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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Brandenburg III

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This is one of two short series I was going to begin after the end of Dante’s Blood but now that the story is privately coming to an end and the ending chapters are planned for release in the middle of November, I’ve decided to kick start this idea. Working with shorter posts and a more serial-friendly format, this is The Link.

The common AAR exploits of integrating the past and present/future with such as time machines, magical items and so forth are gone. Instead the story takes place a few centuries ahead of modern day where a technique has been developed to detect residual energies of the influential few. The new discovery is merely a learning tool for those in the present as altering history is an impossibility. Another impossibility is also the main character’s inability in gathering funds for this radical idea. Immediately the Islamic Syndicate rejects Howard Hall’s proposal; in order to see his invention come to life he’ll have to fight through governments, travel restrictions, bureaucracies all while trying to prove that his creation works whether those in power want it to or not.



A few ending notes:

Comments are to be restricted from this thread. I recall writing my The Revolution AAR and enjoyed the continuing silence. Therefore, if you have something to say, you can still say it; send me a PM, write a visitor message on my profile or create a comments thread which I will provide a link just under the picture above. But I’d just as soon like to keep this thread pure. Although I’m sure that’s something I wouldn’t have to worry too much about since this is in the Rome AAR forum and this is a story written by Brandenburg.

Why Rome?

I’m not much of a CK fan. There’s too much family drama going on, too much micro-management with the characters. So many people complain about Victoria but CK and HOI are nightmares in comparison and I’m just not down with it. I’ve also been wanting to do another Rome AAR for a while and to tell the truth, I first had this idea specifically for the Rome AAR forum for a long while, almost since the start of the year. CK could go a long way with me if they adopted much of the Rome style.

Usually I like to refrain from writing my ideas and stories on a public forum since that dispels any rights you may have to the work or idea. But I don’t write science fiction or fantasy and consider any fiction I write as free to use. I don’t read the genres either and have no desire to eventually publish anything I put out here. Not only would it be near impossible since by doing this I’m - along with anyone else who publishes anywhere, including websites - waiving first publishing and electronic rights, but you’d also need Paradox’s permission. ;)

I don’t know how long this AAR will last. It will be a serial styled AAR unlike my Dante’s Blood AAR which went by Chapters, and small Chapters at that when concerning actual books. I don’t imagine any of The Link’s “chapters” will exceed 1000 words but they’ll never be below 250. This AAR is also a practice effort for me to condense my writing when I can. Usually I can fix all the problems in editing but who likes editing? This means there will be no editing outside of spelling mistakes my writing program catches. It’s all a rough draft.

Lastly, there will not be an index. Since there won’t be any comments in this thread, the next chapter should be easy to find. I just feel like being lazy for a while.

The other serial style AAR will come after both gameplays and Dante’s Blood have concluded. That one is planned to be very short and will take place in the Victoria II forums. Even though I hate the lag of v. 1.2, I’m working on a game for the story right now.
 

Brandenburg III

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Howard Halls’ name stretched across the rectangular room in holographic lettering and in bright sky blue. Upon his request, the Islamic Syndicate agreed to listen to his proposal about drastically enhancing historical knowledge. Howard knew it would be a struggle, getting anyone to sign off on spending in the suspicious society would be a feat unto itself.

Howard was a thin man. He always wore expensive suits when going to important meetings or public places but he only owned two. Taller than most people of his time, his thin, pointed nose sharpened the rest of his facial features; so sharp they were that he was often referenced to as a bird. He tried using it to his advantage even if it turned people off but at changing minds he routinely failed.

A bailiff called for Howard to enter the room. The trio of representatives of the Syndicate entered the room full of confidence and unearned egoism. The lettering died away once the preliminaries began. And a camera kicked on, hidden within the wall only to keep the dimensions of the room honest.

“Mr. Hall,” initiated the judge in the center. “Why should we fund your proposal, this... Link. It reads beyond the realm of reality.”

Hall, with a few of his colleagues, stood behind a stainless steel table with only a simple thin briefcase between the three of them. They were a far cry from lawyers or showmen but they were going to do everything they could.

Howard spoke evenly, trying to control the pace, the sound of his voice. This was important. “Every radical idea is always believed to be beyond the realm of reality when its told. The Internet, passenger jets flying beyond the speed of sound and silent supersonic technology. The Link.”

“Those are old ideas. Nothing over the last three centuries this radical has been funded. What you’re asking is very expensive,” the same judge spoke.

Hall bit his tongue, trained it to keep him out of trouble. Reaching for the case, he drew it closer to him, pressing his thumb lightly against the flat metal. A near silent beep emitted followed by a subdued maroon light under his thumb. The seal gave way under the recognition and his hand disappeared inside the case.

Pulling out three booklets five laminated pages each, Hall handed them to the bailiff who in turn distributed them to the three decision-makers.

“The concept is simple once you begin to understand and accept what we’re proposing. We will be able to educate those who are interested, those who are willing to pay for the privilege of speaking with important and historical figures.”

“We’ve surmised as much from your synopsis,” the judge to the right spoke as he set aside his booklet.

“Explain to use how this would work,” petitioned the judge on the left. “Is it, at the risk of sounding like a child, a time machine?”

Howard shook his head, hiding a smile, “Time travel has been disproved long ago. Its an undeniable impossibility.” He let it slip. He couldn’t help it. “This project will bring to bear the residual energies left behind by those no longer living.”

“A soul?” asked the same man.

“A living soul, if that’s what you want to call it. We will neither be able to interact with these figures nor alter their historical actions but if The Link works as is intended, we will be able to observe them in the moment.”

“Billions of people have lived and died all over the world for thousands of years,” the judge in the middle returned his voice to the hearing. “How are you confident you can trap the right soul?”

“Take a man like the Founder. It can be agreed the energy, the influence, the spirit,” Hall relaxed himself into a smile, “of which he lived, still remains. However, it is not believed we will be able to follow these lives from beginning end. We would only be able to center on the people of interest during their moments and places of extreme influence and passion, where their energies would remain the strongest. We could capture the true, honest history of... history.”

“Everything is figured out?” asked the judge on the left.

“We only need the funding to find out-“

“To find out if this works? Or to see how gullible we are?” the center judge’s eyes narrowed, setting aside the booklet he hadn’t touched since that moment. “We ought to replay the camera’s footage for you. You sound no better than those paranormal thrill seekers who first found their start in the late twentieth century playing with sound and toys.”

Howard felt he was losing the panel, “Don’t you see? They were onto something!”

“And they were eventually proven to be absolute frauds. There is no difference here. You’ve made this more than obvious that this hearing is nothing more than a money-grab to fund your other inventions and ideas. Your petition is denied.”

Howard expected the defeat along with the lack of a vote between the panel. But it hit him hard anyway. “Thank you,” was the required response followed by departure.

Once they had cleared the building, Charles, one of Howard’s aides, asked, “Where do we go from here?”

Howard handed off the black case he was carrying, “Forward. The only way is forward.”
 

Brandenburg III

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Donovan was seated in the corner of the small office when Howard’s hand pressed the door open. First look told Donovan everything he needed to know but he asked anyway, “No?”

“As expected,” Howard hung his shoulders in the air as he reached for a chair. Its legs smoothly slid across the floor; sitting a few feet away from Donovan. “How about you?” Howard followed up once he found comfort.

“We’re Italians now,” Donovan smiled. “Those Communists always love their historical heroes. Try to turn each one into some kind of damned socialist automaton for their State no matter their beliefs.”

“Easy,” Howard implied with a lean forward and an open-palmed hand. “It doesn’t matter what they want to use it for, we just have to find out if it works. The professors can worry about its implications.”

Donovan had nothing to say until he reached across his desk, taking a small plastic pad from it, “I told you, you were wasting your time with the Syndicate. Are they going to let us leave now that they know what we’re trying to do?”

“They have to, don’t they?”

Donovan shrugged, smiling, “If they don’t want trouble from the Italian Commune. But not even beginning the Second Horror stopped them in the past when they wanted to keep something to themselves.”

“We’ll be fine. Stop worrying about it,” Howard returned, relaxing against his chair. “What’s that in your hand?”

“Just proof of clearance,” Donovan handed the pad to his colleague. “If we do run into any trouble, this is our only defense.”

Howard stuck out his hand, retrieving, glancing at the pad before setting it back on the corner of the desk, “I told you, no weapons. Its hard enough traveling around here as it is and it isn’t going to be made easier by bringing them into Southern Europe.”

“That’s what you always say.”

“We’re still alive.”

“You realize the moment you’re unable to say that is the moment I’m right?”

Howard’s broad smile made him look beyond his forty-five years, “Because we’ll be dead? At least I won’t have to hear you say, 'I told you so.' Are you ready to go?”

“Were the Underwater Rails a bad idea?”
 

Brandenburg III

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Burning bright imitation light from the ceiling showered upon Donovan and Charles as they worked below. There was plenty to deconstruct and tonight was the final night they had before morning when they’d have to board the Superskater, heading to Italy. There was anxiety in the air but it wasn’t entirely because the trio were trading one country for another, and while that had some effect, it wasn’t nesting over their heads. No, the feeling of anxiety ran rampant like rabbits chased by hounds because of their shared anticipation after given the opportunity to provide proof that their work was a success and the years they’d invested in it hadn’t been wasted.

Pausing in his work, Charles stood, arching his back to alleviate the pain that’d been festering after hours of bending, “I wish Doctor Hall were down here. We wouldn’t have to stay up all night working on breaking this down.”

“The luxury of being a brain,” Donovan assured, letting his tool with a blazing blue light cackle against the hard floor. “And nothing else.”

“It’d help,” Charles grimaced, grazing over what remained of the machine.

“No. He’d just get in then way. Its better this way.”

“Better? How is this better?”

Uninterested in answering Charles’ question, Donovan asked his own, “What do you think of the Italian Commune?”

Charles shook his head, “I’m not political when it comes to science.”

“It doesn’t bother you that what they may end up using this technology for dishonest endeavors?”

Charles’ face drew the definition of seriousness, “We’re being given an opportunity to prove something. To show that history can be seen through honest eyes,” his speech hastened with every passing word, his excitement brewing like a witch’s cauldron. “If we don’t do it now then when can we? Where? And will someone beat us to the demonstration while we’re busy being political?”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“Conditions are never ideal. The world, as much as we’d like it, is not a lab. We discovered this and we can prove it! We can’t give this up to someone else. Its too important.”

Donovan half smiled, “For you?”

“For everybody. To ignore it because they may abuse it. That isn’t our problem. You didn’t have these worries when we were petitioning the Syndicate.”

“I’ve had my concerns,” Donovan argued.

“Only about leaving.”

“Because of what we have. What nation would want to lose this technology to another country?” Donovan looked around the bland garage where not so much as a single scrap of litter laid on the floor. “This is our home. And there’s nothing that says we should trust anything in Italy.”

“Home is where we can test what we’ve found,” Charles knelt down with an intent to return to work. “Unless you’re looking for a mining job. I’m sure they’ll clear status as a transferred researcher and turn you into a sub-125 if you ask nice enough.”

Donovan remained stuck in his silence, staring across the top of the machine, only seeing the tips of Charles' disheveled hair, “Have you retrieved the transfer tickets?”

“I picked them up earlier today.”

Kneeling down and grasping his fallen tool, he resumed breaking down the machine, “Let’s get back to work.”
 

Brandenburg III

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At the busy port of Augusta a myriad of sleek, shining sun-reflecting metallic ships sparsed by the occasional sailboat were tethered to poles on the pier. When their transport was secured, the three passengers rose above decks where sea spray welcomed them to the new country. It was certainly more welcoming than the entourage of suits standing in the lot just off the road.

Only Howard Hall had been in country before but the infatuation one often has for a new country, a new region, had never left him. It hung around his neck like a secured noose, beckoning him to remain. The shores of Italy was the place to be.

Donovan shattered the silence, “Where do we go from here?”

Irritated by Donovan’s disturbance and losing his moment, Howard turned his sun-squinting eyes to Donovan, “Charles is going to ride with the cargo and make sure nothing happens to it.” He briefly glanced at his assistant.

The peaceful easy feeling died within Charles’ eyes knowing that he was going to be playing toy soldier to three small crates. “I’ll take the truck and let the both of you have the car.”

Donovan jumped off the Superskipper and onto a steadier floor, “Don’t break anything.” And then to Howard, “Its going to be a long ride.”

“When you get in that car you’re not going to say a word,” Howard smiled a warning, jumping from the ship.

Leaving Charles behind, Donovan and Howard headed toward the set of black cars in the lot. The closer they came to the five men across the way, Donovan’s pessimistic mind found its curiosity that had been lost leading up to their public trial. “Have you thought about which Roman we’re going to show them when everything’s set up?”

Howard didn’t allow his tongue to trip over a single vowel. There was no way Donovan was going to know before the unveiling, and especially not before getting into the car with the Italians.
 

tuore

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What is this? A Brandenburg III AAR that has been running for months, no comments?

I'm not too fond of narrative AARs (it's after ACTION report, not after drama report), but I'll look forward to it.
 

Brandenburg III

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“Lucius Julius Libo,” Hall announced from behind the podium. Facing off against a roomful of communist politicians didn’t phase him. He was able to pay attention to those important souls who lined the front desks while occasionally stealing glances toward the upper balcony. While those members were hard to see in the dimmed room, no one had any trouble seeing Howard Hall. Whether they looked into their small hand-held monitors or paid attention to the incredibly large screen either behind him on either side, Howard was there, tall and meant to grab attention. Within the hour long description of what was expected of his machine, there was little one could do to escape the man, save sleep which a few of the elder members managed.

Howard shuffled his papers, putting them in the silent Donovan’s hands. A few seconds passed with the only sound coming from Donovan’s heavy boots on the hollow platform as he departed from the stage.

Clearing his throat with a small glass of water, Howard was able to continue, “His presence is like a river through Italy. During the First Punic War he conquered Sicily and tamed the barbarians in the north, paving the way for Roman expansion. Naturally none of this compares to what he was able to do politically, or even in North Africa.

“I’m confident we will be able to obtain a capture in Sicily but if that cannot be found we must not give up. If necessary, contact may have to be reestablished with the Egyptian government.”

Chairman Follini seated at the center of the first table flipped a small switch, turning on his two microphones while silencing Hall’s. Chairman Follini pressed his face close to the two microphones in front of him, one designated as an Italian-to-English translator, the other announcing his words as they were spoken, “If your contraption cannot find what its looking for in our land, then a different figure must be selected. On no terms will we reopen diplomatic channels with the Egyptian government, much less permit them this breakthrough discovery on their soil.”

Donovan shook his head in the darkness, an annoyed eye turning onto Howard. Chairman Follini turned Howard’s microphone back on.

“It is imperative that we focus our attention on only one man. To alter who and when we’re looking for will take time.”

The familiar snap of alternating microphones struck, “Then it will take time. This will not be attempted outside the Commune.”

“It could take up to two months to make the adjustments.”

Follini furrowed his brow as he paused in front of his set of microphones, “With your men?”

“No,” Hall corrected. “By myself. This is my invention and only I can know how to make these classified alterations. Its for the safety of the product, you understand.”

“If it works,” spoke the Chairman, “then you realize you’ll have to teach others.”

“Naturally,” Howard answered. “After we improve everything works and payment has been made.”

The click of the switch made itself known again, “Payment will be made with your contract. All citizens and employees under the flag are required to permit the government the use of their property when deemed necessary. This includes intellectual property.”

Pausing before permitting an answer, Hall replied, “I haven’t signed anything yet.”

“No, not yet.” Howard didn’t know yet that he wouldn’t be permitted to leave. And then, “Where do you believe we’ll have the most success?”

“Sicily,” Hall assured. “We’ll go to Sicily.”