and stone of rainbow colour, “Ginji” as he was called diplomatically conferred respect to the Golden Empress.

    “Your presence is greatly appreciated,” The Senior Grand Secretary along the palisade of mandarins flanking either side of the Empress announced.

    Mori and the Senior Grand Secretary already knew each other quite well. Despite the young nature of Mori and the old nature of “Master Ming” the two found a complementary relationship of young brashness and old malice that would put any western Machiavelli to shame. It was most evident in their workings in Japan and San Francisco together.

    “I thank Your Imperial Majesties for hosting me and my entourage in this visit,” Mori responded before bowing once more and allowing himself to be escorted out of the Empress’s presence by the Senior Grand Secretary.

    “How goes the campaign in Osaka?” The tall mandarin asked his younger companion.

    “Although we have the Spaniards along the defensive lines in the province, none of our offensives have been succeeding,” Mori responded losing the pretence of pleasure now that he was exiting the Empress’s chamber. The pace in his walk further betrayed his frustration.

    “With the Japanese Navy no match for the Armada in the Yellow Sea,” The Senior Grand Secretary remarked as he followed his counterpart with large strides, “We can’t hope to send reinforcements either way.”

    “And with Guangzhou and Shanghai in the hands of the Spaniards, you have an entrenched enemy sitting on top of two of your richest cities,” retorted Mori allowing that childish temper to flare up.

    “We’re dealing with it.”

    As they rounded a corner, they came upon an office like appendage to one of the palatial suits. Within, Mori found his seat eagerly amongst the brightly coloured chairs around an octagonal table. Even in his best attire, Mori was a statue of Japanese elegance in the golden sea of Chinese extravagance. His simple black formal kimono with five kamon emblazoned made him seem like an empty space in an artist’s eclectic shower of gold and scarlet across the canvas that was the chamber.

    The unwearied Secretary took his seat opposite from his friend and nursed his own beard carefully while he looked to his companion. “There is a new development, however,” he intoned.

    Mori shot a glance towards his counterpart quickly. Even with the contrast of aesthetics clashing around him, the broiled cracked skin that dominated half of Mori’s face now contracted hideously into a curious glare. “What have you not told me?” Mori uttered bitterly. The vitriol seemed to coincide with the remembrance of the searing pain of those flames that nearly consumed his young body at the hands of the careless Spanish intruders.

    Mori Ranmaru, once as serene as the oceans of light blue that he wore in the court of Oda Nobunaga had escaped the flames Honnoji badly scarred. To that effect, the vision he discerns from his right eye falters many times and his hateful left dominates his sight. Being presumed dead, it was easier for him to move the machinations of the nation of Japan without having to constantly compromise with his public persona.

    Being officially dead, Mori found himself attached to the man who had killed his master, and then to Tokugawa who would soon defeat Akechi Mitsuhide. It was not even his silver tongue that allowed his retention as an advisor to all the powerbrokers. No, indeed ever since the beginning of the century, those high enough in the feuding realms of Japan knew well what Mori Ranmaru and his predecessors represented. He was a man to be respected; he was a man for the future of Japan—he was the successor of the Ginji name.

    Before Master Ming could answer his guest, there was a page standing at the door.

    “Sirs, the prisoner Antonio has arrived.”

    ---


    Isabella surveyed Nanjing and the Yangtze River from her make shift parapet above one of the roofs of the neighboring suburbs of that besieged city. Already, the generals on the field had secured the province from further disturbances from the Imperial forces and were slowly starving the city into submission. With the Armada off the coast, the Yangtze River would not provide any supplies to the beleaguered citizens.

    Putting the spyglass down, she approached the entranceway to the downstairs with a kind of nimble ease. Training for the most part as a spy master kept with her gifts of agility that she often used as casually as breathing air. In that country home upon a small hill where she held her headquarters, her cloaked agents would come and go allowing their mistress to read the progress of the entire campaign with eyes that only see through the shadows. It was through them that she made sure the Generals working for the crown had the best edge of surprise.

    Tapping her heels against the tiled floor, she found her way to the inner courtyard of that bastion of espionage. Holding her elbows with the opposite hands she continued to endure the autumn weather. Her eyes flickered a blink almost as slowly as an afternoon cloud passing lazily by. In this trance of relative calm, she let the movement of leaves make the floor of the inner courtyard a moving picture whose motif was the onset of time.

    Deep in thought, she had remembered receiving a report on the defenses at Osaka. Although all of those planning the Chinese campaign understood the invulnerability of the Osakan position, it reminded her of something different. It reminded her of a field filled with the colour of a white washed pink tucked in the mountains miles from the city. It was the image of a young man made into a portrait etched into her mind. She nearly forgot, but Antonio had wanted to tell her something that day. About that one night at Osaka when—.

    A rustling and a tap of cloth against tile snitched in the afternoon air. Immediately, Isabella leapt behind a column and reached to her back eying the rooftop along the inner courtyard. Another sound and Isabella slinked along the wooden floor to a different wooden column. Looking across and up to the open area where the courtyard was free to the elements, she saw him.

    Instinctively discharging a single dart from the folds of her clothes, the figure dodged it easily before clawing his way to the edge of the roof directly across the open space and looked towards Isabella before suddenly losing balance and falling onto the dirt of the middle.

    A soft splatter of blood exited the lips of the intruder and caught the dirt on the floor. Despite the dodge, this intruder was obviously already injured and now his face was clearly visible.

    “Sweet!” Isabella cried out as she ran towards the center of that quad area. Nearly skidding her knees as she dropped down next to him and held up his head, she looked intently at her young spy’s bruised eyes.

    “I came back…” were the first words albeit weak words from the agonized spy.

    “I know!” Isabella almost yelled out, “Antonio told me all about your missio—”

    “No…” Sweet interrupted, “We were betrayed…” he added weakly.

    “Betrayed?” Isabella asked crunching her forehead into an immediate question.

    “They knew… about the plan…Someone… Someone told them…”

    Thrusting her head up, Isabella caught herself halfway from calling out for help when she saw two of her assistants standing shocked at the doorway to the inner courtyard.

    “Get me a doctor, now!” she yelled immediately prompting one of them to run down the hall she came from.

    “Mistress…” the other said half heartedly. Isabella could only stare back at her impatiently. “I’ve just received word… that Antonio has gone missing.”

    Isabella’s eyes looked back towards his young spy’s hazy oculars as she held up his head desperately in her arms.

    “Beijing…” he whispered.

    ---


    “Just as I told you would happen,” Lieutenant Drescher boasted to the interpreter while still keeping his stoic demeanor. The translator promptly relayed the message to the other two present in the room.

    Both the Senior Grand Secretary and Mori Ranmaru faced the incapacitated body of their adversary across from the wooden curtains as they listened to the interpreter speak to them.

    “Just as your colleague predicted the occurrences in San Francisco,” the Senior Grand Secretary said off handedly as he once again gazed at the amazing sight of having Antonio in the adjacent room. The interpreter relayed the acknowledgement.

    “How do you know all this?” Mori Ranmaru asked sternly as he turned his half scarred face over to the smug, tall European. As the interpreter channeled the question, neither of them released each others’ eyes from their gazes.

    The European said something in his tongue once more. The interpreter looked a bit puzzled for a moment before turning towards Mori Ranmaru. “He says,” the interpreter began, “that he knows these things because he has seen them already.”

    At that, the young man soured his face in such a way that his horrendous skin seemed to seethe in moist annoyance. “Is he some kind of prophet?”

    “Quite the opposite!” came the shrill voice from the other side of the chamber.

    Quickly turning towards the screened separation, Mori caught the glimpse of a strange man who looked almost as sickly as the dark side of his face above the sleeping body of their captive.

    “I have spoken at length with these gentlemen of whom this European is a member of,” said the cold high pitched voice again, “and I have come to grasp the rudimentary basics of the source of their power.”

    “You again?!” Mori curtly called out.

    “Ginji-san,” the Senior Grand Secretary began, “I would like to reintroduce to you our chief scientist and doctor of botany, biology, and alchemy. Our chief herbalist and the man who is immune to any poison.”

    “I may look very old,” the man inside Antonio’s ‘prison’ chamber interrupted, “but you would be surprised to know that I am just as old as our very own Master Ming here. Through my consumption of poisons and chemicals I have grown to look like this, but I have heightened my senses and…”

    That crazed man covered in a most elegant attire of a courtier shakily raised Antonio’s left arm. If Mori had blinked, he might not have seen what had occurred, but a quick jolt of those wrinkly arms produced such a snap that it even made the European watching the spectacle turn his head towards the now broken arm. Antonio snapped into consciousness long enough to fill the chamber with a terrible cry before convulsing into painful half-unconsciousness.

    “…increased my strength to the point where I can break every bone in his… or your body…” that man finished crazily.

    “Our Lord of Acid,” the Grand Secretary continued despite the painful groans and moans of their prisoner, “Sio-Pan.”



    Interlude


    “I’m sorry about your place,” Tom said with a persistent blush on his face.

    Lara de Fronsac seemed to revel in the embarrassment she was causing her friend although she did not know that she herself was suddenly blushing.

    “It’s alright,” Lara replied casually as she hovered coyly at the doorway, “Rodrigo said he’d pay for everything.”

    For a brief second, Tom continued to simply stare at the young lady across the threshold of his hotel apartment. “It was good of you to come,” he finally let out, “You have no idea how much stress it’s been cooped up with Rodrigo all the time…”

    Lara let out a polite chuckle. “Carlos said we’ll keep in touch with the developments so I’m sure I’ll have time to see you again…” Those last words seemed to come slowly as if she needed to reassure herself that it would not betray any other meaning.

    Rodrigo watched the spectacle with a kind of comical grin. Even though Carlos watched behind him with a hidden anxiety, he nonetheless stayed quiet. Rodrigo would be the first to say something to him in that moment of temporary farewells.

    “Are you sure you’re okay with doing all these things for me, Carlos?” Rodrigo asked while Tom continued to chit chat with the lady at the door. The two pairs were far enough away to avoid crossing each other’s conversations.

    Carlos looked up to his friend although Rodrigo was still facing the door. “We’ve been preparing to handle this for a while now,” Carlos replied to his friend’s back, “we were never told what exactly would be involved like these Timepieces, but at least we were trained that one day something like this would happen.”

    “And Lara?”

    For a while, Carlos paused as he turned his sultry dark eyes to the girl. He gave no answer.

    “I understand,” Rodrigo finally conceded. “Did you look up those files I asked you for?”

    “Yeah, Scarlet Academy apparently was registered as far back as the 1580s and was shut down as a visible institution by Cardinal DeWitt.”

    “James or Jakob? Both of them being Cardinals always confuses me,” Rodrigo asked as he turned around finally jaded by the intermittent flirting going on at the door.

    “The older one,” Carlos replied as he turned around just enough to grab some papers he had placed on the table next to them, “I don’t think Jakob went into the priesthood until the turn of the century anyway.”

    Antonio took the papers and perused some of the pages many of which were simply photos of old manuscripts.

    “Says here that the Cardinal was only able to track down one of the three councilmen,” Rodrigo commented, “an Italian.”

    Carlos nodded. “Apparently, he was a cult leader at the University of Toledo when it first opened and sponsored sexual deviance amongst the student body. He used it as a shield to try to get the Cardinal’s attention away from their real agenda.”

    Rodrigo looked at the strange sketches enclosed within the paperwork. A portrait of the man in armour revealed the strangeness of this cult. Sporting an all black set of armour to match the darkness of his hair, this Italian’s eyes almost seemed to have been coloured in as red.

    “Among the students,” Carlos continued, “he was called “Uncle” so that none of his acolytes could reveal him and there are wild stories about how he was supported by some kind of Dark Force to do magic.”

    “Uncle…” Rodrigo repeated.

    “Rodrigo,” Tom suddenly called out. Rodrigo turned back towards the door only to find one of the Lions had stepped in between Lara and Tom.

    “Sir, you better turn on the television,” the Lion informed.

    Switching on the plasma display fixed on the wall, the Noticias Zorro Channel showed a silhouette speaking. Despite the distorted voice, it was clear that this man was speaking in the Italian tongue. The subtitles underneath revealed the fullness of this man’s message.

    “As of fifteen hundred hours Beijing time, my group, in conjunction with the Ming Clique, has placed a twenty five megaton thermonuclear warhead somewhere in the city of Beijing,” the subtitle said.

    It was as if the temperature in the room suddenly dropped low enough to freeze all the hearts in the room. Skipping a beat and with skin as white as if they had been in a meat locker, those in the room continued to listen.

    “What we are asking for is twofold. We demand the immediate declaration of the Spanish Government to recognize the regional Autonomy of the Chinese nation as well as immediately begin negotiations for the independence of the Chinese state. If our demands are not met within ten hours, we will detonate the device.

    It is because for too long the Spanish government has controlled the proud people of the Ming and for too long has our world been corrupted by their presence. Although I am not Chinese, I recognize their need for independence. Thus, I will strike fear into the heart of the Spanish Government and its people!”

    The cliché would be comical if this was some kind of Saturday morning cartoon, but the dread and uncertainty kept all glued to the screen.

    “And for those who wish to know who I am…”

    It was these last words that made Rodrigo drop the papers he held in his hand as he heard the man say in his native tongue “Sono Zio,”—“I am Uncle.”

    Chapter XXXIV: Zio (coming soon)
    Last edited by canonized; 01-05-2007 at 13:17.
    DANGEROUS LIAISONS
    The New Short AAR about Seduction , Manipulation , Intrigue , Mystery , and Revolution .
    -~= =~-
    T I M E L I N E S : What if Spain Failed to Control the World?
    Seventeen AARLand Choice Awards: Favourite Overall New WritAAR Q1 2007.
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    Twice AAR Showcase: 9 Dec 2007, 14 Jun 2009; Twice Best Character Writer: 9 Dec 2007, 13 Sep 2008

    Editor in Chief of The AARlander

  8. #428
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    wow nice update. Antinio really should find some safer profession tho
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  9. #429
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grubnessul
    wow nice update. Antinio really should find some safer profession tho
    Thanks ! And yeah it can get quite tough haha . Poor guy ... =(
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  10. #430
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    Zio?

    Italian? I don't get the reference though.
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  11. #431
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    Oh dear. Things are looking bad for the Spaniards. I bet they're gonna need some Germans or Dutchmen to save them again, as seems to be the case for the entire story
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  12. #432
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    RGB: Zio is the Italian word for Uncle and is the name of this person who (according to the research Carlos did) was the only member of this "Council" that Cardinal DeWitt ever found . The fact that he's Italian is so that I can use the name "Zio" haha . Otherwise , I just enjoy to have characters from different areas of the world and Europe ! Hope that answers your question , I'll be happy to clarify something else !

    Avernite: Bah , it's only a flesh wound ! Plus , the Dutch and the Germans are part of the Spanish Empire ! We're all Spaniards at heart ! haha
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  13. #433
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    Oh, I knew he was Italian and that Zio meant uncle, I just lost the impact of the last line. Thanks for clarifying.
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  14. #434
    Second Lieutenant Petros's Avatar
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    Dio mio, the story seems to be building up to another crescendo! (Just thought it necessary to use some Italian words to describe my anticipation for the next update... hehe!)

    Is the name 'uncle' a reference to 'The Man from U.N.C.L.E.'?

    I really enjoyed this update, especially for the picturesque descriptions of the characters and their surroundings. Also because of the re-appearance of the Lord of Acid (I knew we'd see him again) and I sort of can 'taste the future' now.

    Thanks for the entertainment!
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  15. #435
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    Wow.. I really enjoyed spotting all the references. The 'Dark Force' and the Dark Armoured man called ' uncle ' by his acolytes.. It's good to see the namesake of my past given new life.

    Antonio wounded, the return of Sio-pan, and the threat of mass destruction ! Dire times are ahead ! While unfortunate for the 'good' characters of the story, it sure makes good entertainment for us.

    Another great update, can't wait for the next installment !

  16. #436
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    Edge. Seat. Baited. Breath.

    Quite a nasty situation, but if someone is clever all they need to is point out that anyone who intends to blow up Beijing cannot really care that much about China or Chinese hopes.
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  17. #437
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized
    Avernite: Bah , it's only a flesh wound ! Plus , the Dutch and the Germans are part of the Spanish Empire ! We're all Spaniards at heart ! haha
    No, we're all Dutchies in denial. Best general is Dutch, lead kardinal is Deutsch, lead doctor is Deutsch.

    It's just a facade to call it Spain. The simple fact that the prime opponents seem to be German too tells you who really has power
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    Avernite: Avernite is a very mean person because he always comes up with great ideas

  18. #438
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    RGB: Oh , well it's that There is an Uncle in the Present just as there was in the Past . That's the reference , hehe .

    Petros: Glad you're enjoying it ! I'm afraid the reference to the United Network Command for Law Enforcement was just a coincidence ! ... or was it ? I'm glad you're enjoying the scenery ! I really wanted to take advantage of the beauty of Chinese art and surroundings .

    Panzerkardinal: XD See , I still have a few tricks up my sleeve for ya , ole buddy ! Haha and yes dire times ahead , can't you just hear the 24esque digital clock ticking ? XD (gosh , i actually never watched that show but everyone says for me to =( )

    stnylan: Terrorists are quite irrational =( . Glad you're enjoying the excitement !

    Avernite: Haha can't deny that ! Let's not forget that Sweet is Korean and he helps a lot too !
    Last edited by canonized; 01-05-2007 at 22:53.
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  19. #439
    Your Friendly Dictator Grubnessul's Avatar
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    sounds like a "Im gonna save the world by destroying it" kinda guy. Very nice update, Im looking forward to see general Grubby back in action again
    "History is form of cybersex!"
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  20. #440
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grubnessul
    sounds like a "Im gonna save the world by destroying it" kinda guy. Very nice update, Im looking forward to see general Grubby back in action again
    Thanks ! Grubby hasn't been doing too well lately =( Lost to the suhO (from China) lately . I'm sure he and Sweet will do well in the lower bracket though . XD Enough of that dorkiness ! Yes , the nefarious Zio !
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