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canonizedcomradeom.png

You’ve Been Canonized!: ComradeOm​

canonized: Hi again folks ! As you may know , I’m letting RGB do a special interview here between him and ComradeOm . I’d like to thank both RGB and ComradeOm for their participation ! Part of INSTRUMENTALITY and the Canonization series has always been about expanding horizons and trailblazing . By combining RGB and ComradeOm for this interview , I think both achieve to further that here and I hope it continues to make the canonization series and INSTRUMENTALITY dynamic and exciting . The format will be the same as the usual interviews but since ComradeOm and I haven’t formally met one each other AARs the interview will be about RGB’s and ComradeOm’s AAR . I will deliver a closing statement at the end of the interview as well . Let’s get to it !

Good evening everyone and welcome to this edition of You’ve Been Canonized! Today is a somewhat special edition, because I, RGB (author of a Year’s Education), am a guest interviewer, kindly invited by your regular host canonized, author of Timelines: What if Spain Failed to Control the World? and today’s guest is my good friend ComraedeOm, author of the scholarly historical aacount called Sins of the Fathers. Since he is not a regular reader of canonized’s excellent Aar, we’re going to ask him about my work, his work, and his experience as a writer. Nowe let’s go to the questions !

RGB: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

ComradeOm: I've been a minor feature on these forums for a few years now but only ventured into AARland around this time last year. I'm still feeling my way around the place.

RGB: What took you so long to discover the glory that is the AARland? i.e. why do you think you only became a writAAR recently?

ComradeOm: Well in a way I've always been writing AARs in my head, it’s just recently that I decided to stick them down on paper, so to speak. I can vividly remember constructing my own epic stories when playing CivII all those years ago and I'm the same with CK or Vicky. I don't know what pushed me to enter AARland but it was probably something as simple as boredom

RGB: You said you write stories in your head first. Do you spend a lot of time polishing them and trying to make them just right before they hit the paper?

ComradeOm: For me that's all writing is - polishing up my ideas so that they're fit for consumption. I don't write for the fun of it, its merely the process of translating my mental scenarios into something that others can enjoy. Perhaps that is one reason why I have very little faith in my writing abilities and thus a reason for the torturous amount of work that I put into updating my AARs. For example, each update of Sins of the Fathers went through at least three ( usually four) drafts before I posted. The first would have been written a month in advance and only the bones of that would have survived to posting. Actually that is a habit that I'm trying kick. I think its a confidence thing more than anything else.

RGB: The amount of work definitely shows! You’re often complimented about how trim and focused your writing is, both in terms of content and style. You’re also notable among us writAARs for actually finishing AARs within reasonably short amounts of time. Do you set out to write one saying, oh, this and that happened but I'm only going to cover one aspect of it, and finish it within this many updates?

ComradeOm: When I start an AAR the ending is not set in stone but the general theme is and I'll often have specific gameplay goals around which I'll build the story. Focus is my watchword and I work almost exclusively in defined story arcs. Either that or I'm just too lazy to produce update after update week after week. This feeds in nicely with my fondness for keeping stories/updates terse. For my last AAR ( SotF) I specifically set out to tell the story within 12-15 updates. The only time that I abandoned this model was with Les Journals d'Artois and that story came badly unstuck and still needs to be salvaged

RGB: I was just coming to that. You’re the author of two finished works, and a third ongoing one, which differs slightly from the other two stylistically. Can you tell us a little about each of them? Which was your favourite to write?

ComradeOm: I suppose that my first AAR represented the template that I'm most comfortable with. The de Lusignan Dream was a straight up history book AAR with a decided focus on crusading. I got very lucky in that my first ever effort almost wrote itself with each update being devoted to a different campaign by Hugues de Lusignan. Despite that I did learn a lot and Sins of the Fathers (detailing the rise and fall of Papal Italy) was really just an extension of this. I learned a lot from both AARs (and the reception of both was deeply gratifying) but from an experience standpoint my one great failure was invaluable. Les Journals d'Artois was originally supposed to be a brief interim effort but it rapidly snowballed and I ended up with twenty updates detailing two years of game time in which nothing happened. It taught me a lot about the importance of planning and pacing. I look forward to returning to the story soon with my lessons learned

RGB: Okay. Speaking about themes, what made you choose the rebirth of a crusader kingdom and then the nineteenth-century papal state? is there anything in particular that attracted you to the theme?

ComradeOm: They were simply scenarios that I liked to play. Both the Levant (CK) and the Italian peninsula (Vicky) are interesting arenas that I enjoy stomping around in. I had little background in the history of the Crusades or the Papal States but learning about both merely added to the fun.

RGB: I was really hoping for a more humorous answer, you know.

ComradeOm: How about this: the de Lusignan crusade was a metaphor for Western imperialism in the region. Plus I also drove the Pope out and burned the Vatican. You can mention that under my hobbies

---

RGB: And now we’ll talk about a Year’s Education:

ComradeOm: Aww now I have to talk about you? Get ready for some short answers

RGB: You’re one of my earliest readers. What made you pick out this particular AAR and stick with it?

ComradeOm: Should I claim that the AAR has cured my pet's cancer?

RGB: That’d help.

ComradeOm: Poor Tiddles was miraculously cured after glancing upon one of your animated maps! Seriously though, it was probably a combination of the presentation (always important to me), the sheer depth of historical knowledge on display, and the trick of perception where you have history being told through a modern voice. Three reasons why it caught my eye and three reasons why I'm still reading. Since picking the AAR up I've been kept enthralled by the highly believable history that you've created. History book AARs are something that anyone can write (I'm talking from experience here) but I find that there are very few authors who manage to convey extremely detailed and, in your case, complex timelines while maintaining an interesting story.

RGB: You mentioned that you find the story realistic; as a writer, my experience was often trying to come up with a realistic way of explaining the odd things Crusader Kings springs upon the unwary player. When some rather unusual things happened - such as the main event that lead to the creation of the Barbarian Empire - what was it that made you believe it?

ComradeOm: Well that is half the fun of an AAR. Ultimately we can either ignore the game or try to explain it away. It’s the latter that works particularly well in A Year's Education and the key to this, to my mind, is the tone of the work above all else. So assuredly is the history discussed and unveiled, and so common are the throwaway historical details and references, that you can't help but be convinced that it was supposed to be this way.

RGB: Any other AARs you could compare this with?

ComradeOm: Probably the best comparisons that I can think of in this regard would be (the now-unavailable) Prussian Moderation or Advantages without Obligations.

RGB: Thank you for mentioning them – incidentally I’m only vaguely familiar with both of them, but I’ll try to catch up now to the one that remains. This AAR promises to be a mega-campaign. Any particular era you'd like to especially read about?

ComradeOm: My latest period of interest is the 19th C but its hard to imagine just what your Europe will look like after a few more centuries of Rurikovich squabbling (and Paradox games!). Still the emergence of new classes and politics is always interesting to behold. Of course Victoria II will probably be out by the time you get to this era.

RGB: At the rate I’m going, more than likely!

ComradeOm: Did you ever figure that it would take this long to cover two centuries?

RGB: It was roughly pre-planned in terms of updates, but I had not counted on the updates taking a year to produce!

ComradeOm: So its really been a "year's education"? Ho ho!

RGB: Which part of those 200 years did you enjoy the most? What part of this history particularly stands out?

ComradeOm: I'm particularly enjoying the current Mongol troubles and watching how the Empire survives the storms from the East. But even that can't surpass the intense dynastic squabbling that had previously wracked the Barbarian Empire. Ekaterine Monomach really was a character to behold and to remember

RGB: If you were to change one single event in the presented history which would lead to a result you like better, what would it be and where would it ideally lead?

ComradeOm: Leaving aside the scenario in which the peasantry overthrows their corrupt Rurikovich overlords before establishing a utopian commune…It’s hard to think of a single point where I'd like the history to have gone the other way. Its possible that the end of the Barbarian Empire might be such a moment (I do find Greece more interesting than the steppes) but its too soon, as a reader, to tell the impact that this will have.

RGB: Thank you for attempting my most difficult question! And now we get to talk about you again!

---

RGB: Let me introduce your excellent AAR by asking the most difficult questions right from the start - after that we can banter. How do you view the history of the Papal States yourself? Were they doomed as a temporal power no matter what happened, or did their dramatic fall have the same roots as their dramatic rise?

ComradeOm: I don't believe that any regime at any time has ever been doomed to fall. Plenty of nations or governments have been placed in difficult scenarios but ultimately its decisions taken by those at the top that determine a regime's survival. Its only when the wrong decisions are taken, or no decisions are taken at all, that a collapse becomes inevitable. In the case of the Papal States it was the determined refusal of the Popes to acquiesce to the changes of the modern world that doomed it. When Pius IX, in my history, determined that he could only rule as absolute monarch trouble was bound to follow. I may have hastened the effects slightly for the sake of the story but the social tensions were bound to explode at some point.

RGB: I find that you're very focused in keeping the iron grip on your country as the pope. Although many real-life monarchies did just that, Victoria players often blink and surrender some of the power to keep their POPs happy. Did a pre-determined game goal help you not take the easy way out of the dangers absolute monarchy has in-game?

ComradeOm: I try in, all my games, to be as faithful to history as possible. For the Papal States in Vicky this means keeping a hard line against the sins of secularism and liberalism. Its just part of the mental story that I weave when playing. This AAR wasn't the first time, and won't be the last, time I unite Italy as the Pope only to see it explode. That's all part of the fun for me

RGB: I noticed a good deal of attention on the Pope's mercenary troops in your AAR. Any particular significance to that, in your mind?

ComradeOm: I read a reference to the Pope employing Swiss and Irish mercenaries during the period and I found the idea appealing. It allowed me to give the Papacy a reliable military force that was impervious to the emotional waves sweeping Italy at the time. In turn this was useful in both establishing Papal dominance and portraying the final fall of Rome.

RGB: Well, being a writAAR is an education all in itself…

ComradeOm: Very true. I knew next to nothing about Italian unification before that AAR. Yet I still fooled you all into thinking that I knew something. Mwahaha!

RGB: in a response to one of the comments in your AAR you said that you try to avoid making up "historical" quotes unless they actually are. Any particular reason for this?

ComradeOm: Lack of imagination. Really, that it. There are very few words that I can put into someone's mouth that a) someone hasn't already said batter, and b) wouldn't seem artificial. Besides, that would have run contrary to the broad macro approach to history that I was taking. So I confined myself to beginning each update with an apt historical quote. It still would have been interesting to have Marx comment on the affairs in Italy though

RGB: Now that Marx has been mentioned, can I once again ask about the heirs of the Italian Revolution. To much consternation by your readers, the AAR came to a most definite end, although a sequel was hinted at; what is the likelihood of us reading it some day?

ComradeOm: A sequel is planned for sometime next year. I have a rough outline drawn up and ideally I'll be dealing the impact of the Papacy's demise on wider Europe. I can't say much that that though. None of my projects to date have been as deliberately plotted as this one and that is somewhat scary. What I have planned is ambitious and it remains to be seen whether I have the time to carry it all off. Of course my first priority is finishing Les Journals.

RGB: Oh yes. Tell us more about them! This is your ongoing project; tell us more about it...what's it about, and why we should all go and read it?

ComradeOm: Well Les Journals is essentially a series of dairy entries chronicling the life in exile of the very bitter (and mildly insidious) Jacques d'Artois as he tries to manipulate the court of Brittany to his own ends. The premise had great promise but poor planning on my part meant that it eventually got bogged down with events leading nowhere. I'm working on a series of updates that will change the format and close of the story with a bit of adventure and action. So watch this space!

RGB: Well, thank you very much for sitting though this interview. It was a pleasure talking to you!

ComradeOm: A pleasure. Really. Although I still feel that I should have plugged your AAR more. Lord knows it needs the readers.

RGB: Your words, not mine!

RGB : With this we arrive to the end of my interview segment; I’d like to thank canonized for giving me the opportunity and ComradeOm for patiently answering my silly questions. Stay tuned for the next edition of You’ve Been Canonized!

canonized: Thank you for reading once again and we hope to see you all next time ! I’m very thankful for RGB and ComradeOm once again for doing this on our New Year’s Edition of INSTRUMENTALITY . Although ComradeOm and myself might come from separate ends of the hobby spectrum - wink - it’s nice to get to know more about him and share that with the community . Please tune in next week when we’ll be interviewing ForzaA ! Good fight , Good night !
 

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Updates, they're such a chore... ;)
 

ForzaA

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canonized said:
Please tune in next week when we’ll be interviewing ForzaA ! Good fight , Good night !

Yeah, spoil my holidays, why don't ya! :p
....Doing my 'homework'.. preparing for the "standard" questions and such :mad:
 

Avernite

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ForzaA said:
Yeah, spoil my holidays, why don't ya! :p
....Doing my 'homework'.. preparing for the "standard" questions and such :mad:

Pfft. Just check my interview, update with new data, and voila ;)
 

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Murmurandus said:
Updates, they're such a chore... ;)

Just for you I'll postpone tonight's Christmas Special update . Plus I'm beat from doing INSTRUMENTALITY tonight so you guys can go enjoy that for a bit XD

ForzaA: You'll have fun , I promise ! XD

Avernite: I do wonder about you both . I bet you both get together on the weekends and do some crazy dutch stuff don't you ! :mad: Though it's fun to have three hollanders now XD
 

unmerged(59077)

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That interview is really classy. It just has that je ne sais quoi about it.

Yup.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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I wonder whether, as we have seen a bikini, there will be a day when we'll see something smore fleshy :D

Ah, my spiritual side, you know...
 

unmerged(59077)

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Mettermrck said:
So THAT's who RGB is. Cool...:D

Didn't know who he was either until that went up. Strange how that works.
 

canonized

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RGB: I know ! It's almost as if there was something more colourful about it ; don't you think ?

Kurt_Steiner: haha I'm afraid that ... yes .. that may come true soon enough . But it will be within the confines of Decency !!!

Mettermrck: Haha , yes , I told you he wasn't imaginary !

RGB: I'm glad the canonization series can bring people such as yourself together !
 

unmerged(62343)

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That was very cool having someone else do the interview.

Great job RGB. Comrade Om, very nice as well.

So Armi, do you plan on having others do interviews, or was this a one shot deal? And NO! I am not applying for the job.:D Just thought it was interesting seeing a different style.
 

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grayghost said:
That was very cool having someone else do the interview.

Great job RGB. Comrade Om, very nice as well.

So Armi, do you plan on having others do interviews, or was this a one shot deal? And NO! I am not applying for the job.:D Just thought it was interesting seeing a different style.

thank you sir ! and i'm actually hoping that more people will pick it up and do interviews for me ! It's been a dream of mine to pass on the canonization series and that my legacy can continue as i concentrate on more projects although by no means am i abandoning the interviews ! so if anyone out there wants to have some fun interviewing , i need the manpower !
 

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Alright , Heads up folks , going to post the next update to the Christmas Special tomorrow . Once again , it's because I want to make sure that all those coming back from vacation don't have too much to read ! Don't want to frustrate our good readers XD . Hope you all are having a great time resting ! Oh and everyone should wish Grubnessul on his tests today ! that's why that poor Hollander hasn't been around lately ! He's still got six exams to go !
 

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canonized said:
Oh and everyone should wish Grubnessul on his tests today ! that's why that poor Hollander hasn't been around lately ! He's still got six exams to go !
I thought I had it bad :wacko:

good luck!
 

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comagoosie said:
I thought I had it bad :wacko:

good luck!

Thanks for your support XD

I was also wondering if you might want to help me out finding fun things for the readers to do in between updates ? XD you seem like an intelligent fellow ! time to delegate !
 

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canonized said:
I was also wondering if you might want to help me out finding fun things for the readers to do in between updates ? XD you seem like an intelligent fellow ! time to delegate !
Intelligent fellow, why yes I am, and thank you, I am flattered :D

Fun things to for the readers to do in between updates, well let's see...digging back into the past...ah... I do remember writing a poem for you and I did do another one in the past and that was nominated as the post of the month, hmm... and you said something about a Terza Rima, am I catching onto something? :D
 

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comagoosie said:
Intelligent fellow, why yes I am, and thank you, I am flattered :D

Fun things to for the readers to do in between updates, well let's see...digging back into the past...ah... I do remember writing a poem for you and I did do another one in the past and that was nominated as the post of the month, hmm... and you said something about a Terza Rima, am I catching onto something? :D

Haha , You should definitely do more poetry !

UPDATE IS NOW !
 

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A Timelines Christmas: Part 4

Before I begin, I wanted to alert everyone that it’s that time of the Year again ! That’s right , the AARLAND CHOICE AWAARDS have come to town and Timelines is looking to defend its title as Favourite EU3 AAR and Favourite Narrative EU3 AAR ! However , the only way to do that is if YOU the READER votes ! Just follow the link above and copy the template on the first post . Then in the Favourite AAR EU3 and Favourite Narrative AAR EU3 please put Timelines in there ! I highly encourage you to fill out the whole ballot but if you show up to support even only us , we’ll definitely need it and would greatly appreciate it ! Remember that one of the greatest parts of the ACA is that each person gets to vote and tenure or even authorship are no requirements ! Especially if you’re a lurker please I encourage you to go out and support Timelines !

If you’re looking for my recommendations you need not look far ; most of those who I have interviewed are very great authors and you can also see my ballot up there on that thread as well on page 1 to see who I would recommend for which category although it is subject to change and/or shufle as time goes by . Please vote now and go out to support your favorites ! Please keep Timelines in mind as you vote for the Favourite EU3 AAR and Favourite EU3 Narrative AAR categories ! To help encourage you all to vote , this next Christmas special will be dedicated to the ACA !


25 December A.D. 2007

When Lewis found his seat in the middle of the room, the only way he could tell that he was in the sound room of the large Osaka studio complex instead of free-falling in some starless night was thanks to the single panel of luminescent flooring underneath the chair assigned for him. Although it was early in the morning, Lewis was a night owl of sorts; he enjoyed the evening cool and, as a producer for the show, it gave him the opportunity of being the only one who could get things accomplished at night. Following Midnight Mass, he had taken a taxi back to the studio to oversee the editing work instead of going to the party in the mountains-- something which, oddly enough, he somewhat regretted considering all the work he and a small skeleton team had to do.

“I apologize for asking you to come here this late,” a voice at one end of the blank room said. It was a large chamber, and Lewis was only barely comfortable enough in his business attire to sit in the chair in the middle of the vast empty space. From the direction of the voice directly ahead of him, slowly but surely a monolithic emanation materialized. “SEELE 01: Sound Only,” read across the holographic display of a single dark slate running the height of the room.

It was a marvel of modern technology, Lewis recalled: this sound room was the quietest place in the entire studio and it was as if not even a whisper could escape its walls. In some ways, it chilled him to the bone-- someone could die in there without no one knowing-- but that’s what the cameras were for; seven of them to be exact-- the seven eyes of SEELE.

SEELE had been Armitage’s idea-- a kind of homage to something that Lewis was not exactly familiar with, but it was enough that he knew it was a German loan word that meant Soul. In many respects, it was apt-- the voices he would be hearing from the sound and holographic displays were the very soul of Project Timelines.

“I hope you are all enjoying the mountain getaway,” Lewis responded. It was easier for him to talk to his colleague this way, without having to worry if his appearance was disheveled from his frantic reading and re-reading of the scripts and all the logistics work he’s been up all night doing.

“We’re enjoying it quite well!” another voice chimed in as a second holographic vertical placard appeared next to the first one: SEELE 02.

“Though Armi seems to think that we need to have this meeting before the staff gets a dip in the hot springs,” a third entered; another sound only representation appeared.

Lewis was used to this; Mr. Armitage, Mr. Maccabeus, and Mr. Woodhouse were always around to give direction to the project and he could recognize their voices easily between the three sound emanations respectively. What he did not expect, however, were other voices: “And he always seems to know when to call us at the strangest hours,” another one said-- soon, a virtual circuit around him started to form and the air conditioned hum of holograph lights surrounded all three hundred sixty degrees around him.

“Hmm… not just the committee,” Lewis said to himself, “but SEELE itself…” he did not bother glancing behind him-- he knew there were twelve persons that could hear him now. “To what do I owe this pleasure?” Lewis asked-- his voice traveling only so far as the ring of producers, directors, and other officers of the global team that was putting the work together. As soon as his utterances hit the padded walls, they receded into the wide womb of silence from whence his languages came. It was a Room where the World of Silence still held sway: the most Silent of Rooms.

“As you know,” the 11th of the circle spoke out, “soon it will be that time of year again.”

“Correct,” the 4th added, “and already the cycle has begun.”

“Lewis,” Armitage called his attention, “The Academy Choice Awards voting cycle has started up again,”

“The ACAs…” Lewis whispered-- he had nearly forgot.

“And once again,” Mr. Woodhouse spoke through the third position, “we will be counting on people such as yourself to go out and get the votes necessary to give Timelines its fourth Scarlet Academy Award.”

The Scarlet Academy, Lewis repeated to himself. That singular institution throughout the world that both trained and judged the various actors and pieces from every studio in the world. Many of the actors employed under the Timelines project were hand picked from the Academy.

“Please stand by to receive details,” the 5th said to the Room.

“As you know,” the 7th explained, “We will be once again running for the two categories we are eligible for-- Favourite in Narration and Favourite Overall in our genre.”

“Is there anything in particular you’d like for me to put together to help encourage people to go out and vote?” Lewis asked while taking out his planner.

“We had a few ideas we wanted to pass around,” the 4th one said.

“Some of us wanted… a Christmas special!” the 8th declared.

“A Christmas special?” Lewis asked, intrigued.

“Yes,” Armitage agreed, “a Christmas special would help alert people to the importance of supporting us in this ACA cycle while at the same time providing them with a nice treat!”

“And we must have a lot of fan service!” the 12th said.

“Well,” Lewis said slowly while tapping a pen on his chin, “One of the directors proposed that we could put the boys in biki--”

“No,” all twelve voices cut him off.

“Although,” Armitage consoled, “bikinis are not a bad idea in general…”

---

“This bikini is completely immodest!” Leyla protested as she resisted Madeleine’s push on her shoulders down the stairs.

“Oh quit your whining!” Madeleine retorted as she forced Leyla’s shoulders and led her body towards the spring; the both could already smell the therapeutic mist of the warm water luring them in. The sound of the other ladies talking at the spot further encouraged Madeleine to rush her friend through the empty locker aisles. “It’s not like we’ll be flaunting them in front of anyone! It’ll just be us girls in the bath! Plus… the others are probably not wearing anything-- we’ll be the most modest ones there!”

“But…” Leyla protested, though she knew that while she was strapped in that skin tight attire, she wouldn’t be able to go back. Sighing and resigning herself to her friend’s sometimes crazed reasoning, she relieved Madeleine of having to push her forward as they rounded the last turn into the night air.

“Hi hi!” Madeleine spoke up from behind Leyla and hopped herself forward side by side with her similarly bikinied companion at the edge of the hot water.

Within the mist and wavy liquid three faces greeted them. Even without her makeup, Nia Obidos sat on the edge of the pool as glamorous as ever with only a foundation composed of a sheen of liquid that clung to her dark toned skin like a soft gloss. With her legs in the water and a white towel wrapped neatly around her torso, she was leaning on one arm against one of the smooth rocks that carried fresh water down into the reservoir. To her left was the half submerged form of Isabella. Her slightly tanned skin glistened in the wetness of the spring and the curves below her collarbone disappeared underneath the moonlit surface. Lastly, Carmen sat to Isabella’s left similarly within the water with her towel on her head looking like some Turkish sultana.

“Well, well,” Nia chuckled looking at the two that just appeared, “we were wondering when you both would finish getting ready!”

“As you can see, it was a bit of a complex ordeal,” Leyla answered her colleague with a slightly embarrassed laugh. She crouched down and let her feet enter the water in preparation to get in. It did not occur to her that Madeleine had cannonballed into the pool forcing everyone to shield their faces from the hot liquid.

“Now Madeleine!” Carmen called out as the miniature tsunami hit her.

“Sorry, Auntie!” Madeleine called out with a belly laugh, but at least the others already in the pool gave a little chuckle at their energetic friend who now floated to the top of the pool.

As Leyla got into the opposite side of the bowl from where the three were seated, Madeleine quietly cruised in between them. “This isn’t a pool party, you know!” Isabella couldn’t help but let out a chide at the one floating about like a little island-- hills and valleys included jutting above the waves in yellow and black stripes mixed with the milky peachness of Madeleine’s young skin.

“It’s so weird not seeing you with that eye patch sometimes,” Leyla said as she waded over to the far side of the rocks where the others were. Isabella gave the inquisitive one a smile and leaned back against the stone.

“The Jesca arc was the strangest thing I ever did,” Isabella admitted, “Most of the time they asked me to try and speak differently and always appear only in the shadows until they had the scene with Antonio.

“It was my favourite twist of season one,” Leyla said finding a place to the right of where Nia’s legs were sampling the water.

“Not for me!” Madeleine called out loudly as she got to her feet in the water and faced the other four. “My favourite twist was when we found out Nia and Antonio knew each other. When they did that filming of Nia and Antonio on Boracay Beach-- oh man… the white sand and Nia reaching over Antonio’s waist to touch that birthmark… that was--”

A splash was sent in her direction. “Control your hormones, young lady” her Auntie called out to her with a laugh. Everyone followed with a little chuckle while Madeleine, thoroughly taken aback by the expert toss of water by her auntie, reddened a little in the face.

“Plus,” Nia started to speak although her face was slightly hidden from the previous recollection, “Antonio’s a bit too old for you.”

“Yeah,” Leyla agreed, “maybe someone in our studio might be available!”

“Hmph!” Madeleine protested, “I’d never want to even think about dating Raul, he’s too--”

“Well,” Leyla interrupted, “I was thinking more of Riku or Willem but I see there’s no one else in Studio 3 worth thinking about other than Raul.” Everyone shared another laugh and Madeleine turned redder than before.

Crossing her arms over her chest, she proudly proclaimed, “Well the boys in Studio 1 are cuter anyway--”

“Well Rodrigo’s got a girlfriend already,” Nia pointed out as she slipped off her towel and slid her nude frame into the steaming liquid.

“Really?” Carmen asked leaning inward while the rest of the girls looked towards the now half submerged Nia curiously. “How did you find that out?”

“I… I just asked him,” Nia admitted and a bit caught off guard by the attention.

Isabella was the first to widen her grin, “I didn’t know you were into younger guys, Nia.”

“I am not!” Nia protested widening her expression into both a surprised and amused one, “I just happened to ask him in passing!”

“I bet he blushed and didn’t know what to say when someone like Nia was asking him,” Leyla teased as she leaned in to Nia’s shoulder and placed a hand on the girl’s shoulder.

“Oh it was nothing like that! It was just at last month’s reunion party that I asked and he was actually quite calm and engaging about it-- stop looking at me like that!” she protested splashing everyone with a laugh.

“Speaking of Rodrigo,” Madeleine said in the middle of the girls playing about, “I don’t think I’ve seen him arrive yet…”

“It’s almost three thirty,” Isabella noted, “I wonder if everything’s alright.”

---

“Dammit,” Taguchi cursed, “we’re still in the part that’s blocked by the mountains, I’m not getting any reception.”

It had already been fifteen minutes since Taguchi had been woken up by Rodrigo’s chilly hand against his equally chilly cheek. Although the airbags and seat belts saved their lives as the vehicle crashed down the embankment, Rodrigo’s vehicle was not so lucky and the impact had knocked them unconscious for a while. A piece of rock the size of half the car ate into the engine like some giant’s tooth pressing into the front of their car. In the back, Tom had hit the back of Rodrigo’s seat and was still incapacitated.

“We better get out of the car…” Rodrigo said while he rubbed the back of his neck.

It took a few more minutes for them to pull themselves out of the ruined vehicle which was still at a slight angle. They heaved Tom out of the back seat and felt confident enough that the young man was, at least, still breathing.

“We need to get an ambulance for him as soon as possible,” Taguchi said standing over a small piece of flat rock that they settled into a few yards away from the crashed car.

“I’ll stay with him,” Rodrigo said sitting down against the side of the stone holding the unconscious body of their friend next to him, “Go up to the resort and get us some help.”

Taguchi, still a bit dazed, could only nod and turned to make his way up the embankment on the side of the mountain-- luckily he could still see the lantern lights of the resort in the distance.

Rodrigo tried his best to put Tom in a comfortable position against the rock although, sometimes, a cloud or two would dissuade his eyes from attempting to discern anything further than two inches past his nose. Kneeling on the grass, he held Tom’s shoulders until he stabilized against the rock, he didn’t even notice that the young man’s eyes fluttered open.

“What hap-- ow!” Tom’s voice protested a pain. Rodrigo was quick to see that Tom wasn’t able to raise his right arm.

“Don’t move it,” Rodrigo commanded, “Taguchi’s gone to get help so ju--”

He didn’t finish his sentence; there was rustling of branches and grass somewhere near where they had left the car. That’s when the memory hit him like the stone hit the car-- there had been someone in the road. Rushing his head above the boulder they were resting against, he was about to call out to the person to get some help-- but it was just then that some of the clouds cleared away and the moonlight shone clearly off of the sharp metal object the man held in his right hand.
 

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Mettermrck said:
Sure hope Rodrigo and the gang get there, if just to see Madeleine do another cannonball. :)

good grief , how do you read that fast !? XD