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

  1. #361
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    ach, poor Antonio!
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  2. #362
    Your Friendly Dictator Grubnessul's Avatar
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    yup, that came as a surprise. Can Antinio take it or is he going to sent poor Sebastian to die in some hopeless assault?

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  3. #363
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    We know both families survived, so they can't end up dead or so heartbroken that they never have kids.

    Then again, it'd make a nice twist if Antonio whom we have all expected to do so won't marry Isabella
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  4. #364
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Myth: Yes , poor guy ! XD

    Grubnessul: Glad you enjoyed the little graffiti !

    Avernite: One does wonder ! But for all we know it could be a cadet branch of the family that takes up the Ducal title ! just adding another possibility XD
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  5. #365
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Update:

    Hi folks just wanted to let you guys know that my grandpa's in town this week so from now until next saturday I'm going to be a bit slow updating or giving bonuses ! It's only temporary though I'll return once my grandfather is out of town ! Any guest-made bonuses are welcome as always XD . I'll let you guys know more manana !
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  6. #366
    First Lieutenant Turin the Mad's Avatar
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    Awesome, take all that you can from your gramps. My grandparents are long since gone from the world, yet they probably played far more of a role in shaping my core beliefs and mentality than the rest of the family put together.

    Catch you when you get back !

  7. #367
    Compulsive CommentatAAR stnylan's Avatar
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    It does sound like Antonio is going to have some rough times ahead.
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  8. #368
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Turin the Mad: Thanks for your solidarity !

    stnylan: yes it looks like there is going to be a challenge both militarily and personally for the poor chap .

    Preview:

    I'll be uploading this week's You've Been Canonized! in a few minutes but an update probably won't come either until tomorrow or late late this evening !
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  9. #369
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    You've Been Canonized!: rcduggan


    Good afternoon everyone and welcome to this week's edition of You've Been Canonized! our weekly interview segment here at Timelines where we interview patrons to our AAR who are also WritAARs themselves ! If you're new to our programme I'm your host canonized author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? . Today's guest is a multi-award winning author as well as a charter member of The Warlord Club rcduggan author of Kathmandu Can Do (A Nepal AAR) . Let's see what what he has to say about himself , our AAR , and his current work !

    Part I: Authorship
    Our guest rcduggan tells us a little about himself and being a WritAAR

    canonized: The first question I’d like to ask you is would you please tell us how long you've been on the forum , and specifically how long you've been writing AARs ?

    rcduggan: I joined the forum in mid-October 2006, I can't remember exactly when. However, I was not an active member until December. I started my first AAR, Kathmandu Can Do, on December 19, 2006.

    canonized: I've also always wondered about your name , and even recently you insisted on the r in it being lowercased , could you tell us the significance of it ?

    rcduggan: Well, the only reason I want it lowercased is that's how it is registered. But that's my name, Ryan Callahan Duggan. And I submit manuscripts to publishers with the penname R.C. Duggan, so I used that as my screenname here.

    canonized: Fascinating ! So what have you already published ?

    rcduggan: Damn, I knew we'd get to this.....
    Well, I have had several short stories published in maganizes over the past few years. I am currently trying to get my latest novel, Midnight Sun published.

    canonized: I'm curious , it says in your profile that you were born on April 24th, 1905 , how accurate is this ?

    rcduggan: Haha, well, that is very, very inaccurate. Although April 24th is the day I was born in a much later year than that although I will not say, because it would ruin the illusion.

    canonized: Haha fair enough . As I read your AAR , your style as a writer takes on an obviously narrative tone to the story , could you tell us why you chose this path of storytelling ?

    rcduggan: Well, my initial intent was to create a more Gameplay-centric AAR. My inspiration for this was "Awakening from the Nightmare Years." But anyway, as I wrote, I found myself drifting back towards narrative, which is my natural style. And I enjoy creating plots and characters more than screenshots anyway.

    canonized: And you've done that quite well ! I could definitely see the transition . What would you say is your biggest struggle as an author of a narrative AAR ?

    rcduggan: Hmm.... there are probably several. One, to create believable characters and (somewhat) realistic plots. Also, it is a challenge for me to get myself to write sometime! I try to have an update every week, but sometimes I just do...not...want...to...write...

    canonized: For those writers out there who might be seeking advice on how to keep themselves motivated , what would you say to them ?

    rcduggan: Well, first, find something you like to write about first. Then just keep at it. Persistence is the key. Even if you don't want to write, just force yourself to. That is how I do it.

    Part II: Readership
    We’ll be discussing a few thoughts on rcduggan’s view on Timelines

    canonized: As a fellow narrative writer , what are your thoughts on the narrative style here at Timelines ?

    rcduggan: Well, in the past week or so I have fallen behind on it. (Shame on me! ) But I think it is a very well written AAR. Definitely my favorite narrative AAR for Eu3

    canonized: Ahh , well thank you ! Anything that you've read so far that you'd say caught your eye the most ?

    rcduggan: I especially enjoyed the first few chapters, but I do not have a favorite.

    canonized: We've visited quite a few places in the world since the beginning of Timelines , have you found any place particularly memorable ?

    rcduggan: The two I think were memorable were London during the siege, and San Francisco in Chapter 20.

    canonized: Being from a very action-oriented game such as HOI2DD , how would you say is the level of action in Timelines ?

    rcduggan: I like the tempo. It is good for the type of AAR it is. I try not to make mine all action (and still keep it interesting). You have done a fine job with that here.

    canonized: Both you and I enjoy making twists in the plot in our stories , how are you enjoying the different turns that the storyline in Timelines is taking ?

    rcduggan: I am immensely enjoying them. There is just the right amount of them to make the story enjoyable, but not over-the-top. Also, I think it is very ingenious to have the two different narratives you have (the modern one, and the progressing one)

    canonized: I haven't had a chance to ask about this part of the story yet , but how are you enjoying the various Bonuses we have here at Timelines such as character portraits and background information as well as some images and even a guest movie ?

    rcduggan: I think that's an interesting idea. I like having the various interviews with different writers. And the character portraits are really cool. Alas, I haven't gotten around to watching the guest movie yet. I will soon though...

    canonized: So what's your speculation on what the Timepiece is ?

    rcduggan: I really have no idea. At first I thought it was just a watch or a clock, but I am positive it has much more significance

    canonized: Would you say that Timelines would also be a good story to read even if you haven't played EU3 before ?

    rcduggan: Yes, definitely. In fact, I began reading it before I bought Eu3. Your AAR wanted me to buy it all the more!

    Part III: The Warlord of Nepal
    Let’s take a sneak peek at rcduggan’s current AAR, Kathmandu Can Do

    canonized: First question is the obvious one: Why such a small industrially weak place like Nepal to start with ?

    rcduggan: Well, I had read many Hoi2 AARs before I started. For my first AAR, I wanted to choose a country that no one had done before. So Nepal came up, and I decided to run with it.

    canonized: Well you've certainly piqued a lot of interest with that country ! You also show a great deal of understanding of your nation not only for its political situation at the time , but also of its cultural position . How did you acquire such an expertise in portraying Nepal ?

    rcduggan: Well, I have read several books on the history of Nepal, as well as a biography of King Tribhuvana. These have helped me immensely with gathering information for the AAR. Of course, when I cannot find the information I need, I simply "take creative liberties..."

    canonized: Speaking of King Tribhuvana , I think that one of the best parts of your work is that you make him into a complex , deep , and real character . His conflict with the Ranas stemming from his mother have created a sophisticated morally ambiguous character that you both love and hate . Tell us a little about this character and how he has come to be one of the most intricate of your adaptations .

    rcduggan: Well, in my reading I was fascinated with Tribhuvana. His traumatic childhood was a perfect staging point. Tribhuvana is definitely the main character of Kathmandu Can Do. Having no idea of what he was like, I have tried to make a realistic portrayal of him. A traumatized king, ruling a medieval country in the modern world, is not an easy job to have. And Tribhuvana is only human.

    canonized: Indeed this King is besieged on nearly all sides with the Ranas and the other nations around him . It is important though that his moral growth , with the various killings he's associated with , makes him an ambiguous character . How do you think the audience should look at him as ? Is he a good guy , bad guy , or something in between ?

    rcduggan: At this point, I'd probably say something in between. Tribhuvana is the "protagonist" of this story, but he has performed some morally dark acts. Although you do not yet know what Tribhuvana is really capable of... That will be revealed later in the story. But for now, the King remains ambiguous.

    canonized: Your work is also filled with twists and turns with cliffhanger chapter endings . Even now with Japanese intervention in the civil war going on , the audience is left wondering what will happen next . Any hints for the future , sneak peaks perhaps ?

    rcduggan: Well, I don't want to spoil too much, but let's just say this:
    Once the Japanese are in Kathmandu, they will not want to leave.....

    canonized: What are your future AAR plans from here ?

    rcduggan: I have four different ideas. Once I finish with KcD, I will ask for the community's imput.
    1. Prussian Gottreich 1453-1953
    2. Independent Maya state (Chan Santa Cruz) 20th century
    3. Alternate Bundesrepublik Deutschland
    4. Bhutan
    It will be one of those...

    canonized: Thank you once again rcduggan for this interview and it’s been a great pleasure ! As a illustrious member of The Warlord Club as you are , I am very honoured to have you among those I have spoken to ! Good luck with your AAR , and good luck at the AARLand Choice Awards this Quarter ! I also wanted to thank our readers for sitting in with us again this weekend and I hope you all enjoyed this week’s interview ! Please make sure to go vote in the AARLand Choice Awards 2007 Q1 and support your local Warlord ! Next week we will have our good friend thrashing mad on the show and we hope you all tune in for that !
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  10. #370
    Strategy Cognoscenti Demi Moderator Myth's Avatar
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    nice!
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  11. #371
    On Probation thrashing mad's Avatar

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    Nice interview, so i`ll be next

  12. #372
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    thank you canonized!
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  13. #373
    Full of Regret SEG-CISR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized


    Interlude
    What does Spain have to do with NERV?
    Hello there...

  14. #374
    Spectre of Battle grayghost's Avatar

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    Very nice. Great job as usual on the Interview Armi. And nice job to rc as well.
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  15. #375
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    grayghost: Thanks ! I'll hope to update by tomorrow but like i said grandpa's here so it'll be hard ! (would have updated tonight but we went out to get some Japanese ! ) hope you all have a good week !
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  16. #376
    Field Marshal Avernite's Avatar
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    Horrible! rc has been here 3 years less and has as many posts as I do

    On another note: nice interview
    ICQ #331727773
    canonized on 11/08/2007

    Overall Best WW player is Avernite with 7 wins overall (Dec 2006-sometime 2007)

    jonti-h:No-one's perfect
    General Jac: Except Avernite , that's why I kill him every game

    Jopi: I'll vote Avernite. He's a hard player to read, and therefore always dangerous.
    Avernite: Avernite is a very mean person because he always comes up with great ideas

  17. #377
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Avernite
    Horrible! rc has been here 3 years less and has as many posts as I do

    On another note: nice interview
    rc's quite prolific ! I don't know their secrets ! Must be the Nepalese food
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    -~= =~-
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    Seventeen AARLand Choice Awards: Favourite Overall New WritAAR Q1 2007.
    Favourite Overall EU3 AAR: Q1 2007; Q2 2007; Q3 2007; Q4 2007; Q1 2008; Q2 2008; Q3 2008; Q4 2008
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    Three Times WritAAR of the Week: 4 March 2007 13 May 2007 & 28 March 2008;
    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

  18. #378
    Heartbreaker canonized's Avatar
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    Chapter XXX: Guangzhou


    September 14, 1582

    The messengers and pages stood against the back wall awaiting their turn as they continued to file dispatches to the Senior Grand Secretary once again in audience with Her Imperial Majesty. However, the news was not exactly favourable. Already, these young men hugged the darkness of the damp wall as if held hostage by the very pieces of paper they were to present; no one wished to be the bearer of bad news.

    The Senior Grand Secretary read the incoming reports with blistering speed before passing it onto his subordinates with little care after he had committed the contents to memory. In the dimly lit moist atmosphere of the room, only the Empress seemed to maintain an air of calm and regality. She watched the expressions of the cabinet with an interest masked by a feigned indifference. She conjured the latest news from each of their grimaces and frustrated sighs that she could already tell the kind of news she was about to be briefed upon.

    They passed the time in silence within that room. The usual formalities would not mask the inherent discomfort stringing all of them like powerless puppets. If one could see through the immense robes of Her Imperial Majesty, they may have seen her gently stroke her golden finger extension with some level of anxiety. Even then, not a single bead of perspiration marred her perfect makeup.

    She could see the maps presented to her plainly laid out on the table. The curves and her massive armies surrounded each bulb of Spanish troopers like water surrounds oil. Already, nearly forty thousand men had been killed in the campaigns despite being replaced by thousands more. However, the Spanish casualties were not as large as they had hoped.

    As her ministers boiled panic in their stomachs, she scanned the map further. The cancerous growth in Guangdong caught her attention. Along the cities and roads connecting Hong Kong to Guangzhou in that province, she studied not the formations of troops upon each quarter of land, but of the hopeless story which marked that edge of her realm.

    It was this portion that great attention for commerce and diplomacy was given strength. It was here that a project of welcoming foreigners into markets and housing would have hopefully bolstered the stability and solvency of the Empire. Centered in Guangzhou, this project would have secured that coexistence could be maintained—at least until they could catch up with the West.

    “The Guangzhou Project was our last, best hope for peace,” the Senior Grand Secretary spoke softly as he caught on to the captivation of his sovereign.

    “It failed,” the Empress let out bluntly masking the tragic undertones with a sternness of voice.

    But in the year of the Spanish War, it had become something greater: the last best hope for victory.

    ---


    “The year is 1582; the place: Guangzhou,” Antonio began his dictation. The page next to him scribbled in the usual shorthand whatever his master spoke.

    It had already been a few days since he sailed south from Shanghai to the besieged city of Guangzhou. When leaving the northern campaign to his capable generals, he failed to give any particular reason for his departure. He simply wanted a change of scenery, he had said.

    As Antonio outlined the report to be sent to Madrid, he inspected the battered walls of Guangzhou with a tightness of stature that gave respect both to the fallen dead of his comrades as well as the valiant defenders within. Just a few days ago, Jakob had ordered General Grubby’s grunts and raiders to prepare for the assault of the fortress that had been softened by starvation and thirst. As Antonio walked that siege line, he could still see the marks of blood hewn across the field like a mad painter’s dying masterpiece.

    “That will be all, Miguel,” Antonio nodded as the page bowed and sped away to the nearest transport junction.

    In just a few hours, the entire corps would recede into sight of Guangzhou and assault those walls. Already, the Chinese on the sides of province had been pushed far enough that this operation could commence without serious interruption. With the fall of Guangzhou, it would mean a permanent beach head for operations into Southern China. Without the capture of the city, it could mean attrition and stalemate which would cripple any hope of maintaining a successful campaign.

    But it was not these thoughts that took the forefront of that calculating mind. Instead, Antonio was wrestling with different contemplations. It was with these thoughts that he approached the small town house that Jakob made his headquarters there in the southern command. With the operation only hours away, most other planning had already been taken care of and he would have some time to talk with his friend.

    Knocking on the door to the cottage, he had been let in by one of the assistant doctors that Jakob had on staff. Despite beginning to learn the tactical and political realities of his future post, Jakob was still a doctor first and his office space was a cramped side room compared to the entirety of the cottage-turned-hospital. Antonio stepped into Jakob’s office with little fanfare.

    “I heard you caught a boat to get down here,” Jakob began with a friendly smile as he closed the door behind them. “Have a seat.”

    “Thanks,” Antonio responded before finding the only chair across Jakob’s table and placing himself casually on it.

    “Come to check on me, my Duke?” Jakob asked with a small grunt as he took his seat. Despite the question and his formalistic accent, the smile on Jakob’s face betrayed his friendly intentions.

    “We’ve been friends for a while now, Jakob.”

    Antonio seemed to look at his friend with placid eyes. What he said was not just a confirmation of fact, but it also seemed like a prelude to something pressing.

    “Since we were eleven, I think,” Jakob replied tempering his smile with an anxious lean of his back against his seat. “Both our fathers sent us to the same school in Birmingham, as I recall before being transferred to a private tutor… what was the name…”

    “Wachstein; in Germany,” Antonio finished with a short chuckle. “Then I had to move back west to Madrid to finish training for my father…”

    For a moment, a flash of guilt erupted on the otherwise nostalgic features of Antonio. He looked to the pegged leg of Jakob’s table with a kind of rueful meditation. Childhood friends separated; he felt a little liable for it.

    “What’s on your mind, Antonio? Why did you come down here?” Jakob pressed. He was a straight forward kind of guy, and that was more comforting than anything to Antonio. At the same time, it deepened the shame that nobleman felt—he wished he had Jakob’s courage at times.

    “You and I both know that I haven’t exactly been…” Antonio seemed to search for the words with his eyes wandering to the floor again.

    “A saint?” Jakob punctuated for him with a sagacious expression on his face—it was a look not of contempt but of years of being this man’s friend both in person and through correspondence. “We’ve all made mistakes, Antonio. Especially when we were younger.”

    Antonio leaned forward bringing his elbows to his knees and thought over those words.

    “Sometimes I wish I could be more like you, Jakob,” Antonio uttered with a smattering of sincerity that seemed to take Jakob aback.

    “Well now—”

    “No,” Antonio interrupted turning his head up to face his friend, “I really mean it. You’ve never let your desires get in the way of your work to your fellow man or to God; at least not as often as I have.”

    “As you used to,” Jakob countered sternly as he leaned forward onto the table coming closer into his friend’s vision. “You are a man now, Antonio. Both of us are. Even though we might not be all the way there yet, we both have improved significantly.”

    Antonio couldn’t help but crack a smile from that forceful reiteration. They used to call Jakob the Angry German much like his uncle. But for the most part, this was not true. As far as Antonio knew, the man who would grow up to be one of his most trusted advisors, Jakob could be calm, respectful, and gentle. There were times when he was stern, however. It was this stern nature that he inherited from his family that allowed Jakob to stand up for his friends, to save the innocent, to defend the faith. Jakob was the Angry German in much the same way a Bear would tear off an intruder’s face if they approached their cubs.

    Behind that smile, however, was a kind of anguish. Antonio understood very well the myriad of problems Jakob and him have gone through and despite the hurt to their friendship they had always returned to good terms afterward. Perhaps this new dilemma would not be a big deal between them.

    “I suppose I should tell you why I came down her—”

    Antonio quickly turned around as the door was thrust open. Jakob nearly stood in the surprise.

    “The Ming are sending a column of forty thousand,” the messenger panted excitedly, “we need you on the field, Master Jakob; we need to start the assault sooner.”

    With a quick glance to Antonio who nodded in acknowledgement, Jakob rushed out of the room without a word. A decisive battle was coming to Guangzhou.

    Antonio lingered in the room for a second still in the same position on that seat. As much as he wished his friend were around, he understood that the obligations of state took precedence to personal matters. After all, he thought, this might not be as big of a deal as he imagined in his mind.

    His crouched position on the chair was contrasted by the sudden eruption of cannons shaking the earth. In his quiet silence, the forces of Spain approached the battlements of that glorious southern city. Aside from his thoughts, he also wished his soldiers well. In this decisive confrontation, the fate of the southern campaign would be decided.

    To some degree, Antonio found a quiet comfort in this realization. The planning and expertise of his generals and staff had not failed him yet and this course of movement seemed to remind him of the greater plan—the greater world. His personal agendas were insignificant compared to the future of the planet. There was urgency in his thoughts that welled up and compounded on itself. The good feeling of his ideas began to move from his stomach to his throat—it was a hope of a beautiful future.

    “Your page said you would be here,” was the voice behind him.

    Antonio turned so quickly in the chair that the image of the other person in the room took a second or so to focus. Sebastian Royce was closing the door behind him.

    “What are you doing here?” Antonio nearly growled as he stood up unintentionally backing up into the front of Jakob’s table.

    “I could ask the same question of you, Antonio,” Sebastian replied with a hint of malice present in his tone. “I’m sure you were quite surprised to see me with Isabella, weren’t you?”

    “I hadn’t expected to see you again, Sebastian,” Antonio returned almost as violently.

    “No you hadn’t!” Sebastian theatrically agreed as he took a few menacing steps toward Antonio. “You thought you could just forget about all of us you left behind at the Academy, didn’t you?”

    “The Scarlet Academy was a mistake!” Antonio nearly screamed, “S.A. was a mistake of youth, Sebastian.”

    “Mistake of youth…” Sebastian muttered under his breath with a snarling contempt, “Was that a term you made up yourself to justify your cowardice? You really think you can erase what you did?!”

    Antonio pressed against the table as Sebastian took another step closer to him.

    “And then you think you can just run away from your past, Antonio? You think you can just run away from who you really are deep down inside behind your Ducal title and your ‘responsibilities’ to the crown?! Oh you clever little dog, you were really running down here because you couldn’t handle it if Isabella found it!”

    Antonio betrayed a small painful grimace. The guilty acknowledgement fed Sebastian’s angry face and produced a totalitarian grin. Antonio quickly glanced behind the approaching man and looked towards the door.

    “Oh your friends can’t help you now, Antonio,” Sebastian muttered with a shake of his head, “they’re all too busy carrying out your orders. Right now it’s just you, me, and the life you left behind.”

    “S.A. is dead, Sebastian; I don’t have to go back down that way I’ve ch—”

    “Changed? People never change, Antonio. If there’s one thing the Protestants at Belfast have taught me it’s that so long as you’re still a sinner afterward, you haven’t changed at all. No matter how hard you try!”

    “You’re wrong! People can still try! People should be given a chance…” Antonio’s voice trailed off as his frustration and conflicting feelings began to jumble his otherwise focused attention. The careful stare of Sebastian seemed to contract the room into a claustrophobic squeeze.

    “There’s no denying your nature, Antonio, you might as well just give in to it,” Sebastian said lowly as he closed the gap between the two of them. The intensity of his stare burned against Antonio’s confused eyes. “Even now you can feel it. That little bit of evil growing inside of you...”

    Sebastian withdrew Antonio’s blade from its scabbard and held it up in front of him. Antonio seemed too stunned to even protest the strange gesture.

    “If you’re going to forget about who you left behind, then you can kill me now. If you don’t, all of your little friends are going to know about what you did at the Scarlet Academy.”



    Interlude


    Tom cupped his hands over his eyes as if attempting to avoid the already dim light of the familiar bedchamber of their high rise hotel. It was in this warm darkness that he attempted to discern what it was that was going on in the already fragile world of which he lived. Only a few weeks ago, he was carefree enough to have hoped to attend the University of California or perhaps even a school in Europe, but now he was attached to his bed both bewildered and disoriented.

    Already, the sounds of explosions, gunshots, and the soft muffled noise of his mouth held firmly behind a Kevlar encased hand seemed to be the only noises that would come to the forefront of his mind. But no, even then he could still hear the taunting familiar voice; a girls’ voice: Marcus Councilman.

    It was in that pocket in between his palms and his closed eyelids that warmth remained on his body. The rest of him congealed into a cold mesh of flesh against the unfeeling embrace of his bed. It had already been hours since the encounter at Little China and still no word at what had happened to Rodrigo and the others. At first, he had just been dumped into his room with the door locked from the outside and trusted to find himself again in the quiet recesses of that chamber. He tried the connection between rooms but they had similarly been locked; he could not even contact his parents.

    Amongst the chaos of deep thought that permeated through his brain, he could still remember the puzzle box in front of him and his ease at making it open. As a child, he remembered, his father had taught him the box as if it was part of the lessons of every child becoming a young adult.

    But it made no sense, he thought, there was nothing even inside that box. His uneasiness multiplied when he had been separated from Rodrigo. For some reason, he had become accustomed to being pulled around by his friend—for a reason he was not sure of. Perhaps in the entirety of civilization that was imploding into itself lately, Rodrigo had been the only friend he had. But then again this wasn’t the first time he had been tricked; or had wanted to be tricked.

    The image of that apparition with dark wings appeared in the darkness of his closed eyes once more. A seething migraine dominated his head as if a hot poker had been made into a halo and pressed as a circle against his scalp.

    Tom bolted upward as he heard the doorway to his apartment open. Sitting up on his bed and attempting to adjust his eyesight to the new incoming light, he could barely make out Rodrigo’s shape.

    “How are you doing?” Rodrigo asked gingerly from the threshold. It was as if Tom was the long terminal patient and he was the doctor who had been unable to save him.

    Perhaps it was because of the impossibility of finding a starting point for their conversation or because Tom was feeling a mix of shame, resentment and abandon that he could not respond to Rodrigo. Even then, however, he was glad that the silhouette on the portrait framed by the doorway held a familiar young shadow instead of the usual well suited Lion or, worse, one with wings of ebony terror.

    Rodrigo entered the room and closed the light-giving doorway slowly. Creeping past the tidy sofas and tables he found his way to the foot of Tom’s hotel bed. He crossed his arms and leaned backwards against the table that held the bed-facing television.

    “We wanted to thank you for opening the box for us,” Rodrigo said almost as a course of obligation than that of actual small talk. “There’s a safety mechanism that prevents someone from forcing the box open. If the outer layer is compromised, it releases a corrosive liquid that destroys the contents. Luckily, nowadays we can look inside through x-rays and microwaves past all the lead and recreate the box mechanism to study. With us watching through cameras while you worked on the replica, you showed us how to open the real one.”

    Tom could only look on in darkness as his friend explained to him what it was he was actually doing as he replayed that childhood puzzle for them all to see. Rodrigo stared back understanding that despite his revelation of the clever way he was to trap Marcus and obtain the combination to open the puzzle box—which was probably in some facility somewhere else—Tom was more interested in why he had to run for his life from an apparition that he had heretofore only heard through the telephone.

    “Did you bring that thing there?” Tom finally asked attempting to spike his voice into an angry tone despite the shame he felt at bringing it up. Perhaps by calling Marcus ‘it’ he could mask his own ignominy at being involved somehow.

    Rodrigo took a moment to look closely at the expression his friend was giving him through the dark and immediately came to understand what he had meant.

    “It’s not a coincidence,” Rodrigo finally responded albeit cryptically.

    “It’s not a coincidence…?”

    “That she chose to seduce you.”

    Tom’s face looked as if someone slapped him along his cheeks five times each. The blood was percolating through every capillary. He tried to speak but his breath was caught in his lungs as if he suffered from asthma all his life. The staleness of his breath let itself be known in a small whimper of a grunt that came with attempting to explain himself.

    “You probably met her on Espana Online didn’t you?” Rodrigo added with a condemning tone.

    Tom’s mouth opened in a pathetic display of defense but the breath continued to fail him. He might have forgotten to breathe if Rodrigo’s sudden move towards the bed maliciously forced the air out of his lungs.

    “It was… a mistake!” Tom let out.

    “I know,” Rodrigo replied changing his tone to a comforting one and adding, “not everyone can be a saint.”

    Rodrigo rounded the side of the bed and faced away from Tom towards the blacked out windows. Tom couldn’t see it, but Rodrigo hid a cringe while pulling a hand to his right breast—perhaps the grenade blasts hurt him the most there.

    “I only found out last week,” Rodrigo continued to explain, “About you and her spending late hours at night talking to each other. The recordings were… disturbing.”

    Tom’s blood froze in his veins. Rodrigo had uncovered his deepest secret and was forcing it into the room like an eye forces itself to focus in dim light. For Tom, this was what he had been hoping to suppress for over a year now. This was something no one should know.

    “She… and you—”

    “Stop it!” Tom screamed out. In the whiteness of the light of the lone fluorescent bulb of the room, one might have mistaken Tom’s hair to have instantly turned gray. Please, he pleaded in his mind, let this just go away. He had ended it so long ago, please just let it disappear.

    Rodrigo winced simultaneously at the pain he felt on his chest and of the uncovered wounds of his friend. Turning around he squarely caught Tom’s terrorized gaze.

    “Why are you afraid to face it?” Rodrigo asked evenly attempting to bring the crescendo of the conversation back to normal.

    “You can’t understand,” Tom muttered half angrily half on the verge of tears while his fists made balls of the sheets in his hands.

    “Why not? Because Tom Royce has to be the perfect adult?”

    “No. Because then I’m no better than a Catholic like you!”

    For Rodrigo, the injury hidden underneath his suit jacket seemed to tense in agony. He visibly faltered backwards a step at the harsh declaration.

    Tom seethed to a point and then found himself almost free-falling back onto his sheets; at least it felt that way in the terrific vertigo he received after having blurted such a thing. He promised himself he would not be prejudiced but this part of him became uncovered just as his secret became known. Tom, just like many others of his religious group, fled from Holy Mother Church because of abuses: political, moral, even sexual ever since the 16th century. Now, in the 20th century, the Protestant search for perfection surged in guilt-ridden waves from Tom’s lips. Just as pages of proofs of Petrine supremacy, testaments of tradition, even the words of the Early Christians would not persuade Tom away from his Protestant background, there would be similarly no explanation for his inappropriate actions with Marcus that could exonerate him from the sin he committed. Ironically, there was no absolution for him in Tom’s world view.

    “There’s a lot I admire about you and Protestants,” Rodrigo said almost in a whisper as he held his hand to his chest. It almost seemed as if his heart was shattering underneath his suit jacket, “and a lot I dislike. But if there’s one thing I’ve come to understand is that the Church would not be as glorious as she is today if it weren’t for the constant reminders and lessons of the Reformation—to stay true to the Word not just in word but in deed also. Despite being guaranteed infallibility of teaching, we were not guaranteed infallibility of conduct. That is why I’ve come to appreciate what you all have taught us through a lesson of fire.”

    Tom traced his balance through the words of his friend. The words were like a rope Rodrigo had thrown down a well of which Tom was attempting to stay afloat. He grasped onto those words in his dizzy ascent.

    “I’m sorry…” Tom muttered softly.

    Rodrigo smiled in the darkness of the room before finding a seat to rest himself on while still facing towards his friend. “For many people such as yourself, Tom, only good behavior will convince you that there are no ulterior motives to our decrees and laws; and even then it will take time. So for now, the best we can do is continue to share what we have and hope that one day, Our Lord’s prayer will be fulfilled: ‘Ut Unum Sint.’”

    Tom kept himself quiet mostly due to the intense cathartic relief he now experienced. Despite the confusion of the past few days, he seemed somehow confident that things were changing for the better. After having confessed to his friend, both indirectly for his indiscretions and also about his prejudice, he felt relieved. He felt as if he could lift his shoulders again.

    “Plus,” Rodrigo continued with a jovial twist that Tom was more familiar with, “We have greater enemies than each other to worry about.”

    Tom almost gave out an absurd laugh at that for it was quite the understatement.

    “I’ll have to let you in on some more, Tom. Especially since Marcus is not the only one from your old days in the Scarlet Academy we have to worry about.”

    Chapter XXXI: The Scarlet Academy
    Last edited by canonized; 05-08-2007 at 12:50.
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  19. #379
    Spectre of Battle grayghost's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by canonized
    grayghost: (would have updated tonight but we went out to get some Japanese ! )
    Now look Armi, I know they gave Antonio a tough time at Osaka, but I dont think that is any reason to take Gran Pere with you on a revenge rampage. hehe.

    “The Guangzhou Project was our last, best hope for peace,” the Senior Grand Secretary spoke softly as he caught on to the captivation of his sovereign.

    “It failed,” the Empress let out bluntly masking the tragic undertones with a sternness of voice.

    But in the year of the Spanish War, it had become something greater: the last best hope for victory.
    Thank you Babylon 5.
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  20. #380
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    Very much channelling B5.

    So, a little bit of self-realisation from Tom that he is, in fact, human. Can be quite terrible, the shattering of an illusion.
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